Vivisection

In the Middle Ages no one would have ever dreamt of destroying life in order to understand it, and in ancient times any doctor would have looked on this as the height of madness. In the Middle Ages a number of people were still clairvoyant; doctors could see into a man and could discern any injury or defect in his physical body. So it was with Paracelsus, for example. 

But the material culture of modern times had to come, and with it a loss of clairvoyance. We see this particularly in our scientists and doctors; and vivisection is a result of it. In this way we can come to understand it, but we should never excuse or justify it. 

The consequences of a life which has been the cause of pain to others are bound to follow, and after death the vivisectionist has to endure exactly the same pains that he inflicted on animals. His soul is drawn into every pain he caused. It is no use saying that to inflict pain was not his intention, or that he did it for the sake of science or that his purpose was good. The law of spiritual life is inflexible.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science: LECTURE THREE: LIFE OF THE SOUL IN KAMALOKA – Stuttgart, 24th August, 1906

Translated by E.H. Goddard & Charles Davy

Previously posted on februari 25, 2019

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Who did it is of less importance

In the Middle Ages it would have been impossible to say who had built many of the cathedrals or painted many of the pictures. […]

It is only in our epoch of civilization that people have begun to attach such value to the human name; in earlier epochs, more spiritual than our own, the individual name was of less importance. Spirituality in those days was directed to reality; whereas our epoch adheres to the delusion of thinking that what is a mere concern of the moment should be preserved. […]

Nobody knows who wrote the work entitled Theologica Deutsch. On the outside there are only the words: The man from Frankfurt. He, therefore, was one who took care that his very name should be unknown. He worked in such a way that he merely added something to the world without asking for honour or for the preservation of his name.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 93 – The Work of Secret Societies in the World – Berlin, December 23, 1904

Translated by John M. Wood

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The most favorable conditions for germs (1 of 2)

People today are haunted by a fear we can compare with the medieval fear of ghosts. It is the fear of germs. Objectively, both states of fear are the same. Both fit their respective age: People of the Middle Ages held a certain belief in the spiritual world; therefore quite naturally they had a fear of spiritual beings. The modern age has lost this belief in the spiritual world; it believes in material things. It therefore has a fear of material beings, be they ever so small. 

Objectively speaking, the greatest difference we might find between the two periods is that ghosts are at any rate sizable and respectable. The tiny germs, on the other hand, are nothing much to write home about as far as frightening people is concerned. Now of course I do not mean to imply by this that we should encourage germs, and that it is good to have as many as possible. That is certainly not the implication. Still, germs certainly exist and ghosts existed also, especially as far as those people who held a real belief in the spiritual world are concerned. Thus, they do not even differ in terms of reality.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 154 – Presence of the Dead: Lecture Three: Awakening Spiritual Thoughts – Basel, May 5, 1914

Translated by Harry Collison

The slightest action has an impact that extends into all times

During the middle ages a man worked six days a week and on Sunday he went to Church. There he heard that his daily work did not only have temporary implications, but it also had eternal significance; he heard there how his labour fitted into the larger passages of time. So he knew that even his slightest deed had far reaching consequences into the farthest future. The awareness that what a person does extends its influence on all people and for all times, has been lost in recent centuries, especially during the 19th century, even by those who are responsible for schooling and development.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 53 – Ursprung und Ziel des Menschen/Grundbegriffe der Geisteswissenschaft – Berlin, September 29, 1904 (page 21-22)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

A true prayer has something to give to all of us

A true prayer has something to give to all of us, whatever stage of development we may have reached. The simplest person, who perhaps knows nothing more than the words of the prayer, may still be open to the influence of the prayer on his soul, and it is the prayer which can call forth the power to raise him higher. But, however high a stage we may have reached, we have never finished with a prayer; it can always raise us to a still higher level. And the Lord’s Prayer is not for speaking only. It can call forth the mystical frame of mind, and it can be the subject of higher forms of meditation and concentration. This could be said of many other prayers. 

Since the Middle Ages, however, something has come to the fore, a kind of egotism, which can impair the purity of prayer and its accompanying state of mind. If we make use of prayer with the aim only of withdrawing into ourselves and making ourselves more perfect — as many Christians did during the Middle Ages and perhaps still do today — and if we fail to look out at the world around us with whatever illumination we may have received, then prayer will succeed only in separating us from the world, and making us feel like strangers in it. That often happened to those who used prayer in connection with false asceticism and seclusion. These people wished to be perfect not in the sense of the rose, which adorns itself  in order to add beauty to the garden, but on their own account, so as to find blessedness within their own souls.

Anyone who seeks for God in his soul and refuses to take what he has gained out into the world will find that his refusal turns back on him in revenge.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 59 – Metamorphoses of the Soul Vol.2 – Lecture 4: The Nature of Prayer – Berlin, 17th February 1910

Translated by Charles Davy and Christian von Arnim