The world is not simple

There was once a Spanish king who was shown how complicated the structure of the universe is. He thought he would have made it simpler. A man may think like this, but, as a matter of fact, the world is not simple, and  we must exert ourselves somewhat to grasp what man is.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 234 – Anthropososophy, an Introduction – 5. Love, Intuition and the Human Ego – Dornach, 2 February 1924

Translated by V. Compton Burnett. Second English edition edited by Owen Barfield.

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Accidental death and karma

Before you have lived through your present life, you have experienced many others. What you have experienced in your past life will be worked out in a particular way. For example, it might be that you need to have a long life this time so that everything can work out according to what occurred in previous earth lives. However, outer events can be in contradiction to this necessity. 

I could have an accident due to external circumstances, and I could die so that, for example, based on my previous earthly life, I die proportionately too early. In connection with the previous life on earth, it is not meant that I should die so early because I still have things to do on earth. However, I could still die. Please do not believe that it is definitely sure that I will not die! I might die; the accident might happen anyway. I might die so that my whole destiny would be changed. For I would not have the experience, I would have had to go through. My whole destiny would be changed! This is where the spiritual being who leads man from earthly life to earthly life can intervene and warn him. There is always an explanation for such a warning. 

But of course, the relations are incredibly complicated, and it can also be that this being who wants to protect the human being – if we’re going to call it that – has to do with other beings who prevent this warning. In the spiritual world, such conflicts can undoubtedly take place. But if these evil beings, if I may put it this way, have no particular interest in keeping this warning back, then it comes through. […] And so extraordinary things can happen, even outwardly; this happens countless times.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 350 – Rhythmen im Kosmos und im Menschenwesen / Wie kommt man zum Schauen der geistigen Welt? – Dornach, June 13, 1923 (page 92-93)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

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The characteristic stamp of the modern anthroposophist (part 6 of 6)

In characterising this state of civilisation we can only say that it is complex in the highest degree. It must also be said that the connection between what man does, what he carries out, and what he loves, is weakening all the time. And if we were to count those people who in their positions in external life to-day are obliged to engage in some activity that goes much against the grain, their number would by far exceed the number of those who affirm: I can only say that I love my external occupation, that it brings me happiness and contentment.

Only recently I heard of a strange statement made by someone to a friend. He said: ‘When I look back over my life in all its details I confess that if I had to live through it again from childhood to the present moment, I should do exactly the same things I have done up to now.’ — The friend replied: ‘Then you are one of those most rarely to be found at the present time!’ — The friend was probably right, as far as most men of the modern age are concerned. Not many of our contemporaries would assert that, if it depended on them, they would without hesitation begin life all over again, together with everything it has brought in the way of happiness, sorrow, blows of fate, obstacles, and would be quite content if everything were exactly the same again.

It cannot be said that the fact just mentioned — namely that there are so few people nowadays who would be willing to recapitulate the karma of their present life together with all its details — it cannot be said that this is unconnected with what the prevailing cultural state of humanity has brought in its train. Our life has become more complex but it has been made so by the different karmas of the personalities living on the earth to-day. Of that there can be no doubt at all. Nor will those who have the slightest insight into the course taken by human evolution be able to speak of any possibility of a less complicated life in the future. On the contrary, the complexity of external life will steadily increase and however many activities are taken over from man in the future by machines, there can be very few lives of happiness in this present incarnation unless conditions quite different from those now prevailing are brought about. And these different conditions must be the result of the human soul being convinced of the truth of reincarnation and karma.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 135 – REINCARNATION AND KARMA THEIR SIGNIFICANCE IN MODERN CULTURE 4. Examples of the working of karma between two incarnations – Stuttgart, 21 February 1912 

Translated from shorthand reports unrevised by the lecturer, by D.S. Osmond, C. Davy and S. and E. F. Derry.

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Truth is complicated

When, as so often happens, people say that truth should be simple, this is due to indolence and a dislike of having to wrestle with many concepts; but the greatest truths can be apprehended only when the spiritual faculties are exerted to their utmost capacity. If considerable efforts are needed to describe a machine, it is surely unreasonable to demand that the greatest truths should also be the simplest! Truth is inevitably complicated, and the most strenuous efforts must be made if it is desired to acquire some understanding of the truths relating to the Events of Palestine. Nobody should lend himself to the objection that the facts are unduly complicated; they are complicated because here we have to do with the greatest of all happenings in the evolution of the Earth.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 114 – The Gospel of St. Luke – Lecture Five – Basel, September 19, 1909

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond & Owen Barfield

Previously posted on March 16, 2018

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It is very frequently pleaded that ‘Truth must be very simple’ 

If one wished to understand the mechanical action of a watch, one would have to bear in mind the connection of the wheels, etc. Yet it is supposed that one can talk of man’s highest being without the requisite trouble being taken to gain knowledge of man’s nature. It is very frequently pleaded that ‘Truth must be very simple’ — and the accusation is made against Spiritual Science that it is very complicated. 

Man longs to acquire in five minutes — or in less time — what is necessary for the knowledge of his highest being; whereas he is by nature a complicated being, his greatness in the universe is due to that very fact, and we must overcome the tendency to indolence in respect of knowledge if we really wish to penetrate to the human entity.

Opposite words for simple and complicated
Opposite words for simple and complicated illustration

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 181 – Earthly Death and Cosmic Life: Lecture 2: A Contribution to our Knowledge of the Human Being – Berlin, 29th January 1918

Translated by Harry Collison

Previously posted on May 27, 2017