Practical thinking

There are three things to take into consideration if one truly wants to school practical training of thinking in itself: firstly, a person must develop interest in outer reality, interest in the facts and objects in his surroundings. Interest in the world around us, that is the magic word for training thinking. Passion and love for what we do, that is the second. And gratification for the topic that we are contemplating, that is the third. He who understands these three things: interest in the environment, passion and love for what we do and pleasure in thinking, will soon find that these are the most important requirements for developing practical thinking.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 057 – Wo und wie findet man den Geist? – Berlin, 11 February 1909 (page 252)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger 

The whole lecture in another translation can be found here.


Previously posted on May 16, 2018

See also June 20, 2014

The characteristic stamp of the modern anthroposophist (part 1 of 6)

Between what everyday life with its cares and anxieties brings to man and what he receives in the domain of Anthroposophy yawns a deep abyss.

It may be said that for most men of the present age there is almost no harmony between their convictions and what they do and think in their outer, everyday life. If some concrete question is raised in public and dealt with in the light of Spiritual Science or Anthroposophy, it will at once be evident that the interest which was still there in the case of general questions of religion and the like, no longer exists when it comes to matters of a really concrete kind. 

It cannot of course be expected that Anthroposophy will at once make its way into life, that everyone will immediately bring it to expression in whatever he is doing. But the world must be made to realise that it is the mission of Spiritual Science to introduce into life, to incorporate in life, everything that will emanate from a soul who has become convinced of the truth of the ideas of reincarnation and karma. And so the characteristic stamp of the modern anthroposophist may be said to be that he is on the way to acquiring a firmly based, inner conviction of the validity of the idea of reincarnation and karma. All the rest will then follow of itself.

To be continued

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.


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 March 5, 2018


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


Practical thinking

The first that must exist with that who wants to experience a practical development of thinking is that he confides in reality, in the reality of thoughts. What does this mean? You cannot scoop water from a glass without water. You cannot take out thoughts from a world without thoughts. It is absurd if one believes that the whole sum of our thoughts and mental pictures exists only in us. 

If anybody disassembles a clock and reflects the principles of its construction, then he must suppose that the watchmaker has joined the parts of the clock first according to these principles. Nobody should believe that one could find any thought from a world, which is not created and formed according to thoughts. All that we learn about nature and its events is nothing else than what must be put first into this nature and its events. It is no thought in our soul, which has not been outdoors in the world first. Aristotle said more correctly than some modern people did: what the human being finds in his thinking last exists in the world outdoors first.

However, if anybody has this confidence in the thoughts, which are contained in the world, then he sees very easily that he has to educate himself at first to a thinking full of interest in the world.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 57 – The Practical Development of Thinking – Berlin, 11th February, 1909