A new understanding of man must be found

Through a deepening of social life a new understanding of man must be found, and must permeate human development.

Instead of having eyes only for the man of flesh, apprehending him in a naturalistic way, devoid of the spirit, we must reach the stage of a spirit-filled social organism, wherein the activity of the gods in other men can be recognised.

But we shall not attain to this unless we do something about it. One thing we can do is to strive to deepen our own life of soul. There are many paths to that. I will mention only one, a meditative path. 

From various points of view, and with various aims, we can cast a backward glance over our own lives. We can ask ourselves: How has this life of mine unfolded since childhood? But we can do this also in a special way. Instead of bringing before our gaze what we ourselves have enjoyed or experienced, we can turn out attention to the persons who have figured in our lives as parents, brothers and sisters, friends, teachers and so on, and we can summon before our soul the inner nature of each of these persons, in place of our own. After a time we shall find ourselves reflecting how little we really owe to ourselves, and how much to all that has flowed into us from others. If we honestly build up this kind of self-scrutiny into an inner picture, we shall arrive at quite a new relationship to the outer world. From such a backward survey we retain certain feelings and impressions. And these are like fertile seeds planted in us — seeds for the growth of a true knowledge of man. Whoever undertakes again and again this inward contemplation, so that he recognises the contribution which other persons, perhaps long dead or far distant, have made to his own life, then when he meets another man, and establishes a personal relationship with him, an imagination of the other man’s true being will rise before him.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 193 – INNER ASPECT OF THE SOCIAL QUESTION: Lecture I – Zurich, 4 February 1919

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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

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PAINTING BY GARY SAMDALIRI

Previously posted on June 11, 2018

A universal social panacea does not exist

The ‘social question’ is not something which has suddenly appeared at this stage of human evolution and which can be resolved by a few individuals or by some parliamentary body, and stay resolved. It is an integral part of modern civilization which has come to stay, and as such will have to be resolved anew for each moment in the world’s historical development. Humanity has now entered into a phase in which social institutions constantly produce anti-social tendencies. These tendencies must be overcome each time. Just as a satiated organism experiences hunger again after a period of time, so the social organism passes from order to disorder. A food which permanently stills hunger does not exist; neither does a universal social panacea.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 23 – Basic Issues of the Social Question: Preface to the fourth German Edition 1920

Translated by Frank Thomas Smith

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Previously posted on June 2, 2018

Poverty, misery and suffering are nothing but the result of egoism

Poverty, misery and suffering are nothing but the result of egoism. One should look upon this as a law of nature. A man is egotistical as soon as he lives in accordance with the principle: I must be remunerated personally, I must be paid for the work that I do. An esoteric must ask himself whether work is really what sustains life. Work is of no importance if it isn’t directed wisely. What serves men can only be produced and made through the wisdom that men put into it. One who doesn’t understand this and who sins against it even slightly, sins against the social thinking of the present time.

Reflection on this in all of its possible phases strengthens thinking. A social democrat who reflects on how to create work to get rid of joblessness is thinking antisocially in the highest degree. Instead the main thing is that work should only be used for human beings, to create valuable products.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 266 – From the Contents of Esoteric Classes – Hamburg, 3rd March 1906

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Previously posted on June 24, 2015

Genuine concern for others

Only a genuine concern of each man for his neighbour can bring salvation to mankind in the future — I mean to his community life. The characteristic feature of the epoch of the Consciousness Soul is man’s isolation. That he is inwardly isolated from his neighbour is the consequence of individuality, of the development of personality. But this separative tendency must have a reciprocal pole and this counterpole must consist in the cultivation of an active concern of every man for his neighbour.

This awakening of an active concern for others must be developed ever more consciously in the epoch of the Consciousness Soul.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 185 – FROM SYMPTOM TO REALITY IN MODERN HISTORY – Lecture IV: The Historical Significance of the Scientific Mode of Thinking – Dornach, October 25, 1918

Translated by A. H. Parker

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