About fasting and food 

A man wouldn’t be able to generate productive thoughts if he ate too much and too often, because his forces would be used in digestion, and there wouldn’t be any left for thinking. Schiller, Shakespeare and many other writers lived on very little food. The mind is never so clear as after long fasting. The greatest saints lived on fruit, bread and water, and no miracles were ever done on a full stomach.

When a man works on himself he harmonizes his temperaments, but until then a melancholic pupil should eat fruit, so that its sun forces permeate the solidifying and rigidifying element in melancholics. Phlegmatics shouldn’t eat black roots because they would only increase his inner love of ease. Whereas a sanguine would benefit by eating root vegetables. One could almost say: A sanguine must be fettered to his physical body by food, otherwise he might fly away. The ego is predominant in cholerics, so they should avoid hot spices and stimulating food.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 266 – ESOTERIC LESSONS 1: Number 56 – Unknown place and date

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Superficial critics may say, “You are a fool”.

I know that superficial critics may say, “You are a fool; you believe that spiritual powers come to you from without, whereas they simply rise from your own inner being.” Let them think me a fool; I regard them as belonging to the clever men who cannot distinguish hunger from a piece of bread. I know how spiritual powers from without flow into human beings. The idea that hunger creates the bread that satisfies it — believed only by a crazy man — is as false as that the power of our own soul can create the forces needed for our spiritual activities. These forces must flow into us. Just as we know clearly that our hunger is within us, and that bread comes from without, does one who lives in spiritual worlds know what is within himself and what comes to him from without.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 152 – The Four Sacrifices of Christ – Basel, June 1, 1914

Translated by May Laird-Brown, and edited for this edition by Gilbert Church, Ph.D.

Previously posted on January 12, 2017

Correct thinking and right judgment does not always lead to the truth

In the world outside, in so far as this world is ruled by external science, when people speak of knowledge, you will always find them say: Yes, of course, we arrive at knowledge when we have formed right judgments and exercised correct thinking. I recently cited a very simple example to illustrate how great an error is involved in this assumption that we are bound to arrive at truth when we make correct and reasonable judgments; and I would like to relate it again now, to show you that accuracy of reasoning need by no means lead to the truth.

There was once a small boy in a village who was sent regularly by his parents to fetch bread. He used always to have ten kreuzer, and bring back in exchange six rolls. If you bought one such roll it cost two kreuzer, but he always brought back six rolls for his ten kreuzer. The boy was not particularly good at arithmetic and never troubled himself as to how it worked out that he always took with him ten kreuzer, that a roll cost two and yet he brought home six rolls in return for his ten. One day a boy was brought into the family from another part and he became for our small boy a kind of foster-brother. They were of about the same age, but the foster-brother was a good arithmetician. And he saw how his companion went to the baker’s, taking with him ten kreuzer, and he knew that a roll cost two. So he said to him, “You must bring home five rolls.” He was a very good arithmetician and his reasoning was perfectly accurate. One roll costs two kreuzer (so he reasoned), he takes with him ten, he will obviously bring home five rolls. But behold, he brought back six. Then said our good arithmetician: “But that is quite wrong! One roll costs two kreuzer, and you took ten, and two into ten goes five times; you can’t possibly bring back six rolls. You must have made a mistake or else you have pinched one …” But now, lo and behold, on the next day, too, the boy brought home six rolls. It was, you see, a custom in those parts that when you bought five you received an extra one in addition, so that in fact when you paid for five rolls you received six. It was a custom that was very agreeable for anyone who needed five rolls for his household.

The good arithmetician had reasoned, quite correctly, there was no fault in his thinking; but this correct thinking did not accord with reality. We are obliged to admit the correct thinking did not arrive at the reality, for reality does not order itself in accordance with correct thinking. You may see very clearly in this case how with the most conscientious, the most clever logical thinking that can possibly be spun out, you may arrive at a correct conclusion and yet, measured by reality your conclusion may be utterly and completely false. That can always happen. Consequently a proof that is acquired purely through thought can never be a criterion for reality — never.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 134 – The World of the Senses and the World of the Spirit – Hanover, 27th December 1911

Without a foundation of spiritual life no material civilization can prosper

It is obvious to deeper insight that without a foundation of spiritual life, no material civilization can prosper. No state, no community has ever endured without a religious foundation. Let someone earnestly try to found a community consisting solely of people whose interests are purely materialistic, that is people with no knowledge of spiritual things, who accept as valid only materialistic views. Things would not deteriorate into chaos straightaway only because people would still have a vestige of ideas and ideals. No social system can endure unless it is built upon the foundation of religious wisdom. An individual is a bad practitioner who believes that practical minds are enough to ensure success. A person who wants to see material conditions continue to make progress must recognize that a foundation of spiritual insight and religion is imperative. If we want to give a human being bread, we must also give him something that will nourish the soul. In the periodical Lucifer, I once wrote that no one should be given bread without receiving also a world outlook that to give bread without giving also spiritual sustenance could only do harm. At first sight, this statement may not seem valid, but in the article it is substantiated.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 55 – Supersensible Knowledge – Lecture I: TheSignificance of Supersensible Knowledge Today – Berlin, 11th October 1906

Translated by Rita Stebbing

Previously posted on May 15, 2016

Superficial critics may say, “You are a fool”.

I know that superficial critics may say, “You are a fool; you believe that spiritual powers come to you from without, whereas they simply rise from your own inner being.” Let them think me a fool; I regard them as belonging to the clever men who cannot distinguish hunger from a piece of bread. I know how spiritual powers from without flow into human beings.

The idea that hunger creates the bread that satisfies it — believed only by a crazy man — is as false as that the power of our own soul can create the forces needed for our spiritual activities. These forces must flow into us. Just as we know clearly that our hunger is within us, and that bread comes from without, does one who lives in spiritual worlds know what is within himself and what comes to him from without.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 152 – The Four Sacrifices of Christ – Basel, June 1, 1914

Translated by May Laird-Brown, and edited for this edition by Gilbert Church, Ph.D.