Those who are merely devout, even devout in spiritual science, are just as much responsible for the catastrophes of the present time as the capitalists with their materialistic attitude and mentality

Extreme capitalism thus has on the one hand this terribly abstract moral-spiritual life, which seeks to separate itself entirely from all the external realities of existence. There is, however, another attitude in modern life which has exercised just as evil an influence: as materialistic capitalism, namely that attitude which induces people to say: “What do I care about Ahriman! Let Ahriman be Ahriman; I devote myself to the impulses of my innermost soul, I surrender to the spiritual world. I seek the spiritual world within my own being; my chief interest is the soul and its concerns. What do I care for Ahrimanic things, such as credit, money, income and property! What do I care for the difference between profit and assets, etc! I care for the things which concern my soul!” 

But even as man unites within himself body, soul and spirit, which are linked together during the life between birth and death, at the impulses which we may find through our soul’s innermost structure are connected, in external physical life, with the impulses contained in the external economic order. Those who are merely devout, even devout in spiritual science, are just as much responsible for the catastrophes of the present time as the capitalists with their materialistic attitude and mentality; they are just as guilty as the capitalists, through the fact that they enclose spiritual-scientific truths within their own abstract limits and are not willing to permeate everyday reality with penetrating thoughts.

This fact has again and again induced me to tell you that the Anthroposophical spiritual movement should not be regarded as something which gives you the opportunity to listen to Sunday afternoon sermons, which caress the soul because they speak of an everlasting life, and so forth, but the Anthroposophical movement should be taken as a path which enables us to cope in a real, concrete way with the modern problems of life, the burning problems of the present. One of the first requirements is this: to understand from where we must set out, and that everything will be of no use whatever unless people find access to a really unprejudiced way of thinking.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 188 – The Emancipation of the Economic Process From the Personal Element / The Separation of the Moral-Spiritual Life From the External Realities of Existence – Dornach, 1st February, 1919

A mission that weighs heavily on the heart

Think how much this means: — Here is a man who stands within some national group. We can see at once, he is a Russian, he is a Frenchman, he is an Englishman, he is a German. We recognise it by his appearance, and we locate him by thinking, as we see him, where can this man belong? We think it a matter of some importance if we can recognise: he is a Turk, he is a Russian, or the like. Now with those who today receive Anthroposophy with inner force of soul, with deep impulse and strength of heart — who receive it, therefore, as the deepest force of their life — such distinctions will have no more meaning when next they return to earth. People will say: Where does he come from? He is not of any nation, he is not of any race, he is as though he had grown away from all races and nations.

When the last Michael dominion took place, in the age of Alexander, the point was to spread Grecian culture in a cosmopolitan way, carrying it out in all directions. The campaigns of Alexander were an immense achievement in the equalising of men on earth, I mean in the spreading among them of a common element. But the thing was not yet able to strike so deep, for at that time Michael still administered the Cosmic Intelligence. Now Intelligence is on the earth, now it strikes far deeper, it strikes down even into the earthly element of man. For the first time, the Spiritual is preparing to become a race-creating force. The time will come when one will no longer be able to say: the man looks as if he belonged to this or that country, — he is a Turk, or an Arabian, an Englishman, a Russian or a German, — but one will have to say what will amount to this: ‘In a former life on earth this man felt impelled to turn towards the Spirit in the sense of Michael.’ Thus, that which is influenced by Michael will appear as an immediate, physically creative, physically formative power.

Now this is a thing that takes root deeply, very deeply in the karma of the individual. Hence the strange destiny of those who are sincere anthroposophists, the strange destiny that they are not able to come to terms with the world: they cannot quite master it, and yet at the same time they have to approach the world and enter into it with full earnestness.

I have said that those who stand with full intensity within the Anthroposophical Movement will return at the end of the century, and others will then unite with them, for by this means the salvation of the earth and earthly civilisation from destruction must eventually be settled. This is the mission of the Anthroposophical Movement, which weighs on the one hand so heavily upon one’s heart, while on the other hand it moves the heart, uplifts it with enthusiasm. This mission we must understand and see.

It is most necessary for the anthroposophist to know that in this situation as an anthroposophist his karma will be harder to experience than it is for other men. From the very outset those who come into the Anthroposophical Society are predestined to a harder, more difficult experience of karma than other men. And if we try to pass this harder experience by — if we want to experience our karma in a comfortable way — it will surely take vengeance on us in one direction or another. We must be anthroposophists in our experience of karma too. To be true anthroposophists we must be able to observe our own experience of karma with constant wide-awake attention. If we do not, then our comfortable, easy-going experiencing of our karma — or rather our desire to experience it so — will find expression and take vengeance in physical illnesses, physical accidents and the like.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 237 – Karmic Relationships: Esoteric Studies-Volume III: IX: Entry of the Michael  Forces – Dornach, 3rd August 1924

Translated by George Adams & D. S. Osmond

Previously posted on July 10, 2016

The chaos all about us has been caused because we live in abstractions

As I have often pointed out, what is lacking, what we need more than anything else, are concepts and views that are real and concrete, concepts that penetrate to the reality of things. The chaos all about us has been caused because we live in abstractions, in concepts and views that are alien to the reality. How can it be otherwise when we are so estranged from the spiritual aspect of reality that we deny it altogether? True concepts of reality will be attained only when the spirit in all its weaving life is acknowledged.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 176 – Aspects of Human Evolution – Human Development, Contemporary Struggling People – Lecture V – Berlin, July 3, 1917

Translated by Rita Stebbing

Previously posted on June 30, 2016

Wisdom acquired through Error

Wisdom can only be gained by making countless mistakes. Goethe states: “The human being errs while he strives.” In the same way that a child learns that it hurts to fall, all the great personalities had to learn through experience when making mistakes. Wisdom can only be gained by making mistakes.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 88 – Über die astrale Welt und das Devachan – Berlin, December 2, 1903 (page 86)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

About Compassion, Love and Sexuality

The second quality that must be developed by human souls to attract the Christ Impulse is a power of compassion. Whenever the soul is moved to share in the suffering or joy of others, this is a force which attracts the Christ Impulse; Christ unites Himself with the human soul through compassion and love. Compassion and love are the forces from which Christ forms His etheric body until the end of earthly evolution.

With regard to compassion and love one could, to put it crudely, speak of a programme which Spiritual Science must carry out in the future. In this connection, materialism has evolved a pernicious science, such as has never previously existed on Earth. The very worst offence committed today is to correlate love and sexuality. This is the worst possible expression of materialism, the most devilish symptom of our time.

Sexuality and love have nothing whatever to do with each other. Sexuality is something quite different from and has no connection at all with pure, original love. Science has brought things to a shameful point by means of an extensive literature devoted to connecting these two things which are simply not connected.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 143 – Ancient Wisdom and the Herald of the Christ Impulse – Cologne, May 8, 1912

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond