Not just the literal content

Today, lazy people, concerning themselves with the content of words only, often say when they read something: ‘I have read this before somewhere or other.’ They must learn to realise that what is of real importance is not the content of what is said, but who it is who is speaking; to realise that the man must be recognised from what he says, because the words are only gestures and the real point is to know who is making these gestures. That is what humanity must come to realise.

Here we have a great mystery of everyday life. It makes all the difference whether each sentence is the outcome of intense struggle on the part of the personal Ego or has been ‘inspired’ in some way either from below, or from above, or from one side or another. The power of suggestion is actually the greater in what has been inspired in this way, because in reading what has been the outcome of struggle, we ourselves have to wrestle with it. The time is approaching when the primary importance must no longer be attached to the purely literal content of what is before us, but above all to who is saying this or that — I do not mean only the actual physical personality, but the whole human-spiritual setting.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 182 – How Do I Find the Christ? – Zürich, October 16th, 1918

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond & Alan P. Shepherd


Rudolf Steiner 1894 – painted by Josef Rolletschek

Previously posted on February 6, 2018

A skeleton in comparison with the living realities

Although Spiritual Science is necessary, although the times demand it, nevertheless in a certain respect we must feel it to be a skeleton in comparison with the living realities of existence. It is indeed so. When anthroposophy keeps only our intellects busy, when with our intellects we draw up tables and coin all kinds of technical expressions, anthroposophy is nothing but a skeleton — above all when it is speaking of the living human being. 

It begins to be a little more bearable when we are able to picture, for instance, the conditions of existence on Saturn, Sun and Moon, the earlier epochs of Earth-evolution or the work of the several Hierarchies.
But to say that the human being consists of physical body, ether-body, astral body and Ego — or Manas and Kama-Manas … this is really dreadful, and it is even more dreadful to have charts and tables of these things. Thinking of the human being in all his majesty, I can scarcely imagine anything more horrible than to be surrounded in a great hall by a number of living people and to have on the blackboard beside one a chart of the seven principles of man! But so, alas, it must be … and there is no getting away from it.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 286 – And The Temple Becomes Man – Berlin, December 12, 1911

Translated by D.S. Osmond


Previously posted on February 1, 2018

Julius Robert Mayer

The development of science, you know, is sometimes remarkable. A monument stands today in Heilbronn — certainly it is rather dreadful as a work of art, but still it stands there and represents Julius Robert Mayer. If you hear about him in science today, you learn that he was a pioneering genius through his researches in the 40’s of the last century into the nature of the action of heat. 

Julius Robert Mayer was born in Heilbronn, practiced there as a doctor and went about without being particularly noticed. The scientists of the time paid no special attention to him. And although today he is described everywhere as a highly gifted pioneer in physics, at that time when he sat for his medical examination at Tubingen he failed it. If you made investigations, you would come on the remarkable fact that the majority of men who later became geniuses failed earlier in their examinations. And this was also the fate of Julius Robert Mayer. By the skin of his teeth, he managed to get through and become a doctor. But no one considered him remarkable during his lifetime — in fact, quite the contrary. He became so enthusiastic about his discovery that he talked of it everywhere. Then people said that his mind was wandering and put him in an asylum. His own generation put him in a madhouse while posterity looks upon him as a great genius and puts up a monument to him in his native town.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 354 – The Evolution of the Earth and Man and The Influence of the Stars: Lecture XII – Dornach, 18th September 1924

Translated by Gladys Hahn


Julius Robert von Mayer

Previously posted on January 31, 2018

Laying aside moods

Thus, you can see that what matters more than anything else in a teacher is the way in which he regards his holy calling. That is not without significance, for the most Important things In teaching and in education are those which are imponderable. A teacher who enters his classroom with this feeling in his heart achieves something different from another. Just as, even in everyday life, it is not always the largest thing physically that determines our standard but something quite small, so also it is not always what we do with the largest number of words which carries most weight, but sometimes it is that perception, that feeling which we have built up in our hearts before we enter the classroom. 

There is one thing especially which is of great importance. That is that we must quickly strip off our narrower, personal self like a snake skin when we go into the class. A teacher may in certain circumstances, because he, as is sometimes said with such self-satisfaction, is also only human, go through all sorts of experiences between the end of a class one day and beginning again on the next. It may be that he has been warned by his creditors, or he may have had a quarrel with his wife, as does happen in life.

These are things which bring disharmonies. Disharmonies of this kind give a man’s frame of mind a certain tendency; so also do happy joyous feelings. The father of one of your pupils, if he particularly likes you, may have sent you a hare after he has been out hunting, or a bunch of flowers perhaps, if you are a lady teacher. What I mean is that it is quite a natural thing in life to have moods of this kind. As teachers we must train ourselves to lay aside these moods and to give ourselves up entirely to the content of the subject we are going to teach, so that we are really able in presenting one subject to speak tragically, taking our mood from our subject and then to pass over into a humorous mood as we proceed with our lesson, in this way entering completely into our subject.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 302a – The Inner Attitude of the Teacher – Stuttgart, September 15, 1920


Steiner’s preferred vocation

In 1892, in filling out the well-known questionnaire (Lindenberg does not state which questionnaire this is) Steiner answered the question “which vocation seems to you to be the best?” with the words: “Any vocation in which one’s entire energy will be used to its fullest.”

Source: Christoph Lindenberg’s Biography of Steiner – Epilogue, page 763