One of the greatest defects, one of the principal sources of aberration and confusion in our time

Just as there are definite stages in the evolution of the individual human being, just as the nature of his powers and faculties differs in childhood, middle life and old age, so too are the powers and faculties possessed by humanity in general constantly changing in the course of evolution. Not to take account of the fact that the character of humanity is different in the 20th century from what it was in the 15th century, let alone before and at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha, is to sleep through the process of world-evolution. One of the greatest defects, one of the principal sources of aberration and confusion in our time, is its failure to pay heed to this, as well as the prevalent notion that it is possible to speak of man or of humanity in terms of abstract generalisations, that there is no need to regard humanity as being involved in a continuous process of evolution.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 182 –The Work of the Angels In Man’s Astral Body – Zurich, 9th October, 1918

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond & Owen Barfield

Previously posted on October 1, 2014

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A man without ideals is a man without power

To understand the development of humanity, it must be viewed in its whole range. Only so can we see its high ideal. To believe that an ideal is not necessary for action is a great error. A man without ideals is a man without power. The function of an ideal in life is like that of steam in an engine. Steam comprises in a small area a vast expanse of ‘condensed space’ — hence its tremendous power of expansion. The magic power of thought is of the same nature. Let us then rise to the thought of the ideal of humanity as a whole, guided by the thread of its evolution through the epochs of time.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 94 – An Esoteric Cosmology – II – The Mission of Manicheism – Paris, 26th May 1906

Translated by Rene Querido

Previously posted on January 11, 2016

Destruction and hindrance will be reversed and changed into the good

We have seen how the separate planets, the separate bodies of our cosmic system, arise from a common original substance, and have recognized that spiritual beings of various kinds are active in all this evolution. We have pointed out too in former lectures how spiritual science does not see merely physical material objects in the bodies of our cosmic system, but linked with the physical and material, spiritual beings of various grades. These may be beings of the most exalted order who raise evolution, thus benefiting the whole system, or they may be spiritual beings of a lower kind who hinder and destroy. Yet we must be clear that what seems to be hindrance and destruction is in the long run again membered into the wisdom of the whole system. One might therefore say: When something apparently destructive, retarding and evil exists anywhere, then evolution in its whole course will be so wisely guided that even this evil, this destruction and hindrance will be reversed and changed into the good.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 102 – The Influence of Spiritual Beings on Man: Lecture IV– Berlin, 29th February 1908

Man has evolved at the cost of the surrounding world

We see in nature the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms; man has the qualities of all these kingdoms within him. The form and cohesion of the minerals;  the life of the plant; and the feeling and power of inner life of the animal kingdom, man is the sum total of them.

He has attained his evolution and powers at their cost.  Originally animals were more perfect. Man’s ascent was brought about by their descent. In this way the human kingdom has risen. […]

If a saint develops it means the pushing down of other beings; he will make good and redeem those others. This idea gives sympathy with the entire Cosmos. Man in raising himself must desire to raise and redeem others, for he has evolved at the cost of the whole surrounding world.


Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA unknown – Evolution of Human Freedom and Personal Consciousness/Concerning the Concepts of God – Dusseldorf, January 19th, 1905

Knowledge and feeling of the life between death and the new birth

It is just as necessary for a human being to have knowledge, feeling and perceptiveness of the life between death and the new birth as of earthly life itself. For when he enters earthly life at birth, the confidence, strength and hopefulness connected with that life depend upon what forces he brings with him from the life between the last death and the present birth. But again, the forces we are able to acquire during that life depend upon our conduct in the earlier incarnation, upon our moral and religious disposition or the quality of our attitude of soul. We must realise that whether the future evolution of the human race will be furthered or impeded depends upon our active and creative co-operation with the super-sensible world in which we live between death and the new birth.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 141 – Between Death and Rebirth – Lecture 2 – Berlin, 20th November 1912

Translated by E. H. Goddard & D. S. Osmond

Previously posted on November 25, 2015