Do you know how many breweries are established and maintained with your money?

Today we encounter all kinds of demands which rise up from the depths of humanity, but we do not really understand the nature of these demands. For what connection is there between these society sermons, delivered in more or less beautiful rooms, about the goodness of man, about — well, let us say — about loving all men without distinction of race, nationality, etc., even color — what connection is there between these sermons and what occurs externally, what we take part in and further when we clip our coupons and have our dividends paid to us by the banks, which in that way provide for the external life? Indeed, in so doing we use entirely different principles from those of which we speak in our rooms as the principles of good men. For example, we found Theosophical Societies in which we speak emphatically of the brotherhood of all men, but in what we say there is not the slightest impulsive force to control in any way what also occurs through us when we clip our coupons; for when we clip coupons we set in motion a whole series of political-economic events. Our life is completely divided into these two separate streams.

Thus, it may occur — I will give you, not a classroom illustration, but an example from life — it may occur — it even has occurred — that a lady seeks me out and says: “Do you know, somebody came here and demanded a contribution from me, which would then be used to aid people who drink alcohol. As a Theosophist I cannot do that, can I?” That is what the lady said, and I could only reply: “You see, you live from your investments; that being the case, do you know how many breweries are established and maintained with your money?” Concerning what is really involved here the important point is not that on the one hand we preach to the sensuous gratification of our souls, and on the other conduct ourselves according to the inevitable demands of the life-routine that has developed through the last three or four centuries. And few people are particularly inclined to go into this fundamental problem of the present time. Why is this? It is because this dualism between the external life and our so-called spiritual strivings has really invaded life, and it has become very strong in the last three or four centuries. Most people today when speaking of the spirit mean something entirely abstract, foreign to the world, not something which has the power to lay hold of daily life.


Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 194 – The Mysteries of Light, of Space, and of the Earth: Lecture I: The Dualism in the Life of the Present Time – Dornach, December 12, 1919

Translated by Frances E. Dawson

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 Previously posted on June 10, 2018

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Love is higher than opinion

Love is higher than opinion. If people love one another, the most varied opinions can be reconciled. Hence it is deeply significant that in Anthrosophy no religion is attacked and no religion is specially singled out, but all are understood, and so there can be brotherhood because the adherents of the most varied religions understand one another.

This is one of the most important tasks for mankind today and in the future: that men should learn to live together and understand one another. If this human fellowship is not achieved, all talk of occult development is empty.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science: LECTURE ELEVEN – THE POST-ATLANTEAN CULTURE-EPOCHS – Stuttgart – 1st September 1906

Translated by E.H. Goddard & Charles Davy

Economic life and brotherhood

Economic life draws us into a particular relation with the world. You will readily understand what this relation is if you compel yourselves to imagine that it were possible for us to be entirely absorbed in economic life. If that could happen, what should we be like? We should be thinking animals, nothing else. We are not thinking animals for the reason that besides economic life we have a life of rights — a political life — and a knowledge of the spirit, an earthly spiritual life. Through economic life we are thus plunged, more or less, into the midst of human relationships. And because of this interests are kindled — precisely in this field of human relations we are able to develop interests which in the true sense of the word are fraternal. In no other realm than that of economic life are fraternal relationships so easily and obviously developed among human beings.

In the spiritual life … what is the ruling impulse in earthly spiritual life? Fundamentally, it is personal interest — an interest arising out of the soul-nature, certainly, but none the less egoistic. Of religion, people demand that it shall make them holy. Of education, that is shall develop their talents. Of any kind of artistic representation, that it shall bring pleasure into their lives, and perhaps also stimulate their inner energies. As a general rule, it is egoism, whether of a grosser or more refined sort, which leads a person — quite understandably — to seek in spiritual life whatever satisfies himself.

In the political life of rights, on the other hand, we have to do with something which makes us all equal before the law. We are concerned with the relation of man to man. We have to ask, what our right should be. No question of rights exists among animals. In this respect, also, we are raised above the animals, even in our earthly affairs. But if we are connected with a religious community, or with a group of teachers, then — just as much as in civic relationships — we come up against personal claims, personal wishes. In the economic sphere, it is through the overcoming of self that something valuable, not derived from personal desires, comes to expression — brotherhood, responsibility for others, a way of living so that the other man gains experience through us.

