Reliance on History

Everyone today who has received a minimum of education has a picture of the spiritual development of Antiquity, of the spiritual evolution that preceded Christianity. But how different this picture would be if Archbishop Theophilus of Alexandria had not burnt in the year 391 seven hundred thousand scrolls which contained vitally important records of Roman, Egyptian, Indian and Greek literature and their cultural life. Just imagine how different would be the picture of Antiquity if these seven hundred thousand scrolls had not been burnt. And from this you will realize how much reliance can be placed on the history of the past which has documentary support — or rather how little reliance!

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 175 – Building Stones for an Understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha: Lecture Nine – Berlin, 1st May 1917

Translated by A. H. Parker

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Archbishop Theophilus of Alexandria

Previously posted on September 14, 2017

If we go back to the same thing, the same must again come out of it

How frequent the question arises which I have referred to briefly today and which I will go into further in the near future, the question: What is the position occupied by Christianity during the past centuries and thousands of years, seeing that although it has been working for hundreds of years, yet the present-day conditions (1918) are possible? This question has been touched upon at different points. 

It can be seen that the materials necessary to answer it are not yet to be found among what mankind calls today the scientific or religious or any other kind of studies. Spiritual Science alone will be able to produce these materials. For it is indeed an earnest question: How is the present-day man to regard Christianity? — considering that it has indeed worked for a long time in the past and yet has allowed such conditions to come about today. 

Those men are certainly peculiar who demand that Christianity should go back again to some of the forms existing before these conditions, who does have no feeling for the fact that if we go back to the same thing, the same must again come out of it. These people will certainly not very easily admit that something new of a penetrating and intense nature must strike into spiritual life.

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Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 181 – Anthroposophical Life Gifts: Lecture V: Thoughts on Life and Death – Berlin, 16th April 1918

Previously posted on June 14, 2017

Misconception

It is a complete misconception when one inclines towards ascetical behaviour during earthly physical development if one considers the latter as the enemy of the higher human being. It is an untruth because earthly experience gives something to the human being that he could not obtain in any other way. It is wrong to despise life in the physical body, to view the body as something low. It is particularly important and the most meaningful thing in the whole of human life. 

And spiritual science cannot at all agree with the kind of mysticism or wrong direction of Christianity – not the right direction, but the wrong one – that despises the earthly world. Between death and a new birth, man experiences the world from a different perspective; he experiences it so that now, not only the beings who worked in him during the time he was within the physical and etheric bodies but the Creator Beings themselves are working in him as well. There he has a different experience. That is why, during our earthly life, we have the task of getting to know not only the sensory but also the supersensory world.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 184 – Die Polarität von Dauer und Entwickelung im Menschenleben – Dornach, September 8, 1918 (page 64)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Knowing much without, in fact, having true knowledge 

What is sent out from our European and American universities as so-called human wisdom, but also as social wisdom, technical wisdom and so on, in fact, is a view of the world to the exclusion of all the factors that belong to the human being. Whosoever today is in some leading position, even if it is an insignificant leading position, has no opportunity at all to learn something or other that would enable him to acquire insight into the human being. And without human knowledge there is no social life, without human knowledge there is no renewal of Christianity. 

One can nowadays become a theologian without having any idea of the mystery of Golgotha, for most theologians have no idea who Christ is. You can nowadays become a lawyer without having any idea of what the human being really is. One can become a doctor without having any idea of how the human being is built up from out of the cosmos, without having any idea of how the healthy and the diseased body relate to each other. One can be a technician today, without having any idea of how the construction of some machine will affect the entire course of earthly evolution, and one can today be a genius inventor of a telephone without having an idea of what the phone means for the whole of earthly development. 

People lack a view of the course of human development. And every man has his own desire to form a small circle and to acquire a routine in this small circle, to use this routine to further his egoism, which he creates for himself without considering how, what he brings as part of the world into this world, is interwoven into the whole.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 196 – Geistige und soziale Wandlungen in der Menschheitsentwickelung – Dornach, February 6, 1920 (page 158-159)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on February 8, 2018

When the wine is in the man, the wisdom is in the can (2 – End)

Belief in reincarnation and the law of Karma had a great influence not only upon the individual but upon his social sentiment. It helped him to bear with the inequalities of human life. When the unhappy Egyptian labourer was working at the Pyramids, or the lowest caste of Hindu building the gigantic Indian temples in the heart of the mountains, he said to himself that another existence would compensate him for labours patiently accomplished, that his master if he were good had already undergone similar tests or that he would have to undergo them in the future if he were unjust and cruel.

As the era of Christianity drew near, man was destined to enter upon an epoch of concentration upon earthly efforts; he was to work towards the amelioration of earthly existence, the development of intellect, of logical and scientific understanding of Nature. The knowledge of reincarnation, therefore, was to be lost for two thousand years and wine was the means to this end.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 94 – An Esoteric Cosmology – VII – The Gospel of St. John – Paris, 31st May 1906

Translated by Rene Querido

Previously posted on Februaru 23, 2017