Knowledge / Compassion / Preaching

The path to the peaks of knowledge and the path to the heights of compassion are one and the same. Only knowledge and understanding -not preaching- will lead to empathy.

A man with a broken leg will not be helped by the compassion of a surrounding crowd, but by one who, knowing what to do, treats his leg correctly.

Mere preaching is like standing before a stove, and asking it to perform its duty of warming up the room. It is the same when you tell people they need to practise brotherly love. Just as one must put wood in the stove and light a fire, so must he give people the knowledge their souls need in order to join in brotherly love.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 97 – Das christliche Mysterium – Vienna, 22 February 1907 (page 245)

Anonymous translator

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Previously posted on 17 november 2018

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For the truly practical person it is not important what the contents of the thoughts are, but the activity they bring about

It is not the theories that have significance, but the habits of thought. For the truly practical person it is not important what the contents of the thoughts are, but the activity they bring about. That is what it is all about. It does not matter whether someone is an idealist, but what is important in life is that one’s thoughts are fruitful, that they stimulate life and bring progress. It must be kept in mind that Spiritual Science does not want to have any part in one or the other dogma or belief system. It is of no importance that someone has many spiritual theories, but that these ideas are fruitful when applied to life. When someone declares that they are not materialistic and believe in the force of life, even in the spirit, but at the same time treats the human being like a gigantic test tube when considering nutritional matters, his worldview cannot bear fruit. Spiritual Science can only bring adequate answers to concrete questions when it is able to penetrate the details – and it is indeed able to shed light on nutritional as well as health issues.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 57 – Wo und wie findet man den Geist? – Berlin, 17 December 1908 (p. 172-173)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

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Previously  posted on September 13, 2018

Anecdote farmer Zeltner 

When the anthroposophists laid the foundation stone for the Goetheanum in Dornach, a village near Basel, Switzerland, on 20 September 1913, many anthroposophical Society members naturally began settling near the site. Many were well-off and did not have to work for a living. They had time to listen to Rudolf Steiner’s lectures, money to follow him on his lecture tours, and enthusiasm to do some artistic work now and then. When they got too tired, they went for nature walks in the Dornach area. To the ordinary people in Dornach, a farming village, those anthroposophists were just odd, a bunch of rich idlers. They had little faith in the whole “temple” thing and allowed themselves to be influenced by the local clergy. Perhaps not all farmers are naturally suspicious of city people, but that was certainly the case with the father of Mrs von Arx, a midwife from Dornach. She recalled the following event from her childhood, around 1914. Her father, farmer Zeltner and a barrel-maker in Oberdornach did not like those anthroposophical idlers much and regularly treated them rudely. One day he was mowing his meadow along Melcher Road. A stroller approached him slowly and spoke as he passed by the mowing farmer:

“Tricky work you are doing there.”

Zeltner, already bathed in sweat, replied rather harshly:

“What do my lords understand about that when they have nothing to do but walk around?”

The other man replied, “I used to do that too.”

“Yes, I can see that,” Zeltner mumbled. But the gentleman spoke calmly:

“When I was little, I often mowed down a steep railway embankment for our goats.”

He stepped up to Zeltner, took the scythe out of his hands and began mowing precisely according to the rules. Farmer Zeltner paused: “Well, damn, he can do it too!”

Thereupon they started talking about the grass, about which herbs were the best for good milk. The strange gentleman turned out to be as good a connoisseur of all grasses as farmer Zeltner. He inquired whether there was milk in surplus and whether it was sold. When this was confirmed, he had milk collected from the Zeltner family every day from then on.

That gentleman was Rudolf Steiner.

Source (German): Erinnerungen an Rudolf Steiner by Hans Kühn (page 506)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Drawing by Jopie Huisman

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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 

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MARIE VON SIVERS AND RUDOLF STEINER

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

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STEINER  RIGHT, 14 YEARS OLD

Previously  posted  on July 1, 2018