Human Evil / Egotism

Eventually all human evil springs from what we call selfishness. From the smallest human faults to the most immense crimes, when considering what we can designate as human imperfection and human wickedness, whether it seemingly originates from the soul or more from out of the bodily nature, the common basic characterization will be egotism. We find the actual meaning of evil in concurrence with human selfishness; and all striving to rise above imperfections and evil can be seen as commitment to fight against what we call selfishness. There has been much contemplation on this or that ethical principle, about these or other moral foundations; exactly this diving deeper into ethical principles and into moral foundations shows that selfishness is the common basis of all human evil. And so one can say: man works himself out of evil here in the physical world, inasmuch as he overcomes egotism.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 063 – Geisteswissenschaft als Lebensgut – Berlin, 15th January 1914 (page 240-241)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

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PAINTING BY DAVID NEWBATT

Previously posted on June 19, 2018

A stroke of destiny

A stroke of destiny that befalls a person during life in the physical world may seem, from the point of view of that (physical) life, to contain something altogether opposed to the man’s own will. In the life between death and rebirth a force, resembling will, rules in the soul that gives to the person the tendency toward experiencing this very blow of fate. The soul sees, as it were, that an imperfection has clung to it from earlier earth-lives — an imperfection that had its origin in an ugly deed or an ugly thought. Between death and re-birth, there arises in the soul a will-like impulse to make good this imperfection. The soul, therefore, becomes imbued with the tendency to plunge into a misfortune in the coming earth-life, in order, through enduring it, to bring about equilibrium. After its birth in the physical body, the soul, when met by some hard fate, has no glimmering of the fact that in the purely spiritual life before birth, the impulse that led to this hard fate has been voluntarily accepted by it. What, therefore, seems completely unwished for from the point of view of earth-life is willed by the soul itself in the supersensible.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 9 – Theosophy: Addenda (No. 12)

Translated by Henry B. Monges and revised for this edition by Gilbert Church, Ph.D.

Previously posted on March 31, 2018

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Strong rises often follow deep “falls” of the human being

It may seem now, as if the passage through the life between death and new birth makes it necessary that the consecutive lives on earth would be more and more perfect. However, this is virtually not the case, because it is true what already a great spirit said out of his almost ill soul: “the world is deep and deeper than the day has thought” (Friedrich Nietzsche in Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)). We can come only slowly and gradually to that what is put in us, and that our human forces are rather imperfect in relation to what they must become once, and what can stand as an ideal of true humanity before us.

Then it becomes apparent that we are not always able to survey after death which forces we have to appropriate in order to compensate the committed wrong. There many forces participate, so that it may be that we believe to compensate with an even bigger egoism or folly what we have committed from egoism or folly in the previous life. Thereby it can happen that the following incarnation is an even more imperfect one, an even harsher training than the previous one was. However, overall the course through the repeated lives is a rise. It is possible that the human being looking back at the past life can be in error concerning the way of compensating something and that thereby imaginary or real descents are caused. Overall, strong rises often follow deep “falls” of the human being, while after death the dreadful happens that we look back at a deep wrong we have committed, or what adhered to us as a big imperfection, and that we experience a big rise after a deep fall.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 63 – The Meaning of Immortality of the Human Soul – Berlin, 4 December 1913

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Transformation

Here on earth it may be all the same for one if one is perfect or not, but that is not so in the life between death and rebirth. There irresistible forces compel one to transform imperfection into perfection. One realizes that in many cases this can only be achieved at the cost of pain and suffering, and one knows that to achieve perfection one must accept the pain and pleasures of a life on earth. And one then goes full steam into a new incarnation.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 150 – Die Welt des Geistes und ihr Hereinragen in das physische Dasein – Stockholm, 10 June 1913 (page 85)

This English translation has been copied from the book: How the Spiritual World Projects into Physical Existence – The Influence of the Dead (page 65) – Published by Rudolf Steiner Press

Previously posted on December 18, 2016

The materialistic ideal: a paradise on earth

Many say they believe in the world of the spirit, but with many of them this is mere words, nothing but hot air. In their innermost hearts, in their feelings and unconscious impulses, lives something different — the inclination to think materialistically. However much people may pretend to themselves that they believe in something else, in reality they believe only in the physical world. And since they do not believe in anything more than just the physical world around them, the only ideal they can possibly have is to arrange things in the physical world in such a way that it becomes a paradise; otherwise the whole world would make no sense to them. Until materialists are prepared to say that the world makes no sense at all, they can only live in the illusion that, however imperfect this physical world may be, it will be possible to create conditions that will put an end to imperfection and let perfection take its place.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 177 – Fall of the Spirits of Darkness : Lecture 3: The Search for a Perfect World – Dornach, 1 October 1917

Translated by Anna R. Meuss

Previously posted on August 20, 2015