The most important characteristic of the sixth culture-epoch

Something does not yet exist in the human community what will be there in the sixth culture-epoch with those human beings who reached the aim of the sixth culture-epoch (3573-5733) who did not lag behind this aim; they are not among those who are maniacs or barbarians in the sixth culture-epoch. In the sixth culture-epoch the culturally leading human beings will have a moral characteristic, as it were, as one of the most important characteristics.

Now only a little of this characteristic is to be noticed within humankind. Today the human being must be organised more sensitive if it should hurt him in his soul that except his own existence he has to look at other human beings in the world who have it worse than he has it. Indeed, already today more sensitive souls also feel grief because of the grief which is poured on many human beings in the world — but these must be more sensitive souls. In the sixth culture-epoch, those human beings who are at the peak of this culture not only feel as pain what we today feel as pain of misery, grief, and poverty which are wide-spread, but then the human being feels any grief of another human being as his own grief. If he sees a starving human being, he feels the hunger so lively in his physical nature that this hunger of the fellowman is intolerable to him. What is indicated here that it is not in the sixth culture-epoch any more as it is still in the fifth epoch, that rather it is a moral characteristic of the sixth culture-epoch that the welfare of the single human being completely depends on the welfare of all the human beings. As well as now only the welfare of a single human member depends on the health of the whole body, and if the whole human being is not healthy, also the single member is not in the mood to do this or that, a common characteristic seizes the civilised humankind of the sixth culture-epoch. The individual human being will share, like a member of the totality, all the suffering, all the need, all the poverty or wealth to a much higher degree. This is the first, mainly moral characteristic of the civilised humankind in the sixth culture-epoch.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 159 – THE MYSTERY OF DEATH: 13. Common Ground Above Us, Christ In Us – Düsseldorf, 15 June 1915

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Art of Nesta Carsten-Krüger


10 Excerpts from the lecture The Origin of Suffering

If the living could not suffer, never could consciousness arise.

When one observes the higher animals they show to those who look more deeply an expression full of suffering. And who would not admit that many an animal physiognomy looks like the manifestation of a deeply hidden pain?



At the beginning of the Biblical story of Creation the knowledge of good and evil and suffering are intimately bound up with one another.

The figure of Job shows us, or is meant to show us, how suffering and unspeakable pain can be connected with a completely guiltless life, how there can be unearned pain and suffering. We see dawning in the consciousness of this unique tragic personality, Job, yet another connection of pain and suffering, a connection with the ennobling of man. Suffering appears to us then as a testing, as the root of a climbing upwards, of a higher development. Suffering in the sense of this Job-tragedy need in no way have its origin in evil, it can itself be first cause, so that what proceeds from it represents a more perfect phase of human life.

When we look up to the Event which divides our chronology into two parts — to the Redemption through Christ Jesus —,then it can strike us that one of the greatest upliftings, one of the greatest upbuildings and hopes of victory which has ever taken root in the heart of man has sprung from the world historic sight of suffering. The greatly significant feelings, cutting deep into the human heart, of the Christian world-conception, these feelings which for so many are the hope and strength of life, give the assurance that there is an eternity, a victory over death. All these supporting and uplifting feelings spring from the sight of a universal suffering, a suffering that befalls innocence, a suffering occasioned through no personal sin.

One understands the life of another through nothing so much as by taking upon one’s own soul the burden of his pain.

When do you feel certain interior organs of your organism? You go through life and do not feel your stomach or liver or lungs. You feel none of your organs as long as they are sound. You feel them only when they give you pain, and you really know that you have this or that organ only when it hurts you, when you feel that something is out of order there and that a destruction-process is beginning.

Take something that expresses suffering on a lower level, the feeling of hunger, for instance, which can destroy life. You meet this with nourishment, and the food taken in becomes enjoyment because it is the means of enhancing, producing life. So you see that higher creation, pleasure, arises on the basis of pain.

