One of the most shameful errors

What must above all become strong and forceful are the soul experiences we can call the eminently moral ones. These imprint themselves as soul dispositions in firmness of character and inner resolute calm. Inner courage and firmness of character must most especially be developed, for through weakness of character we cripple the whole life of soul, which would then come powerless into the elemental world; this we must avoid if we hope to have a true and correct experience there. No one who is really earnest about gaining knowledge in the higher worlds will therefore fail to give weight to the strengthening of the moral forces among all the other forces that help the soul enter those worlds. One of the most shameful errors is foisted on humanity when someone takes it on himself to say that clairvoyance should be acquired without paying attention to strengthening the moral life.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 147 – Secrets of the Threshold – Lecture III – Munich, 26 August 1913

Translated by Ruth Pusch

Previously posted on May 12, 2015


Sound judgment

How often human beings do not see in an unconfused way what exists, but rather what they crave to see! In how many cases do men believe something, not because they have discerned it, but because it is acceptable to them to believe! Or what errors arise because one does not go to the bottom of a thing, but forms a hasty judgment! All these reasons for deception in ordinary life might be multiplied indefinitely. What tricks are played upon sound judgment by partisan feeling, passion, and so forth. If such errors of judgment in ordinary life are disturbing and often disastrous, they are the greatest conceivable danger to the wholesomeness of the supersensible experience. No general rule can be given to the student for his guidance in the higher worlds, beyond the advice to do everything possible for his healthy power of discernment and for his sound, independent judgment.  

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 12 – The Stages of Higher Knowledge – Chapter 4: Inspiration and Intuition

Translated by by Lisa Monges and Floyd McKnight

Previously posted on December 9, 2015

Nothing is worse than not to try to gain an understanding of every kind of human feeling and human sensation and human life

Really nothing is worse during this esoteric progress than not to try to gain an understanding of every kind of human feeling and human sensation and human life. Of course, this does not postulate the principle — this must be emphasised again and again — that we should pass over all the wrong that is done in the world without criticism, for that would be an injustice towards the world; but it postulates something else; whereas before esoteric development we may have felt a certain pleasure in finding fault with some human failing, this pleasure in finding fault with other people entirely ceases in the course of esoteric development.

Who does not know in external life people who like to deliver very pertinent criticisms of other people’s faults? Not that the pertinence of judgment over human faults has to cease, not that under all circumstances, such an act as was committed, let us say, by Erasmus of Rotterdam when he wrote his book, The Praise of Folly, should be condoned; no, it may be quite justifiable to be stern against the wrongs done in the world; but in the case of one who undergoes an esoteric development every word of blame he utters or sets in motion pains him, and prepares more and more pain for him.

And the sorrow at being obliged to find fault is something which can also act as a barometer of the esoteric development. The more we are still able to feel pleasure when we are obliged to find fault or when we find the world ludicrous, the less we are really ready to progress; and we must gradually gain a sort of feeling that there is, developing more and more within us, a life which makes us see these follies and errors in the world with eyes, of which one is critical, and the other filled with tears, one dry and the other wet.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 145 – The Effect of Occult Development Upon the Self and the Sheaths of Man – Lecture V – The Hague, 24th March 1913

Translated by Harry Collison

Previously posted on July 17, 2014

Half- or quarter-truths have far worse effects than complete errors

Half- or quarter-truths have far worse effects than complete errors. Thus it is a half- or quarter-truth which underlies what is so frequently described today as analytical psychology or psychoanalysis. People are truly seeking but they are groping in the dark; they divine that many things are hidden in the foundations of the soul, but they cannot resolve to take the real steps into the spiritual world, so as to find what is hidden there, in the depths of the soul.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 168 – The Influence of the Dead on the Life of Man on Earth – Zurich, 3 December 1916

Previously posted on September 2, 2014

About Psychoanalysis

We have often noted how important it is for the researcher in the field of anthroposophical spiritual science, to connect his considerations with what is offered by the moving forces of our own age. It may be said that all sorts of people who feel drawn to psychoanalysis today are earnestly searching for the spiritual foundations of existence, for the inner realities of the soul of man. And it may be called a curious characteristic of our own time that so many of our contemporaries are becoming aware of quite definite, and most peculiar forces in the human soul. The psychoanalysts belong to those who, simply through the impulses of the age, are forced to hit upon certain phenomena of soul life.

It is especially important also not to remain entirely oblivious of this movement, because the phenomena of which it takes cognizance are really present, and because in our own time they intrude themselves for various reasons upon the attention of human beings. Today they must become aware of such phenomena.

On the other hand it is a fact that the people who concern themselves with these things today lack the means of knowledge required for the discussion and, above all, for the understanding of them. So that we may say: psychoanalysis is a phenomenon of our time, which compels men to take account of certain soul processes, and yet causes them to undertake their consideration by inadequate methods of knowledge. This is particularly important because this investigation, by inadequate methods of knowledge, of a matter that quite obviously exists and challenges our present human cognition leads to a variety of serious errors, inimical to social life, to the further development of knowledge, and to the influence of this development of knowledge upon social life.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 178 – Psychoanalysis in the Light of Anthroposophy – Dornach, 10th November 1917

Translated by May Laird-Brown

Previously posted on February 11, 2016