As the butterfly soars up from the chrysalis, so after death the soul of man from the house of the body

It is of vast importance for the child that he should receive the secrets of Nature in parables, before they are brought before his soul in the form of ‘natural laws’ and the like. An example may serve to make this clear. Let us imagine that we want to tell a child of the immortality of the soul, of the coming forth of the soul from the body. The way to do this is to use a comparison, such for example as the comparison of the butterfly coming forth from the chrysalis. As the butterfly soars up from the chrysalis, so after death the soul of man from the house of the body. No man will rightly grasp the fact in intellectual concepts, who has not first received it in such a picture. By such a parable, we speak not merely to the intellect but to the feeling of the child, to all his soul. A child who has experienced this, will approach the subject with an altogether different mood of soul, when later it is taught him in the form of intellectual concepts. It is indeed a very serious matter for any man, if he was not first enabled to approach the problems of existence with his feeling. Thus it is essential that the educator have at his disposal parables for all the laws of Nature and secrets of the World.

Here we have an excellent opportunity to observe with what effect the spiritual knowledge of Anthroposophy must work in life and practice. When the teacher comes before a class of children, armed with parables he has ‘made up’ out of an intellectual materialistic mode of thought, he will as a rule make little impression upon them. For he has first to puzzle out the parables for himself with all his intellectual cleverness. Parables to which one has first had to condescend have no convincing effect on those who listen to them. For when one speaks in parable and picture, it is not only what is spoken and shown that works upon the hearer, but a fine spiritual stream passes from the one to the other, from him who gives to him who receives. If he who tells has not himself the warm feeling of belief in his parable, he will make no impression on the other. For real effectiveness, it is essential to believe in one’s parables as in absolute realities. And this can only be when one’s thought is alive with spiritual knowledge. Take for instance the parable of which we have been speaking. The true student of Anthroposophy need not torment himself to think it out. For him it is reality. In the coming forth of the butterfly from the chrysalis he sees at work on a lower level of being the very same process that is repeated, on a higher level and at a higher stage of development, in the coming forth of the soul from the body. He believes in it with his whole might; and this belief streams as it were unseen from speaker to hearer, carrying conviction. Life flows freely, unhindered, back and forth from teacher to pupil. But for this it is necessary that the teacher draw from the full fountain of spiritual knowledge. His words and all that comes from him must receive feeling, warmth and colour from a truly anthroposophic way of thought.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 34 – The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy – Essay 1907  

Translated by George and Mary Adams

Previously posted on November 8, 2014

Labor and cultural development

In the fourth culture era (Greco-Roman 747 BC-1413 AD) work was performed as tribute (Slave Labour). In the fifth culture era (our present Germanic Anglo-Saxon era 1413-3573) work is performed as a commodity (sold). In the sixth (Slavic)culture era (3573-5733) work will be performed as an offering (free work).

The economic needs of existence will then be separated from work: there will be no more personal possession, everything will be owned in common. One will no longer work for one’s personal existence, but will do everything as absolute offering for humanity.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 93a – Foundations of Esotericism: Lecture XXVIII – Berlin, 31st October 1905

Translated by Vera and Judith Compton-Burnett

Physical science claims to know all there is to know

Physical scientists often say that spiritual science stands on unscientific grounds. How can this be true when spiritual science accepts all the findings of physical science? Some firm advocates of physical science expect spiritual scientists to remain within the limits of physical scientific knowledge. They not only want others to embrace their viewpoint, but also demand to conform to their dogma, so nothing can be added to what they say.

Source (German) Rudolf Steiner – GA 56 – Die Erkenntnis der Seele und des Geistes – Berlin, 9 April 1908 (page 269-270)

Anonymous translator

What is the Akasha Chronicle?

What is the Akasha Chronicle? We can form the truest conception of it by realising that what comes to pass on our earth makes a lasting impression upon certain delicate essences, an impression which can be discovered by a seer who has attained Initiation. It is not an ordinary but a living Chronicle. Suppose a human being lived in the first century after Christ; what he thought, felt and willed in those days, what passed into deeds — this is not obliterated but preserved in this delicate essence.

The seer can behold it-not as if it were recorded in a history book, but as it actually happened. How a man moved, what he did, a journey he took-it can all be seen in these spiritual pictures; the impulses of will, the feelings, the thoughts, can also be seen. But we must not imagine that these pictures are images of the physical personalities. That is not the case.

To take a simple example. — When a man moves his hand, his will pervades the moving hand and it is this force of will that can be seen in the Akasha Chronicle. What is spiritually active in us and has flowed into the Physical, is there seen in the Spiritual.

Suppose, for example, we look for Caesar. We can follow all his undertakings, but let us be quite clear that it is rather his thoughts that we see in the Akasha Chronicle; when he set out to do something we see the whole sequence of decisions of the will to the point where the deed was actually performed.

To observe a specific event in the Akasha Chronicle is not easy. We must help ourselves by linking on to external knowledge. If the seer is trying to observe some action of Caesar and takes an historical date as a point of focus, the result will come more easily. Historical dates are, it is true, often unreliable, but they are sometimes of assistance. When the seer directs his gaze to Caesar, he actually sees the person of Caesar in action, phantom-like, as though he were standing before him, speaking with him. But when a man is looking into the past, various things may happen to him if, in spite of possessing some degree of seership, he has not entirely found his bearings in the higher worlds.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 99 – Theosophy of the Rosicrucian: IV: The Descent to a New Birth – Berlin, 28th May 1907

Translated by M. Cotterell & D. S. Osmond

What is destined to happen in the course of evolution will happen

Just as an age was once ready to receive the Copernican theory of the universe, so is our own age ready for the ideas of reincarnation and karma to be brought into the general consciousness of humanity. And what is destined to happen in the course of evolution will happen, no matter what powers rise up against it. When reincarnation and karma are truly understood, everything else follows of itself in the light of these truths.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 135 – Reincarnation and Karma: Lecture V– Berlin, 5th March 1912

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond & Charles Davy

Previously posted on January 22, 2014