Thoughts and health

Correct ideas have a healing effect on man, and wrong ideas make him sick. One can find a wrong idea behind every disease, if one traces it back. Mankind in general is responsible for this and not individuals. Interest also has a destructive effect when people run from one sensation to the other and always want to be amused. That makes people sick. It’s also a hindrance to progress to have a personal interest in higher knowledge. Men become scleroticized thereby. A man must not become indifferent to his surroundings. He must retain his feeling and sympathy for his surroundings. Some say that sympathy can also come from egotism. That may be the case. Many kinds of sympathy only arise because one doesn’t want to see other people suffer. That’s even a good thing. It’s better for a man to help someone out of egotistical sympathy than not to help him at all. But we must learn to develop a sympathy that stands above egoism, that helps neighbors because it’s one’s duty to help them.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 266 – From the Contents of Esoteric Classes: Esoteric Lesson – Berlin, 15th May, 1908

Previously posted on February 5, 2015

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No one can live on money

How many people there are today who have an abstract and confused conception of their own personal lives! If they ask themselves, for example, “What do I live on?” — for the most part, they do not do this, but if they did it once, they would say to themselves, “Why, on my money.” Among those who say to themselves, “I live on my money,” there are many who have inherited this money from their parents. They suppose they live on their money, inherited from their fathers, but we cannot live on money. Money is not something on which we can live. Here it is necessary at last to begin to reflect.

This question is intimately connected with the real interest that one individual has in another. Anyone who thinks he lives on the money he has inherited, for example, or has acquired in any way whatever except by receiving money for work, as is the custom today — whoever lives in this way and supposes that he can live on money has no interest in his fellow men because no one can live on money. We must eat, and what we eat has been produced by a human being. We must have clothing. What we wear must be made through the labor of people. In order that I may put on a coat or a pair of trousers, human beings must expend their strength in labor for hours. They work for me. It is on this labor that I live, not on my money. My money has no value other than that of giving me the power to make use of the labor of others. Under the social conditions of the present time, we do not begin to have an interest in our fellow men until we answer that question in the proper way, until we hold the picture in our minds of a certain number of persons working for a certain number of hours in order that I may live within the social structure. It is of no importance to give ourselves a comfortable feeling by saying, “I love people.” No one loves people if he supposes that he is living on his money and does not in the least conceive how people work for him in order to produce even the minimum necessary for his life.

But the thought that a certain number of persons labor in order that we may possess the minimum necessities of life is inseparable from another. It is the thought that we must recompense society, not with money but with work in exchange for the work that has been done for us. We feel an interest in our fellow men only when we are led to feel obligated to recompense in some form of labor the amount of labor that has been performed for us. To give our money to our fellow men only signifies that we are able to hold our fellow men on a leash as bound slaves and that we can compel them to labor for us.


Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 186 – The Challenge of the Times – Lecture II – Dornach, 30th November 1918

Translated by Olin D. Wannamaker

Previously posted on October 3, 2014

Self-occupied

When we do not have enough interest in the world around us, then we are thrown back into ourselves. Taken all in all, we have to say that if we look at the chief damages created by modern civilization, they arise primarily because people are far too concerned with themselves and do not usually spend the larger part of their leisure time in concern for the world but busy themselves with how they feel and what gives them pain … And the least favorable time of life to be self-occupied in this way is during the ages between 14, 15 and 21 years old.
The capacity for forming judgments is blossoming at this time and should be directed toward world-interrelationships in every field. The world must become so all-engrossing to young people that they simply do not turn their attention away from it long enough to be constantly occupied with themselves. For, as everyone knows, as far as subjective feelings are concerned, pain only becomes greater the more we think about it. It is not the objective damage but the pain of it that increases as we think more about it. In certain respects, the very best remedy for the overcoming of pain is to bring yourself, if you can, not to think about it.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 302a – Education and Instruction: Education for Adolescents – Stuttgart, June 21, 1922

Previously posted on August 22, 2017

A Spiritual Science without love would be a danger to mankind

What do we learn from Spiritual Science? We learn facts concerning the evolution of the earth, we hear of the Spirit of the earth, of the earth’s surface and its changing conditions, of the development of the human body and so forth; we learn to understand the nature of the forces working and weaving in the evolutionary process. What does this mean? What does it mean when people do not want to know anything about Spiritual Science? It means that they have no interest for what is reality. For if a man has no desire to know anything about the nature of Old Saturn, Old Sun, Old Moon, then he can know nothing about the Earth.

Lack of interest in the world is egoism in its grossest form. Interest in all existence is man’s bounden duty. Let us therefore long for and love the sun with its creative power, its love for the well-being of the earth and the souls of men! This interest in the earth’s evolution should be the spiritual seed of love for the world. A Spiritual Science without love would be a danger to mankind. But love should not be a matter for preaching; love must and indeed will come into the world through the spreading of knowledge of spiritual truths. Deeds of love and Spiritual Science should be inseparably united.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 143 – Love and its Meaning in the World – Zurich, 17th December 1912

Translated by D. S. O. and E. F. and S. Derry

Previously posted on December 25, 2015

Why did this widespread disaster overcome the world?

We can ask: Why did this widespread disaster overcome the world? (Steiner refers to the first world war.) Indeed, the ultimate reason is that the interests of people have become so superficial, that it scarcely reaches beyond the most mundane. Of course, if people cease to interest themselves for the stars, then they start to interest themselves for chatting in cafés; If the human being stops to ponder his relationship to the higher hierarchies, then the desire to waste his time with commonplace play is roused. One only needs to look at the interests which satisfy the leading circles of mankind, see what these people do from morning till evening! And if one looks at this with understanding, then one will not be surprised that such a debacle as has happened, overcame mankind. After all, people are happy these days when they can define one thing or another with ease, characterise a concept in just a few words! They are happy if something or other is easily comprehended.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 190 – Vergangenheits- und Zukunftsimpulse im sozialen Geschehen – Dornach, March 30, 1919 (page 103)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on November 28, 2016