Nothing is so disturbing, nothing can be so bitter and disheartening as to experience the result of our failure to develop love and compassion

The egoism we develop in the physical world, without being willing to acquire self-knowledge, shows up when it is carried into spiritual worlds. Nothing is so disturbing, nothing can be so bitter and disheartening as to experience the result of our failure to develop love and compassion in the physical world. Ascending into the spiritual world, we are filled with anguish by the selfishness and lack of love we have achieved in the physical-sense world. When we cross the threshold, everything is revealed, not only the obvious but also the hidden egoism that rages in the depths of men’s souls. Someone who with outward egoism frankly insists that he wants this or that for himself is perhaps much less egoistic than those who indulge in the dream that they are selfless, or those who assume a certain egoistic self-effacement out of theosophical abstractions in their upper consciousness. This is especially the case when the latter declaim their selflessness in all sorts of repetitions of the words “love” and “tolerance.” What a person carries up into higher worlds in the form of an unloving lack of compassion is transformed into hideous, often terrifying figures he meets on entering the spiritual worlds, figures that are extremely disturbing for the soul.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 147 – Secrets of the Threshold – Lecture VIII – Munich, 31 August 1913

Previously posted on February 2, 2014

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Combating defects makes us strong and free

We should thank the Gods for our defects, for combating them makes us strong and free. But we shouldn’t love the defects for even a moment. We couldn’t thank Gods who made us pure and without defects, because they would have made us into weaklings. We should tell ourselves: And even the world was full of devils we still come from God.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 266 – From the Contents of Esoteric Classes – Lecture II – Kassel, 11th December 1910

Previously posted on February 1, 2014

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Frequently we hear it said that death is an unsolved riddle

Today our subject is one that undoubtedly concerns all human beings, for the words “illness” and “death” express something which enters in every life, often as an uninvited guest, often too in a vexing, frustrating, frightening guise, and death presents itself as the greatest riddle of existence; so that when anyone has solved the question of its nature he has also solved that other question — the nature of life. Frequently we hear it said that death is an unsolved riddle — a riddle which no-one will ever solve. People who speak thus have no idea how arrogant these words are; they have no idea that there does exist a solution to the riddle which, however, they do not happen to understand.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 55 – The Origin of Suffering, Origin of Evil, Illness and Death – Berlin, December 13, 1906

Previously posted on January 30, 2014

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What is a poison?

What is a poison? Water is a strong poison if you consume it by the bucketful in a short time; and what today is poison could have the most beneficial effect if rightly administered. It depends always on the quantity, and under which circumstances, one takes a substance into oneself; in itself, there is no poison.

In Africa there is a tribe who employ a certain breed of dog for hunting. But there is a fly in those parts carrying a poison deadly to the dogs that they sting. Now these savages of the Zambesi river have found a way of dealing with this sting. They take the pregnant dogs to a district where there is an abundance of tsetse flies and let these animals be bitten, choosing the time when they are just going to whelp, with the result that the puppies are immune and can be used for hunting.

Something happens here which is very important for the understanding of life — a poison is taken up into a life process, where a descending line passes over in an ascending one, in such a way that the poison becomes a substance inherent in the organism. What is thus taken from external nature strengthens us and is of use to us.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 55 – The Origin of Suffering, Origin of Evil, Illness and Death – Berlin, 13nd December 1906

Previously posted on 31 januari 2014

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Why does the human being not remember his former incarnations?

Why does the human being not remember his former incarnations? Put like this, this question makes little sense. You will understand in a moment why I say this. It is as if someone says: ‘human beings call themselves human beings; in front of us stands a four-year-old child that can’t count’. Then he continues to say: ‘this child cannot count, however if it is a human being so that means humans cannot count.’ It is, however, a matter of development. At some stage in life every person will come to a point which advanced students have already reached, namely the ability to recall past lives; If he cannot remember anything, then he has to acquire this skill first just like the child acquires the skill of reading, doing arithmetic and writing. The person must not unconsciously let destiny pass him by if he intends to let his experiences lead him towards the point where he can remember earlier lives on earth.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 054 – Berlijn, Die Welträtsel und die Anthroposophie – February 15,  1906 (page 300)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

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