Without effort it is impossible to attain a true knowledge

Without effort it is impossible to attain a true knowledge of the things which must gradually be made clear to the world through spiritual science. Today there are undoubtedly many people who argue: — “Why should we learn so many things through spiritual science? Must we become schoolboys again? Feelings or experiences seem to be the most important thing in it.” Indeed, feeling is precisely what should be taken into consideration — but, first of all, the right kind of feeling must be acquired.

The same thing applies to everything. A painter also would find it far more pleasant if there were no need for him to learn the elements of his art, and so forth, and if he were not obliged to paint his final picture slowly and gradually on the canvas. It would be far more pleasant if he could just breathe on the canvas, and so produce his finished picture! The peculiar thing in the world today is this — that, the more we reach the soul-spiritual sphere, the more people fail to understand that a mere breathing on the canvas does not suffice! In the case of music, few people will admit that a man who has learnt nothing at all can be a composer; this is quite obvious to them. They will also admit this in the case of painting — although less strictly than in the case of music — and in the case of poetry they will admit still less that study and training is necessary. This is why there are so many modern poets. No age has been so unpoetical as our present age, in spite of its many poets! Poets need not learn much — they are simply expected to write (although this has nothing to do with poetry) — at least orthographically; it suffices if they are able to express their thoughts intelligibly.

And less still is expected from philosophers. For it is taken for granted that anyone may express his opinion concerning all kinds of things which belong to a conception of the world, or life-conception. Everybody has his own point of view. Again and again we find that careful study, entailing the application of all means available to an inner activity, in order to investigate and know at least something of the world, counts for nothing in the present day. Instead, it is taken for granted that the standpoint of one who has toiled and worked in order, to venture to say at least a few things concerning the secrets of the universe is equivalent to the standpoint of one who has simply made his mind to have an opinion!

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 143 – Reflections of Consciousness, Super-consciousness and Sub-consciousness – Munich, 25th February 1912


Previously posted on September 29, 2017


The intent and the effort to do something better the next time is higher than regret

Is there anything in life of which we could not say that we could have done it better? It would be sad if there were anything with which we could be completely satisfied, because there is nothing we could not do better.

The difference between a person standing higher and one standing lower in lifeis precisely that the latter always desires to be satisfied with himself. The person standing higher in life is never completely satisfied, because the subtle wish to do better, even to do things differently, always exists as a motive.

This is an area that is often misunderstood. People see something great when they regret a deed. However, that is not the best we can do with a deed, because we often base our regret in egotism;  namely, people desire to have done the deed better to be better people. That is egotistical.

Our striving will be without egotism only when we cease to desire to have done a completed deed better and instead place greater value in doing the same deed better the next time. The intent and the effort to do something better the next time is higher than regret.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – The Foundations of Human Experience: lecture 4 – Stuttgart, August 27, 1919

Translated by Robert F. Lathe & Nancy Parsons Whittaker

This quote is not in the RS Archive, as far as I know. This was sent to me by a friend from Lebanon.

It will not be so comfortable

During my life I received innumerable letters from church people stating that Anthroposophy is a fine thing, but that it contradicts the “simple”, “plain Christian faith” of the soul’s salvation through Christ, of eternal life attained through Christ, without having to do anything for it. “Faith in the salvation through Christ” is something which they cannot abandon.

When people write or say such things, they think that they are especially pious. But they are simply selfish, thoroughly selfish and egoistic, for they do not wish to make any effort in their soul, they wish to leave everything to God, who will carry their soul safely through the portal of death and pension it off.

Matters will not be so comfortable in the world conception which will in future create the religious substance. We will have to grasp that the divine essence within us must be developed within the soul.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 296 – The Inexpressible Name, Spirits of Space and Time. Conquering Egotism – Dornach, 17th August 1919

Previously posted on September 27, 2015

Materialism and the Church

It is truly not particularly difficult to see that what people have since centuries believed to be a certain religiosity, is, in fact, something quite superficial, and in reality not concerned with the supersensible worlds at all. Up to now people lived with a certain indifference towards the supersensible worlds. But a turning point in time has arrived and human beings are now asked to orient themselves again on the supersensible worlds.

People have to learn once again to focus their attention on the spiritual world, but in a different way from how it is nowadays often envisaged. People want to remain with the customary comfortable faith that does not require a lot of inner effort. Those who have remained in this easy faith, are the principal enemies of true current progress. The churches, who oppose the new roads to the supersensible, are in truth currently the cause of more and more materialistic impulses in humanity. It is necessary at the present time to focus in a very concrete way on the supersensible worlds.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 190 –Vergangenheits- und Zukunftsimpulse im sozialen Geschehen – Dornach, March 23, 1919 (page 47-48)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on July 14, 2017

What claims to be “humble” or “simple” today is often supreme arrogance

More and more generally it is being said that people should steep themselves in the very simplicity of the Gospels and not attempt to understand the Mystery of Golgotha by entering into the complexities of spiritual science. Those who feign unpretentiousness in their study of the Gospels are the most arrogant of all, for they despise the honest search for knowledge demanded in spiritual science. So arrogant are they that they believe the highest revelations of the spiritual world can be garnered without effort, simply by browsing on the simplicity of the Gospels. What claims to be “humble” or “simple” today is often supreme arrogance. In sects, in religious confessions — it is there that the most arrogant people are to be found.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 193 – Influences of Lucifer/Ahriman: Lecture Three – Bern – 4th November, 1919

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond

Previously posted on August 4, 2014