No one can become insane by being occupied with religious ideas

Spiritual science more than any other science is in a position to say something about so-called spiritual or mental illness. The name is actually misleading; one cannot speak of the spirit being ill. Furthermore, there is widespread confusion among lay people as well as professionals, mainly because of the way such illnesses are presented in popular literature. The descriptions are thought of as the reality. Megalomania, persecution-mania, religious-mania are spoken of, but these terms only point to symptoms.

No one can become insane by being occupied with religious ideas. Yet the most curious statements are put forward, for example that the discord between old and modern world conceptions was the cause of Friedrich Hölderlin’s illness. [Friedrich Hölderlin (1770–1843) was among the greatest of German lyric poets. His images were usually derived from classical Greek themes.] The illness from which he suffered would still have overtaken Hölderlin even if he had not been a poet; though in that case he would have expressed himself differently.

When a deeply religious person becomes mentally ill, his religious ideas become distorted. Had he been steeped in materialistic ideas, then they would have become distorted. The cause of mental illness is deeply rooted in human nature where it must be sought.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 55 – Supersensible Knowledge – Lecture VIII: Insanity in the Light of Spiritual Science – Berlin, 31st January 1907

Translated by Rita Stebbing

Previously posted on March, 2017


One who attains really spiritual perception does not become a dreamer

I have often emphasised that one who attains really spiritual perception does not become a dreamer or enthusiast, living only in the higher worlds and not seeing external reality. People who are ever dreaming in higher worlds, or about them, and do not see external reality, are not initiates; they should be considered from a pathological point of view, at least in the psychological sense of the term. The real knowledge of initiation does not estrange one from ordinary, physical life and its various relationships. On the contrary, it makes one a more painstaking, conscientious observer than without the faculty of seership. Indeed we may say: if a man has no sense of ordinary realities, no interest in ordinary realities, no interest in the details of others’ lives, if he is so ‘superior’ that he sails through life without troubling about its details, he shows he is not a genuine seer.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 234 – Anthroposophy, An Introduction: Lecture VIII – Dornach, 9th February 1924

Translated by Vera Compton-Burnett

Previously posted on May 11, 2016

Occult science by no means concerns only the individual human being

Occult science by no means concerns only the individual human being, only his personal welfare and misfortune. Precisely through true occult-scientific observations man arrives at the certainty that, from a higher standpoint, the welfare and misfortune of the individual is intimately bound up with the welfare or misfortune of the whole world. The human being comes to understand that he injures the whole universe and all its beings by not developing his forces in the proper way. If he lays waste his life by losing the relationship with the supersensible, he not only destroys something in his own inner being — the decaying of which can lead him finally to despair — but because of his weakness he creates a hindrance to the evolution of the whole world in which he lives.

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 May 10, 2016

In the future, a man’s moral qualities will be recognised from his actual appearance

In the sixth epoch (3573-5733) of post-Atlantean evolution, men will be born with bodies quite definitely expressing their inner, moral qualities. A man’s moral qualities will be recognised from his actual appearance. The moral physiognomy will then be very strongly in evidence and the physiognomy as it now is, will have receded more into the background. Man’s physiognomy today is largely determined through heredity: he resembles his parents, his grandparents, his people, and so forth. In the sixth epoch this will play no part at all; man will himself determine his outer appearance — as the result of his incarnations.

Human beings will all be very different, but each will have a very definite stamp. It will then be known with certainty: You have before you now a well-disposed or an ill-disposed man. Just as it is known today: You now have before you an Italian or a Frenchman, it will then be known: Here is a malicious or a kindly man — with all the many gradations. More and more, therefore, the moral qualities will be expressed in the countenance.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 254 – Significant Facts Pertaining to the Spiritual Life of the Middle of the XIXth Century – Lecture III – Dornach, 7th November 1915

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond

Previously posted on May 2, 2016

We must not expect the spiritual world to be merely a kind of finer sense-world

Many people try hard to see spirits or the activities of spirits, but they want to see them just as they see physical things. They want to see a spirit, but this spirit is expected to have the form of a man or a woman or perhaps a poodle, as these are seen in the physical world. In the other world, however, it is not like this. The process itself lies outside the ordinary consciousness and what enters into the consciousness is at most a picture, an image which appears afterwards.

In short, we must not expect the spiritual world to be merely a kind of finer sense-world, nor that it will speak in human words, the only difference being that the words come from the spiritual world. Our friends are often only willing to listen in this way to voices which seem to speak to them; these voices are expected to be similar to those of the physical world, merely giving a different, subtler version of things of the physical world. These people would like to enter the spiritual world with the ordinary consciousness which belongs to the physical world only.

Bron: Rudolf Steiner – GA 254 – The Occult Movement in the Nineteenth Century: Lecture Ten – Dornach, 25th October 1915

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond

Previously posted on May 1, 2016