The significance and justification of obstacles and hindrances

Any action of man that hurts another being or creature or the world in general, hinders the doer in his development. This is what the pilgrimage of life means, that the primary force of the soul, as it goes from incarnation to incarnation, is set for further development. And this development progresses in such a fashion that man as it were is always putting obstacles in his own path. If this primary force were the only thing that were active — it is this very force that is to bring the soul back to the spiritual — man would need only a very short time on earth. But in that case the whole of earth evolution would have taken an entirely different course; it would also have failed to achieve its purpose. 

You must not think that man would be better off if he put no obstacles in his own way. It is only by setting himself these handicaps that he grows strong and acquires experience, for it is the very eradicating and overcoming of these hindrances that will make him the strong being he must become by the end of earth evolution. It is thoroughly in keeping with earth evolution that he puts stones in his own path. If he did not have to muster the strength to remove these obstacles he would not acquire this strength at all. Then the world would be the poorer. 

We must altogether disregard the good and evil connected with these hindrances and look solely at the wisdom of the world that intended, right from the beginning, that man should have the possibility of setting himself hindrances in earthly evolution so that in removing them he could acquire strength for later. We could even say that the wise guidance of the world allowed man to become evil and gave him the possibility of doing harm, so that in repairing the harm and overcoming the evil he can become stronger in the course of karmic development than he would have become had he reached his goal without effort. This is how we should understand the significance and justification of obstacles and hindrances.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 107 – The Being of Man and His Future Evolution – Illness and karma – Berlin, 26th January 1909

Translated by Pauline Wehrle


Tara of the flowers – Art of Carol Herzer

Previously posted on 12 december 2018


After our death we must once more live through everything that other people, outside, have experienced through us

Here on earth we can only experience one half at the most of everything through which we pass. We really experience only half of what takes place in every one of our experiences. Let us take an example. Imagine — this applies both to good and to evil thoughts and actions — but let us take as an example an evil action. Imagine that you say something bad to another person and that your words hurt him. When we say something unkind we only experience that part which concerns us personally; we only experience the feelings that prompted us to say those evil words. This is the soul-impression which we gather when we say bad and unkind things. But the other person to whom we addressed our unkind words has an entirely different impression; he has, as it were, the other half of the impression and feels hurt. The second half of the impression lives in him. What we ourselves experience during our physical life on earth is one thing, and what the other person experiences is another thing.

Now imagine the following. After our death, when we pass backwards through our life, we must once more live through everything that other people, outside, have experienced through us. As we go backwards through our life, we experience the effects of our thoughts and actions. Between death and a new birth we therefore pass through our life by going through it backwards. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 168 – THE MOMENT OF DEATH AND THE PERIOD THEREAFTER – Leipzig, 22 February 1916

Translator Unknown


No one can be taught how to make people well, without at the same time learning how to make people ill

So one sees how the physical is a result of what preceded it spiritually and how in particular circumstances people have it in their power, through knowledge of certain relationships, to connect the physical with its spiritual origin. For example, if one knows how a particular illness is connected with particular feelings and emotions, he knows that by calling up these feelings he can also call up the illness. The black magician can make use of this knowledge to destroy the people. The deep occult truths can therefore not be taught to everyone without due consideration, for it would immediately bring about a sharp demarcation between good and evil. This is the danger inherent in the spreading of occult teachings, for no-one can be taught how to make people well, without at the same time learning how to make people ill. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 93a – THE FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM – Lecture XXIX – Berlin, 3rd November 1905


Drawing by Marcin Rutkowski

Evil has to exist so as to strengthen the forces of the human being

One needs to be aware that the evil powers should also be incorporated into earth development. When the time comes that we will have to overcome these forces again, human beings will have to exercise great strength to transform the evil and demonic into the good. However, his strength will thereby grow, because evil exists to strengthen the power of the human being through his victory over it. All evil must be melted down and transformed into the good again, and it is so placed by Providence to develop strong activity in humanity, much stronger than if he should never have had to transform evil into good.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 101 – Mythen und Sagen, Okkulte Zeichen und Symbole – Cologne, December 28, 1907 (page 237-238)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger


Previously posted on 15 October 2018



Consider one of the most savage men, who eats up his fellow-men, and compare him with an average European, and the latter again with a highly developed individual — Goethe, for example, or Schiller, or Francis of Assisi. The savage blindly follows the instincts and passions contained in his astral body. He has an Ego, but this Ego still lives completely under the sway of the astral body. An average man of the present time is already able to distinguish good and evil, and this is due to the fact that he has worked upon his astral body. He has worked upon it and even transformed certain instincts into so-called ideals. 

Man reaches an ever higher stage of development the more he transforms his astral body through his Ego. The modern average European has transformed a good part of this astral body. An individuality such as Schiller or Goethe has already transformed the greater part of the astral body. But a human being who has subjugated all his passions through his will, as for instance, Francis of Assisi, has an astral body which is entirely transformed by his Ego, there is nothing left in this astral body which is not completely under the sway of the Ego.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 100 – Theosophy and Rosicrucianism: Lecture III. MAN’S SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS, HIS WORK UPON THE LOWER MEMBERS OF HIS BEING AND HIS DESTINY AFTER DEATH – Kassel, 18th June 1907


FRANCIS OF ASSISI by Philip Fruytiers

Previously posted on September 24, 2017