A lady who did not want to be born again

Of course, the judgment of life which people have on earth must differ in this respect from the judgment they have outside the earthly life between death and a new birth. On one occasion, in the early stages of our anthroposophical work, a lady appeared among us who said: “No,” when she heard of reincarnation. She liked the rest of Anthroposophy very well, but with reincarnation she would have nothing to do; one earthly life, she said, was quite enough for her. Now we had very well-meaning followers in those days, and they tried in every imaginable way to convince the good lady that the idea was true after all, that every human being must undergo repeated lives on earth. She could not be moved. One friend belaboured her from the left, and another from the right. After a time, she left; but two days later, she wrote me a post-card to the effect that, after all, she was not going to be born again on earth!

To such a person, one who wishes simply to tell the truth from spiritual knowledge can only say: No doubt, while you are here on earth, it is not at all to your liking that you should come down again for a future life. But it does not depend on that. Here on earth, to begin with, you will go through the gate of death into the spiritual world. That you are quite willing to do. Whether or no you want to come down again will depend on the judgment which will be yours when you no longer have the body about you. For you will then form quite a different judgment.


Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 235 – Karmic Relationships: Esoteric Studies – Volume I: Lecture V – Dornach, 1st March 1924

Translated by Henry B. Monges 

Previously posted on April 12, 2018

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Genus and Individuality  

It is impossible to understand a human being completely if one takes the concept of genus as the basis of one’s judgment. The tendency to judge according to the genus is at its most stubborn where we are concerned with differences of sex. Almost invariably man sees in woman, and woman in man, too much of the general character of the other sex and too little of what is individual. 

In practical life this does less harm to men than to women. The social position of women is for the most part such an unworthy one because in so many respects it is determined not as it should be by the particular characteristics of the individual woman, but by the general picture one has of woman’s natural tasks and needs. A man’s activity in life is governed by his individual capacities and inclinations, whereas a woman’s is supposed to be determined solely by the mere fact that she is a woman. She is supposed to be a slave to what is generic, to womanhood in general. As long as men continue to debate whether a woman is suited to this or that profession “according to her natural disposition”, the so-called woman’s question cannot advance beyond its most elementary stage. What a woman, within her natural limitations, wants to become had better be left to the woman herself to decide. 

If it is true that women are suited only to that profession which is theirs at present, then they will hardly have it in them to attain any other. But they must be allowed to decide for themselves what is in accordance with their nature. To all who fear an upheaval of our social structure through accepting women as individuals and not as females, we must reply that a social structure in which the status of one half of humanity is unworthy of a human being is itself in great need of improvement. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 4 – The Philosophy of Freedom – Chapter 14: Individuality and Genus

Translated by Michael Wilson

Previously posted on December 16, 2015  

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Sound judgment

How often human beings do not see in an unconfused way what exists, but rather what they crave to see! In how many cases do men believe something, not because they have discerned it, but because it is acceptable to them to believe! Or what errors arise because one does not go to the bottom of a thing, but forms a hasty judgment! All these reasons for deception in ordinary life might be multiplied indefinitely. What tricks are played upon sound judgment by partisan feeling, passion, and so forth. If such errors of judgment in ordinary life are disturbing and often disastrous, they are the greatest conceivable danger to the wholesomeness of the supersensible experience. No general rule can be given to the student for his guidance in the higher worlds, beyond the advice to do everything possible for his healthy power of discernment and for his sound, independent judgment.  

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 12 – The Stages of Higher Knowledge – Chapter 4: Inspiration and Intuition

Translated by by Lisa Monges and Floyd McKnight

Previously posted on March 4, 2018

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Correct thinking and right judgment does not always lead to the truth

In the world outside, in so far as this world is ruled by external science, when people speak of knowledge, you will always find them say: Yes, of course, we arrive at knowledge when we have formed right judgments and exercised correct thinking. I recently cited a very simple example to illustrate how great an error is involved in this assumption that we are bound to arrive at truth when we make correct and reasonable judgments; and I would like to relate it again now, to show you that accuracy of reasoning need by no means lead to the truth.

There was once a small boy in a village who was sent regularly by his parents to fetch bread. He used always to have ten kreuzer, and bring back in exchange six rolls. If you bought one such roll it cost two kreuzer, but he always brought back six rolls for his ten kreuzer. The boy was not particularly good at arithmetic and never troubled himself as to how it worked out that he always took with him ten kreuzer, that a roll cost two and yet he brought home six rolls in return for his ten. One day a boy was brought into the family from another part and he became for our small boy a kind of foster-brother. They were of about the same age, but the foster-brother was a good arithmetician. And he saw how his companion went to the baker’s, taking with him ten kreuzer, and he knew that a roll cost two. So he said to him, “You must bring home five rolls.” He was a very good arithmetician and his reasoning was perfectly accurate. One roll costs two kreuzer (so he reasoned), he takes with him ten, he will obviously bring home five rolls. But behold, he brought back six. Then said our good arithmetician: “But that is quite wrong! One roll costs two kreuzer, and you took ten, and two into ten goes five times; you can’t possibly bring back six rolls. You must have made a mistake or else you have pinched one …” But now, lo and behold, on the next day, too, the boy brought home six rolls. It was, you see, a custom in those parts that when you bought five you received an extra one in addition, so that in fact when you paid for five rolls you received six. It was a custom that was very agreeable for anyone who needed five rolls for his household.

The good arithmetician had reasoned, quite correctly, there was no fault in his thinking; but this correct thinking did not accord with reality. We are obliged to admit the correct thinking did not arrive at the reality, for reality does not order itself in accordance with correct thinking. You may see very clearly in this case how with the most conscientious, the most clever logical thinking that can possibly be spun out, you may arrive at a correct conclusion and yet, measured by reality your conclusion may be utterly and completely false. That can always happen. Consequently a proof that is acquired purely through thought can never be a criterion for reality — never.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 134 – The World of the Senses and the World of the Spirit – Hanover, 27th December 1911

Previously posted on January 20, 2019

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Humankind is called today to take in something new

Those people simply no longer exist who, without their own involvement, are implanted with wisdom that inwardly inspires them. Today only those people who feel that Anthroposophy speaks to their hearts should come to it. We should not use propaganda and agitate for Anthroposophy. Only through their own free initiative should anyone come to Anthroposophy. This can occur when individuals are deeply affected in a living way by spiritual knowledge. […]

Anthroposophy should become life, so that any soul that truly absorbs Anthroposophy is gradually transformed. Absorbing Anthroposophy means that a soul is transformed such that it can arrive at an understanding of Christ. […] 

Humankind is called today to take in something new, something divine, and thereby to undertake again an ascent into the spiritual world. The anthroposophical teaching concerning evolution is imparted; it should not be believed but rather humankind should come to the point of understanding it through its own power of judgment. […] It is not proclaimed only to a particular people or place. Those who hear the call of spiritual wisdom will come together from all parts of humanity.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 104a – Reading the Pictures of the Apocalypse: Part 2: Lecture Seven – Kristiana, May 16, 1909

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