The War of All against All

We are going forward to an age when, as I indicated recently, men will understand what the atom is, in reality. It will be realised — by the public mind too — that the atom is nothing but coagulated electricity. — The thought itself is composed of the same substance. Before the end of the fifth epoch of culture (1413-3573 AD), science will have reached the stage where man will be able to penetrate into the atom itself.

When the similarity of substance between the thought and the atom is once comprehended, the way to get hold of the forces contained in the atom will soon be discovered and then nothing will be inaccessible to certain methods of working. — A man standing here, let us say, will be able by pressing a button concealed in his pocket, to explode some object at a great distance — say in Hamburg! Just as by setting up a wave-movement here and causing it to take a particular form at some other place, wireless telegraphy is possible, so what I have just indicated will be within man’s power when the occult truth that thought and atom consist of the same substance is put into practical application.

It is impossible to conceive what might happen in such circumstances if mankind has not, by then, reached selflessness. The attainment of selflessness alone will enable humanity to be kept from the brink of destruction. The downfall of our present epoch will be caused by lack of morality. The Lemurian epoch was destroyed by fire, the Atlantean by water; our epoch and its civilisation will be destroyed by the War of All against All, by evil. Human beings will destroy each other in mutual strife. And the terrible thing — more desperately tragic than other catastrophes — will be that the blame will lie with human beings themselves.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 93 – The Work of Secret Societies in the World – Berlin,  December 23, 1904

Previously posted on 20th October 2015

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Nourishment for the dead

It will become increasingly clear to us how this earthly life is connected with spiritual life. We rely on nature, which is on a lower level than we are, for our nourishment. For some time after death, the dead derive their nourishment from the ideas and the unconscious emotions that we here on earth take into sleep with us. Those who have died perceive a tremendous difference between people who in their waking life are filled only with materialistic feelings and ideas and also take them into sleep, and others who are wholly filled with spiritual ideas while awake and who continue to be filled with them in sleep.

The two types of people are as different in their effect on the dead as a barren region where no food can grow, where people would starve, and a fruitful area that offers nourishment in abundance. For many years after death, the dead draw a vitality from the souls sleeping here on earth filled with spiritual content, a vitality that is similar, only transposed into the spiritual realm, to what we draw in our physical life from the beings of the kingdoms of nature below us. We literally turn ourselves into fruitful pastures for the dead when we fill ourselves with the ideas of spiritual science. And we turn ourselves into barren ground and starve the dead if we take only materialistic ideas and attitudes into sleep.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 154 – The Presence of the Dead on the Spiritual Path: Lecture Three: Awakening Spiritual Thoughts – Basel, May 5, 1914

Translated by Christian von Arnim

Why did this widespread disaster overcome the world?

We can ask: Why did this widespread disaster overcome the world? (Steiner refers to the first world war.) Indeed, the ultimate reason is that the interests of people have become so superficial, that it scarcely reaches beyond the most mundane. Of course, if people cease to interest themselves for the stars, then they start to interest themselves for chatting in cafés; If the human being stops to ponder his relationship to the higher hierarchies, then the desire to waste his time with commonplace play is roused. One only needs to look at the interests which satisfy the leading circles of mankind, see what these people do from morning till evening! And if one looks at this with understanding, then one will not be surprised that such a debacle as has happened, overcame mankind. After all, people are happy these days when they can define one thing or another with ease, characterise a concept in just a few words! They are happy if something or other is easily comprehended.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 190 – Vergangenheits- und Zukunftsimpulse im sozialen Geschehen – Dornach, March 30, 1919 (page 103)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

It is simply impossible to investigate or to teach anything without believing

The true initiate will never deny the facts found by scientific investigation, but will whole-heartedly acknowledge the truths and merits of science. He must refuse, however, to admit that the scientific dogmatist is capable of determining the limits of knowledge. The scientist is proud of understanding, in contrast to believing. But if it is here a question of believing and not believing, and the scientist is of the opinion that belief plays no part in the results of his researches, he is mistaken. It is simply impossible to investigate or to teach anything without believing.

Consider, for example, the cellular theory. In books we have very fine representations of cells, the division of the cells, the life of the cells, and so forth, clear and exact in every detail. But who among us has ever really seen this for himself with such distinctness? [please see note below] We all simply believe that it is so. Even the university professors, who teach these things, have in the rarest cases seen all this with their own eyes, and yet they lecture on it. They have not been able to see it for themselves, because things of this kind are both so difficult and so rarely possible to observe that only a few single individuals have succeeded in seeing them, and also because in reality they are by no means so clear and distinct as they appear in the pictures. […] But until he is able to see for himself, the scientist is obliged to believe, and the others with him. Yet he demands of spiritual science that no one shall believe, and that no one shall know more than himself.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 109 – The Dedication of an Anthroposophical Group – Breslau, June 15, 1909

Please note that what applied to the cellular in 1909 now applies to molecular, nuclear or astronomical research.

Previously posted on October 17, 2015

About vegetarianism

It is no use being fanatic about these things. There are people who simply cannot live if they don’t have meat. A person must consider carefully whether he really will be able to get on without it. If he does decide he can do without it and changes over from a meat to a vegetarian diet, he will feel stronger than he was before. That’s sometimes a difficulty, obviously: some people can’t bear the thought of living without meat. If, however, one does become a vegetarian, he feels stronger — because he is no longer obliged to deposit alien fat in his body; he makes his own fat, and this makes him feel stronger.

I know this from my own experience. I could not otherwise have endured the strenuous exertion of these last twenty-four years! I never could have traveled entire nights, for instance, and then given a lecture the next morning. For it is a fact, that if one is a vegetarian one carries out a certain activity within one that is spared the non-vegetarian, who has it done first by an animal. That’s the important difference.

But now don’t get the idea that I would ever agitate for vegetarianism! It must always be first established whether a person is able to become a vegetarian or not; it is an individual matter.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 354 – The Evolution of the Earth and The Influence of the Stars – Lecture VI – Dornach, July 31, 1924

Translated by Gladys Hahn

Previously posted on October 13, 2015