Stop using the word spirit, spirit, spirit… in every sentence

What matters to-day is not merely to believe in the spirit, but to be so filled with the spirit that through us the spirit is carried directly into material existence. It is useless to-day to say. Believe in the spirit … what is necessary is to speak of a spirit which is in truth able to master external reality  […].

For the cause of the unspiritual character of the present day is not that men do not believe in the spirit, but that they cannot reach such a relationship with the spirit as would enable the spirit to seize hold of matter in real life. All this gives us further warning not to think merely of belief in the spirit, but to try above all to make such an encounter with the spirit that it gives us strength to see through the reality of the material, external world. Then indeed people will stop using the word spirit, spirit, spirit… in every sentence. […]

This is what matters to-day: that people should see things in the light of the spirit, and not keep on talking about the spirit.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 193 – INNER ASPECT OF THE SOCIAL QUESTION: Lecture III – Zurich, 9 March 1919 



My lot has put me in the wrong place

How often people are inclined to say, “My lot has put me in the wrong place. I am,” let us say, “a postal clerk. If I were put in a different place, I could give people high ideas, great teaching,” and so on. The mistake which these people make is that they do not enter into the significant aspect of their occupation. If you see in me something of importance because I can talk to the people here, then you do not see the importance of your own life and work. If the mail-carriers did not carry the mail, the whole postal traffic would stop, and much work already achieved by others would be in vain. Hence everyone in his place is of exceeding importance for the whole, and none is higher than the other.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 54 – Esoteric Development: Lecture I – Berlin, 7th December 1905

Translated by Gertrude Teutsch



Previously  posted  on July 1, 2018

The real spirit  

When do we speak legitimately of the spirit? When do we speak truly of the spirit? We speak truly of the spirit, we are justified in speaking of the spirit, only when we mean the spirit as creator of the material. The worst kind of talk about the spirit — even though this talk is often looked upon today as very beautiful — is that which treats the spirit as though it dwelt in Utopia, as if this spirit should not be touched at all by the material. No; when we speak of the spirit, we must mean the spirit that has the power to plunge down directly into the material.

And when we speak of spiritual science, this must he conceived not only as merely rising above nature, but as being at the same time valid natural science. When we speak of the spirit, we must mean the spirit with which the human being can so unite himself as to enable this spirit, through man’s mediation, to weave itself even into the social life. A spirit of which one speaks only in the drawing room, which one would like to please by goodness and brotherly love, but a spirit that has no intention of immersing itself in our everyday life — such a spirit is not the true spirit, but a human abstraction; and worship of such a spirit is not worship of the real spirit, but is precisely the final emanation of materialism.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 194 – The Mysteries of Light, of Space, and of the Earth: Lecture I: The Dualism in the Life of the Present Time – Dornach, December 12, 1919

Translated by Frances E. Dawson



Previously posted on June 11, 2018

Do you know how many breweries are established and maintained with your money?

Today we encounter all kinds of demands which rise up from the depths of humanity, but we do not really understand the nature of these demands. For what connection is there between these society sermons, delivered in more or less beautiful rooms, about the goodness of man, about — well, let us say — about loving all men without distinction of race, nationality, etc., even color — what connection is there between these sermons and what occurs externally, what we take part in and further when we clip our coupons and have our dividends paid to us by the banks, which in that way provide for the external life? Indeed, in so doing we use entirely different principles from those of which we speak in our rooms as the principles of good men. For example, we found Theosophical Societies in which we speak emphatically of the brotherhood of all men, but in what we say there is not the slightest impulsive force to control in any way what also occurs through us when we clip our coupons; for when we clip coupons we set in motion a whole series of political-economic events. Our life is completely divided into these two separate streams.

Thus, it may occur — I will give you, not a classroom illustration, but an example from life — it may occur — it even has occurred — that a lady seeks me out and says: “Do you know, somebody came here and demanded a contribution from me, which would then be used to aid people who drink alcohol. As a Theosophist I cannot do that, can I?” That is what the lady said, and I could only reply: “You see, you live from your investments; that being the case, do you know how many breweries are established and maintained with your money?” Concerning what is really involved here the important point is not that on the one hand we preach to the sensuous gratification of our souls, and on the other conduct ourselves according to the inevitable demands of the life-routine that has developed through the last three or four centuries. And few people are particularly inclined to go into this fundamental problem of the present time. Why is this? It is because this dualism between the external life and our so-called spiritual strivings has really invaded life, and it has become very strong in the last three or four centuries. Most people today when speaking of the spirit mean something entirely abstract, foreign to the world, not something which has the power to lay hold of daily life.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 194 – The Mysteries of Light, of Space, and of the Earth: Lecture I: The Dualism in the Life of the Present Time – Dornach, December 12, 1919

Translated by Frances E. Dawson


 Previously posted on June 10, 2018

Practical life is the best spiritual preparation 

In my book “Vom Menschenrätsel” I have pointed out that one can say: as a man awakes from sleep in which has only a very dull consciousness, to the ordinary waking consciousness, so he can wake up from this ordinary consciousness, in which he usually lives his life, to perceive the spiritual. It is an awakening into a supersensible world that one acquires through spiritual exercises. But in the same way that everyday life can never be healthy if one does not also regularly have a healthy sleep life, so can the entrance into the world of spirit not be healthy, if one does not first develop a healthy waking life grounded in reality and practical insight; If one does not first discipline oneself, so that one can handle the realities of external life.

The awakening to spiritual perception can only follow from a healthy life during the day, just as the awakening to a healthy life during the day can only come about from a healthy sleep not disturbed by illness. Everything whereby man is in some way alienated from the realities of life, all that people search for out of folly, prejudice, false asceticism, aversion to life, living in mystical twilight or mystical darkness – all that the spiritual scientist needs to ban from his life. To stand properly in everyday life, face to face with practical reality, that is the best preparation for entering the spiritual world.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 72 – Freiheit, Unsterblichkeit, Soziales Leben – Basel, 19th October 1917 (page 78-79)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger


Previously posted (in 2 parts) on 4 and 5 January 2015