One cannot have knowledge of such matters  

Many people find it difficult to say: there is a region that one might experience if certain ideas would be investigated and gone deeper into. It is much easier for these people to say: that is an area of which no one knows anything – because they themselves know nothing about it yet. Not knowing about something oneself does not prove that it does not exist – yet that is a conclusion that is curiously often drawn.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 072 – Freiheit Unsterblichkeit Soziales Leben – Basel, 19th October 1917  (page 69-70)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

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PORTRAIT BY VINCENT-MICHEL DUPUID

Previously posted on October 7, 2018

Veneration and Devotion

If we do not develop within ourselves this deeply rooted feeling that there is something higher than ourselves, we shall never find the strength to evolve to something higher. The initiate has only acquired the strength to lift his head to the heights of knowledge by guiding his heart to the depths of veneration and devotion. The heights of the spirit can only be climbed by passing through the portals of humility. You can only acquire right knowledge when you have learnt to esteem it. Man has certainly the right to turn his eyes to the light, but he must first acquire this right. 

There are laws in the spiritual life, as in the physical life. Rub a glass rod with an appropriate material and it will become electric, that is, it will receive the power of attracting small bodies. This is in keeping with a law of nature. It is known to all who have learnt a little physics. Similarly, acquaintance with the first principles of spiritual science shows that every feeling of true devotion harbored in the soul develops a power which may, sooner or later, lead further on the path of knowledge.

The student who is gifted with this feeling, or who is fortunate enough to have had it inculcated in a suitable education, brings a great deal along with him when, later in life, he seeks admittance to higher knowledge. Failing such preparation, he will encounter difficulties at the very first step, unless he undertakes, by rigorous self-education, to create within himself this inner life of devotion. In our time it is especially important that full attention be paid to this point. Our civilization tends more toward critical judgment and condemnation than toward devotion and selfless veneration. Our children already criticize far more than they worship. But every criticism, every adverse judgment passed, disperses the powers of the soul for the attainment of higher knowledge in the same measure that all veneration and reverence develops them.

In this we do not wish to say anything against our civilization. There is no question here of leveling criticism against it. To this critical faculty, this self-conscious human judgment, this “test all things and hold fast what is best,” we owe the greatness of our civilization. Man could never have attained to the science, the industry, the commerce, the rights relationships of our time, had he not applied to all things the standard of his critical judgment. But what we have thereby gained in external culture we have had to pay for with a corresponding loss of higher knowledge of spiritual life. It must be emphasized that higher knowledge is not concerned with the veneration of persons but the veneration of truth and knowledge.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 10 – How to know higher worlds – 1. How Is Knowledge of the Higher Worlds Attained? – Conditions

Translated by George Metaxa

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Deepening in the outside world

Some spiritual movements want to divert the human being from the external world; one should look for the higher self only in oneself. This point of view can never lead to a real knowledge; [….] Only in the orientation to the world, which surrounds us, we find our higher self. We must seek for the god in the invisible worlds and in all external creatures, facts, and processes. If anybody says to us, deny the external world, this external matter does not exist, he denies the divine world; and there is for a big perspective no worse knowledge than turning away from the outside world. Just the deepening in the outside world leads to higher knowledge. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 54 – Riddles of the World: Lecture XX: Inner Development – Berlin, 19th April 1906

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Preparation / Knowledge / Exercise / Powers of the soul

Let it be remembered, that in the physical world whatever we do in thinking, feeling and willing in order to have some knowledge of that world or to do something for it — all this serves only as preparation for knowledge of the higher worlds. 

Whatever we may think about something belonging to the physical world, no matter how astutely, gives us no knowledge of the higher worlds. Through thinking our soul is merely prepared, merely trained in such a way that it gradually becomes capable of penetrating into the spiritual worlds. 

And the same applies to willing and feeling in connection with things of the physical world. In order to be doubly clear, let me say this. A learned researcher, through his scientific methods, gets to know something belonging to the external world. When he has investigated it he is wont to say: I know this and that belonging to the external world. This kind of investigation, this kind of thinking, does not help him in the very least to penetrate into the spiritual world. 

His thinking and investigation are of significance only because they exercise the powers of his soul. The effect, as far as penetration into the spiritual worlds is concerned, is that through this thinking and investigation the soul becomes more capable of living its own life, of activating its own forces. The activities that are normally carried out in the physical world are of use for spiritual-scientific investigation only as an education of a man’s own soul.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 156 – Occult Reading and Occult Hearing –  LECTURE I: The Human Being and his Relationship to the World – Dornach, 3rd October 1914

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond

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It is very frequently pleaded that ‘Truth must be very simple’ 

If one wished to understand the mechanical action of a watch, one would have to bear in mind the connection of the wheels, etc. Yet it is supposed that one can talk of man’s highest being without the requisite trouble being taken to gain knowledge of man’s nature. It is very frequently pleaded that ‘Truth must be very simple’ — and the accusation is made against Spiritual Science that it is very complicated. 

Man longs to acquire in five minutes — or in less time — what is necessary for the knowledge of his highest being; whereas he is by nature a complicated being, his greatness in the universe is due to that very fact, and we must overcome the tendency to indolence in respect of knowledge if we really wish to penetrate to the human entity.

Opposite words for simple and complicated
Opposite words for simple and complicated illustration

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 181 – Earthly Death and Cosmic Life: Lecture 2: A Contribution to our Knowledge of the Human Being – Berlin, 29th January 1918

Translated by Harry Collison

Previously posted on May 27, 2017