Heart and head

It is extremely harmful for our time that many of the men who hold high and responsible positions in public life have had to study as one does today. There are whole branches of learning that are taught in such a way that throughout the entire school year the student will be unable to spend his time and energy really thinking through what he has heard from his professors. As a result, when he is faced with an exam, he is forced to cram for it. This cramming, however, is dreadful because it provides no real connection of interest of the soul with the subject matter that the student is to be examined in. No wonder the prevailing opinion of the student often is one of wanting to forget as soon as possible what he has just had to learn!

What are the consequences of these educational methods? In some respects, men are no doubt receiving the training needed to take part in public life. But, as a result of their schooling, they are not inwardly united with their work. They feel remote from it. Now there is nothing worse than to feel remote in your heart from the things you have to do with your head.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 143 – Overcoming nervousness – Munich, January 11, 1912

Translated by R. M. Querido and Gilbert Church

Previously posted on October 7, 2014

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The wisdom in the human body

If we thoughtfully observe the human body we discover this wisdom in each organ, in each part. For instance, if we study the upper portion of the human thigh bone we find in it a network of cells beautifully constructed with a view to their purpose. No engineer of the present day would be able to produce these two columns, which bear the upper part of the human body with the smallest expenditure of matter and force. 

Wisdom was implanted in the human body as long as the divine Spirits worked upon it. As a rule the physical body is looked upon as the lowest part of man, unjustly so, for the very greatest wisdom can be seen just in the physical body. Only through this wisdom is it possible for the physical body to withstand the attacks continually made upon it by the astral body, and so not break up before the time. 

The pleasures and desires which hold sway in the physical body when tea and coffee and so on are taken, The wisdom in the human body these are attacks of the astral body on the physical body, and especially on the heart. It has therefore to be so wisely constructed that these attacks can be withstood for decades. Of course the suitable form of the heart could only be discovered by subjecting it to many transformations.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 100 – The Gospel of St. John – Lecture IV – Basle, 19 November  1907

Previously posted on October 8, 2019

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The virtue of Courage

Another virtue can be called — though it is difficult to describe it exactly — the virtue of Courage. It contains the mood which does not remain passive towards life, but is ready to use its strength and activity. It can be said that this virtue comes from the heart. Of one who has this virtue in ordinary life it can be said: he has his heart in the right place. This is a good expression for our condition when we do not withdraw in a timid way from things which life asks from us, but when we are prepared to take ourselves in hand and know how to intervene where it is necessary. When we are inclined to get moving, confidently and bravely, we have this virtue. It is connected with a healthy life of feeling, which develops bravery at the right moment, while its absence brings about cowardice. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 159 – The Great Virtues – Zürich, January 31, 1915

Previously posted on December 25, 2018

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Heart and feeling more important than theoretical knowledge

Before coming into touch with the anthroposophical world-conception one would probably have laughed and made merry over such ideas, and most certainly the majority of our contemporaries would make merry over them. This sum of feelings and sensations to which we gradually accustom ourselves is far more important than the details of  anthroposophical teachings and theories. 

For, little by little, we actually become different through acquiring these feelings towards those other worlds which are continuously pulsing through our world imperceptibly to our senses. People who have such feelings, who take this attitude to these other worlds, are those who in this case may be called “advanced anthroposophers.” 

Thus an appeal is made to your heart, your feeling nature, and not to your theoretical knowledge. What the heart and feelings have absorbed constitutes the advancement we need if we are to accept freely and without prejudice the statements contained in recent lectures and in a certain way in the lecture to be given today.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 102 – The Influence of Spiritual Beings on Man: Lecture VIII – Berlin, 16th May, 1908

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Wonderful

The physical body is really the most perfect thing imaginable. An anatomist will always speak with the utmost admiration of the human heart, which functions in a wonderful way, even though human beings do little else throughout life than imbibe what is poison for it. Alcohol, tea, coffee and so on attack the heart in the most incredible fashion. But so wonderfully has this organ been built that it can withstand all this into ripe old age.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 93 – The Temple Legend: Lecture 11 – Berlin, 15th May 1905 

Translated by John M. Wood

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Previously posted on September 11, 2017