What is conscience?

Conscience is the outcome of experiences spread over a number of incarnations. Fundamentally, all knowledge, from the highest to the lowest, is the outcome of what a man has experienced; it has come into being as a result of trial and error.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science – Lecture VIII: Good and Evil – Stuttgart, 29th August 1906

Translated by E.H. Goddard & Charles Davy

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Previously posted on August 13, 2018

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Why good people often have poor and disturbed sleep, while criminals sleep well

Reference has been made in the newspapers recently to questions that are being investigated by scientists, as to why criminals sleep well, while moral people with a good conscience often sleep badly. […] 

In the case of a highly conscientious and devout man, who has a fine moral feeling, his moral sensibility enters so deeply into his soul that he takes it with him into sleep; with the result that he sleeps badly, believing as he does that he has been guilty of many misdeeds.

A bad man, on the other hand, whose moral sensibility is very little developed, will carry with him into sleep no such pangs of conscience, — and this will mean of course at the same time that he will have, spiritually speaking, an open ear for the whisperings of Ahriman who makes evil appear good. Hence the quiet and contented sleep of the criminal!

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 218 – Man’s Life on Earth and in the Spiritual Worlds: Lecture IV – London, 12th November, 1922

Translated by George and Mary Adams

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Painted by David Newbatt

Previously posted on January 12, 2018

Conscience: A Prophetic Presentiment

Conscience reveals whether we shall be horrified or happy, when we are able to behold our actions in the realm of spirit. Conscience is a presentiment that reveals prophetically how we shall experience our deeds after death.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 143 – Conscience and Astonishment As Indications of Spiritual Vision in Past and Future – Breslau, 3rd February 1912

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Previously posted on July 23, 2017

When conscience speaks, it is God speaking in the soul

Popular consciousness says: When conscience speaks, it is God speaking in the soul. The highest spiritual consciousness says that when conscience speaks, it is truly the cosmic Spirit speaking. And spiritual science brings out the connection between conscience and the greatest event in the evolution of mankind, the Christ-Event. Hence it is not surprising that conscience has thereby been ennobled and raised to a higher sphere. When we hear that something has been done for reasons of conscience, we feel that conscience is regarded as one of the most important possessions of mankind.

Thus we can see how natural and right it is for the human heart to speak of conscience as “God in man”.

[…] conscience is the highest voice in our inward life. On this account, also, we are aware that our dignity as human beings is inseparable from conscience. We are human beings because we have an ego-consciousness; and the conscience we have at our side is also at the side of our ego. Thus we look on conscience as a most sacred individual possession, inviolable by the external world, whose voice enables us to determine our direction and our goal. When conscience speaks, no other voice may intrude.

So it is that on one side conscience ensures our connection with the primordial power of the world and on the other guarantees the fact that in our inmost self we have something like a drop flowing from the Godhead. And man can know: When conscience speaks in him, it is a God speaking.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 59 – Metamorphoses of the Soul 2: Lecture 8: Human Conscience – Berlin, 5th May 1910

Translated by Charles Davy and Christian von Arnim

Previously posted on June 26, 2016

Good deeds/Karma

A man who tries to perform many good deeds, will, as a result of the feelings evoked, have a decided talent in the next life for good deeds; he will also possess a thoroughly developed conscience and will be a person of high moral principles.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 99 – Theosophy of the Rosicrucian – VI: The Law of Destiny – Berlin, 30th May 1907

Translated by M. Cotterell & D. S. Osmond

Previously posted on March 25,  2016