Not only is morality advanced by good habits, but also health

In considering karma and disease, both of the individual and whole populations, we have seen that what has been prepared during earlier times spiritually asserts itself later in physical life. Therefore, if we ensure that humanity has good education and habits, we will promote health too! Not only is the moral element promoted by good habits, but also health, since bad habits create disease in the next incarnation. Nervousness, one of the most typical illnesses today, results from a particular state of mind in an earlier life. It would never have occurred if the materialistic worldview with its habits of thought had not become so prevalent. Should this mindset persist, it would devastate public health and drive humankind to madness.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 97 – Das christliche Mysterium – Stuttgart, March 14, 1906 (page 255)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger 



Thoughts and health  

Correct ideas have a healing effect on man, and wrong ideas make him sick. One can find a wrong idea behind every disease, if one traces it back. Mankind in general is responsible for this and not individuals. Interest also has a destructive effect when people run from one sensation to the other and always want to be amused. That makes people sick. It’s also a hindrance to progress to have a personal interest in higher knowledge. Men become scleroticized thereby.

A man must not become indifferent to his surroundings. He must retain his feeling and sympathy for his surroundings. Some say that sympathy can also come from egotism. That may be the case. Many kinds of sympathy only arise because one doesn’t want to see other people suffer. That’s even a good thing. It’s better for a man to help someone out of egotistical sympathy than not to help him at all. But we must learn to develop a sympathy that stands above egoism, that helps neighbors because it’s one’s duty to help them.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 266 – From the Contents of Esoteric Classes: Esoteric Lesson – Berlin, 15th May, 1908


Previously posted on May 21, 2018

Opposing forces (1 of 2)

We have evolved to our present condition because beings we call luciferic and ahrimanic have affected us. Through their forces, our essential being became worse than it would have been if only the forces of the spiritual guides of the world, those who want to advance our development in a straight line, had worked on us. Indeed, suffering, disease, and death can be traced to the fact that, in addition to the beings who advance our development in a straight line, luciferic and ahrimanic beings are also at work and continuously thwart our progress.

What we bring with us at birth contains something that is better than anything we can make of it in later life. In early childhood, the luciferic and ahrimanic forces have only a limited influence on our being. Essentially, they are active only in what we make of ourselves through our conscious life. If we retained the best part of ourselves in its full force beyond the first phase of childhood, its influence would be too much for us because the luciferic and ahrimanic forces opposing the part of ourselves that is better than the rest would weaken our whole being. Our constitution as human beings in the physical world is such that, once we are no longer soft and malleable as children, we can no longer stand to have the forces of the spiritual world continue to affect us directly. The forces that underlie our orientation in space and the formation of the larynx and the brain would shatter us if they continued to influence us directly in later life. 

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 15 – The Spiritual Guidance of the Individual and Humanity: Lecture One – Copenhagen, June 6, 1911

Previously posted on May 8, 2019


Curative conception  

The spiritual conception of the world is a curative conception. Many people will say in answer to this assertion: Are all Anthroposophists healthy people? Are there no invalids among them? We must understand that fundamentally the individual can do very little for his health and his sickness. A large proportion of the causes of disease lies outside the individual personality. 

A person may have the healthiest ideas, which, if he were to live under quite healthy conditions, would result in his never being ill from internal causes; but there are other causes lying outside the power of the individual of today, the secret causes of heredity for example, the influences passing from one human being to another, the influences of unnatural environment, etc. 

All these influences, which, in a hidden way, are external causes of disease, can only be done away with gradually by a healthy Anthroposophical method of thought. Although we may observe that a person who is inwardly most healthy may fall ill, even dangerously ill, we must not regard this as a sign that Spiritual Science will fail to act curatively upon humanity in the course of centuries — I say centuries, not thousands of years.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 105 – Universe, Earth and Man: II – Stuttgart, 5th August, 1908


Previously posted on October 23, 2017

Things that concern man cannot be found through the study of animals

The things that concern man cannot be found through the study of animals. I have often stressed this difference in public lectures, and should like to emphasise it still more here. People are in the habit of thinking: an eye is an eye, an organ is an organ, lungs are lungs, a liver is a liver, and so forth. But that is not so, the eye in man is the organ which also exists in the animal world as eye, but with a modification: it is changed by the fact that in man the ego has been incorporated. 

The same is the case with all other organs. And for the occurrences within the organs, especially in cases of disease, the permeation by the ego is of much greater importance than what happens in the animal’s organs, where there is no such permeation. This essential difference is still far too little regarded and men persist in off-hand pronouncements of this sort: “here I have a knife; well, a knife’s a knife, isn’t it? One knife is the same as another, so both, being knives, must have the same origin.” But suppose that one of these “identical” knives is a table knife, the other a razor. In that case the simple proposition that “a knife’s a knife” becomes untenable. 

It is making the same mistake to explain the human eye and the animal eye by the same methods and terms. It is simply nonsense to seek for the explanation of anything in its mere external aspect; moreover such an approach is entirely barren as a foundation for study. Study founded on animal “material” simply hinders the adequate study of certain conditions in mankind; for it is only possible to form a just estimate of the dissimilarity here, by realising that in man it is precisely the peripheral organs which are the most permeated by the ego and moulded by it.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 312 – Spiritual Science and Medicine – Lecture XIV – Dornach, April 3, 1920