In the spiritual life we receive according to our desires. In the sphere of rights we make a claim to something we need in order to make sure of a satisfactory human life as an equal among equals. And in the economic sphere is born that which unites men in terms of feeling: that is, brotherhood. The more this brotherhood is cultivated, the more fruitful economic life becomes. And the impulse towards brotherhood arises when we establish a certain connection between our property and another’s, between our need and another’s, between something we have and something another has, and so on.

This fraternity, this brotherly relation between men which must radiate through economic life if health is to prevail there, may be thought of as a kind of emanation rising from the economic sphere — and in such a way that if we absorb it into ourselves we are able to take it with us through the gate of death and carry it into the super-sensible life after death.

On earth, economic life looks like the lowest of the three social spheres, yet precisely from this sphere arises an impulse which works on into super-earthly realms after death. That is how the third member of the social organism presents itself in the light of spiritual science. Its character is such that in a certain sense it drives us into regions below the human level; yet in fact this is a blessing, since from the fraternity of economic life we carry through the gate of death something which remains with us when we enter the super-sensible world. Just as earthly spiritual life points backward, like a mirrored image, to super-sensible spiritual life before birth, so does economic life, with all that arises from its influence on men — social interests, feeling for human fellowship, brotherhood — so does economic life point forward to super-sensible life after death.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 193Inner Aspect of the Social Question – II – Zurich, 11th February 1919

Translated by Charles Davy

Previously posted on July 19, 2017

In the future no human being is to find peace in the enjoyment of happiness if others beside him are unhappy

People may shy away from the notion that Angels want to call forth in them ideals for the future, but it is so all the same. And indeed in forming these pictures the Angels work on a definite principle, namely, that in the future no human being is to find peace in the enjoyment of happiness if others beside him are unhappy. An impulse of Brotherhood in the absolute sense, unification of the human race in Brotherhood rightly understood — this is to be the governing principle of the social conditions in physical existence.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 182 –The Work of the Angels In Man’s Astral Body – Zurich, 9th October, 1918

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond & Owen Barfield

Previously posted on September 8, 2016

About economic life and brotherhood

Just think, my dear friends, how economic life draws us into a particular relation with the world. You will readily understand what this relation is if you compel yourselves to imagine that it were possible for us to be entirely absorbed in economic life. If that could happen, what should we be like? We should be thinking animals, nothing else. We are not thinking animals for the reason that besides economic life we have a life of rights — a political life — and a knowledge of the spirit, an earthly spiritual life. Through economic life we are thus plunged, more or less, into the midst of human relationships. And because of this interests are kindled — precisely in this field of human relations we are able to develop interests which in the true sense of the word are fraternal. In no other realm than that of economic life are fraternal relationships so easily and obviously developed among human beings.

[…] In the economic sphere, it is through the overcoming of self that something valuable, not derived from personal desires, comes to expression — brotherhood, responsibility for others, a way of living so that the other man gains experience through us.
In the spiritual life we receive according to our desires. In the sphere of rights we make a claim to something we need in order to make sure of a satisfactory human life as an equal among equals. And in the economic sphere is born that which unites men in terms of feeling: that is, brotherhood. The more this brotherhood is cultivated, the more fruitful economic life becomes. And the impulse towards brotherhood arises when we establish a certain connection between our property and another’s, between our need and another’s, between something we have and something another has, and so on.
This fraternity, this brotherly relation between men which must radiate through economic life if health is to prevail there, may be thought of as a kind of emanation rising from the economic sphere — and in such a way that if we absorb it into ourselves we are able to take it with us through the gate of death and carry it into the super-sensible life after death.
On earth, economic life looks like the lowest of the three social spheres, yet precisely from this sphere arises an impulse which works on into super-earthly realms after death.  

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 193 – Inner Aspect of the Social Question: II – Zurich, 11th February 1919

Translated by Charles Davy

Previously posted on July 19, 2017