Obstacles and hindrances

When somebody has done something like that hurt another person, it has a certain effect on his whole life. Any action of man that hurts another being or creature or the world in general, hinders the doer in his development. This is what the pilgrimage of life means, that the primary force of the soul, as it goes from incarnation to incarnation, is set for further development. And this development progresses in such a fashion that man as it were is always putting obstacles in his own path. […] You must not think that man would be better off if he put no obstacles in his own way. It is only by setting himself these handicaps that he grows strong and acquires experience, for it is the very eradicating and overcoming of these hindrances that will make him the strong being he must become by the end of earth evolution. It is thoroughly in keeping with earth evolution that he puts stones in his own path. If he did not have to muster the strength to remove these obstacles he would not acquire this strength at all. Then the world would be the poorer. We must altogether disregard the good and evil connected with these hindrances and look solely at the wisdom of the world that intended, right from the beginning, that man should have the possibility of setting himself hindrances in earthly evolution so that in removing them he could acquire strength for later. We could even say that the wise guidance of the world allowed man to become evil and gave him the possibility of doing harm, so that in repairing the harm and overcoming the evil he can become stronger in the course of karmic development than he would have become had he reached his goal without effort. This is how we should understand the significance and justification of obstacles and hindrances.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 107 – The Being of Man and His Future Evolution Lecture 6: Illness and Karma – Berlin, 26th January 1909

Previously posted on January 4, 2014

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Entrance into the spiritual world

Entrance into the spiritual world is imagined in a way too similar to an experience of the senses; therefore, what is experienced when reading about this world is considered to be much too much of the nature of thought. But if we have truly absorbed these thoughts we are already within this world and have only to become quite clear about the fact that we have already experienced, unnoticed, what we thought we had received merely as an intellectual communication.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 13 – An Outline of Occult Science: 1. The Character of Occult Science

Translated by Maud and Henry B. Monges and revised for this edition by Lisa D. Monges

Previously posted on January 2, 2014

If someone is sitting in a corner thinking: “I don’t like that nonsense, I hate it.”

When we speak on the physical plane and tell our thoughts to someone, we have the feeling that our thoughts come from our soul, that we have to remember them at this particular moment. Speaking as a true occultist and not someone who just tells his experiences from memory, we will feel that our thoughts arise as living beings. We must be glad if we are blessed at the right moment with the approach of a thought as a real being.

When you express your thoughts in the physical world, for example, as a lecturer, you will find it easier to give a talk for the thirtieth time than you did the first time. If, however, you speak as an occultist, thoughts always have to approach you and then depart again. Just as someone paying you the thirtieth visit had to make his way to you thirty times, the living thought we express for the thirtieth time has to come to us thirty times as it did the first time; our memory is of absolutely no use here.

If you express an idea on the physical level and someone is sitting in a corner thinking, “I don’t like that nonsense, I hate it,” you will not be particularly bothered by it. You have prepared your ideas and present them regardless of the positive or negative thoughts of someone in the audience. But if as an esotericist you let thoughts approach you, they could be delayed and kept away by someone who hates them or who hates the speaker. And the forces blocking that thought must be overcome because we are dealing with living beings and not merely with abstract ideas.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 154 – The Presence of the Dead on the Spiritual Path – Lecture Four: The Presence of the Dead in our LifeParis, May 25 1914

Previously posted on January 1, 2014

A true prayer has something to give to all of us

A true prayer has something to give to all of us, whatever stage of development we may have reached. The simplest person, who perhaps knows nothing more than the words of the prayer, may still be open to the influence of the prayer on his soul, and it is the prayer which can call forth the power to raise him higher. But, however high a stage we may have reached, we have never finished with a prayer; it can always raise us to a still higher level. And the Lord’s Prayer is not for speaking only. It can call forth the mystical frame of mind, and it can be the subject of higher forms of meditation and concentration. This could be said of many other prayers.

Since the Middle Ages, however, something has come to the fore, a kind of egotism, which can impair the purity of prayer and its accompanying state of mind. If we make use of prayer with the aim only of withdrawing into ourselves and making ourselves more perfect — as many Christians did during the Middle Ages and perhaps still do today — and if we fail to look out at the world around us with whatever illumination we may have received, then prayer will succeed only in separating us from the world, and making us feel like strangers in it. That often happened to those who used prayer in connection with false asceticism and seclusion. These people wished to be perfect not in the sense of the rose, which adorns itself  in order to add beauty to the garden, but on their own account, so as to find blessedness within their own souls.

Anyone who seeks for God in his soul and refuses to take what he has gained out into the world will find that his refusal turns back on him in revenge.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 59 – Metamorphoses of the Soul Vol. 2 – Lecture 4: The Nature of Prayer – Berlin, 17th February 1910

Previously posted on 31 December 2013

When men grow old they do not become weak or even feeble-minded

For very many people it will be a hard nut to crack if they are told to believe that when men grow old they do not become weak or even feeble-minded, but more psychic and more spiritual. Only, when the body is worn out, we can no longer express the psycho-spiritual which we have cultivated, through the body. It is like the case of a pianist: he might become a better and better player, but if his piano is worn out we cannot perceive this. If you were only to know his capabilities as a pianist from his plane (? play, I presume), you will not be able to gather much if the piano is out of tune and has broken strings. So that Kant, when he was an old man and “feeble-minded” was not weak minded as regards the spiritual world; there he had become glorious.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 181 – Anthroposophical Life Gifts – Lecture III: Thoughts about the Life Between Death and Rebirth Berlin, 2nd April 1918

Previously posted on 30 December 2013