Thankfulness

Think of the plant. It is rooted in the dead stone. If it had consciousness,  it would have to bow down to the dead stone and say to it: ‘Without you I could not live; out of you I draw nourishment and strength: I owe to you my being, I thank you.’

The animal would have to speak in similar words to the plant: ‘Without you I could not live, I incline myself towards you in thankfulness, because out of you I draw that which I require for my existence.’

And it is the same with all the kingdom. Man, who has attained to a higher stage of evolution, must also bow down, as the plant to the stone, to those who work for him, and thank them.

He who would become a Christian Initiate must develop this feeling during a period of many weeks — the feeling that he owes gratitude to him who stands beneath him.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA Unknown – Esoteric Christianity: The Gospel of St. John and Ancient Mysteries – Dusseldorf, November 27th, 1906

Previously posted on April 2, 2017

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Anecdote

There is a lovely anecdote about how the different peoples study natural history, say, for example, studying a kangaroo, or maybe some animal from Africa. 

The Englishman makes a trip to Africa – as Darwin once did, to acquire scientific knowledge, travels around the world and considers the animal in the environment where it really lives. Then he can see how it lives, what his natural circumstances are. 

The Frenchman brings the animal from the wilderness into the zoo. He studies it at the zoo; He does not consider the animal in its natural environment, but in the zoo. 

And what does the German do? He does not interfere with the animal at all, what it looks like, but he sits in his study and begins to think. The thing in itself does not interest him – in line with the Kantian philosophy, as I have told you recently – but he is only interested in what is in his head.  There he thinks about it. And after he has thought about it long enough, he says something. But what he has to say is not in accord with reality.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 353 – Die Geschichte der Menschheit und die Weltanschauungen der Kulturvölker – Dornach, May 20, 1924 (page 273)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on June 26, 2018

About vegetarianism

It is no use being fanatic about these things. There are people who simply cannot live if they don’t have meat. A person must consider carefully whether he really will be able to get on without it. If he does decide he can do without it and changes over from a meat to a vegetarian diet, he will feel stronger than he was before. That’s sometimes a difficulty, obviously: some people can’t bear the thought of living without meat. If, however, one does become a vegetarian, he feels stronger — because he is no longer obliged to deposit alien fat in his body; he makes his own fat, and this makes him feel stronger.

I know this from my own experience. I could not otherwise have endured the strenuous exertion of these last twenty-four years! I never could have traveled entire nights, for instance, and then given a lecture the next morning. For it is a fact, that if one is a vegetarian one carries out a certain activity within one that is spared the non-vegetarian, who has it done first by an animal. That’s the important difference.

But now don’t get the idea that I would ever agitate for vegetarianism! It must always be first established whether a person is able to become a vegetarian or not; it is an individual matter.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 354 – The Evolution of the Earth and The Influence of the Stars – Lecture VI – Dornach, July 31, 1924 

Translated by Gladys Hahn

Previously posted on November 26, 2016

Humility

The humility towards those who are lower than we are, and at whose expense we have been able to rise, must be present everywhere in the world. If a plant were able to think, it would thank the minerals for giving it the ground on which it can lead a higher form of life, and the animal would have to bow down before the plant and say: “To thee I owe the possibility of my own existence.” In the same way man should recognise what he owes to all the rest of nature. So also, in our society, a man holding a higher position should bow before those who stand lower and say: “But for the diligence of those who labour on my behalf, I could not stand where I do.”

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science – Lecture XIII: Oriental and Christian Training – Stuttgart, 3rd September 1906

Translated by E.H. Goddard & Charles Davy

Previously posted on May 23, 2015

Man has evolved at the cost of the surrounding world

We see in nature the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms; man has the qualities of all these kingdoms within him. The form and cohesion of the minerals;  the life of the plant; and the feeling and power of inner life of the animal kingdom, man is the sum total of them.

He has attained his evolution and powers at their cost.  Originally animals were more perfect. Man’s ascent was brought about by their descent. In this way the human kingdom has risen. […]

If a saint develops it means the pushing down of other beings; he will make good and redeem those others. This idea gives sympathy with the entire Cosmos. Man in raising himself must desire to raise and redeem others, for he has evolved at the cost of the whole surrounding world.


Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA unknown – Evolution of Human Freedom and Personal Consciousness/Concerning the Concepts of God – Dusseldorf, January 19th, 1905