Pain makes us aware that we have to take precautions against the destruction of life. Out of pain we create new life. In the notes of a modern natural scientist on the expression of the thinker, we read that on the countenance of the thinker something lies like a repressed pain.

Fabre d’Olivet, made a right comparison when he wished to show how the highest, noblest, purest in human nature arises out of pain. He said that the arising of wisdom and beauty out of suffering is comparable to a process in nature, to the birth of the valuable and beautiful pearl. For the pearl is born from the sickness of the oyster, from the destruction inside the pearl-oyster. As the beauty of the pearl is born out of disease and suffering, so are knowledge, noble human nature and purified human feeling born out of suffering and pain.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 55 – ORIGIN OF SUFFERING, ORIGIN OF EVIL, ILLNESS AND DEATH – I. The Origin of Suffering – Berlin, 8 November 1906

Translated by M. Cotterell and V. E. Watkin

The significance and justification of obstacles and hindrances

Any action of man that hurts another being or creature or the world in general, hinders the doer in his development. This is what the pilgrimage of life means, that the primary force of the soul, as it goes from incarnation to incarnation, is set for further development. And this development progresses in such a fashion that man as it were is always putting obstacles in his own path. If this primary force were the only thing that were active — it is this very force that is to bring the soul back to the spiritual — man would need only a very short time on earth. But in that case the whole of earth evolution would have taken an entirely different course; it would also have failed to achieve its purpose. 

You must not think that man would be better off if he put no obstacles in his own way. It is only by setting himself these handicaps that he grows strong and acquires experience, for it is the very eradicating and overcoming of these hindrances that will make him the strong being he must become by the end of earth evolution. It is thoroughly in keeping with earth evolution that he puts stones in his own path. If he did not have to muster the strength to remove these obstacles he would not acquire this strength at all. Then the world would be the poorer. 

We must altogether disregard the good and evil connected with these hindrances and look solely at the wisdom of the world that intended, right from the beginning, that man should have the possibility of setting himself hindrances in earthly evolution so that in removing them he could acquire strength for later. We could even say that the wise guidance of the world allowed man to become evil and gave him the possibility of doing harm, so that in repairing the harm and overcoming the evil he can become stronger in the course of karmic development than he would have become had he reached his goal without effort. This is how we should understand the significance and justification of obstacles and hindrances.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 107 – The Being of Man and His Future Evolution – Illness and karma – Berlin, 26th January 1909

Translated by Pauline Wehrle


Tara of the flowers – Art of Carol Herzer

Previously posted on 12 december 2018


We are living in the fifth post-Atlantean period (1413-3573). In our fifth post-Atlantean period men will add the great teachings of Karma to the other teachings, they will learn to understand their karma. […] 

They will learn to grasp the idea: “I am placed on earth through birth; my destiny is on earth; I experience joy and sorrow; I must understand that what I experience as joy and sorrow does not approach me in vain, that it is my Karma, and that it comes to me because it is my Karma, my great educator. I look upon that which was before my birth, which placed me in this incarnation, because this, my destiny, is necessary for my further development.”

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 143 – The Three Paths of the Soul to Christ – Lecture II: The Path of Initiation – Stockholm, 17th April 1912

Translated by Norman MacBeth


Power-Inner Eye Chakras – Art of Carol Herzer

Previously posted on 5 December 2018

Pain and sorrow – The basis of forthcoming joy 

Pleasure and joy are founded on pain; without it they cannot exist. Just like the pleasure of satiety depends on hunger, so do knowledge and joy originate in pain. That is also the reason why, in a tragedy, the sense of an expected redemption fills us with satisfaction. Everything that will have fullness in the future endures states of sadness and pain at present. The knowledge that what is now pain and suffering will in the future turn to plenitude comforts us.  

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 101 – Mythen und Sagen Okkulte Zeichen und Symbole – Berlin, October 28, 1907 (page 96)

Anonymous translator

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Previously posted on 8 November 2018