One does not need to be a painter to feel the beauty of a picture

It needs to be said over and over again: just as one does not need to be a painter to feel the beauty of a picture, so too one does not need to be a spiritual scientist oneself — although one can become one up to a point — to be able to test whether what I am saying here is true. Just as one can feel the beauty of a picture without being a painter oneself, so with ordinary common sense one can perceive what the spiritual scientist says about the soul.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 83 – The Tension Between East and West: II: Psychology – Vienna, June 2, 1922

Translated by B. A. Rowley


About children who display bad behaviour

There are of course not only exemplary children but also children that have, under certain circumstances, as it sometimes is evaluated, bad character traits. About this I would like to say the following. […] Remember, that the so-called bad disposition of a child, that has shaped itself, say in the years up to the seventh year, will not always in absolute terms, lead such a child to develop a bad nature later on in life. Many qualities, some even reaching to up to geniality in later life, can be traced back organically to so-called bad behaviour, which the person displayed at the age of two-, three-, four years of age.

A character trait such as – I mention one of the worst features –  the cruelty that a child may display, this cruelty can indeed be overcome between the seventh and fourteenth year, in one or the other direction, if one is competent enough to provide the right pedagogical approach. The impulses of a person towards cruelty, can under certain circumstances be reversed, so that they become impulses toward some of the highest goals.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 307 – Gegenwärtiges Geistesleben und Erziehung – Ilkley (Yorkshire), August 7, 1923 (page 260)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger


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

Previously posted on February 28, 2016

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

Previously posted on February 27, 2016

After the seventh cultural period the earth will be visited by a catastrophe

The transformations in the things of the earth existing outside the human being occur with a certain relationship to humanity’s own evolution. After the seventh cultural period (5733-7893) has run its course, the earth will be visited by a catastrophe that may be likened to what occurred between the Atlantean and post-Atlantean ages, and the transformed earth conditions after this catastrophe will again evolve in seven time periods. Human souls who will then be incarnated will experience, at a higher stage, the union with the higher world experienced by the Atlanteans at a lower stage.

Only those human beings, however, in whom are incarnated souls that have developed in a manner possible through the influences of the Greco-Latin epoch (747 BC -1413 AD) and the subsequent fifth, sixth, and seventh cultural epochs of the post-Atlantean evolution will be able to cope with the newly formed earth conditions. The inner being of such souls will correspond to what the earth has then become. Other souls will then have to remain behind, whereas previously they would have had the choice of creating the conditions for advancement. Souls who will have created the possibility for themselves, in the transition from the fifth (1413-3573) to the sixth post-Atlantean period (3573-5733), of penetrating supersensible knowledge with the forces of intellect and feeling, will have the maturity for the corresponding conditions following the next great catastrophe. The fifth and sixth periods are, so to speak, decisive.

In the seventh, the souls who will have reached the goal of the sixth will develop correspondingly further; the other souls, however, will, under the changed conditions of the environment, find but little opportunity of retrieving what they have neglected. Only at some future time will conditions appear again that will permit this. — Evolution thus advances from age to age.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 13 – An Outline of Occult Science – VI – The present and future of cosmic and human evolution

Translated by Maud and Henry B. Monges and revised for this edition by Lisa D. Monges.