False assertion

As I have often said before, Christ did not come with the message, ‘Here I am. Quickly write down everything you can say about me so that humanity can believe in it until the last days of the Earth!’ That is what is taught by the short-sighted, narrow-minded theology of today. What it very often teaches implies that the Christ said, ‘Certain things have I done. Quickly write them down, for that is what is to be taught until the last days of the Earth, and nothing shall be added to it.’

This assertion sits falsely. It is so false that people hesitate to utter it at all. I refer to those who consistently act in accordance with this assumption without ever once stating it. But the assumption on which they act sits falsely, very falsely. For the Christ said, ‘I will be with you to the last days of the Earth.’ And this implies that it is always possible to receive Christ’s revelation! In the early days of Christianity it was the Gospels that came from this source; today it is spiritual science.

Those who wrote down what could be written down in those days did not say, ‘We have written this down, and there is nothing else in addition to what we have written that can be written.’ They said, rather, ‘And there are also many other things which Jesus did, that which, if they should be written down, every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.’

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 170 – The Riddle of Humanity: Lecture twelve – Dornach, 27 August 1916

Translated by John F. Logan

Previously posted on January 22, 2019

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Conscious and subconscious soul life

There are many subconscious experiences in the human soul. There are depths of the human soul life that do not become concepts, mental pictures, acts of volition, at least not conscious ones, but only in the character of the human soul life. There is a subconscious soul life; and everything is there that can be in the conscious soul life. However, emotions, passions, sympathies and antipathies which we feel in the usual life consciously can also be in the subconscious regions, they are not perceived in it, but have an effect in the soul like a natural force, — save that they are mental and not physical. There is a whole region of the subconscious soul life.

The human being asserts, believes, and means many things not because he is completely aware of their premises; but he believes and means them from the subconscious soul life because unconscious emotions, inclinations urge him. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 63 – Spiritual Science as a Treasure for Life: Lecture II: Theosophy and Antisophy – Berlin, 6 November 1913

Portrait Steiner by Sunny West

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Correct thinking and right judgment does not always lead to the truth

In the world outside, in so far as this world is ruled by external science, when people speak of knowledge, you will always find them say: Yes, of course, we arrive at knowledge when we have formed right judgments and exercised correct thinking. I recently cited a very simple example to illustrate how great an error is involved in this assumption that we are bound to arrive at truth when we make correct and reasonable judgments; and I would like to relate it again now, to show you that accuracy of reasoning need by no means lead to the truth.

There was once a small boy in a village who was sent regularly by his parents to fetch bread. He used always to have ten kreuzer, and bring back in exchange six rolls. If you bought one such roll it cost two kreuzer, but he always brought back six rolls for his ten kreuzer. The boy was not particularly good at arithmetic and never troubled himself as to how it worked out that he always took with him ten kreuzer, that a roll cost two and yet he brought home six rolls in return for his ten. One day a boy was brought into the family from another part and he became for our small boy a kind of foster-brother. They were of about the same age, but the foster-brother was a good arithmetician. And he saw how his companion went to the baker’s, taking with him ten kreuzer, and he knew that a roll cost two. So he said to him, “You must bring home five rolls.” He was a very good arithmetician and his reasoning was perfectly accurate. One roll costs two kreuzer (so he reasoned), he takes with him ten, he will obviously bring home five rolls. But behold, he brought back six. Then said our good arithmetician: “But that is quite wrong! One roll costs two kreuzer, and you took ten, and two into ten goes five times; you can’t possibly bring back six rolls. You must have made a mistake or else you have pinched one …” But now, lo and behold, on the next day, too, the boy brought home six rolls. It was, you see, a custom in those parts that when you bought five you received an extra one in addition, so that in fact when you paid for five rolls you received six. It was a custom that was very agreeable for anyone who needed five rolls for his household.

The good arithmetician had reasoned, quite correctly, there was no fault in his thinking; but this correct thinking did not accord with reality. We are obliged to admit the correct thinking did not arrive at the reality, for reality does not order itself in accordance with correct thinking. You may see very clearly in this case how with the most conscientious, the most clever logical thinking that can possibly be spun out, you may arrive at a correct conclusion and yet, measured by reality your conclusion may be utterly and completely false. That can always happen. Consequently a proof that is acquired purely through thought can never be a criterion for reality — never.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 134 – The World of the Senses and the World of the Spirit – Hanover, 27th December 1911

Previously posted on January 20, 2019

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How unimportant is all that the teacher says or does not say and how important what he himself is

Let us say, the child wants to walk, has the will to walk, but cannot. This can become a pathological condition, can become quite conspicuous; it may even happen that at last the child comes to be described as “incapable of learning to walk”. But we will suppose that the condition shows itself in only a slight degree. So long as the teacher meets the situation with any kind of bias, so long as it can arouse in him irritation or excitement — so long will he remain incapable of making any real progress with the child. 

Not until the point has been reached where such a phenomenon becomes an objective picture and can be taken with a certain calm and composure as an objective picture for which nothing but compassion is felt — not until then is the necessary mood of soul present in the astral body of the teacher. Once this has come about, the teacher is there by the side of the child in a true relation and will do all else that is needful more or less rightly. For you have no idea how unimportant is all that the teacher says or does not say on the surface, and how important what he himself is, as teacher.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 317 – Curative Education: Lecture 2 – Dornach, 26th June 1924

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Self-observation

One must practice self-observation and try to bring home to oneself, without either mercy or consideration, the really grievous faults one knows oneself to possess, so that there comes before the soul a feeling, into which one must live deeply, of how little one corresponds to the great ideal of humanity.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 138 – Initiation, Eternity and the Passing Moment: Lecture IV – Munich, August 28, 1912

Translated by Gilbert Church

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