Controlling our Thinking

We are now in a period when a significant change must come about: People must become thinking people instead of thinking machines. It is terrible, is it not, when you say something like that, because people of our time take it for granted that they are thinking people, and if you ask them to become thinking people, they actually find it an insult. But that is how it is.

Since the middle of the 15th century, people have become more and more like thinking machines. People surrender themselves to thoughts, as it were; they do not control them. Imagine what it would be like if you did the same with your limbs as most people do with their thinking organs today. Ask yourself if the modern human being can be inclined – I say can be – to randomly take in a thought and randomly shut down a thought. Thoughts are bubbling up in people’s heads today. People cannot resist them; they automatically surrender to them. A thought arises, the previous one disappears, it flies and flashes through the mind, and people think in such a way that one could best say: it thinks in the human being.

Imagine that your arms and legs would behave similarly, that you would be able to control them as little as you can control your thinking. Imagine a person walking down the street, his arms moving in the same uncontrolled way as his thinking organ moves! You know how much goes through a person’s head when he walks down the street, and now imagine how he would continually gesture with his arms and hands in the same way that he does with the thoughts in his head!

And yet, we are facing the age when people have to learn to control their thoughts in the same way they control their arms and legs. We are entering that era. A particular inner discipline of our thinking is what has to occur now and from which people today are still exceedingly far away.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 190 – Vergangenheits- und Zukunftsimpulsen im sozialen Geschehen – Dornach, March 23, 1919 (page 48-49)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

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Selfishness is combated through logical thinking

Selfishness is combated through logical thinking. If thinking regulates itself logically, desires can no longer come up and the body works automatically. We close our eye automatically if a fly approaches it. Spirits of Movement built this reflex into us. What we do automatically is always correct and wise; what we do voluntarily is subject to error. 

Sprits of Movement also had to learn; they made a lot of mistakes before movements like eye closure became automatic in us and before these movements could be carried out so wisely. Such movements are completely independent of our personal feelings, wishes, etc. That’s the way our thinking must become. The right sequences of thoughts must be strung together entirely by themselves; thoughts must not be produced for selfish reasons and purposes. They must proceed from previous ones in a purely logical way.

We learn logical thinking from anthroposophical teachings, when the mighty facts that can all be understood with the intellect, even if one can’t see and investigate them oneself, are placed before us and we try to grasp them with our thinking. Thereby we’re diverted from lines of thought that only group around our own small lower ego and we’re directed towards great, comprehensive ideas. That’s the way we work on our astral body.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 266 – Esoteric lesson – Kassel, June 27, 1909