Memory of animals

It is even easier to fall into the error of ascribing memory to animals than it is to ascribe consciousness to plants. It is very natural to think of memory when a dog recognizes its master whom he has not seen perhaps for a long time. Yet, in reality, this recognition does not rest upon memory, but upon something quite different. The dog feels a certain attraction to its master. This attraction proceeds from the master’s personality. This personality causes pleasure in the dog when the master is in its presence, and every time the master’s presence reoccurs, it causes a renewal of this pleasure. 

Memory, however, is only present when a being not only feels with its experiences in the present, but when it retains also those of the past. One might acknowledge this and still fall into the error of thinking that the dog has memory. For it might be said that the dog mourns when its master leaves it, therefore it has retained a memory of him. That also is an incorrect conclusion. Through sharing the master’s life, his presence becomes a need to the dog and it, therefore, experiences his absence in the same way that it experiences hunger. Whoever does not make these distinctions, will not arrive at clarity concerning the true relationships of life.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 13 – An Outline of Occult Science: II: THE ESSENTIAL NATURE OF MANKIND

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

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The fruit of spiritual knowledge

The human being can deceive himself. He can yield to the belief that there is no hidden world, that what appears to his senses and his intellect contains everything that can possibly exist. But this deception is only possible, not for the deeper, but for the surface consciousness. Feeling and desire do not submit to this deceptive belief. In one way or another, they will always crave for a concealed something, and if this is withdrawn from them, they force the human being into doubt, into a feeling of insecurity of life, indeed, into despair. A cognition that reveals the hidden is capable of overcoming all hopelessness, all insecurity, all despair, in fact all that weakens life and makes it incapable of the service required of him in the cosmos.

This is the beautiful fruit of the knowledge of spiritual science that it gives strength and firmness to life, and not alone gratification to the passion for knowledge. The source from which this knowledge draws its power to work and its trust in life is inexhaustible. No one who has once really approached this source will, by repeatedly taking refuge in it, go away unstrengthened.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 13 – An Outline of Occult Science: I: THE CHARACTER OF OCCULT SCIENCE

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

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Welfare and Misfortune

Knowledge of higher worlds 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: I: THE CHARACTER OF OCCULT SCIENCE

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

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Becoming the victor over all that hampers and weakens life

To a person who has been led to occult science by means of these soul experiences there opens up not only the prospect of finding the answer to certain questions springing from his craving for knowledge, but also the quite different prospect of becoming the victor over all that hampers and weakens life. It signifies, in a certain higher sense, a weakening of life, indeed a death of the soul, when a human being sees himself forced to turn away from the supersensible, or to deny it. Indeed, under certain conditions it leads to despair when a man loses hope of having the hidden revealed to him. This death and despair in their manifold forms are, at the same time, inner soul opponents of occult-scientific striving. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 13 – An Outline of Occult Science: I: THE CHARACTER OF OCCULT SCIENCE

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

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A person should speak only of what he knows and  not make statements about something he does not know

The opinion that there are limits to human cognition that cannot be overstepped, compelling man to stop short before an invisible world, must be replied to by saying that there can be no doubt about the impossibility of finding access to the invisible world with the kind of cognition referred to here. Whoever considers that form of cognition to be the only possible one cannot come to any other opinion than that the human being is denied access to a possibly existent higher world. 

Yet the following may also be stated. If it is possible to develop another kind of cognition, this then may well lead into the supersensible world. If this kind of cognition is considered to be impossible, then we reach a point of view from which all talk about a supersensible world appears as pure nonsense. From an impartial viewpoint, however, the only reason for such an opinion can be the fact that the person holding it has no knowledge of this other kind of cognition. Yet how can a person pass judgment upon something about which he himself admits his ignorance? 

Unprejudiced thinking must hold to the premise that a person should speak only of what he knows and  not make statements about something he does not know. Such thinking can only speak of the right that a person has to communicate what he himself has experienced, but it cannot speak of the right that somebody declare impossible what he does not know or does not wish to know. We cannot deny anyone the right to ignore the supersensible, but there can never be any good reason for him to declare himself an authority, not only on what he himself can know, but also on all that a man can not know.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 13 – An Outline of Occult Science: I: THE CHARACTER OF OCCULT SCIENCE

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