How uttering an untruth affects the worth of our ego

Now in our life on earth there is only one member of our being whose development we can work at in the real sense, and that is our ego. What does it mean to work at the development of the “I?” To answer this question we must realize what it is that makes this work necessary. 

Suppose a man goes to another and says to him, “You are wicked.” If this is not the case the man has told an untruth. What is the consequence of the ego’s having uttered an untruth such as this? The consequence is that from this moment the worth of the ego is less than it was before the utterance was made. That is the objective consequence of the immoral deed. Before uttering an untruth our worth is greater than it is afterwards. For all time to come and in all spheres, for all eternity the worth of our ego is less as the result of such a deed. 

But during the life between birth and death a certain means is at our disposal. We can always make amends for having lessened the worth of our ego; we can invalidate the untruth. To the one we have called wicked we can confess, “I erred; what I said is not true,” and so on. In doing this we restore worth to our ego and compensate for the harm done.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 140 – Life Between Death and Rebirth: III: Man’s Journey Through the Planetary Spheres and the Significance of a Knowledge of Christ – Hanover, November 18, 1912

Translated by Rene Querido

Previously posted on December 28, 2016

Second English translation of this text

What does a false statement (lie) mean to the ego?

In life on earth we have only one human being, whose development we can really work on, that is our ego. In a certain way we can work on the development of our ego. What does it mean in a spiritual sense: working on the development of the ego?

If we are to answer this question, we must be clear about what it takes to work on the “I”. Let’s suppose someone attacks another and says to him, “You are a bad person.” If that is not true, then the person has said an untruth. What does such a false statement mean to the “I”? Yes, this statement of the “I”, which is an untruth, means that the “I” has become less valuable from that moment on.

That is the objective consequence of immorality. Before we have said a falsehood, we are worth more than after we have said the falsehood. The value of the ego becomes less for all spaces and all times, for all infinity and all eternity, if you have made it less by such a thing.

Now, however, one thing is available to us in the life between birth and death. If we can overcome our lies, we can always improve what we have done that has made our self less valuable. We can confess to the person we said, “You are a bad person,” “I was mistaken, what I said is not right,” and so on. Then we have restored the value of our I, then we have compensated for the damage we have added to our I.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 140 – Okkulte Untersuchungen über das Leben zwischen Tod und neuer Geburt – Hanover, November 18, 1912 (pages 43-44) 

Translated by Robert W. Gorter, MD, PhD