Karma-Moral-Egoism (5 of 5)

People have a certain antipathy toward moral preachments. They say, “What is being preached to me is the will of someone else and I am supposed simply to acquiesce to it.” This belief will become more and more dominant to the degree that materialistic consciousness becomes dominant.

One says today that there is a morality of class, of social standing, and what such a class morality considers to be right is then applied to the other class. Such an attitude has found its way into human souls and in the future it will become worse and worse. People will come increasingly to feel that they themselves want to find everything that is to be acknowledged as correct in this sphere. They will feel that it should originate in their own inclination toward objective knowledge. The human individuality wants to be taken ever more seriously. But at the moment in which the heart, for instance, were to realize that it too would be sick if the whole organism became sick, man would do what is necessary in order not to fall ill. At the moment in which man realizes that he is embedded within the total organism of the earth and has no business being a festering boil on the earth’s body — at that moment there exists an objective basis for morality. And man will say, “If I steal I am seeking my own personal advantage. I refrain from stealing because if I do steal I shall make sick the entire organism without which I cannot live. I do the opposite and thereby bring about something advantageous not only for the organism but also for myself.”

In the future the moral awareness of human beings will form itself in this general way. He who, through anthroposophy, finds an impetus to moral action will say to himself that it is an illusion to seek personal advantage through an immoral action. If you do that, you are like an octopus that ejects a dark fluid: you eject a dark aura of immoral impulses. Lying and stealing are the seeds of an aura into which you place yourself and through which you make the whole world unhappy.

People say, “All that surrounds us is maya.” But such truths must become truths for life itself. Let us suppose that one can demonstrate that through anthroposophy humanity’s moral development in the future will enable man to see how he wraps himself in an aura of illusions when he seeks his own advantage. If one can demonstrate this, it will become a practical truth to say that the world is a maya or illusion.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 127 – The Significance of Spiritual Research For Moral Action – Bieleveld, 6 March 1911

Translated by Alan P. Cottrell, Ph.D.

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Previously posted on April 25, 2018

Karma-Moral-Egoism (4 of 5)

When a process of infection arises in the human organism, the entire organism is seized by fever, by illness. If we translate this into terms applicable to the earth organism we can say that what occultism maintains is true: When something immoral is done anywhere on earth it amounts to the same thing for the whole earth organism as a little festering boil on the human body, which makes the whole organism sick. So that if a theft is committed on the earth the result is that the entire earth develops a kind of fever. This is not meant merely in a metaphorical sense. It is well-founded. The whole organism of the earth suffers from everything immoral and as individuals we can do nothing immoral without affecting the whole earth.

It is really a simple thought, yet people have a difficult time grasping it. But let those people who do not want to believe it just wait. Let one try to impress such thoughts upon our culture; let one try with these thoughts to appeal to the human heart, the human conscience. Whenever people anywhere act immorally their actions are a kind of infected boil for the whole earth and make the earth organism ill, and experience would show that tremendous moral impulses inhere in such knowledge.

One can preach morality as much as one likes; it will not help people one bit. But knowledge such as we have developed here would not seize hold of people merely as knowledge. If it found its way into the developing culture, if it streamed into the soul already in childhood, it would provide a tremendous moral impulse, for in the end no moral preachments have any real power to overwhelm, to convince the human soul. Schopenhauer is quite right when he says that to preach morality is easy but to establish it is difficult.  

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 127 – The Significance of Spiritual Research For Moral Action – Bieleveld, 6 March 1911

Translated by Alan P. Cottrell, Ph.D.

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Previously posted on April 24, 2018

Karma-Moral-Egoism (3 of 5)

For one thing will become increasingly clear for all people as anthroposophy enters their consciousness: that in the sense of higher causes we have to do not at all with totally separate human individualities, but that along with the separate individualities the whole of humanity forms a unity. One will realize more and more that in the sense of a true view of the world the finger is more intelligent than the whole man, for it does not presume to be something on its own, independent of the entire human organism to which it belongs. In its dull consciousness it knows that it cannot exist without the whole organism.

But people continually embrace illusions. They fancy themselves separate by virtue of what is enclosed within their skins. This they are, however, just as little as is the finger without the whole organism. The source of the illusion is the fact that the human being can wander about and the finger cannot. We are in the same situation on earth as is the finger on our organism. The science that believes our earth is a glowing hot, fluid sphere surrounded by a hard shell upon which we humans walk about, and that this explains the earth, stands at the same level as a science that would believe that in all essential respects the human being consists of nothing more, nothing else than his skeleton, for what one perceives of the earth is the same as the skeleton in man.

