Powerful inspirations by Initiates

Those whom the world recognises as the great men of history were not really the greatest; the greatest, the Initiates, kept in the background.

In the course of the eighteenth century, on a quite unnoticed occasion, an Initiate made brief acquaintance with a writer, and spoke words to which the writer paid no special attention at the time. But they worked on in him and later gave rise to potent ideas, the fruits of which are in countless hands today. The writer was Jean-Jacques Rousseau. He was not an Initiate, but his knowledge derived from one.

Here is another example. Jacob Boehme, a shoemaker’s apprentice, was sitting alone one day in the shop, where he was not allowed to sell anything himself. A person came in, made a deep impression upon him, spoke a few words, and went away. Immediately afterwards, Boehme heard his name being called: “Jacob, Jacob, today you are small, but one day you will be great. Take heed of what you have seen today!” A secret attraction remained between Boehme and his visitor, who was a great Initiate, and the source of Boehme’s powerful inspirations.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science: Lecture One: The Being of Man – Stuttgart, 22nd August, 1906

Translated by E. H. Goddard & Charles Davy


Anger has its value for the development of the human being. The human being must purify himself, he must overcome anger. Anger is something that works beneficially in that it is overcome. The human being would never be able to reach perfection without conquering anger.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 108 – Die Beantwortung von Welt- und Lebensfragen durch Anthroposophie – St. Gallen, November 21, 1909 (page 100)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger


The human being is led to a specific set of parents, but not only because he himself is attracted to those people.  High exalted beings are also involved and working on this, because at the current stage of development they have taken this task upon themselves to order karmic relationships in a way as to be true and just. So, if occasionally the parents apparently appear not to belong with the children, or it seems to be so for the children, we need not look for an error or injustice behind this seeming contradiction. For in this might often be found the good, in that a human being might have to find his way under the most complicated circumstances and among the strangest relationships, to learn from this.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 108 – Die Beantwortung von Welt- und Lebensfragen durch Anthroposophie – Breslau (Wroclaw), December 2, 1908 (page 61)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

A definition can never explain the essence of a thing

The big mistake, the great illusion, of the materialistically minded people, is that they believe a definition or a description can fully explain the essence of a thing.

I have often illustrated the grotesque nature of this belief in the past by pointing out the fact that a school of Greek philosophers once sought to define a human being and finally found that a human being is a creature with two legs  and no feathers. Now, that is undoubtedly true. One can say that it is an absolutely correct definition. The next day, someone who understood the definition brought with him a plucked rooster and said: “This is a creature with two legs and no feathers, so it must be a human being.”

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 253 – Probleme des Zusammenlebens in der Anthroposophischen Gesellschaft – Dornach, September 11, 1915 (page 33)

Anonymous translator

Previously posted on October 11, 2015

Apparent and real motives

It may happen in life that two people live together for a long time and that through the strange forces playing out of the unknown regions of the astral body and Ego of the one person into the astral body and Ego of the other (these forces remain in the hidden regions), the one has in relation to the other a real desire for torment, a kind of need for cruelty. It may be that the one person who has this desire for torment, this need for cruelty, has no inkling whatever of the existence of these emotions in the astral body and Ego; he may build up about the things he does out of this urge to cruelty, a whole number of ideas which explain the actions on quite other grounds. Such a person may tell us that he has done this or that to the other person for one reason or another; these reasons may be very clever and yet they do not express the truth at all. For in ordinary life, what we all-too-often picture as the motives of our own actions, indeed of our own feelings, frequently stands, as I say, in a very, very distant connection with what is really living and weaving in our inner being.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 161 – The Problem of Death: I – Dornach, February 5, 1915