Why are we born into this physical world?

Especially when we direct our gaze toward spiritual worlds should this question concern us: Why are we born out of the spiritual worlds into this physical world? Well, we are born into this physical world (tomorrow and next day I will develop in greater detail what I shall sketch today) — we are born into this physical world because here on this earth there are things to be learned, things to be experienced, which cannot be experienced in the spiritual worlds; but in order to experience these things we must descend into this physical world, and from this world we must carry up into the spiritual worlds the results of this experience. In order to attain that, however, we must really plunge down into this physical world; our very spirit in its quest for knowledge must dive down into this physical world. For the sake of the spiritual world, we must immerse ourselves in this physical world.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 194 – The Mysteries of Light, of Space, and of the Earth – Lecture I – Dornach, December 12, 1919

Translated by Frances E. Dawson

Previously posted on March 8, 2018


Portrait bust by David Dozier

Suppose you experience something that affects you very deeply (3 of 3)

Yes, my dear friends, we continually undergo experiences which strike in upon our feeling life and are the reaction of the world to an experience we had in the sphere of feeling during the previous seven-year period. An event that stirs and moves our feelings resounds again into our life of soul during the next stage of life. People do not usually remark such things, but anyone who takes a little trouble can learn to observe them, even externally.

Who of you has not at one time had the experience that someone you know well suddenly becomes dejected and out of humour? You have no idea why, but a change has come over him “out of the blue”, as we say. If you follow up the matter and have the eyes of your soul open to observe the particular way in which such a man conducts himself in life, if you can feel what is in between the words he says — or rather, what is within the words — then you will be able to go back to some earlier event that affected him deeply. And during the whole of the interval something has been going on in the world which would not have been going on if the man had not had that moving experience. The whole thing is a process which, besides being experienced by the man himself, takes place also as an absolutely objective experience outside him.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 194 – ELEMENTAL BEINGS AND HUMAN DESTINIES – Dornach, December 6, 1919

Translation revised by Charles Davy

Previously posted on May, 2020


Suppose you experience something that affects you very deeply (1 of 3)

Suppose you experience something that affects you very deeply, some event that moves you to joy or sorrow. Now you know that the whole of life runs its course in such a way that we can separate it into periods of about seven years in length. Roughly speaking, the first is from birth to the change of teeth, the second to the age of puberty, the third to the beginning of the twenty-first year, and so on. All these boundary lines are of course only approximate. Here then we have one division that shows itself in the course of human life.

The turning-points in the development of the human being which we arrive at by this method are clearly marked in the earlier part of life — change of teeth, and puberty — but later are more or less concealed, although they can be distinctly noted by one who knows what to look for. That which takes place in the soul and spirit of the human being about the twenty-first year of life is, for one who can observe it, just as clearly perceptible as the change at puberty is for external physiology. The division into seven-year periods holds true, in fact, for the whole course of human life.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 194 – ELEMENTAL BEINGS AND HUMAN DESTINIES – Dornach, December 6, 1919

Translation revised by Charles Davy

Previously posted on May 1, 2020


Intelligence is not the decisive factor

When the famous eruption of Mount Pelee in Central America took place, very noteworthy and instructive documents were found in the ruins afterwards. In one of them it said: “You need not fear any more because the danger is past; there will be no more eruptions. This is shown by the laws which we have recognised as the laws of nature.” These documents, which stated that further volcanic eruptions were impossible according to the current state of knowledge of nature, had been buried — and with them the scholars who had written these documents on the basis of their normal scholarly knowledge. A tragic event took place here. But that precisely demonstrated the disharmony of the human being with the physical world quite clearly. There can be no doubt that the intelligence of the scholars who investigated these natural laws would have been adequate to find the truth if they had been sufficiently trained. For they were not lacking in intelligence. 

But although intelligence is necessary, it is insufficient on its own. Animals, for example, leave an area if such an event is imminent. That is a well-known fact. Only the domesticated animals perish with the human beings. The so-called animal instinct is therefore sufficient to develop a far greater wisdom as far as those future events are concerned than human wisdom today. “Intelligence” is not the decisive factor; our current intellect is present also in those who commit the greatest follies. Intelligence is therefore not lacking. 

What is lacking is sufficiently matured experience of events. As soon as the intelligence lays something down which appears plausible to its narrow limited experience it can come into disharmony with the real outward events and then the outer events break down around it. For there is a relationship between the physical body and the world which the human being will gradually learn to recognise and grasp with the forces which he possesses today already. But he will only be able to do this once he has accrued and assimilated the experiences of the outside world. Then the harmony which will have developed as a result of this experience will have been created by no other intellect than the one we have today; for it is precisely in the present that our intellect has developed to a certain stage. The only thing lacking is the ripening of experience. If the maturing of experience does not correspond to the outside then the human being becomes disharmonious with the outside world and can be broken on events in the outer world.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 59 – Metamorphoses of the Soul – Paths of Experience Vol. 2: Lecture 5 – Sickness and Healing – Berlin, 3rd March 1910

Translated by C. Davy and C. von Arnim / Original translation by George Metaxa

Previously posted on March 1, 2020


The seer with the opened spiritual eye can see the sensation world of another

Then a man (with opened spiritual eyes) not only senses the impressions of the physical and life world, but he beholds the sensations themselves. The sensation world of another being is spread out before a man with such an organ like an external reality. One must distinguish between experiencing one’s own sensation world, and looking at the sensation world of another person. Every man, of course, can see into his own sensation world. Only the seer with the opened spiritual eye can see the sensation world of another. Unless a man is a seer, he knows the world of sensation only as an inner one, only as the peculiar hidden experiences of his own soul. With the opened spiritual eye there shines out before the outward-turned spiritual gaze what otherwise lives only in the inner nature of another being.

In order to prevent misunderstanding, it may be expressly stated here that the seer does not experience in himself what the other being experiences as the content of his world of sensation. The other being experiences the sensations in question from the point of view of his own inner nature. The seer, however, becomes aware of a manifestation or expression of the sentient world.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 9 – Theosophy: Chapter 1: The Essential Mature of Man: 4. Body, Soul and Spirit

Translated by Henry B. Monges and revised for this edition by Gilbert Church, Ph.D.