Feeling for truth and the power of understanding it are inherent in everyone

It is not only to researchers into the spiritual world that the observer of the supersensible has to speak. He must address his words to all men, because he has to give an account of things that concern all men. Indeed, he knows that without a knowledge of these things no one can, in the true sense of the word, be a human being. Thus, he speaks to all men because he knows there are different degrees of understanding for what he has to say. 

The feeling for truth and the power of understanding it are inherent in everyone, and he knows that even those who are still far from the moment in which they will acquire the ability to make their own spiritual research can bring a measure of understanding to meet him. He addresses himself first to this understanding that can flash forth in every healthy soul. He knows that in this understanding there is a force that must slowly lead to the higher degrees of knowledge. 

This feeling, which perhaps at first perceives nothing at all of what it is told, is itself the magician that opens the “eye of the spirit.” In darkness this feeling stirs. The soul sees nothing, but through this feeling it is seized by the power of truth. The truth then gradually draws nearer to the soul and opens the higher sense in it. In one person it may take a longer, in another a shorter time. Everyone, however, who has patience and endurance reaches this goal, for although not every physical eye can be operated on, every spiritual eye can be opened. When it will be opened is only a question of time.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 9 – Theosophy – An Introduction to the Supersensible Knowledge of the World and the Destination of Man

Translated by Henry B. Monges and revised for this edition by Gilbert Church, Ph.D.


Theory / Experience / Knowledge

It is only actual experience that gives knowledge; no theory ever does so. Every theory starts from some special domain and then proceeds to generalize. True knowledge can only be acquired when we start from life and from experience. We must not therefore consider the laws of gravity by themselves, or the laws of plant life, or the laws of animal instinct, or the laws of mental coercion, because if we do, we think only of their details, generalize them, and then arrive at entirely false conclusions. We must have in mind where the Nature-forces are revealed in their cooperation and mutual interaction.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 219 – Spiritual Communion: Lecture III: From Man’s Living Together with the Course of Cosmic Existence Arises the Cosmic Cult – Dornach, December 29, 1922


Mental Illnesses / Heredity

People are surprised that mental illnesses are hereditary. In fact, mental illnesses are always based on physical ailments; they arise from a malfunctioning of the body. Neither the spirit nor the soul can fall ill. Though mental illnesses are always rooted in physical problems, people wonder how they can occur through heredity, which indeed they can do. If a parent, particularly the mother, suffers from tuberculosis or another disease like arteriosclerosis, which admittedly occurs rarely in younger persons, the children do not necessarily become afflicted with these illnesses but instead can suffer from mental deficiencies. 

People are surprised about this, but need it puzzle us, gentlemen? Whatever the child can inherit must be inherited first of all from its head. Therefore, if the mother is consumptive, one need not be surprised that her condition is not passed on to the lungs of the unborn child, which, after all, are not even functioning yet. The condition is rather carried over into the head and comes to expression in the brain. 

Thus, nobody should be surprised that the disease inherited is quite different from that of the parent. Venereal disease, for example, can appear in children as an eye disease. It is no wonder, for when the child’s head is developing, its eyes are exposed to what afflicts the parents; its eyes are in an environment that’s venereally diseased! So it is not at all surprising.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 348 – Health and Illness I: Lecture II: Illnesses Occurring in the Different Periods of Life – Dornach, October 24, 1922



If anybody asserts, this is true, he is a poor devil or a fool  

Our contemporaries do not want to get involved in these higher worlds. Our age is tired of the consideration of the supersensible world, and, hence, this age is very gullible toward those who put up the sentence: what I cannot perceive is not true, and if anybody asserts, it is true, he is a poor devil or a fool. — Too many people become believers of such an opinion in this age. Even if we also realise which big and immense progress our age has performed concerning the physical science, nevertheless, we also see on the other side how little the predominating part of our contemporaries is inclined to penetrate into the supersensible world. One means that the penetration in the supersensible world makes the human being weak and foreign towards the sensuous world. This is a prejudice. If anybody has a piece of iron and says: this iron has magnetic force; touch it with another iron and you have a magnet — another may come and say, nonsense! The piece of iron is good for hammering down nails. — These are the true daydreamers who take the sensuous, the practical only in such a way as that man who hammers down nails only with the magnet.

The realists, the monists, the utilitarians, and others are the true daydreamers. They know the forces of the physical world only and triumph if the immense progress is done by merely revealing the forces of the physical world. Spiritual science has to argue nothing at all against this physical world. However, it also knows that it is high time that the human beings learn again that in the physical the spiritual is concealed, and that just the human beings become dreamy when they close their spiritual eye to the spiritual world. Today true realists, apostles of reality are those who point to the spiritual forces! What do these truthful realists want? They want that the real forces slumbering behind the sensuous are introduced in this world that they settle down in our whole development that we do not only introduce the telegraph, the telephone and the railway, the usual forces but also the spiritual forces.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 56 – Knowledge of Soul and Spirit: Lecture XV: The Heaven – Berlin, 14 May 1908

Portraits of Rudolf Steiner 0018

Muddled, fantastic speculations

Many of our contemporaries have received the idea more or less superficially that spiritual science is something that lies far away from all practical life and cannot at all intervene anyhow in this practical life of the daily routine. You do not find the idea as seldom as it expresses itself in the words: oh, this spiritual science, it is something for single people who are tired of life who do not deal with anything practical and have time enough to deal with all sorts of muddled, fantastic speculations as the spiritual-scientific ideas are.

I do not deny from the outset that strictly speaking such a reproach is even justified with many theosophical/anthroposophical phenomena that it is often true that those who deal with theosophical/anthroposophical matters and ideas really face the everyday life as strangely as possible. However, even among those who have hard to fight and to work in the everyday life and bring themselves through only with pain and misery, those are found who are driven from inner sympathy, from the yearning of their hearts to spiritual science. Among them many a man will be for whom this duality — the everyday occupation, the everyday work from morning to night and then the merging in the great ideas has something marvellous. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 56 – Knowledge of Soul and Spirit: Lecture XI: Occupation and Earnings – Berlin, 12 March 1908