Variety in the different incarnations (2 of 2)

And it must be constantly emphasised that when anthroposophists have the desire to sacrifice themselves, such desire is not enough. Many people would like to sacrifice themselves all the time — they feel happy in so doing — but before anyone can make a sacrifice of real value to the world he must have the strength required for it. A man must first be something before he can usefully sacrifice himself; otherwise the sacrifice of egohood is not of much value. Moreover in a certain respect a kind of egoism — although it is repressed — a kind of laziness, is present when a man makes no effort to develop, to persevere in his strivings, so that what he can achieve is of real value.

It might seem — but please do not misunderstand this — as though we were preaching lovelessness. The outer world is very prone to-day to reproach anthroposophists by saying: You aim at perfecting your own souls, you strive for the progress of your own souls. You become egoists! — It must be admitted that many capricious fancies, many failings and errors may arise in men’s endeavours towards perfection. What very often appears to be the principle of development adopted among anthroposophists does not by any means always call for admiration. Behind this striving there is often a great deal of hidden egoism.

On the other side it must be emphasised that we are living in an epoch of civilisation when devoted willingness for sacrifice only too often goes to waste. Although lack of love is in evidence everywhere, there is also an enormous waste of love and willingness for sacrifice. This must not be misunderstood; but it should be realised that love, if it is not accompanied by wisdom in the conduct of life, by wise insight into the existing conditions, can be very misplaced and therefore harmful rather than beneficial. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 135 – REINCARNATION AND KARMA THEIR SIGNIFICANCE IN MODERN CULTURE 4. Examples of the working of karma between two incarnations – Stuttgart, 21 February 1912 

Translated from shorthand reports unrevised by the lecturer, by D.S.   Osmond, C. Davy and S. and E. F. Derry.

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Variety in the different incarnations (1 of 2)

Just as the sex usually alternates in the successive incarnations, so, as a rule, an incarnation with a more intellectual trend follows one more inclined towards faith, then again towards intellectuality, and so forth. There are, of course, exceptions — there may be several consecutive male or female incarnations. But as a rule these qualities are mutually fruitful and complementary.

Other qualities in the human being are also complementary in a similar way, for example, the two qualities of soul we will call the capacity for love and inner strength.

Self-reliance, harmonious inner life, a feeling of our own sure foundations, the inner assurance that we know what we have to do in life—in this connection too the working of karma alternates in the different incarnations. The outstanding stamp of the one personality is loving devotion to his environment, forgetfulness of self, surrender to what is around him. Such an incarnation will alternate with one in which the individual feels the urge not to lose himself in the outer world but to strengthen himself inwardly, applying this strength to bring about his own progress. This latter urge must not, of course, degenerate into lack of love, any more than the former urge must not degenerate, as it might well do, into a complete loss of one’s own self. These two tendencies again belong together. 

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 135 – REINCARNATION AND KARMA THEIR SIGNIFICANCE IN MODERN CULTURE 4. Examples of the working of karma between two incarnations – Stuttgart, 21 February 1912 

Translated from shorthand reports unrevised by the lecturer, by D.S.   Osmond, C. Davy and S. and E. F. Derry.

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The way of the soul: from desire to love

The soul progresses on its pilgrimage through the world from desire to love. This is the way of the soul: from desire to love. The desiring soul sticks to the physical-sensuous. However, the loving one can be penetrated by the spirit, obeys the spirit, and fulfils the commandment of the spirit. This is the difference of the age of the souls. The young souls are the longing ones, the ripe souls are those which love, which make the spirit work in them. In the soul-world or in the astral world we see this soul body of the human being gleaming in its different qualities, and we can thereby distinguish the degree of maturity of a human soul. All qualities which we can observe in this soul body come from the devotion to the sensuous or from the devotion to the spiritual.     

Now we also understand what death means, actually. We want to try to understand the concept, the idea of death once with this idea just won. What happens at first when the human being dies? That which has followed not only the physical principles in his physical body up to now, but what has also complied with the soul principles: the hand which has moved in accordance with the feelings which have surged through the soul, the look which has looked out into the world because it has been carried by the spiritual qualities in the soul, the countenance which has changed its expression depending on the soul, everything that has obeyed the soul in life goes its own ways after the death of the body.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 53 – Origin and Destination of Humanity – Lecture VI: The Soul-world – Berlin 10th, November, 1904

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Rudolf Steiner and Annie Besant

Love is the moral sun of the world

Our egoism gains nothing from deeds of love — but the world all the more. Occultism says: Love is for the world what the sun is for external life. No soul could thrive if love departed from the world. Love is the “moral” sun of the world. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 143 – LOVE AND ITS MEANING IN THE WORLD – Zurich, 17th December, 1912

Translated by D. S. O. and E. F. and S. Derry

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Preaching of human love will have no practical effect

Whatever points may be set out in the programmes of societies, however many societies may have “universal human love” at the head of their programmes, these moral injunctions will have no practical effect.

All the ordinary preaching of human love is as though a stove were standing in a cold room and someone says to it: “Dear stove, your moral duty as a stove is to warm the room”. You could go on like that for hours or days — the stove would not be moved to make the room warm. Similarly, men will not be moved by sermons to practise human love, even if you were to preach to them for centuries that men ought to love one another. But bring the human Ego into connection with the content of the whole world, let people participate in the radiance of flowers and in all the beauties of Nature, and you will soon see that this participation is a foundation for the higher participation that can arise between human being and human being.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 58 – Metamorphoses of the Soul – Vol. 1: Lecture 7: Human Egoism – Berlin, 25th November 1909

Previously posted on June 17, 2016

Translated by Charles Davy and Christian von Arnim 

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