Vegetarianism – Why don’t you eat dogs or cats?

So long as a desire for meat persists, vegetarianism is useless. It is helpful only when it results from an attitude that I will illustrate with a little story.

Not very long ago, someone was asked: “Why don’t you eat meat?” He replied with a counter-question: “Why don’t you eat dogs or cats?” “One just can’t”, was the answer. “Why can’t you?” “Because I would find it disgusting.” “Well, that is just what I feel about all meat.”

That is the point. When pleasure in eating meat has gone, then to abstain from meat may be of some use in relation to the spiritual worlds.

Until then, breaking the meat-eating habit can be helpful only for getting rid of the desire for meat. If the desire persists, it may be better to start eating meat again, for to go on tormenting oneself about it is certainly not the right way to reach an understanding of Spiritual Science.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 58 – Metamorphoses of the Soul, Vol 1: Lecture 6: Asceticism and Illness – Berlin, 11th November 1909

Translated by Charles Davy and Christian von Arnim


Preeviously posted on April 2, 2018


The way of the soul: from desire to love

The soul progresses on its pilgrimage through the world from desire to love. This is the way of the soul: from desire to love. The desiring soul sticks to the physical-sensuous. However, the loving one can be penetrated by the spirit, obeys the spirit, and fulfils the commandment of the spirit. This is the difference of the age of the souls. The young souls are the longing ones, the ripe souls are those which love, which make the spirit work in them. In the soul-world or in the astral world we see this soul body of the human being gleaming in its different qualities, and we can thereby distinguish the degree of maturity of a human soul. All qualities which we can observe in this soul body come from the devotion to the sensuous or from the devotion to the spiritual.     

Now we also understand what death means, actually. We want to try to understand the concept, the idea of death once with this idea just won. What happens at first when the human being dies? That which has followed not only the physical principles in his physical body up to now, but what has also complied with the soul principles: the hand which has moved in accordance with the feelings which have surged through the soul, the look which has looked out into the world because it has been carried by the spiritual qualities in the soul, the countenance which has changed its expression depending on the soul, everything that has obeyed the soul in life goes its own ways after the death of the body.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 53 – Origin and Destination of Humanity – Lecture VI: The Soul-world – Berlin 10th, November, 1904


Rudolf Steiner and Annie Besant

Apparent and real motives

It may happen in life that two people live together for a long time and that through the strange forces playing out of the unknown regions of the astral body and Ego of the one person into the astral body and Ego of the other (these forces remain in the hidden regions), the one has in relation to the other a real desire for torment, a kind of need for cruelty.

It may be that the one person who has this desire for torment, this need for cruelty, has no inkling whatever of the existence of these emotions in the astral body and Ego; he may build up about the things he does out of this urge to cruelty, a whole number of ideas which explain the actions on quite other grounds. Such a person may tell us that he has done this or that to the other person for one reason or another; these reasons may be very clever and yet they do not express the truth at all.

For in ordinary life, what we all-too-often picture as the motives of our own actions, indeed of our own feelings, frequently stands, as I say, in a very, very distant connection with what is really living and weaving in our inner being.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 161 – The Problem of Death: I – Dornach, February 5, 1915

Previously posted on October 27, 2016


An inner connection exists between man’s activity and his organs. He needs his organs both for the lowest and the highest impulses. He also needs them in art. When someone has once and for all absorbed everything from the world, he has no further use for his organs. Between birth and death man accustoms himself to perceive the world through his organs. After death what he is thus accustomed to must slowly be put aside. 

If he still wishes to make use of his organs to perceive the world, then he finds himself in the condition which is called Kamaloka. It is a condition in which there is still desire to perceive through the organs, which however are no longer there. If after death a person could say that he had no further desire to use his organs, Kamaloka would no longer exist for him. In Devachan everything which man formerly perceived around him with his organs, is there perceived from within — without organs. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 93a – Foundations of Esotericism – Lecture II – Berlin, 27th September 1905

Translated by Vera and Judith Compton-Burnett

Previously posted on February 8, 2017

The soul is first and foremost a being filled with longing

The soul is first and foremost a being filled with longing. It is filled with sympathy and antipathy, with the world of wishes, of desire. After some time however, the spirit reveals to the soul that it comprises more than only desire. When the soul, led by the spirit, has overcome the longing, then she is not passive, then love flows from the evolved soul, in the same way that longing flows from the undeveloped soul. Desire and love, these are the two opposing forces between which the soul develops. The soul still trapped in sensuality, in outward appearance, is the soul filled with longing; the soul that that has evolved its relationship, its harmony with the spirit, is the loving soul. That is what leads the soul on its path from incarnation to incarnation, in that it evolves from being filled with longing and desire, into a loving soul whose activities become actions of love.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 52 – Spirituelle Seelenlehre und Weltbetrachtung – Berlin, March 8, 1904 (page 347)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on May 4, 2017