People have a certain antipathy toward moral preachments. They say, “What is being preached to me is the will of someone else and I am supposed simply to acquiesce to it.” This belief will become more and more dominant to the degree that materialistic consciousness becomes dominant.
One says today that there is a morality of class, of social standing, and what such a class morality considers to be right is then applied to the other class. Such an attitude has found its way into human souls and in the future it will become worse and worse. People will come increasingly to feel that they themselves want to find everything that is to be acknowledged as correct in this sphere. They will feel that it should originate in their own inclination toward objective knowledge. The human individuality wants to be taken ever more seriously. But at the moment in which the heart, for instance, were to realize that it too would be sick if the whole organism became sick, man would do what is necessary in order not to fall ill. At the moment in which man realizes that he is embedded within the total organism of the earth and has no business being a festering boil on the earth’s body — at that moment there exists an objective basis for morality. And man will say, “If I steal I am seeking my own personal advantage. I refrain from stealing because if I do steal I shall make sick the entire organism without which I cannot live. I do the opposite and thereby bring about something advantageous not only for the organism but also for myself.”
In the future the moral awareness of human beings will form itself in this general way. He who, through anthroposophy, finds an impetus to moral action will say to himself that it is an illusion to seek personal advantage through an immoral action. If you do that, you are like an octopus that ejects a dark fluid: you eject a dark aura of immoral impulses. Lying and stealing are the seeds of an aura into which you place yourself and through which you make the whole world unhappy.
People say, “All that surrounds us is maya.” But such truths must become truths for life itself. Let us suppose that one can demonstrate that through anthroposophy humanity’s moral development in the future will enable man to see how he wraps himself in an aura of illusions when he seeks his own advantage. If one can demonstrate this, it will become a practical truth to say that the world is a maya or illusion.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 127 – The Significance of Spiritual Research For Moral Action – Bieleveld, 6 March 1911
Translated by Alan P. Cottrell, Ph.D.
Photograph Penmaenmawr – 1923