Knowledge of man/Social conditions (1 of 2)

You people study what is in my Occult Science, and to do that you have to develop certain concepts that most people would still call “utter madness.” A few days ago, I got yet another letter from someone studying Occult Science, and he said that nearly every chapter was pure nonsense. You can understand people saying it is pure nonsense. Why, it is quite obvious that they often say it these days. Yet these people who do not put themselves out to accept the kind of concepts that lead to Saturn, Sun, Moon, Jupiter, Venus and Vulcan, and do not get down to developing ideas about a world that is not limited to the senses will also not acquire any knowledge of man.

They do not see the human being in the other person but notice at the most that one person has a more pointed nose than the other, and one has blue eyes whereas the other has brown. But they notice nothing of man’s inner being that manifests as his soul and organizes his body. The same force which enables us to take an interest, and I am not saying now that it enables us to have super-sensible occult powers, but the same force that enables us to take an interest in super-sensible knowledge also gives us the kind of knowledge of man that we need today.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 191 – Social Understanding Through Spiritual Scientific Knowledge – Dornach, October 4, 1919

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Helen Keller

Last time I have already pointed to the interesting biography of the blind and deaf-mute American Helen Keller. We look there into a spiritual life which is very different. Imagine once how the world would appear to you if you had no ears and no eyes. Those were the capacities of Helen Keller. Today, however, she has successfully completed a university study and owns an education like one who has successfully completed a university study. We see there how this Helen Keller has already created a wealth within the physical world which has basically different shading, has another nature than what, otherwise, the physical human being owns. She herself says:

“People who are of the opinion that all sensory impressions come to us through the eye and the ear were surprised that I notice a difference between the streets of a city and the ways in the country. They forget that my whole body reacts to the surroundings. The roaring of the city whips up all my nerves. The discordant, tumultuous with its strident impressions, the simple rattling of the machines is even more torturing for the nerves because my attention is not deflected by brightly varying pictures like with the other human beings.”

Already for this peculiarly organised nature the world is completely different round her. Even more different it is if at the moment of death the physical eye is no longer the intermediary if the impressions do no longer approach us from without. The seer can describe this because he is able to pass the gate of death by means of his mystic contemplation in certain respect.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 53 – Origin and Goal of the Human Being: Lecture VII: The Spirit-land – Berlin, 17th November 1904

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What the eye sees is of far greater influence than materialistic writings (2 – End)

At a given time an architectural style is created, born out of the great ideas of initiates. Human souls take up the force of these forms. Centuries go by. What the soul has absorbed through its contemplation of building forms appears in the mood of his soul. Ardent souls will then come into existence, souls who look up to the heights. Even when the course was not always quite as I have described it, still like effects showed themselves often in human development.

Now let us follow these people some millennia further. Those who absorbed the forces of the forms of these buildings into their souls show the expression of their inner soul configurations in their countenances. The entire human shape forms itself through such impressions. What was built thousands of years ago, appears to us in human countenances thousands of years later. Thus, one recognizes why such arts were practiced. Initiates look out into the far future and see how human beings are meant to become. Hence it is that at a definite time, they form external building styles, outer art forms, on a large scale. So it is that the germ of future human epochs is laid.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 101 – Occult Signs and Symbols: Lecture II – Stuttgart, 14th September 1907

Previously posted on December 30, 2014

What the eye sees is of far greater influence than materialistic writings (1 of 2)

Many people believe that the materialism of our modern time arises because so many materialistic writings are read. The occultist, however, knows that this is only one of the lesser influences. What the eye sees is of far greater importance, for it has an influence on soul processes that more or less run their course in the unconscious. This is of eminently practical importance, and when spiritual science will one day really take hold of the soul, then will the practical effect become noticeable in public life.

I have often called attention to the fact that it was something different from what it is today when one in the Middle Ages walked through the streets. Right and left there were house façades that were built up out of what the soul felt and thought. Every key, every lock, carried the imprint of him who had made it. Try to realize how the individual craftsman felt joy in each piece, how he worked his own soul into it. In every object there was a piece of soul, and when a person moved among such things, soul forces streamed over to him. Now compare this with a city today. Here is a shoe store, a hardware store, a butcher shop, then a tavern, etc. All this is alien to the inner soul processes; it is related only to the outer man. Thus, it generates those soul forces that tend towards materialism. These influences work much more strongly than do the dogmas of materialism. Add to these our horrible art of advertising. Old and young wander through a sea of such abominable products that wake the most evil forces of the soul. So likewise do our modern comic journals. This is not meant to be a fanatical agitation against these things, but only indications about facts. All this pours a stream of forces into the human soul, determining the epoch that leads the person in a certain direction. The spiritual scientist knows how much depends upon the world of forms in which a man lives.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 101 – Occult Signs and Symbols: Lecture II – Stuttgart, 14th September 1907

Previously posted on December 29, 2014