Without effort it is impossible to attain a true knowledge

Without effort it is impossible to attain a true knowledge of the things which must gradually be made clear to the world through spiritual science. Today there are undoubtedly many people who argue: — “Why should we learn so many things through spiritual science? Must we become schoolboys again? Feelings or experiences seem to be the most important thing in it.” Indeed, feeling is precisely what should be taken into consideration — but, first of all, the right kind of feeling must be acquired.

The same thing applies to everything. A painter also would find it far more pleasant if there were no need for him to learn the elements of his art, and so forth, and if he were not obliged to paint his final picture slowly and gradually on the canvas. It would be far more pleasant if he could just breathe on the canvas, and so produce his finished picture! The peculiar thing in the world today is this — that, the more we reach the soul-spiritual sphere, the more people fail to understand that a mere breathing on the canvas does not suffice! In the case of music, few people will admit that a man who has learnt nothing at all can be a composer; this is quite obvious to them. They will also admit this in the case of painting — although less strictly than in the case of music — and in the case of poetry they will admit still less that study and training is necessary. This is why there are so many modern poets. No age has been so unpoetical as our present age, in spite of its many poets! Poets need not learn much — they are simply expected to write (although this has nothing to do with poetry) — at least orthographically; it suffices if they are able to express their thoughts intelligibly.

And less still is expected from philosophers. For it is taken for granted that anyone may express his opinion concerning all kinds of things which belong to a conception of the world, or life-conception. Everybody has his own point of view. Again and again we find that careful study, entailing the application of all means available to an inner activity, in order to investigate and know at least something of the world, counts for nothing in the present day. Instead, it is taken for granted that the standpoint of one who has toiled and worked in order, to venture to say at least a few things concerning the secrets of the universe is equivalent to the standpoint of one who has simply made his mind to have an opinion!

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 143 – Reflections of Consciousness, Super-consciousness and Sub-consciousness – Munich, 25th February 1912

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Previously posted on September 29, 2017

Love is higher than opinion

Love is higher than opinion. If people love one another, the most varied opinions can be reconciled. Hence it is deeply significant that in Anthrosophy no religion is attacked and no religion is specially singled out, but all are understood, and so there can be brotherhood because the adherents of the most varied religions understand one another.

This is one of the most important tasks for mankind today and in the future: that men should learn to live together and understand one another. If this human fellowship is not achieved, all talk of occult development is empty.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science: LECTURE ELEVEN – THE POST-ATLANTEAN CULTURE-EPOCHS – Stuttgart – 1st September 1906

Translated by E.H. Goddard & Charles Davy

Different viewpoints

A wrong judgement can only be established if one looks at the vantage point from which the perception comes. One would come to terms with one another much better in the world of human viewpoints in many instances if this is always considered. One would then find that the variety of opinions in many cases only arises from the differences of points of view. Moreover, only through the diverse viewpoints can the essence of something be grasped. The mistakes made in this direction do not occur because people reach different opinions, but they arise when everyone holds his or her opinion to be the only correct and justified way to look at something.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 45 – Anthroposophie/Ein Fragment – I. Der Charakter der Anthroposophie (page 12-13)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on November 15, 2018

How does a fanatic behave?

How does a fanatic behave? He wants to convert people as quickly as possible; while they, as a rule, do not want to be converted. Everybody is expected immediately to believe what the fanatic wants them to believe and he is angry when this does not happen. 

In our day, when someone sets out to expound a particular subject, people simply do not believe that his aim may be not to voice his own views but something quite different, that is, the thoughts and opinions of the one of whom he is writing. 

For many years I was held to be a follower of Nietzsche because I once wrote an absolutely objective book about him. People simply cannot understand that the aim of a writer may be to give an objective exposition. They think that everyone must be a fanatic on the subject of which he happens to be speaking. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 130 –Esoteric Christianity and the Mission of Christian Rosenkreutz – INTIMATE WORKINGS OF KARMA – Vienna, 9th February 1912

Translated by Pauline Wehrle

Previously posted on February 10, 2017

Opinions and Facts

You know from my lectures that I do not like to shoot my mouth off about my opinions. The opinions of an individual person are basically of no great value. I have always tried to allow the facts to speak for themselves, also in the field of spiritual science.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 125 – Wege und Ziele des geistigen Menschen – München, 26 August 1910 (page 71)

This English translation has been copied from the book: GA 125 – Paths and Goals of the Spiritual Human Being – Life questions in the light of spiritual science 

Previously posted on February 7, 2017