Two terrible sources of harm

Two poles confront each other, West and East, and we in the middle have the task of looking to the West and avoiding its errors, of looking to the East and ourselves cultivating what must otherwise be imposed upon us, not in the course of centuries but in a few decades, because if men will not impose tasks on themselves others will impose them. 

Ours is the task here in Central Europe of cultivating what can be cultivated only out of the threefold social organism. Today, were eastern culture to predominate, the earth would be inundated by a vague mysticism, inundated by a theosophy with no reality. Were predominance to arise in the West, we should be dominated, tyrannised over by a purely material life. 

Then the task should be ours to ward off from mankind two terrible sources of harm by a rational threefold State, giving independence to the economic life and to the life of the spirit, and making it impossible for the State to drive these things so far that we ourselves are crushed between East and West.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 192 – Social Basis For Primary and Secondary Education: Lecture 3 – Stuttgart, 1 June, 1919

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Misconception

It is a complete misconception when one inclines towards ascetical behaviour during earthly physical development if one considers the latter as the enemy of the higher human being. It is an untruth because earthly experience gives something to the human being that he could not obtain in any other way. It is wrong to despise life in the physical body, to view the body as something low. It is particularly important and the most meaningful thing in the whole of human life. 

And spiritual science cannot at all agree with the kind of mysticism or wrong direction of Christianity – not the right direction, but the wrong one – that despises the earthly world. Between death and a new birth, man experiences the world from a different perspective; he experiences it so that now, not only the beings who worked in him during the time he was within the physical and etheric bodies but the Creator Beings themselves are working in him as well. There he has a different experience. That is why, during our earthly life, we have the task of getting to know not only the sensory but also the supersensory world.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 184 – Die Polarität von Dauer und Entwickelung im Menschenleben – Dornach, September 8, 1918 (page 64)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

The reaction is to avoid having anything to do with this

Nowadays, if you start to discuss, with someone who is interested in these matters, the possibility of achieving a knowledge of spiritual life in conjunction with the sensuous and physical world, you will generally meet with a sympathetic reception. At any rate, the question will be raised: Are there paths by which man can reach some kind of spiritual knowledge? even though it may often turn out that the only knowledge of a spiritual world allowed is one that takes the form of general concepts and ideas, a vague pantheism perhaps or a conception of life reminiscent of mysticism. 

If however you should then attempt, as it became necessary for me to do in my book Occult Science, to describe a real cosmology, a science of the origin and development of the world in specific terms, discussion with a rationalist is usually at an end. He reacts strongly to the suggestion that anyone today might be in a position, on some epistemological basis or other, to make a statement about a spiritual origin of the world, about forces operating spiritually in the world’s development, and about the possibility that this development, after having passed through a sensuous and physical phase, might lead back once more into a spiritual form of existence. 

The reaction of the rationalist to such a suggestion, implicit in the specific descriptions in Occult Science, for example, is to avoid having anything to do with someone who makes claims of this kind. He will think that, if a man sets out to make specific statements about such matters, he is probably on the verge of losing his reason; at least, we cannot compromise ourselves by becoming involved in discussing these details.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 83 – The Tension Between East and West: 5: Cosmic Memory – Vienna, 5th June, 1922 

Translated by B. A. Rowley

Previously posted on March 29, 2017

Superficial Mysticism

In many circles where there is a striving toward mysticism, people feel particularly highly advanced; but it is a mysticism that leads to superficiality of the soul. With this superficiality, one does not penetrate the eternal mysteries of life. It only penetrates when one has the patience to awaken the slumbering forces of the soul or at least to let one’s thinking penetrate what the slumbering soul forces may find from stage to stage.

The superficiality of the heart must be conquered. Victory over superficial mysticism can develop the ability to discover the powers of the soul, which lead in the right way from the temporary to the eternal, to the imperishable. That is what is genuinely able to work fruitfully in the most different areas of contemporary life.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 77b – Kunst und Anthroposophie/Der Goetheanum -Impuls – Dornach, August 21, 1921 (page 24-25)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on December 21, 2019

Mysticism / Sophisticated selfishness / Self-deception 

When what has been brought to you for some years now as Anthroposophical oriented spiritual science was initiated, many of those who were drawn to what was brought here by me as the basis of this Anthroposophical Science, said: we would rather delve into the mysticism of Meister Eckhart, in the mysticism of Johannes Tauler.

After all, that is so much simpler; then one can so blissfully and snugly say: I sink into my inner self, I become aware of the higher man in me, my higher I has taken hold of the divine in me. But surely that is nothing more than a refined egotism, nothing but a retreat into the own egotistical personality, a walking away from all of mankind, an inner deceiving of the self.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 196 – Geistige und soziale Wandlungen in der Menschheitsentwickelung – Dornach, 6 February 1920 (Seite 157)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on March 29, 2017