The way to regard a criminal

If I am a teacher, and my pupil does not fulfill my expectations, I must not divert my resentment against him but against myself. I must feel myself as one with my pupil, to the extent of asking myself: “Is my pupil’s deficiency not the result of my own action?” Instead of directing my feelings against him I shall rather reflect on my own attitude, so that the pupil may in the future be better able to satisfy my demands. Proceeding from such an attitude, a change will come over the student’s whole way of thinking. 

This holds good in all things, great or small. Such an attitude of mind, for instance, alters the way I regard a criminal. I suspend my judgment and say to myself: “I am, like him, only a human being. Through favorable circumstances I received an education which perhaps alone saved me from a similar fate.” I may then also come to the conclusion that this human brother of mine would have become a different man had my teachers taken the same pains with him they took with me. I shall reflect on the fact that something was given to me which was withheld from him, that I enjoy my fortune precisely because it was denied him. And then I shall naturally come to think of myself as a link in the whole of humanity and a sharer in the responsibility for everything that occurs.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 10 – Knowledge of the Higher Worlds: V: The Conditions of Esoteric Training

Translated by George Metaxa

rudolfsteinerlecture2011_07-2013_08_19-08_19_05-utc

Painting by David Newbatt

Previously posted on December 24, 2017

Advertisement

About positivity and refraining from criticism

The esoteric pupil must try to discover the positive in every phenomenon and in every being. He will then soon notice a hidden beauty underneath the ugly outer appearance, that even behind the exterior of a criminal something good can be found, that even in a mentally disturbed person, in one way or another, the divine soul is hidden. This exercise is somewhat related to what one calls refraining from criticism. However, one must not conceive this matter as if one should call black white and white black. There is a difference between an evaluation that emanates from the personality and is based on personal sympathy and antipathy. There is another standpoint possible where someone places him- or herself lovingly in the place of an unfamiliar phenomenon or being and constantly wondering: how does the other come to be like this or do things in this way? From such a position, it happens naturally that a person will be more apt to want to help the other to overcome his or her imperfections instead of merely commenting or criticising.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 267 – Seelenübungen (page 58-59)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on November 3, 2017

Understanding must take the place of criticism

For the development of the soul it is necessary that one acquire a certain definite manner of judging one’s fellowmen. It is difficult to attain an uncritical attitude, but understanding must take the place of criticism. It suppresses the advancement of the soul if you confront your fellowman immediately with your own opinion. We must hear the other out first, and this listening is an extraordinarily effective means for the development of the soul eyes. Anybody who reaches a higher level in this direction owes it to having learned to abstain from criticizing and judging everybody and everything. How can we look understandingly into somebody’s being? We should not condemn but understand the criminal’s personality, understand the criminal and the saint equally well. Empathy for each and everyone is required and this is what is meant with higher, occult “listening.” Thus, if a person brings himself with strict self-control to the point of not evaluating his fellowman, or the rest of the world for that matter, according to his personal judgment, opinion and prejudice and instead lets both work on him in silence, he has the chance to gain occult powers. Every moment during which a person becomes determined to refrain from thinking an evil thought about his fellowman is a moment gained.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 53 – The Inner Development of Man – Berlin, 15th December 1904

Translated by Maria St. Goar

Previously posted on March 3, 2015

The way to regard a criminal

If I am a teacher, and my pupil does not fulfill my expectations, I must not divert my resentment against him but against myself. I must feel myself as one with my pupil, to the extent of asking myself: “Is my pupil’s deficiency not the result of my own action?” Instead of directing my feelings against him I shall rather reflect on my own attitude, so that the pupil may in the future be better able to satisfy my demands. Proceeding from such an attitude, a change will come over the student’s whole way of thinking.

This holds good in all things, great or small. Such an attitude of mind, for instance, alters the way I regard a criminal. I suspend my judgment and say to myself: “I am, like him, only a human being. Through favorable circumstances I received an education which perhaps alone saved me from a similar fate.” I may then also come to the conclusion that this human brother of mine would have become a different man had my teachers taken the same pains with him they took with me. I shall reflect on the fact that something was given to me which was withheld from him, that I enjoy my fortune precisely because it was denied him. And then I shall naturally come to think of myself as a link in the whole of humanity and a sharer in the responsibility for everything that occurs.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 10 – Knowledge of the Higher Worlds: V: The Conditions of Esoteric Training

Translated by George Metaxa

About positivity and refraining from criticism

The esoteric pupil must try to discover the positive in every phenomenon and in every being. He will then soon notice a hidden beauty underneath the ugly outer appearance, that even behind the exterior of a criminal something good can be found, that even in a mentally disturbed person, in one way or another, the divine soul is hidden. This exercise is somewhat related to what one calls refraining from criticism. However, one must not conceive this matter as if one should call black white and white black. There is a difference between an evaluation that emanates from the personality and is based on personal sympathy and antipathy. There is another standpoint possible where someone places him- or herself lovingly in the place of an unfamiliar phenomenon or being and constantly wondering: how does the other come to be like this or do things in this way? From such a position, it happens naturally that a person will be more apt to want to help the other to overcome his or her imperfections instead of merely commenting or criticising.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 267 – Seelenübungen (page 58-59)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on November 10, 2016