Strength and Power/Egoism

Strength and power are not acquired by sitting down and brooding all day long over such questions as — “What shall I think now? What shall I do? What’s that pain I feel coming on again?” — but by opening the heart to everything great and beautiful in our surroundings, and by showing interest and understanding for everything that warms the hearts of others, as well as for their wants and privations. In this way we strengthen the life-forces in the realm of feeling within us; we overcome narrow minded egoism and we enhance and enrich our Ego by bringing the true form of egoism into harmony with our environment.

[…] A man who exerts his will only for himself and his own advantage will always feel inwardly dissatisfied. Only when he can see his resolves reflected in the outer world and his will-impulses realised in action — only then can he say that he has brought his willing into harmony with outer events. And here we learn that our inner strength and power are not developed by anything we will for ourselves, but by whatever we will for the outer world and for other people. Our willing becomes reality and its reflection shines back to us. As our eyes are formed by light, so is our strength of soul developed by our actions and activities.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 58 – Metamorphoses of the Soul/Paths of Experience Vol. 1: Lecture 7: Human Egoism – Berlin, 25th November 1909

Translated by Charles Davy and Christian von Arnim

About morality and empathy

All moral deeds can be traced back to selflessness, all immoral acts to egotism. Only in ordinary life, a true moral assessment is concealed by the fact that one can be immoral, filled with selfish motives, but still follow the conventional moral rules. However, these are not his own rules at all. He acts according to how he was taught to behave, or because he is ashamed of what others will think. His behaviour is determined in the same way a link is inserted into a chain. 

But true morality is part of the human individuality, lives in him. Right actions result from the interest in the other person. Through interest, we acquire the ability to feel and experience what others feel and experience as if it happens to ourselves; the immoral in its origin manifest, where man closes himself off, where he does not feel what other people feel. 

Good thinking means one can place oneself in the position of the other person; wrong thinking means there is an inability to transpose oneself in the situation of the other. This inability can become law, can develop into conventional rules. One can either be ashamed or not ashamed when following these rules. As a result, what is selfishness can be significantly hidden under the rules of convention. One cannot assess a person’s moral value by how he acts in a given situation; one has to look deeper into the human character, into human nature to be able to judge the actual moral value of a human being.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 221 – Erdenwissen und Himmelserkenntnis – Dornach, February 17, 1923 (page 117-118)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

The dead do not judge

As to the way in which the dead person sees the human beings who are here on earth, there is one thing of outstanding importance. Let us not imagine that the dead has not a keen and living interest in the world of human beings. He has, indeed, for the world of human beings belongs to the whole cosmos. Our own life belongs to the cosmos. And just as we, even in the physical world, interest ourselves in the subordinate kingdoms, so do the dead interest themselves intensely in the human world, and send their active impulses into the human world. For the dead work through the living into this world. We have only just given an example of the way in which they go on working soon after their passage through the Gate of Death.

But the dead sees one thing above all, and that most clearly. Suppose, for example, that he sees a human being here following impulses of hatred — hating this person or that, and with a merely personal intensity or purpose. This the dead sees. At the same time, however, according to the whole manner of his vision and all that he is then able to know, he will observe quite clearly, in such a case, the part which Ahriman is playing. He sees how Ahriman impels the person to hatred. The dead actually sees Ahriman working upon the human being. On the other hand, if a person on earth is vain, he sees Lucifer working at him. That is the essential point. It is in connection with the world of Ahriman and Lucifer that the dead human being sees the human beings who are here on earth. Consequently, what generally colours our judgement of people is quite eliminated for the dead. We see this or that human being, whom in one sense or another we must condemn. Whatever we find blameworthy in him, we put it down to him. The dead does not put it down directly to the human being. He sees how the person is misled by Lucifer or Ahriman. This brings about a toning-down, so to speak, of the sharply differentiated feelings which in our physical and earthly life we generally have towards this or that human being. To a far greater extent, a kind of universal human love arises in the dead. This does not mean that he cannot criticize — that is to say, cannot rightly see what is evil in evil. He sees it well enough, but he is able to refer it to its origin — to its real inner connections.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 168 – On the Connection of the Living and the Dead – Berne, 9 November 1916

Asleep

I have often said that although men are awake, they actually sleep through the most important concerns in life. And I can give you the not very heartening assurance that anyone who goes through life with alert consciousness to-day finds numbers and numbers of human beings who are really asleep. They let events happen without taking the slightest interest in them, without troubling about them or associating themselves with these happenings in any way. Great world-events often pass men by just as something that is taking place in the city passes a sleeper by … although people are apparently awake.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 182 – The Work of the Angels In Man’s Astral Body – Zurich, 9th October, 1918

Translated by D. S. Osmond with the help of Owen Barfield 

Previously posted on March 24, 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 21, 2017