The nineteenth century will one day be described as the most materialistic century in the history of humankind

The nineteenth century will one day be described as the materialistic century in the history of humankind. The people of the twentieth century cannot really imagine how deeply the nineteenth century was entangled in materialism. Only later when people have again become spiritual will that be possible. Everything, even the religious life, was permeated by materialism. Anyone who can look upon human evolution from higher planes knows that in the forties of the nineteenth century there was an extreme low point in the spiritual life. Science, philosophy, and religion were in the grip of materialism.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 104a – Reading the Pictures of the Apocalypse -Part 1 – Lecture Three – Munich, 8th May 1907

Translated by James H. Hindes


Previously posted on 18 November 2018

There will be plenty of materialistic streams which will wear a spiritual mask

It is also well known to us that this anthroposophical spiritual stream brings into sharp collision two divergent tendencies in man’s thought and feeling and perception. One is a direction in thought and feeling which has been in preparation for many centuries and which has by now gained complete hold upon mankind, or will most assuredly do so in the near future. It is what we call the materialistic outlook, using the word in its widest sense, and it makes attack, so to say, upon the other direction of thought which is given with anthroposophy, it attacks the spiritual outlook on the world. And more and more pronounced will the conflict become in the near future between these two directions of thought. It will, moreover, be fought in such a way that it will often be very difficult to know with which direction of thought one is dealing. For the materialistic tendency of thought, for example, may not always come before one in unvarnished truthfulness, it may assume all manner of disguises. There will indeed be plenty of materialistic streams which will wear a spiritual mask, and it will be far from easy at times to know where materialism lurks and where we are to recognise the true spiritual stream. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 134 – THE WORLD OF THE SENSES AND THE WORLD OF THE SPIRIT – Lecture I – Hannover, 27 December 1911

“The devil’s never noticed by some folk, even when he has them by the neck!” – Goethe


Goethe (1749-1832)


One needs clairvoyance in order to observe the spiritual world. To understand it, only common sense and logic are necessary. Today, many people who adopt materialistic thinking to various degrees, are possessed by the delusion of infallibility – an outcome of positivism in science. The people of today live in pure fantasy and are unable to distinguish reality from illusion. Although they do not admit the infallibility of the Pope, they think of themselves as infallible. Those who adopt the scientific outlook are nowadays the most intolerant. According to them, spiritual scientists are nothing but fools…but they? Well, they are of course simply infallible.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 56 – Die Erkenntnis der Seele und des Geistes – Berlijn, November 28, 1907 (page 119)

Anonymous translator


Eerder geplaatst op 12 september 2018

The infallibility of the Pope is no longer valid for many people, but instead we have the infallibility of the professor

In Europe today there are plenty of people who think they have learnt to do without dogmas, yet it is precisely the freethinkers and the materialists who are the worst fanatics for dogmas. The dogma of materialism is much more oppressive than any other. The infallibility of the Pope is no longer valid for many people, but instead we have the infallibility of the professor. Even the most liberal-minded, whatever they may say to the contrary, are victims of the dogmas of materialism. Think of the dogmas which burden lawyers, doctors and so on. Every university professor teaches his own dogma. Or think how people suffer from the dogma of the infallibility of public opinion, of the newspapers!

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science – Lecture XIII: Oriental and Christian Training – Stuttgart, 3rd September 1906

Translated by E.H. Goddard & Charles Davy


Previously posted on August 15, 2018





An undeveloped brain may at times conceal great spiritual faculties

We may meet a person who seems to be very stupid, but who has brought with himself a concealed higher life that needs only to be brought out. Most human beings these days are much further than it seems, and more people would know about this if the materialism of our conditions and of our time would not drive them back into the inner life of the soul. A large percentage of today’s human beings was previously much further advanced. Whether that which is within them will come forth depends on many factors. But it is possible to give some help. Suppose you have before you a person who was highly developed in his earlier incarnation, but now has an undeveloped brain. An undeveloped brain may at times conceal great spiritual faculties. But if he can be taught the usual everyday abilities, it may happen that the inner spirituality also comes forth.

Another important factor is the environment in which a person lives. The human being is a mirror-image of his surroundings in a most significant way. Suppose that a person is a highly developed personality, but lives in surroundings that awaken and develop certain prejudices with such a strong effect that the higher talents cannot come forth. Unless such a person finds someone who can draw out these abilities, they will remain hidden.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 54 – Esoteric Development: Lecture I: Inner Development – Berlin, 7th December 1905

Translated by Gertrude Teutsch


Painting by Lutz Baar

Previously posted  on July 4, 2018