A boundless absurdity

Some people are so greatly influenced by theories built up on the basis of exact scientific experience that they cannot do otherwise than regard the contents of a book like this as a boundless absurdity. The exponent of supersensible truths is able to view such a fact entirely free from any illusions. People will certainly be prone to demand that he give irrefutable proofs for what he states, but they do not realize that in so doing they are the victims of a misconception. They demand, although unconsciously, not the proofs lying within the things themselves, but those that they personally are willing to recognize or are in a condition to recognize.

The author of this book is sure that any person, taking his stand on the basis of the science of the present day, will find that it contains nothing that he will be unable to accept. He knows that all the requirements of modern science can be complied with, and for this very reason the method adopted here of presenting the facts of the supersensible world supplies its own justification. In fact, the way in which true modern science approaches and deals with a subject is precisely the one that is in full harmony with this presentation. Anyone who thinks thus will feel moved by many a discussion in a way described by Goethe’s deeply true saying, “A false teaching does not offer any opening to refutation because it rests upon the conviction that the false is true.”

Argument is fruitless with those who allow only such proofs to weigh with them as fit in with their own way of thinking. Those who know the true nature of what is called “proving” a matter see clearly that the human soul finds truth through other means than by argument. It is with these thoughts in mind that the author offers this book for publication.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 9 – Theosophy – From the Prefaces to the First, Second, and Third Editions

Translated by Henry B. Monges and revised for this edition by Gilbert Church, Ph.D.

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Previously posted on September 18, 2018

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The reality of the spiritual world was to me as certain as that of the physical

The reality of the spiritual world was to me as certain as that of the physical. I felt the need, however, for a sort of justification for this assumption. I wished to be able to say to myself that the experience of the spiritual world is just as little an illusion as is that of the physical world. With regard to geometry I said to myself: “Here one is permitted to know something which the mind alone, through its own power, experiences.” In this feeling I found the justification for the spiritual world that I experienced, even as, so to speak, for the physical. And in this way I talked about this. I had two conceptions which were naturally undefined, but which played a great role in my mental life even before my eighth year. I distinguished things as those “which are seen” and those “which are not seen.”

I am relating these matters quite frankly, in spite of the fact that those persons who are seeking for evidence to prove that anthroposophy is fantastic will, perhaps, draw the conclusion from this that even as a child I was marked by a gift for the fantastic: no wonder, then, that a fantastic philosophy should also have evolved within me.

But it is just because I know how little I have followed my own inclinations in forming conceptions of a spiritual world – having on the contrary followed only the inner necessity of things – that I myself can look back quite objectively upon the childlike unaided manner in which I confirmed for myself by means of geometry the feeling that I must speak of a world “which is not seen.”

Only I must also say that I loved to live in that world. For I should have been forced to feel the physical world as a sort of spiritual darkness around me had it not received light from that side.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 28 – The Story of My Life – Chapter I

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Previously posted  on August 8, 2018

The significance  and justification of obstacles and hindrances

Any action of man that hurts another being or creature or the world in general, hinders the doer in his development. This is what the pilgrimage of life means, that the primary force of the soul, as it goes from incarnation to incarnation, is set for further development. And this development progresses in such a fashion that man as it were is always putting obstacles in his own path. If this primary force were the only thing that were active — it is this very force that is to bring the soul back to the spiritual — man would need only a very short time on earth. But in that case the whole of earth evolution would have taken an entirely different course; it would also have failed to achieve its purpose.

You must not think that man would be better off if he put no obstacles in his own way. It is only by setting himself these handicaps that he grows strong and acquires experience, for it is the very eradicating and overcoming of these hindrances that will make him the strong being he must become by the end of earth evolution. It is thoroughly in keeping with earth evolution that he puts stones in his own path. If he did not have to muster the strength to remove these obstacles he would not acquire this strength at all. Then the world would be the poorer.

We must altogether disregard the good and evil connected with these hindrances and look solely at the wisdom of the world that intended, right from the beginning, that man should have the possibility of setting himself hindrances in earthly evolution so that in removing them he could acquire strength for later. We could even say that the wise guidance of the world allowed man to become evil and gave him the possibility of doing harm, so that in repairing the harm and overcoming the evil he can become stronger in the course of karmic development than he would have become had he reached his goal without effort. This is how we should understand the significance and justification of obstacles and hindrances.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 107 – The Being of Man and His Future Evolution – Illness and karma – Berlin, 26th January 1909

Translated by Pauline Wehrle

Previously posted on March 20, 2016

The reality of the spiritual world was to me as certain as that of the physical

The reality of the spiritual world was to me as certain as that of the physical. I felt the need, however, for a sort of justification for this assumption. I wished to be able to say to myself that the experience of the spiritual world is just as little an illusion as is that of the physical world. With regard to geometry I said to myself: “Here one is permitted to know something which the mind alone, through its own power, experiences.” In this feeling I found the justification for the spiritual world that I experienced, even as, so to speak, for the physical. And in this way I talked about this. I had two conceptions which were naturally undefined, but which played a great role in my mental life even before my eighth year. I distinguished things as those “which are seen” and those “which are not seen.”

I am relating these matters quite frankly, in spite of the fact that those persons who are seeking for evidence to prove that anthroposophy is fantastic will, perhaps, draw the conclusion from this that even as a child I was marked by a gift for the fantastic: no wonder, then, that a fantastic philosophy should also have evolved within me.

But it is just because I know how little I have followed my own inclinations in forming conceptions of a spiritual world – having on the contrary followed only the inner necessity of things – that I myself can look back quite objectively upon the childlike unaided manner in which I confirmed for myself by means of geometry the feeling that I must speak of a world “which is not seen.”

Only I must also say that I loved to live in that world. For I should have been forced to feel the physical world as a sort of spiritual darkness around me had it not received light from that side.


Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 28 – The Story of My Life – Chapter I

Previously posted on February 26, 2015

The significance  and justification of obstacles and hindrances

Any action of man that hurts another being or creature or the world in general, hinders the doer in his development. This is what the pilgrimage of life means, that the primary force of the soul, as it goes from incarnation to incarnation, is set for further development. And this development progresses in such a fashion that man as it were is always putting obstacles in his own path. If this primary force were the only thing that were active — it is this very force that is to bring the soul back to the spiritual — man would need only a very short time on earth. But in that case the whole of earth evolution would have taken an entirely different course; it would also have failed to achieve its purpose.

You must not think that man would be better off if he put no obstacles in his own way. It is only by setting himself these handicaps that he grows strong and acquires experience, for it is the very eradicating and overcoming of these hindrances that will make him the strong being he must become by the end of earth evolution. It is thoroughly in keeping with earth evolution that he puts stones in his own path. If he did not have to muster the strength to remove these obstacles he would not acquire this strength at all. Then the world would be the poorer.

We must altogether disregard the good and evil connected with these hindrances and look solely at the wisdom of the world that intended, right from the beginning, that man should have the possibility of setting himself hindrances in earthly evolution so that in removing them he could acquire strength for later. We could even say that the wise guidance of the world allowed man to become evil and gave him the possibility of doing harm, so that in repairing the harm and overcoming the evil he can become stronger in the course of karmic development than he would have become had he reached his goal without effort. This is how we should understand the significance and justification of obstacles and hindrances.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 107 – The Being of Man and His Future Evolution – Illness and karma – Berlin, 26th January 1909

Translated by Pauline Wehrle

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Previously posted on July 3, 2014