Above all you must get rid of the notion that your opinion is worth more than that of other people

Self-knowledge is one of the hardest things to acquire, and it is precisely those who think they know themselves best who are most likely to be deceived: they think too much about themselves. You should get out of the habit of fixing your attention on yourself and constantly using the word “I” — “I think, I believe, I consider this right”. Above all you must get rid of the notion that your opinion is worth more than that of other people. Suppose, for instance, that someone is very clever. If he displays his cleverness in the company of people who are not so clever, his behaviour will be very ill-timed; he will be doing it only to please his own egoism. He ought to adapt his response to the needs and capacities of others.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science: Lecture XIV: Rosicrucian Training – The Interior of the Earth – Earthquakes and Volcanoes – Stuttgart, 4th September 1906

Translated by E.H. Goddard & Charles Davy

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Painting David Newbatt

Previously posted on August 7,  2018

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Tolerance for other opinions

It is the most extraordinary thing that nobody nowadays really ever listens to anybody else. Is it ever possible to start a sentence without someone interrupting to state his own view of the matter, with a resultant clash of opinion? It is a fundamental characteristic of modern civilization that nobody listens, that nobody respects anyone’s opinion but his own, and that those who do not share his opinions are looked upon as dunces.

But when a person expresses an opinion, my dear friends, it is a human being’s opinion, no matter how foolish we may think it, and we must be able to accept it, to listen to it. […]

If one has acquired a little wisdom, one even takes pleasure in hearing people say something foolish, if you will forgive my putting it so bluntly. One sometimes finds such stupidities cleverer than the things people of an average degree of cleverness say, because they often issue from a far greater humanness than underlies the average cleverness of the average of clever people. An ever deepening insight into the world increases one’s interest in human foolishness, for these things look different at differing world levels. The stupidities of a person who may seem a fool to clever people in the ordinary physical world can, under certain circumstances, reveal things that are wisdom in a different world, even though the form they take may be twisted and caricatured.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 257 – Awakening to Community – Dornach, 4th March 1923

Translated by Marjorie Spock

Previously posted on February 24, 2019

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Cultural epochs (3 – End) – In the seventh epoch, cleverness without morality will be non-existent

[…] In order to understand the nature of development in the sixth epoch of culture, it is well to consider what will be the characteristic qualities of the soul in future incarnations. Today, in our intellectual age, intellectuality and morality are practically separate spheres in the life of soul. It is quite possible nowadays for a man to be very clever and at the same time immoral, or vice versa — to be deeply moral and anything but clever. […]

Let us think once again of the phases of evolution through the fifth, sixth and seventh post-Atlantean culture-epochs in order to grasp how intellectuality, aestheticism and morality will come to expression in men’s life of soul.

Whereas in the present fifth epoch, intellectuality can remain unimpaired even if no pleasure is taken in moral actions, in the sixth epoch, it will be quite different. In the sixth epoch, that is, from about the third millennium onwards, immorality will have a paralysing effect upon intellectuality. The mental powers of a man who is intellectual and at the same time immoral will definitely deteriorate and this condition will become more and more pronounced in the future evolution of humanity. A man who has no morals will therefore have no intellectual power for this will depend entirely upon moral actions; and in the seventh epoch, cleverness without morality will be non-existent.

Source: Rudolf Steiner: GA 130 – BUDDHA AND CHRIST: The Sphere of the Bodhisattvas – Milan – 21st September, 1911

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond

Previously posted on August 28, 2016

Tolerance for other opinions

It is the most extraordinary thing that nobody nowadays really ever listens to anybody else. Is it ever possible to start a sentence without someone interrupting to state his own view of the matter, with a resultant clash of opinion? It is a fundamental characteristic of modern civilization that nobody listens, that nobody respects anyone’s opinion but his own, and that those who do not share his opinions are looked upon as dunces.

But when a person expresses an opinion, my dear friends, it is a human being’s opinion, no matter how foolish we may think it, and we must be able to accept it, to listen to it. […]

If one has acquired a little wisdom, one even takes pleasure in hearing people say something foolish, if you will forgive my putting it so bluntly. One sometimes finds such stupidities cleverer than the things people of an average degree of cleverness say, because they often issue from a far greater humanness than underlies the average cleverness of the average of clever people. An ever deepening insight into the world increases one’s interest in human foolishness, for these things look different at differing world levels. The stupidities of a person who may seem a fool to clever people in the ordinary physical world can, under certain circumstances, reveal things that are wisdom in a different world, even though the form they take may be twisted and caricatured.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 257 – Awakening to Community – Dornach, 4th March 1923

Translated by Marjorie Spock

Above all you must get rid of the notion that your opinion is worth more than that of other people

Self-knowledge is one of the hardest things to acquire, and it is precisely those who think they know themselves best who are most likely to be deceived: they think too much about themselves. You should get out of the habit of fixing your attention on yourself and constantly using the word “I” — “I think, I believe, I consider this right”. Above all you must get rid of the notion that your opinion is worth more than that of other people. Suppose, for instance, that someone is very clever. If he displays his cleverness in the company of people who are not so clever, his behaviour will be very ill-timed; he will be doing it only to please his own egoism. He ought to adapt his response to the needs and capacities of others.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science: Lecture XIV: Rosicrucian Training – The Interior of the Earth – Earthquakes and Volcanoes – Stuttgart, 4th September 1906

Translated by E.H. Goddard & Charles Davy

Previously posted on February 12, 2015