What actually constitutes wisdom?

What actually constitutes wisdom? Spiritual science has always maintained that human wisdom has something to do with experience, and that painful experience. He who is actually in the throes of suffering manifests in this suffering something that is an inward lack of harmony. He, however, who has overcome the pain and suffering and bears their fruits within him, will always tell you that through suffering he has gained some measure of wisdom. He says: — “the joys and pleasures of life, all that life can offer me in the way of satisfaction, all these things do I receive gratefully; yet were I far more loath to part with my pain and suffering than with those pleasant gifts of life, for ‘it is to my pain and suffering that I owe my wisdom.’ ”

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 55 – Occult Significance of Blood/An Esoteric StudyBerlin, October 25, 1906

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Strength by overcoming obstacles

Man has to acquire his strength by overcoming obstacles in the world, one after another. Strictly speaking all our strength was acquired by the overcoming of obstacles in previous incarnations. Our present capacities are the result of our illnesses in earlier lives.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 107 – The Being of Man and His Future Evolution – Illness and karma – Berlin, 26th January 1909

Translated by Pauline Wehrle

Previously posted on September 9, 2015

Knowledge/Humility

To attain a correct point of view as regards the knowledge possessed by the human being, we must really fill our thoughts with all the wisdom-filled arrangements which exist in the world, and which are quite beyond the capacity of man. If a man thinks only of what he can achieve himself, then he really blocks all paths to knowledge. The path to knowledge really begins at the point where we realise, in all humility, all that we are incapable of doing, but which must nevertheless come to pass in cosmic existence.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 236 – Karmic Relationships: Esoteric Studies – Volume II: Lecture VII – Dornach, 9th May 1924

Translated by G. Adams, M. Cotterell, C. Davy, & D. S. Osmond

Previously posted on March 6, 2016 

Entrance into the spiritual world

Entrance into the spiritual world is imagined in a way too similar to an experience of the senses; therefore, what is experienced when reading about this world is considered to be much too much of the nature of thought. But if we have truly absorbed these thoughts we are already within this world and have only to become quite clear about the fact that we have already experienced, unnoticed, what we thought we had received merely as an intellectual communication.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 13 – An Outline of Occult Science: 1. The Character of Occult Science

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

Previously posted on March 30, 2015

Earthquake Catastrophes – Can they be foreseen?

A question was handed to me this morning about earthquake catastrophes. The question runs as follows: “What is the occult explanation of earthquakes? Can they be foreseen? If particular catastrophes can be foreseen, why should it not be possible to give some warning beforehand? Such a warning might possibly be ineffective the first time but certainly not on another occasion.”

You may remember something of what was said at the end of the lecture on the interior of the earth about the possibility of earthquakes. We will not consider that now but enter directly into this question. In reality it has two sides. The one is: Whether from the occult connections which can be discerned, earthquakes can be foreseen? The answer to this is that the knowledge of such matters belongs to the deepest realm of occult science. In respect of a particular event on the earth, an event with roots as deeply laid as those described to-day, and connected with causes extending widely over the earth — in respect of such an event it is absolutely correct to say that even in a particular case an indication of time can be given. It would certainly be possible for the occultist to give such an indication.

But the other side of the question is: whether it is permissible for such indications to be given? — For one who confronts the occult secrets from outside it will seem almost a matter of course that the answer will be “Yes!” And yet the truth is that in regard to such events it is actually only twice or three times in any one century — at the very most, twice or three times — that any prediction can be announced from the centers of Initiation. For you must remember that these things are connected with the karma of humanity as a whole and if, for example, they were avoided in one instance they would inevitably occur in some other place and in a different form. The prediction itself would alter nothing.

And just think what a terrible encroachment it would be into the karma of the earth as a whole if human measures were adopted to prevent such happenings. The reaction would be so fearful, so violent, that only in very rare and exceptional cases would a high Initiate, foreseeing an earthquake, be able to make use of his knowledge to help himself or those near him. With full knowledge he would have to face his end, as a matter of course! For these things that have been implicit in the karma of humanity for thousands and millions of years cannot be paralyzed by measures adopted during one brief period of evolution.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 107 – The Deed of Christ and the Opposing Spiritual Powers – Mephistopheles and Earthquakes – Berlin, 1st January 1909

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond

Previously posted on Februari 24, 2016