The chaos all about us has been caused because we live in abstractions

As I have often pointed out, what is lacking, what we need more than anything else, are concepts and views that are real and concrete, concepts that penetrate to the reality of things. The chaos all about us has been caused because we live in abstractions, in concepts and views that are alien to the reality. How can it be otherwise when we are so estranged from the spiritual aspect of reality that we deny it altogether? True concepts of reality will be attained only when the spirit in all its weaving life is acknowledged.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 176 – Aspects of Human Evolution – Human Development, Contemporary Struggling People – Lecture V – Berlin, July 3, 1917

Translated by Rita Stebbing

Any harm that is caused to a living being lessens the noblest forces of our own human nature

Any life that is taken away from a living being, any harm that is caused to a living being lessens the noblest forces of our own human nature because of a connection which exists between life and life. Just as a quantity of mechanical work can be transformed into heat, something changes by the homicide of a living being in the human being, so that he becomes unable to have an curative and beneficial effect on his fellow men. This is an unbreakable principle. Here everything nebulous, everything unclear is strictly impossible. Here rules mathematical clarity.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 53 – Origin and Goal of the Human Being – Lecture XXII – Berlin, 25th May 1905

Reincarnation/Karma/Talents (2 – End)

If we go more deeply into this, the fact becomes apparent that the external career of a man in one incarnation, when it is not merely a career but also an inner vocation, passes over in his next incarnation into the inward shaping of his bodily organs. Thus, if a man has been an exceptionally good mathematician in one incarnation, the mastery he has obtained over numbers and figures remains with him and goes into a special development of his sense-organs, for instance, of the eyes. People with very good sight have it as a result of the fact that in their former incarnation they thought in forms; they took this thinking in forms with them and during the life between death and rebirth they worked specially on the shaping of their eyes. Here the mathematical talent has passed into the eyes and no longer exists as a gift for mathematics.

Another case known to occultists is where an individuality in one incarnation lived with intensity in architectural forms; these experiences lived as forces in his inner soul-life and worked strongly upon the instrument of hearing, so that in his next incarnation he became a great musician. He did not appear as a great architect, because the perception of form necessary for architecture was transformed into an organ-building force, so that there was nothing left but a supreme sensitiveness for music.

An external consideration of similarities is generally deceptive in reference to the characteristics of successive incarnations; and just as we must reflect upon whatever did not please us and conceive of ourselves as having had an intense desire for it, so we must also reflect upon those things for which we have the least talent, and about which we are stupid. If we discover the dullest sides of our nature, they may very probably point to those fields in which we were most brilliant in our previous incarnation. Thus we see how easy it is in these matters to begin at the wrong end. A little reflection will show us that it is the soul-kernel of our being which works over from one incarnation to another; this can be illustrated by the fact that it is no easier for a man to learn a language even if in his preceding incarnation he lived in the country associated with this particular language; otherwise our school-boys would not find it so difficult to learn Greek and Latin, for many of them in former incarnations will have lived in the regions where these were the languages of ordinary intercourse.

You see, the outer capacities we acquire are so closely connected with earthly circumstances that we cannot speak of them reappearing in the same form in the next incarnation; they are transformed into forces and in that way pass over to a subsequent incarnation. For instance, people who have a special faculty for learning languages in one incarnation will not have this in the next; instead, they will have the faculty which enables them to form more unbiassed judgments than those who had less talent for languages; these latter will tend to form one-sided judgments.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 135 – Reincarnation and Karma – I – Berlin, 23rd January 1912

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond & Charles Davy

Previously posted on October 15, 2014

Reincarnation/Karma/Talents (1 of 2)

You have no doubt often heard anthroposophists say when they meet a good arithmetician: “In his previous incarnation this man was a good arithmetician!” Unfortunately, many undeveloped anthroposophists string together links of reincarnation in such a way that it is thought possible to find the earlier incarnation because the present gifts must have existed in the preceding incarnation or in many previous incarnations. This is the worst possible form of speculation and anything derived from it is usually false. True observation by means of Spiritual Science, discloses, as a rule, the exact opposite. For example, people who in a former incarnation were good arithmeticians, good mathematicians, often reappear with no gift for mathematics at all. If we wish to discover what gifts we may probably have possessed in a former incarnation (here I must remind you that we are speaking of probabilities!) — if we wish to know what intellectual or artistic faculties, say, we possessed in a former incarnation, it is well to reflect upon those things for which we have least talent in the present life.

These are true indications, but they are very often interwoven with other facts. It may happen that a man had a special talent for mathematics in a former incarnation but died young, so that this talent never came to full expression; then he will be born again in his next incarnation with a talent for mathematics and this will represent a continuation of the previous incarnation. Abel, the mathematician who died young, will certainly in his next incarnation be reborn with a strong mathematical talent.  But when a mathematician has lived to a great age, so that his talent has spent itself — then in his next incarnation he will be stupid as regards mathematics. I knew a man who had so little gift for mathematics that as a schoolboy he simply hated figures, and although in other subjects he did well, he generally managed to get through his classes only because he obtained exceptionally good marks in other subjects. This was because in his former incarnation he had been an exceedingly good mathematician.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 135 – Reincarnation and Karma – I – Berlin, 23rd January 1912

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond & Charles Davy

Previously posted on 14 October 2014

When conscience speaks, it is God speaking in the soul

Popular consciousness says: When conscience speaks, it is God speaking in the soul. The highest spiritual consciousness says that when conscience speaks, it is truly the cosmic Spirit speaking. And spiritual science brings out the connection between conscience and the greatest event in the evolution of mankind, the Christ-Event. Hence it is not surprising that conscience has thereby been ennobled and raised to a higher sphere. When we hear that something has been done for reasons of conscience, we feel that conscience is regarded as one of the most important possessions of mankind.

Thus we can see how natural and right it is for the human heart to speak of conscience as “God in man”.

[…] conscience is the highest voice in our inward life. On this account, also, we are aware that our dignity as human beings is inseparable from conscience. We are human beings because we have an ego-consciousness; and the conscience we have at our side is also at the side of our ego. Thus we look on conscience as a most sacred individual possession, inviolable by the external world, whose voice enables us to determine our direction and our goal. When conscience speaks, no other voice may intrude.

So it is that on one side conscience ensures our connection with the primordial power of the world and on the other guarantees the fact that in our inmost self we have something like a drop flowing from the Godhead. And man can know: When conscience speaks in him, it is a God speaking.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 59 – Metamorphoses of the Soul 2: Lecture 8: Human Conscience – Berlin, 5th May 1910

Translated by Charles Davy and Christian von Arnim

Previously posted on September 9, 2014