The objection is frequently made that anthroposophy does not really work its way into the realm of morality. In fact it is said that through certain of its teachings it in some respects not only does not counter egotism but furthers it. Those who are of this opinion share the following thoughts. They say that anthroposophy demonstrates how the human being develops his existence from life to life and that the main point is that even if he suffers defeats he has the possibility of striving ever higher, employing in a subsequent life the results of what he has learned in a given life as in a kind of “school.” He who immerses himself completely in this belief in human perfectibility will strive to render his “I” ever more pure, to make it as rich as possible, so that he may ascend ever higher and higher. This, so these people say, is after all really an egotistic striving. For we anthroposophist, they say, seek to attract teachings and forces from the spiritual world in order to elevate our “I” to ever greater heights. This is therefore an egotistic basis for human action.
These people maintain further that we anthroposophists are convinced that we prepare a bad karma for ourselves through imperfect actions. Thus in order not to do so the anthroposophist will avoid doing this or that which he would otherwise have done. He therefore refrains from the action for fear of karma. For the same reason he would probably also do this or that which he otherwise would not have done, and this too would be but one more quite egotistic motivation for an action. There are a number of people who say that the teachings of karma and reincarnation as well as the rest of the striving for perfection which originates in anthroposophy leads people to work spiritually for a refined form of higher egotism.
To be continued
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 127 – The Significance of Spiritual Research For Moral Action – Bieleveld, 6 March 1911
Translated by Alan P. Cottrell, Ph.D.
Previously posted on December 27, 2015