Karma – Much that in ordinary life seems to be quite insignificant is of very great importance when we begin to consider destiny

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

Translated by Henry B. Monges

Previously posted on April 3, 2014

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Many people think that they’re working for the good of mankind

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

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Time that’s spent on development isn’t wasted

People often ask whether it wouldn’t be better to use the time that one uses for development for doing good deeds in the world. But occultists must reply that time that’s spent on development isn’t wasted. For a man can only work well and rightly for mankind by making himself more perfect. Outer deeds that seem to be ever so good can be harmful; one just doesn’t know it.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 266 – From the Contents of Esoteric Classes – Berlin, 5th June 1908

Previously posted on April 1, 2014

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About solitude, love and egoism

All men need to be alone to a certain extent, and this is not just egoism. Someone who always wants to help others will at some point feel that he can’t help anymore if he doesn’t get the forces for this out of solitude. One who always wants to talk will someday sense that his words are empty if he doesn’t let spiritual forces come to him in solitude. We must be alone for prayer and meditation; communal prayer can only bring men to a certain groupsouledness. One who thinks that it’s egotistical to go into solitude simply feels the need to be with other people, not to help them. A supposedly selfless wish to help can really come from egoism, where one simply seeks sociability. For instance, the magnetic healing that’s used to lessen others’ pain could just come from the need to have a pleasant feeling from stoking someone’s body. Although love and egoism are opposite poles, it’s nevertheless true that in certain boundary cases they come very close to each other and it’s difficult to tell them apart.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 266 – From the Contents of Esoteric Classes –Esoteric Lessons Part IIKarlsruhe, 14th October 1911

Previously posted on March 31, 2014

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If we were always only to encounter what we wish for ourselves, such a life would make us out and out weaklings

The whole feeling and attitude of soul that must emerge from a true understanding of karma, is one which makes us realise when, perhaps some misfortune befalls us as consequence of an earlier weakness in the life of soul — that if this misfortune had not come about, the weakness would have persisted. Looking into the depths of our soul, we must realise: It is good and right that this misfortune has come upon me, because it has enabled a weakness to be eliminated. […]

That man alone faces misfortune aright who says to himself: ‘If it has occurred because of an earlier weakness, it is to be welcomed, for it will make me conscious of the weakness (which expressed itself perhaps in some definite failing); I will now eradicate the weakness, I will be strong again.’ […]

In a case, on the other hand, where a misfortune befalls one as the first step in karma, the right attitude is to say to oneself: If we were always only to encounter what we wish for ourselves, such a life would make us out and out weaklings! One or two earthly lives might continue to be comfortable and easy through the fact that only that would befall us that we desired for ourselves — but in the third or fourth life a kind of paralysis of soul and spirit would supervene, and no effort to overcome obstacles would arise in us. For, after all, obstacles would not be there for us to overcome unless the unhoped-for, the undesired came upon us.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 224 – The Forming of Destiny in Sleeping and Waking – Bern, April 6, 1923

Previously posted on March 30, 2014

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