Self-perfection: a right and proper way

The pursuit of higher knowledge is, by definition, a selfish and not an unselfish endeavour. But we know that this is not the highest goal. Our predicament is best illustrated by this little proverb: “When the rose adorns itself, it also adorns the garden”.

What is good, therefore, can also be achieved through selfish actions, albeit in an indirect way. Members of the anthroposophical community are quite right  to pursue the path of personal development, for the more perfect one becomes, the more useful and valuable will he be to society. Indeed, what advantage can an imperfect person, with little understanding of life, bring to his fellow men?

Therefore, and in order to contribute to the progress of humanity, one must be able to see into human hearts and souls, and have gone some way towards solving the great mysteries of life; only then can he be useful, both to his fellow men and to the world at large. Spiritual development is therefore a right and proper way.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 264 – Zur Geschichte und aus den Inhalten der ersten Abteilung der Esoterischen Schule 1904–1914 (page 357-358)

Anonymous translator

Asleep

I have often said that although men are awake, they actually sleep through the most important concerns in life. And I can give you the not very heartening assurance that anyone who goes through life with alert consciousness to-day finds numbers and numbers of human beings who are really asleep. They let events happen without taking the slightest interest in them, without troubling about them or associating themselves with these happenings in any way. Great world-events often pass men by just as something that is taking place in the city passes a sleeper by … although people are apparently awake.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 182 – The Work of the Angels In Man’s Astral Body – Zurich, 9th October, 1918

Translated by D. S. Osmond with the help of Owen Barfield

Common sense

Even the Initiate, if he has not developed his reason in the right way, gains nothing whatever from his super-sensible experiences. When someone today — please take what I am now saying as a really serious matter — has learnt to think in a way perfectly adapted to meeting the demands of school examinations, when he acquires habits of thought that enable him to pass academic tests with flying colours — then his reasoning faculty will be so vitiated that even if millions of experiences of the super-sensible world were handed to him on a platter, he would see them as little as you could physically see the objects in a dark room.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 196 – Some Conditions for Understanding Supersensible Experiences – Dornach, 18th January 1920

Descent and Ascent

Just as it is true that humanity had to descend from a spiritual past, into materialism, so it is also true that it must rise again to spirituality. A spiritual world-conception alone can produce something that gives rise to harmony, peace and love. Even in this sphere, spiritual science can be of practical help in the highest possible way.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 100 – Theosophy and Rosicrucianism: Lecture VIII: Supplementary Thoughts on the Law of Reincarnation and Karma – Kassel, 23rd June 1907

Why look beyond the threshold?

Among the fiercest critics of Steiner, was Johann Wilhelm Hauer, the theologian from Tübingen. After attending a lecture by Rudolf Steiner on “life after death”, Hauer had this to say: “Why look beyond the threshold? We’ll have enough time to find out what it’s like once we get there.” Rudolf Steiner commented: “That would be exactly the same, as if polar explorers, embarking on a trip to the north pole, said: ‘We’ll decide on what we need for our trip, once we arrive at the north pole.’”

Source: Sie Mensch von einem Menschen! Rudolf Steiner in Anekdoten door Wolfgang G. Vögele (page 159)

Anonymous translator