Men regard it as a tremendously noble thing to repent of a deed; but that is not the best that can be done with a deed; for often repentance is based upon sheer egoism: one would like to have done something better in order to be a better man. That is egoistic. Our efforts will only cease to be egoistic when we do not wish to have done a thing better than we have done it, but consider it far more important to do the same thing better next time.
The intention which a man has is the more important thing, not the repentance — the endeavour to do the same thing on another occasion. And in this intention wish sounds as an undertone; so that we may well ask the question: What is this undertone of wish which accompanies our intention? For anyone who can really observe the soul this wish is the first element of all that remains over after death. It is something of this remainder which we feel when we say: we ought to have done it better: we wish we had done it better. In the wish, in the form in which I have described it to you, we have something which belongs to the Spirit-Self.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 293 – The Study of Man, Lecture IV – Stuttgart, 25th August 1919
Translated by Daphne Harwood & Helen Fox
Previously posted on June 14, 2016