The whole civilisation of to-day, even into the sphere of the most spiritual life, is founded on the egoism of humanity. In the first place, consider with an open mind that domain of spiritual life which receives men’s reverence to-day — the domain of religion. Ask yourselves if our present civilisation, particularly in the religious sphere, is not so constituted, as to appeal to man’s egoism. It is typical of all sermons and preaching of our time that the preacher tries to reach men through their egoism. Take for example that question which should concern people most deeply — the question of immortality. You will see how almost everything to-day, even in sermons and exhortations, is directed by the preachers to appeal to man’s egoism in the super-sensible sphere. Egoism impels man to cling to his own being as he passes through the gate of death, to preserve his Ego. This is a form of egoism, however refined. And to-day every religious denomination appeals largely to this egoism when treating of immortality. Hence official religion mostly forgets one end of our earthly existence in addressing man, and takes account only of the other. It fixes its gaze on death and forgets birth. Though these things may not be openly acknowledged, they are nevertheless underlying tendencies. We live in a time when this appeal to human egoism must be combated in every domain, if the life of mankind is not to decline further and further on its present downward course.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 293 – The Study of Man: Lecture I – Stuttgart, 21st August 1919
Translated by Daphne Harwood & Helen Fox
Previously posted on May 2, 2014