The characteristic stamp of the modern anthroposophist (part 6 of 6)

In characterising this state of civilisation we can only say that it is complex in the highest degree. It must also be said that the connection between what man does, what he carries out, and what he loves, is weakening all the time. And if we were to count those people who in their positions in external life to-day are obliged to engage in some activity that goes much against the grain, their number would by far exceed the number of those who affirm: I can only say that I love my external occupation, that it brings me happiness and contentment.

Only recently I heard of a strange statement made by someone to a friend. He said: ‘When I look back over my life in all its details I confess that if I had to live through it again from childhood to the present moment, I should do exactly the same things I have done up to now.’ — The friend replied: ‘Then you are one of those most rarely to be found at the present time!’ — The friend was probably right, as far as most men of the modern age are concerned. Not many of our contemporaries would assert that, if it depended on them, they would without hesitation begin life all over again, together with everything it has brought in the way of happiness, sorrow, blows of fate, obstacles, and would be quite content if everything were exactly the same again.

It cannot be said that the fact just mentioned — namely that there are so few people nowadays who would be willing to recapitulate the karma of their present life together with all its details — it cannot be said that this is unconnected with what the prevailing cultural state of humanity has brought in its train. Our life has become more complex but it has been made so by the different karmas of the personalities living on the earth to-day. Of that there can be no doubt at all. Nor will those who have the slightest insight into the course taken by human evolution be able to speak of any possibility of a less complicated life in the future. On the contrary, the complexity of external life will steadily increase and however many activities are taken over from man in the future by machines, there can be very few lives of happiness in this present incarnation unless conditions quite different from those now prevailing are brought about. And these different conditions must be the result of the human soul being convinced of the truth of reincarnation and karma.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 135 – REINCARNATION AND KARMA THEIR SIGNIFICANCE IN MODERN CULTURE 4. Examples of the working of karma between two incarnations – Stuttgart, 21 February 1912 

Translated from shorthand reports unrevised by the lecturer, by D.S. Osmond, C. Davy and S. and E. F. Derry.

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Everything that a man thinks and feels has its effects in the outer world

It is so often said in everyday life: Thoughts are duty-free! — meaning that we can think what we like and nobody in the external world will be affected. This is one important point where a man who has really grasped spiritual impulses is at variance with the materialistic thinker.

The materialist agrees that injury is caused if he throws a stone at a man, but he thinks that a thought of hatred which he may harbour against a fellow-creature, does not hurt him. Those however who have real knowledge of the world know that far, far stronger effects proceed from a thought filled with hatred than can ever be caused by a stone. Everything that a man thinks and feels has its effects in the outer world and the seer can follow with great precision the effect of a loving thought that goes out to another man, and the very different effect that is produced by a thought filled with hatred. When you send out a loving thought to someone the seer perceives a form of light shaped like a sort of flower-calyx, playing around his etheric and astral bodies, thereby contributing something to his vitality and happiness. On the other hand a thought of hatred bores its way into the etheric and astral bodies like a wounding arrow.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 99 – Theosophy of the Rosicrucian: VI: The Law of Destiny – Munich, 30th May 1907

Translated by M. Cotterell & D.S. Osmond

Previously posted on December 23, 2018

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Individual prosperity is fundamentally only possible in common with that of all the rest

Today many think nothing of enriching themselves at the expense of others. Not only do they live thus without any moral self-criticism, they simply do not think about it at all. Were they to reflect upon it, they would find that a man lives far more at the cost of others than they had ever realised. Indeed every man lives at the expense of others. 

Now the consciousness will develop that a life lived at the expense of others, signifies the same to the community as when any particular organ develops at the expense of another organ, in an unlawful way, and that the happiness of the individual is not really possible apart from that of the community. 

That, of course, people do not yet divine, but it must gradually become the fundamental principle of true human ethics. People strive to-day, each one for his own prosperity, not thinking that individual prosperity is fundamentally only possible in common with that of all the rest.

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 3, 2017

The Importance of Education for the Human Being

When you consider the whole human lifespan, not only what is comfortable, not just childhood, to obtain basic pedagogical rules, pedagogical impulses, it becomes clear for the first time what a vitally important role education and upbringing have in the life of a human being. One realises, how often happiness or misfortune in terms of mental, psychological and physical wellbeing are related to education and upbringing.

When you see how the doctor, when treating people in old age, without knowing, needs to correct upbringing mistakes and that he often fails to address the problems he encounters, because they are too firmly anchored in the human being. When you see how a child lives with its feelings into what it experiences and how this has physical consequences, when you realise how the interchanging between the physical and the psychical occurs, you come to deeply respect, to evaluate in the right way the importance of the methodology of learning.  You begin to understand what the existential conditions for educating should be, merely according to the nature of the human being himself.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 308 – Die Methodik des Lehrens und die Lebensbedingungen des Erziehens – Stuttgart, April 8, 1924 (page 16) 

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on March 21, 2019

Happiness and joy are acts of grace 

Happiness and joy are acts of grace. A man who imagines that the happiness and joy in his karma indicate a desire on the part of the gods to single him out and place him above the others will achieve just the opposite. We must never imagine that happiness is allotted to us as a mark of favour or distinction but rather as a reason for feeling that we have been recipients of the grace outpoured by the divine spiritual beings. It is this realisation of grace which makes progress possible; the other attitude would throw us back in our development. Nobody should ever believe that joy comes to him because of special karmic privileges; he should far rather believe that it comes to him because he has no privileges. 

Joy and happiness should move us to deeds of compassion and mercy, which we shall perform more effectively than if we are suffering the pangs of sorrow. What brings us forward is the realisation that we must make ourselves worthy of grace. There is no justification for the very prevalent view that one whose life abounds in happiness has deserved it. This is the very attitude that must be avoided. Please take this as an indication so that no misunderstanding may arise.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 130 – Esoteric Christianity and the Mission of Christian Rosenkreutz – IV – INTIMATE WORKINGS OF KARMA – Vienna, 9th February 1912

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond

Previously posted on December 25, 2016