We need new “impulses” (or springs of action)

At the beginning of the nineties I wanted to point out, at least in regard to man’s moral perceptions, that the super-sensible must now be grasped in all earnestness. One should realise all this to-day; one should feel that the thoughts, the inner impulses of soul that were carried over into the catastrophe of the world-war and into the present period of social upheaval are no longer of any use. 

We need new “impulses” (or springs of action). If one comes to-day with a new “impulse,” it is the last thing that people understand. For if one brings a new “impulse,” whose source is entirely within the spiritual world, and presents it as a remedy for the evils of our age, complaints are heard on all sides, from the extreme right to the extreme left, that it is all incomprehensible. 

Of course one does not understand it if one wants to retain the old forms of thinking. But to-day it is necessary to overcome these old forms, re-modelling one’s whole soul inwardly. All external revolutions, no matter how agreeable to this or that party or class, lead into the worst of blind alleys and will bring the greatest misery to mankind if not illuminated by the inner revolution of the soul. This means throwing off one’s absorption in the purely materialistic view of the world and preparing actively to receive the spiritual wave that is willing to invade human evolution as a new revelation.

Rudolf Steiner – GA 193 – Some Characteristics of To-day – Heidenheim, June 12th, 1919

Translation by H. Collison and M.A. Oxon


The present catastrophe is but the beginning

The fact that — to use a colloquialism — people in the future are not going to get much fun out of developments on the physical plane will bring home to them that further evolution must proceed from spiritual forces.

This can be understood only by surveying a lengthy period of evolution and applying what is discovered to experiences that will become more and more general in the future. The trend of forces that will manifest in the well-nigh rhythmical onset of war and destruction — processes of which the present catastrophe is but the beginning — will become only too evident. It is childish to believe that anything connected with this war can bring about a permanent era of peace for humanity on the physical plane. That will not be so. What must come about on the earth is spiritual development

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 193 – Influences of Lucifer/Ahriman: Lecture Three – Bern, 4th November, 1919

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond

Previously posted on June 18, 2016

The principle which has ruined so much in our culture

It does not matter, you see, if you say a great deal to the child which he will only understand later. The principle that you should only teach the child what he already understands, what he can already form an opinion on, is the principle which has ruined so much in our culture. A very famous educator of a still more famous personality of to-day once boasted that he had educated this person on this principle: he said: “I have educated this young man well, for I have made him form an immediate opinion on everything.” 

Now very many people today are in agreement with this principle of forming opinions about everything and it is not remarkable that you find a very well-known teacher (Georg Hinzpeter (1827-1907) of a still better-known personality (Prince Wilhelm von Preußen) wishing to emphasize this principle again in pedagogical books. I have even found it said in a modern pedagogical work referring to this principle: It only remains to desire that such a model education might be given to every German boy and every German girl. You see from this that examples are plentiful among present-day educationists, of how not to behave, for this kind of educating conceals a great tragedy, and this tragedy again is connected with the present world catastrophe.

The point, then, is not that the child should at once form an opinion on everything imaginable, but that between the seventh and fifteenth year he absorbs what he is to absorb, from love for his teacher, from a sense of his authority.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 294 – Practical Course for Teachers – Stuttgart, 25th August, 1919

Translated by Harry Collison

Previously posted on August 4, 2019


After the seventh cultural period the earth will be visited by a catastrophe

The transformations in the things of the earth existing outside the human being occur with a certain relationship to humanity’s own evolution. After the seventh cultural period (5733-7893) has run its course, the earth will be visited by a catastrophe that may be likened to what occurred between the Atlantean and post-Atlantean ages, and the transformed earth conditions after this catastrophe will again evolve in seven time periods. Human souls who will then be incarnated will experience, at a higher stage, the union with the higher world experienced by the Atlanteans at a lower stage. 

Only those human beings, however, in whom are incarnated souls that have developed in a manner possible through the influences of the Greco-Latin epoch (747 BC -1413 AD) and the subsequent fifth, sixth, and seventh cultural epochs of the post-Atlantean evolution will be able to cope with the newly formed earth conditions. The inner being of such souls will correspond to what the earth has then become. Other souls will then have to remain behind, whereas previously they would have had the choice of creating the conditions for advancement. Souls who will have created the possibility for themselves, in the transition from the fifth (1413-3573) to the sixth post-Atlantean period (3573-5733), of penetrating supersensible knowledge with the forces of intellect and feeling, will have the maturity for the corresponding conditions following the next great catastrophe. The fifth and sixth periods are, so to speak, decisive. 

In the seventh, the souls who will have reached the goal of the sixth will develop correspondingly further; the other souls, however, will, under the changed conditions of the environment, find but little opportunity of retrieving what they have neglected. Only at some future time will conditions appear again that will permit this. — Evolution thus advances from age to age.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 13 – An Outline of Occult Science – VI – The present and future of cosmic and human evolution

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

Previously posted on March 22, 2017

Iron necessity

Civilization must progress in the fields of technology, industry and commerce. But by its very nature such a civilization cannot serve the well-being of humanity in the physical world; it can only prove destructive to the human being. This will be an unpalatable truth for people who never tire of making great speeches on the tremendous advances made in modern civilization.

I have made brief reference to the causes of destruction in Atlantis. The commercial, industrial and technological civilization which is now in its beginnings harbours elements which will lead to the decline and fall. And we only see things straight and face reality if we admit that we are here beginning to work on something which must lead to catastrophe. This is what it means to enter into iron necessity. It is not a matter of avoiding things but of getting a clear picture, real insight into the iron necessities of human evolution. Human beings will need to live with inner impulses which they still prefer to ignore today, for these go against the good life they want. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 177 – Fall of the spirits of darkness – Lecture 4: The Elemental Spirits of Birth and Death – Dornach, 6 October 1917

Translated by Anna R. Meuss 

Previously posted on November 4, 2015