A Working-man in America

An uncommonly interesting book has recently appeared, A Working-man in America (Als Arbeiter in Amerika, pub. Sigismund, Berlin). The author is State-Councillor Kolb, who had the enterprise to spend several months as a common worker in America. In this way he acquired a discrimination of men and of life which was obviously neither to be obtained along the educational paths that led to councillorship, nor from the mass of experience which he was able to accumulate in such a position and in all the other posts that a man fills before he becomes a Councillor of State. He was thus for years in a position of considerable responsibility; and yet, not until he had left this, and lived — just a short while — in a foreign land, did he learn the knowledge of life that enabled him to write the following memorable sentence in his book: “How often, in old days, when I saw a sound, sturdy man begging, had I not asked, in righteous indignation: Why doesn’t the lazy rascal work? I knew now, why. The fact is, it looks quite different in theory from what it does in practice; and at the study table one can deal quite comfortably with even the most unsavory chapters of political economy.”

To prevent any possible misunderstanding, let it be said at once, that no one can feel anything but the warmest appreciation for a man who could bring himself to leave a comfortable position in life, in order to go and do hard labor in a brewery and a bicycle factory. It is a deed worthy of all respect, and it must be duly emphasized, lest it should be imagined that any disparagement is intended of the man who did it. Nevertheless, for anyone who will face the facts, it is unmistakably evident that all this man’s book-learning, all the schooling he had been through, had not given him the ability to read life.

Just try and realize all that is involved in such an admission! One may learn everything which, in these days, qualifies one to hold posts of considerable influence; and yet, with it all, one may be quite remote and aloof from that life where one’s sphere of action lies. Is it not much the same, as though a man were to go through a course of training in bridge construction, and then, when called upon actually to build a bridge, had no notion how to set about it? And yet, no! — it is not quite the same. Anyone who is not properly trained for bridge building will soon be enlightened as to his deficiencies when he comes to actual practice. He will soon show himself to be a bungler and find his services generally declined. But when a man is not properly trained for his work in social life, his deficiencies are not so readily demonstrated. A badly built bridge breaks down; and then even the most prejudiced can see that he who built it was a bungler. But the bungling that goes on in social work is not so directly apparent. It only shows itself in the suffering of one’s fellow-men. And the connection between this suffering and bungling is not one that people recognize as readily as the connection between the breakdown of a bridge and the incompetent bridge builder.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 34 – Anthroposophy and the Social Question – Part 1 (essay which first appeared in the journal “Lucifer-Gnosis”, October 1905/1906 – translated by Harry Collison)

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Previously posted on april 8, 2018

Misunderstanding about Mystery of  Golgotha and other religions

To say that the Mystery of Golgotha ought not be placed as a unique event in the evolution of humanity because other religions would not be able to acknowledge this fact shows complete misunderstanding. Let us consider the following. Today we have the sacred religious books of India and a modern Western world-conception. Today in the West we teach the Copernican system, and no one would suggest that we ought not to teach the Copernican theory because it is not contained in the sacred books of India! For the same reason no one can object to the teaching of the Mystery of Golgotha because it is not to be found in the religious writings of the ancient Hindus.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 140 – Life Between Death and Rebirth: I: Investigations Into Life Between Death and Rebirth – Milan, October 26, 1912

Previously posted on December 16, 2019

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Misunderstanding

The spiritual atmosphere in which people live today is impregnated with the will to misunderstand to such an extent that one’s words are immediately interpreted as something different from what they actually mean to convey.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 177 – Fall of the Spirits of Darkness: Lecture 13: The Fallen Spirits’ Influence in the World – Dornach, 27 October 1917

Translated by Anna R. Meuss

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Previously posted on November 19, 2017

It is a complete misunderstanding to say spiritual science must also be believed

I have often emphasized that it is a complete misunderstanding to say spiritual science must also be believed. When people say this, it is because they are so crammed full with materialistic prejudices that they do not look at what spiritual science really has to offer. As soon as it is examined, everything becomes understandable. One does not need clairvoyance for this; our ordinary understanding is enough to really grasp and comprehend all this gradually — of course, “gradually” will be inconvenient for some people.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 154 – The Presence of the Dead on the Spiritual Path: Lecture One: Understanding the Spiritual World (Part One) – Berlin, April 18, 1914

Translated by Christian von Arnim

Previously posted on October 16, 2016

It is a complete misunderstanding to say spiritual science must also be believed

Spiritual science can be understood by every person who wants to understand its findings. It strives to give people what each individual soul can truly achieve on its own, not by following the religious founders, as in earlier times. And although it must be individual researchers who make the results of this science of the spirit available today, they do so in a form that can be understood by everyone who wants to. 

I have often emphasized that it is a complete misunderstanding to say spiritual science must also be believed. When people say this, it is because they are so crammed full with materialistic prejudices that they do not look at what spiritual science really has to offer. As soon as it is examined, everything becomes understandable. One does not need clairvoyance for this; our ordinary understanding is enough to really grasp and comprehend all this gradually — of course, “gradually” will be inconvenient for some people.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 154 – The Presence of the Dead on the Spiritual Path: Lecture I: Understanding the Spiritual World (Part 1) – Berlin, April 18, 1914

Translated by Christian von Arnim

Previously posted on October 16, 2016