Karma / Joy / Pain

In human life joy is usually something one has not deserved through previous actions. When we investigate karma by occult means, we always discover that in most cases joy has not been earned, and we should accept it gratefully as sent to us by the gods, as a gift of the gods, and to say to ourselves: The joy which comes to meet us today ought to kindle in us the will to work in such a way as to take into ourselves the forces streaming to us through this joy, and to apply these usefully. We must look upon joy as a sort of prepayment on account for the future.

In the case of pain, on the other hand, we have usually merited this, and we always find the cause in our present life or in earlier lives. And we must then realise with the utmost clarity that we have often failed to conduct ourselves in our external life in accordance with this karmic mood. We are not able to conduct ourselves always in external life in the presence of what causes us pain in such a way that our conduct shall seem to be an acceptance of our destiny. We do not generally have an insight into such a thing at once — into the law of destiny. But, even though we are not able to conduct ourselves outwardly in such a way, yet the principal thing is that we shall do this inwardly.

And even if we have conducted ourselves outwardly in accordance with this karmic mood, yet we should say to ourselves in the depths of our souls that we ourselves have been the cause of all such things. Suppose, for instance, that someone strikes us, that he beats us with a stick. In such a case it is generally characteristic for a person to ask: ‘Who is it that strikes me?’ No one says in such a case: ‘It is I that beat myself.’ Only in the rarest cases do people say that they punish themselves. And yet it is true that we ourselves lifted the stick against another person in days gone by. Yes, it is you yourself who then raised the stick. When we have to get rid of a hindrance, this is karma. It is karma when others hold something against us. It is we ourselves who cause something to happen to us as recompense for something we have done. And thus we come to a right attitude toward our life, to a broadening of our self, when we say: ‘Everything that befalls us comes from ourselves. Our own action is fulfilled outwardly even when it seems as if someone else performed it.’


Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 130 – Esoteric Christianity and the Mission of Christian Rosenkreutz – Lecture 2 – Leipzig, 5th November 1911

Translated by Pauline Wehrle

Previously posted on March 3, 2018

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Suppose you experience something that affects you very deeply (1 of 3)

Suppose you experience something that affects you very deeply, some event that moves you to joy or sorrow. Now you know that the whole of life runs its course in such a way that we can separate it into periods of about seven years in length. Roughly speaking, the first is from birth to the change of teeth, the second to the age of puberty, the third to the beginning of the twenty-first year, and so on. All these boundary lines are of course only approximate. Here then we have one division that shows itself in the course of human life.

The turning-points in the development of the human being which we arrive at by this method are clearly marked in the earlier part of life — change of teeth, and puberty — but later are more or less concealed, although they can be distinctly noted by one who knows what to look for. That which takes place in the soul and spirit of the human being about the twenty-first year of life is, for one who can observe it, just as clearly perceptible as the change at puberty is for external physiology. The division into seven-year periods holds true, in fact, for the whole course of human life.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 194 – ELEMENTAL BEINGS AND HUMAN DESTINIES – Dornach, December 6, 1919

Translation revised by Charles Davy

Previously posted on May 1, 2020

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How can joy and love become impulses of the daily work again?

A human being who works on a small part in the factory will never have the abandon for the product that the former craftsman had; this is past retrieval. It is never possible in future with our complex conditions that a merry song penetrates the field of work. The song has faded away, the song that joins the product!

We ask, is there another impulse, which can replace it? Let us look at the time when more and more factories were built and more and more human beings were herded together in the sites of modern misery. If we let all that pass by, we realise — even if many things have changed — that one means to attach the future development simply to the past, when joy and love were still the impulses of work. However, humanity could create no substitute that attaches the human being again to the product. This can also not brought back. However, something else can be done. What can replace it? How can joy and love become impulses of the daily work again? How can one create them?

Of course, some people will argue, create impulses for a work that is dirty, bad, and hideous! — There are such impulses. Remember only what mothers do if they do the work because of love for the child. Remember what the human being is able to do if he does anything because of love for other human beings. There is no love for the product of the work necessary; there it needs a tie between human being and human being. You cannot bring back the love for the product within humanity, because it was bound to primitive, simple relations. However, what the future must bring back is the big, all-embracing understanding and love from human being to human being. Not before any human being finds the impulse for his activity from the deepest impulses which only a spiritual world movement can give, not before he is able to do the work because of love for his fellow men, it is not possible to create real impulses for a future development in the sense of the human welfare.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 56 – Knowledge of Soul and Spirit: Lecture XI: Occupation and Earnings – Berlin, 12 March 1908

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There is no development without suffering

Suffering is a side effect of higher development. We cannot avoid it in attaining insight. Human beings will one day say to themselves: ‘I am grateful for the joy the world gives me, but if I had to face the choice of keeping my joys or my sufferings, I would want to keep my sufferings for the sake of gaining insight. Every suffering presents itself after a certain time as something we cannot do without, because we have to grasp it as part of the development contained within evolution. There is no development without suffering, just as there is no triangle without angles.
[…]
By overcoming egotism, human beings get over the mood of depression and feeling lamed or paralyzed. In this phenomenon we can see something that is good: strength out of insufficiency or inadequacy. Thank God that I am encouraged by an inadequate deed–that is, by its failure–to further action! Human striving is not a vague matter of luck. Only those whose free will turns away from the destiny of the human being remain unredeemed. In the synthesis of the world process, suffering is a factor.


Source: Rudolf Steiner, April 21, 1909. In The Spiritual Hierarchies and the Physical World, 2008 edition, p. 147

Link in RS archive: https://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA110/English/APC1928/SpiHie_index.html

Previously posted on May 20, 2018