Thought without will & will without thought

Just as the magnet has North and South poles, just as light and darkness are present in the world, so there are two poles in man’s life of soul. These two poles become evident when we observe a person placed in two contrasting situations. Suppose we are watching someone who is entirely absorbed in the contemplation of some strikingly beautiful and impressive natural phenomenon. We see how still he is standing, moving neither hand nor foot, never turning his eyes away from the spectacle presented to him, and we are aware that inwardly he is picturing his environment. That is one situation.

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Another is the following: a man is walking along the street and feels that someone has insulted him. Without thinking, he is roused to anger and gives vent to it by striking the person who insulted him. We are there witnessing a manifestation of forces springing from anger, a manifestation of impulses of will, and it is easy to imagine that if the action had been preceded by thought no blow need have been struck. 

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We have now pictured two contrasting situations: in the one there is only ideation, a process in the life of thought from which all conscious will is absent; in the other there is no thought, no ideation, and immediate expression is given to an impulse of will. Here we have examples of the two extremes of human behaviour. The first pole is complete surrender to contemplation, to thought, in which the will has no part; the second pole is the impelling force of will without thought. These facts are revealed simply by observation of external life.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 130 – The Etherisation of the Blood – Basle, October 1, 1911 

Translated by Arnold Freeman & D.S. Osmond

Kamaloka (purgatory, purification fire) – Part 5 – End

The first experiences after death are different in still another respect from those during life. During the time of purification man, as it were, lives his life in reverse order. He passes again through all that he has experienced in life since his birth. He begins with the events that immediately preceded death and experiences everything in reverse order back to childhood. 

During this process, everything that has not arisen out of the spiritual nature of the ego during life passes spiritually before his eyes, only he experiences all this now inversely. For example, a person who died in his sixtieth year and who in his fortieth year had done someone a bodily or soul injury in an outburst of anger will experience this event again when, in passing through his life’s journey in reverse order after death, he reaches the place of his fortieth year. He now experiences, not the satisfaction he had in life from his attack upon the other person, however, but the pain he gave him.

From what has been said above, it is at the same time also possible to see that only that part of such an event can be experienced painfully after death that has arisen from passions of the ego having their source only in the outer physical world. In reality, the ego not only damages the other person through the gratification of such a passion, but itself as well; only the damage to itself is not apparent to it during life. After death this whole, damaging world of passion becomes perceptible to the ego, and the ego then feels itself drawn to every being and every thing that has enkindled such a passion, in order that this passion may again be destroyed in the “consuming fire” in the same way it was created. 

Only when man in his backward journey has reached the point of his birth have all the passions of this kind passed through the fire of purification, and, from then on, nothing hinders him from a complete surrender to the spiritual world. He enters upon a new stage of existence.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 13 – An Outline of Occult Science: III: SLEEP AND DEATH

Translated by Maud and Henry B. Monges and revised for this edition by Lisa D. Monges.

Essential for a teacher

The first essential for a teacher is self-knowledge. If for instance a child makes blots on his book or on his desk because he has got impatient or angry with something his neighbour has done, then the teacher must never shout at the child for making blots and say: “You mustn’t get angry! Getting angry is a thing that a good man never does! A man should never get angry but should bear everything calmly. If I see you getting angry once more, why then — then I shall throw the inkpot at your head!

If you educate like this (which is very often done) you will accomplish very little. The teacher must always keep himself in hand, and above all must never fall into the faults which he is blaming his children for. But here you must know how the unconscious part of the child’s nature works. A man’s conscious intelligence, feeling and will are all only one part of his soul life; in the depths of human nature, even in the child, there holds sway the astral body with its wonderful prudence and wisdom.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 311 – The Kingdom of Childhood: Lecture 3 – Torquay, 14th August, 1924

Translated by Helen Fox

Previously posted on November 14, 2016

Anger

Outbursts of violent temper hinder the right development of the emotions and also the will, and also have a far more extensive influence, as we can see at once. Now, anger is something that a person does not by any means have under his control. Only gradually can he master the habit of becoming angry, and one must have patience with oneself. To anyone who believes he can achieve this with a turn of the hand I must repeat the story of a teacher who took very much to heart the task of ridding his pupils of anger. When he was faced by the fact, that after constant efforts, a boy still became angry, he himself became so angry that he threw the ink bottle at the child’s head. A person who permits himself to do such a thing must think for many, many weeks about karma.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 130 – Esoteric Christianity and the Mission of Christian Rosenkreutz – Lecture 2 – Leipzig, 5th November 1911

Translated by Pauline Wehrle

Previously posted on March 8, 2015

Serenity and acceptance of our destiny

What characteristics must we specially cultivate if we wish to work in a beneficial way on our will life?

Most beneficial of all in our will nature is the influence of a life directed in its entire character towards a comprehension of karma. We might also say a soul life which strives to develop, as its primary characteristic, serenity and acceptance of our destiny. And what better way can one find of developing this acceptance, this calmness of soul in the presence of one’s destiny, than by making karma an actual content in one’s life?

What do we mean by this? It means that — not merely theoretically but in a living way — when our own sorrow or the sorrow of another comes upon us, when we experience joy or the heaviest blow of fate, we shall really be fully aware that, in a certain higher sense, we ourselves have given the occasion for this painful blow of fate.

Our serenity, our acceptance of our karma in all occurrences, strengthens our will. We grow stronger in facing life with serenity, never weaker. Through anger and impatience we become weak. In the face of every occurrence we are strong when we are serene. On the contrary, we become continually weaker in will through moroseness and an unnatural rebellion against destiny.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 130 – Esoteric Christianity and the Mission of Christian Rosenkreutz – Lecture 2 – Leipzig, 5th November 1911

Translated by Pauline Wehrle

Previously posted on April 25, 2016