The rest of what belongs to the earth is of a super-sensible nature. The earth is a real organism, a real living being. When one pictures to oneself the human being as a living creature, one can think of his blood with its red and white corpuscles. These can only develop in the entire human organism and thereby be what they are. What these red and white blood corpuscles are for the human being we human beings are for the organism of the earth. We definitely belong to this earth organism. We form a part of the whole living being that is the earth, and only then do we view ourselves correctly when we say, “As single individuals we are nothing. We are only complete when we think our way into the ‘body’ of the earth, the body of which we perceive only the skeleton, the mineral shell, as long as we do not acknowledge the spiritual members of this earth organism.”

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 127 – The Significance of Spiritual Research For Moral Action – Bieleveld, 6 March 1911

Translated by Alan P. Cottrell, Ph.D.

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Previously posted on April 23, 2018

Karma-Moral-Egoism (2 of 5)

It would actually be a severe reproach if one were able to maintain that theosophy prompts people to develop moral action not out of sympathy and compassion but out of fear of punishment. Let us now ask ourselves whether such a reproach is really justified. We must reach very deeply into occult research if we wish to refute such a reproach to anthroposophy in a really fundamental way.

Let us assume that someone were to say that if a person does not already possess this striving for perfection, theosophy will certainly never prompt him to moral actions. A deeper understanding of what anthroposophy has to say can teach us that the individual is related to the whole of humanity in such a way that by acting immorally he not only does something that may earn him a punishment. It is rather the case that through an immoral thought, an immoral action or attitude he brings about something really absurd, something that cannot be reconciled with truly healthy thinking.

The statement has many implications. An immoral action not only implies a subsequent karmic punishment; it is rather in the most fundamental respect an action that one definitely ought not to do. Let us assume that a person commits a theft. In so doing the person incurs a karmic punishment. If one wishes to avoid this punishment one simply does not steal. But the matter is still more complicated. Let us ask ourselves what really motivates the person who lies or steals. The liar or thief seeks personal advantage — the liar perhaps wishing to wiggle out of an unpleasant situation. Such an action is only meaningful if one actually does gain an advantage through lying or stealing. If the person were now to realize that he simply cannot have that advantage, that he is wrong, that on the contrary he will bring about a disadvantage, he would then say to himself that it is nonsense even to think about such an action. As theosophy penetrates ever deeper into human civilization, people will know that it is absurd, indeed that it is ridiculous, to believe that through lying or stealing one can acquire what one seeks to acquire.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 127 – The Significance of Spiritual Research For Moral Action – Bieleveld, 6 March 1911

Translated by Alan P. Cottrell, Ph.D.

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Previously posted on April 22, 2018

Karma-Moral-Egoism (1 of 5)

The objection is frequently made that anthroposophy does not really work its way into the realm of morality. In fact it is said that through certain of its teachings it in some respects not only does not counter egotism but furthers it. Those who are of this opinion share the following thoughts. They say that anthroposophy demonstrates how the human being develops his existence from life to life and that the main point is that even if he suffers defeats he has the possibility of striving ever higher, employing in a subsequent life the results of what he has learned in a given life as in a kind of “school.” He who immerses himself completely in this belief in human perfectibility will strive to render his “I” ever more pure, to make it as rich as possible, so that he may ascend ever higher and higher.

This, so these people say, is after all really an egotistic striving. For we anthroposophist, they say, seek to attract teachings and forces from the spiritual world in order to elevate our “I” to ever greater heights. This is therefore an egotistic basis for human action. These people maintain further that we anthroposophists are convinced that we prepare a bad karma for ourselves through imperfect actions. Thus in order not to do so the anthroposophist will avoid doing this or that which he would otherwise have done. He therefore refrains from the action for fear of karma. For the same reason he would probably also do this or that which he otherwise would not have done, and this too would be but one more quite egotistic motivation for an action. There are a number of people who say that the teachings of karma and reincarnation as well as the rest of the striving for perfection which originates in anthroposophy leads people to work spiritually for a refined form of higher egotism. 

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 127 – The Significance of Spiritual Research For Moral Action – Bieleveld, 6 March 1911

Translated by Alan P. Cottrell, Ph.D.

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Previously posted on April 21, 2018