Vanity / Shame / Satisfaction

While in the case of a person in exoteric life, when he has uttered certain words, when he has said something or other, that is the end of the matter; in the case of a person who has undergone a anthroposophical development there comes a clear after-feeling regarding what he has said; he feels something like an inner shame when he has expressed what is not right in a moral or intellectual sense; and something like a sort of thankfulnes — not satisfaction with himself — when he has been able to express something to which the wisdom he has attained can give assent.

And if he feels — and for this, too, he acquires a delicate sensitiveness — that something like an inner self-satisfaction, a self-complaisance with himself arises when he has said something that is right, that is a sign that he still possesses too much vanity, which is no good in his development. He learns to distinguish between the feeling of satisfaction which follows when he has said something with which he can agree, and the self-complaisance which is worthless. He should try not to allow this latter feeling to arise, but only to develop the feeling of shame when he has said anything untrue or non-moral, and when he has succeeded in saying something suitable to the occasion, to develop a feeling of gratitude for the wisdom he now has part in, and to which he does not lay claim as his own, but receives as a gift from the universe.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 145 – The Effect of Occult Development Upon the Self and the Sheaths of Man: Lecture 5 – The Hague, March 24, 1913

Translated by Harry Collison



The subconsciousness develops a certain feeling of gratitude towards every impression

The subconsciousness develops a certain feeling of gratitude towards every impression — irrespective of its nature. It is not inaccurate to say that while we might see someone concerning whom our conscious impression may be very unpleasant — he might insult us to our very face — the subconscious impression would still be a certain feeling of gratitude. 

The simple reason for this feeling is that everything in life which approaches the deeper element of our being enriches our life, really enriches it, including all unpleasant experiences. This has no connection with the manner in which we must consciously conduct ourselves towards our outer impressions. The way in which we must consciously respond to anything, has nothing to do with what takes place subconsciously; in the subconsciousness everything leads to a certain feeling of thankfulness; there we receive every impression as a gift for which we must be grateful.


Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 181 – Earthly Death and Cosmic Life: Lecture 6: Feelings of Unity and Sentiments of Gratitude: A Bridge to the Dead – Berlin, 19th March 1918

Translated by Harry Collison

Previously posted on June 4, 2017


Think of the plant. It is rooted in the dead stone. If it had consciousness,  it would have to bow down to the dead stone and say to it: ‘Without you I could not live; out of you I draw nourishment and strength: I owe to you my being, I thank you.’

The animal would have to speak in similar words to the plant: ‘Without you I could not live, I incline myself towards you in thankfulness, because out of you I draw that which I require for my existence.’

And it is the same with all the kingdom. Man, who has attained to a higher stage of evolution, must also bow down, as the plant to the stone, to those who work for him, and thank them.

He who would become a Christian Initiate must develop this feeling during a period of many weeks — the feeling that he owes gratitude to him who stands beneath him.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA Unknown – Esoteric Christianity: The Gospel of St. John and Ancient Mysteries – Dusseldorf, November 27th, 1906

Previously posted on April 2, 2017

Pain and suffering/Joy and happiness/Karma (1 of 2)

While our pain and suffering lead us to ourselves and make us more genuinely ourselves, we develop through joy and happiness, provided that we consider them as grace, a feeling that one can only describe as being blissfully embedded in the divine forces and powers of the world. Here the only justified attitude toward happiness and joy is one of gratitude. Nobody will understand joy and happiness in the intimate hours of self-knowledge when he ascribes them to his karma.

If he involves karma, he commits an error that is liable to weaken and paralyze the spiritual in him. Every thought to the effect that joy and happiness are deserved actually weakens and paralyzes us. This may be a hard fact to understand because everyone who admits that his pain is inflicted upon himself by his own individuality would obviously expect to be his own master also with regard to joy and happiness.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 130 – Facing Karma – Vienna, 8th February 1912

Translated by Dietrich V. Asten

Previously posted on September 22, 2015

The feeling of gratitude is underestimated these days

Nowadays, the feeling of gratitude is underestimated. Gratitude connects people with the world, makes them feel part of the world. If one guides the child in such a way that it can develop gratitude for even the most unimportant or trivial things it meets in life, then that child does not close itself off from the world in egotism, then it becomes altruistic, it feels itself to be a part of the environment. […] And when one has imparted to the child the feeling of gratitude, then one will realise that the basis for moral education has been planted. Because if one has taken care of this feeling of gratitude and gratitude is experienced as compatible with all knowledge, then the feelings of the child will easily be penetrated by the love that the human being must have for all the rest of humanity and ultimately for all the creatures of the world. One can develop love in the best possible way through gratitude.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 297a – Erziehung zum Leben – Selbsterziehung und pädagogische Praxis – The Hague, November 4, 1922 (page 159-160)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on December 1, 2017