It is of the very essence of Spiritual Science that activity should be demanded

One hears it said so often: The literature of Spiritual Science available to us is written in such a difficult style; it demands such effort and such intense development of the forces of the soul if any real headway is to be made. “Well-meaning” people — the adjective in inverted commas — are always coming forward with the suggestion that difficult passages should be simplified for their fellow-men; they want to trivialise — this I say without inverted commas — what is written in a rather difficult style.

But it is of the very essence of Spiritual Science that activity should be demanded of the soul; that Spiritual Science should not be easy to master. For in Spiritual Science it is not a matter merely of absorbing what is said about one thing or another, but of how things are absorbed — by dint of effort and activity of the soul. What Spiritual Science has to offer must be assimilated with sweat of the brow. That is a sine qua non in the whole business — forgive the colloquialism.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 275 – Technology and Art: Their Bearing on Modern Culture – Dornach, 28th December 1914

Translated by Dorothy Osmond

Previously posted on January 18, 2016


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 up his mind to have an opinion!

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

Control of Thought

How difficult it is for a person to push away intruding thoughts time and again. Often thoughts keep on intruding – especially the unpleasant ones – for days on end. One cannot get rid them. It gets even more difficult once we have taught ourselves to concentrate our thoughts. The thought content on which we have concentrated, takes hold of us and we need to summon up tremendous effort to eliminate it again.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 305 –Die geistig-seelischen Grundkräfte der Erziehungskunst – Oxford, 20 August 1922 (page 87)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on June 29, 2014

Men regard it as a tremendously noble thing to repent of a deed

Men regard it as a tremendously noble thing to repent of a deed; but that is not the best that can be done with a deed; for often repentance is based upon sheer egoism: one would like to have done something better in order to be a better man. That is egoistic. Our efforts will only cease to be egoistic when we do not wish to have done a thing better than we have done it, but consider it far more important to do the same thing better next time.

The intention which a man has is the more important thing, not the repentance — the endeavour to do the same thing on another occasion. And in this intention wish sounds as an undertone; so that we may well ask the question: What is this undertone of wish which accompanies our intention? For anyone who can really observe the soul this wish is the first element of all that remains over after death. It is something of this remainder which we feel when we say: we ought to have done it better: we wish we had done it better. In the wish, in the form in which I have described it to you, we have something which belongs to the Spirit-Self.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 293 – The Study of Man,  Lecture IV – Stuttgart, 25th August 1919

Translated by Daphne Harwood & Helen Fox

Previously posted on August 17, 2014

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