The mission of evil

The power needed to overcome the evil will yield a power that can reach the heights of holiness. A field has to be treated with manure and the manure has to ferment in the soil; similarly, humanity needs the manure of evil in order to attain to the highest holiness. And herein lies the mission of evil. A man’s muscles get strong by use; and equally, if good is to rise to the heights of holiness, it must first overcome the evil which opposes it. The task of evil is to promote the ascent of man.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science – Lecture VIII: Good and Evil – Stuttgart, 29th August 1906

Translated by E.H. Goddard & Charles Davy

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Previously posted on August 14, 2018

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Saving strength in one life to use it in another

Suppose a man dies before the age of thirty-five. On reincarnating, those forces develop in him which he did not use in the years which would have followed his thirty-fifth year. Such men, who before the thirty-fifth year go through death in this way in one incarnation, thereby economise for the next incarnation certain forces, which would have been exhausted if they had lived till fifty, sixty or seventy years of age. The forces which they thus saved are added to those with which they incarnate in the next life. Thereby such souls are born into bodies through which they are in a position, especially in their youth, to confront life with strong impressions. In other words: when such souls, who in their last incarnation died before the thirty-fifth year, reincarnate again, everything makes a strong impression on them. They are deeply stirred by things, they enjoy things deeply, they have living feelings and are easily urged to impulses of will. They are those who take a strong position in life, and who receive a mission. A man does not die without cause before his thirty-fifth year; he will thereby receive a quite definite mission in his next life. These things are complex, and death before the age of thirty-five may also bring about other things — it is not absolute law, for these are only examples. […]

Now, if an especially active man is summoned from life at an early age, it would then occur that in his next life his Karma would appoint him to a quite definite task in life, which he would certainly accomplish. He would be as if predestined. If, however, a man is especially active in one life and lives to a good old age, these forces are then intensified inwardly. He has then in his next life a more complicated task. Outer activity withdraws, and there appears in the soul the necessity to evolve inner activity.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 157a – The Forming of Destiny and Life after Death: LECTURE 2: ON THE FORMING OF DESTINY – Berlin, 18th November, 1915.

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The mission of  spiritual knowledge is to permeate, not to escape from material existence

It has only been possible to give a very bare outline of this subject. Abundant literature exists today and is at the disposal of everybody. In one brief lecture I have only been able to indicate certain guiding lines, but what has been said will to some extent show you that anthroposophical knowledge of the super-sensible worlds has not the slightest tendency to be remote from the world, to be unpractical. It does not wish to lead human beings in their egotism into vapid castles in the air; on the contrary, it holds that to alienate a man from the world would be to sin against the Spiritual. The Spirit is only truly within our grasp when the flow of its power makes us practical and capable human beings.

The Spirit is creative; the mission of the Spirit is to permeate, not to escape from material existence. Anthroposophical knowledge of the super-sensible worlds is therefore at the same time a power in practical life. Hence — as I shall show in other lectures here in Christiania — Anthroposophy strives to enrich the several sciences, the life of art, as well the domains of practical life, with all that knowledge of the reality of higher worlds can add to the things of the material world.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 79 – On the Reality of Higher Worlds – Christiania (Oslo), November 25, 1921

Translation by D. S. Osmond

Previously posted on March 6, 2017

A mission that weighs heavily on the heart

Think how much this means: — Here is a man who stands within some national group. We can see at once, he is a Russian, he is a Frenchman, he is an Englishman, he is a German. We recognise it by his appearance, and we locate him by thinking, as we see him, where can this man belong? We think it a matter of some importance if we can recognise: he is a Turk, he is a Russian, or the like. Now with those who today receive Anthroposophy with inner force of soul, with deep impulse and strength of heart — who receive it, therefore, as the deepest force of their life — such distinctions will have no more meaning when next they return to earth. People will say: Where does he come from? He is not of any nation, he is not of any race, he is as though he had grown away from all races and nations.

When the last Michael dominion took place, in the age of Alexander, the point was to spread Grecian culture in a cosmopolitan way, carrying it out in all directions. The campaigns of Alexander were an immense achievement in the equalising of men on earth, I mean in the spreading among them of a common element. But the thing was not yet able to strike so deep, for at that time Michael still administered the Cosmic Intelligence. Now Intelligence is on the earth, now it strikes far deeper, it strikes down even into the earthly element of man. For the first time, the Spiritual is preparing to become a race-creating force. The time will come when one will no longer be able to say: the man looks as if he belonged to this or that country, — he is a Turk, or an Arabian, an Englishman, a Russian or a German, — but one will have to say what will amount to this: ‘In a former life on earth this man felt impelled to turn towards the Spirit in the sense of Michael.’ Thus, that which is influenced by Michael will appear as an immediate, physically creative, physically formative power.

Now this is a thing that takes root deeply, very deeply in the karma of the individual. Hence the strange destiny of those who are sincere anthroposophists, the strange destiny that they are not able to come to terms with the world: they cannot quite master it, and yet at the same time they have to approach the world and enter into it with full earnestness.

I have said that those who stand with full intensity within the Anthroposophical Movement will return at the end of the century, and others will then unite with them, for by this means the salvation of the earth and earthly civilisation from destruction must eventually be settled. This is the mission of the Anthroposophical Movement, which weighs on the one hand so heavily upon one’s heart, while on the other hand it moves the heart, uplifts it with enthusiasm. This mission we must understand and see.

It is most necessary for the anthroposophist to know that in this situation as an anthroposophist his karma will be harder to experience than it is for other men. From the very outset those who come into the Anthroposophical Society are predestined to a harder, more difficult experience of karma than other men. And if we try to pass this harder experience by — if we want to experience our karma in a comfortable way — it will surely take vengeance on us in one direction or another. We must be anthroposophists in our experience of karma too. To be true anthroposophists we must be able to observe our own experience of karma with constant wide-awake attention. If we do not, then our comfortable, easy-going experiencing of our karma — or rather our desire to experience it so — will find expression and take vengeance in physical illnesses, physical accidents and the like.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 237 – Karmic Relationships: Esoteric Studies-Volume III: IX: Entry of the Michael  Forces – Dornach, 3rd August 1924

Translated by George Adams & D. S. Osmond

Previously posted on July 10, 2016

The truth can take many forms

There is no absolute truth — each truth has its particular mission at a certain time. We talk of anthroposophy today, but we know that when we come to reborn in the future we shall hear something very different and stand in quite a different relationship to one another.

Let us cast our gaze back to a time when we were perhaps even then assembled together in some region of Northern Europe, where people gathered round a Druid priest who imparted truth to them in the form of myths and legends. If we had not heeded what he then said and if he had not influenced our souls, we should not be able today to understand the truth which anthroposophy now brings to us in a different form. When we are reborn, we shall hear the truth spoken in another and a higher form. Truth evolves, as does everything else in the world. It is the form of the divine Spirit, but the divine Spirit has many forms. If we thoroughly imbue ourselves with this characteristic of truth, we shall acquire a quite different relation to it. We shall say: Indeed we live in the truth, but it can take many forms.


Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science – Lecture XI: The Post-Atlantean Culture-Epochs – Stuttgart, 1st September 1906

Translated by E.H. Goddard & Charles Davy

Previously posted on May 22, 2015