There can be no beauty in the world without pain and suffering and illness

Fabre d’Olivet, who has investigated the origins of the Book of Genesis, once used a beautiful simile, comparing destiny with a natural process. The valuable pearl, he says, derives from an illness: it is a secretion of the oyster, so that in this case life has to fall sick in order to produce something precious. In the same way, physical illnesses in one life reappear in the next life as physical beauty.

Either the physical body becomes more beautiful as a result of the illness it endured; or it may be that an illness a man has caught from infection in his environment is compensated by the beauty of his new environment. Beauty thus develops, karmically, out of pain, suffering, privation and illness. This may seem a startling connection, but it is a fact. Even the appreciation of beauty develops in this way: there can be no beauty in the world without pain and suffering and illness.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science: Lecture Eight: Good and Evil/Individual Karmic Questions – Stuttgart, 29th August 1906

Translated by E. H. Goddard & Charles Davy

Previously posted on October 13, 2016

Knowledge of Karma in life between death and rebirth alleviates pain

A person who is not prepared to admit the reality of karma, or repeated earth lives, can never really accept the fact that a destiny belongs to him. How does a person go through the world? One person does this to him, the other that; he likes the one, dislikes the other. He does not know that he himself is the cause of what comes to meet him, of the painful experience inflicted by another person. This does not occur to him, for otherwise he would feel, “You have brought it on yourself!”

If during one’s lifetime one is able to entertain such thoughts, then one at least will have a feeling as to the origin of the suffering one has to endure after death.

To know about karma in life between death and rebirth alleviates the pain, for otherwise the agonizing question as to why one has to suffer remains unanswered. In our time we have to begin to be aware of such things for without knowledge of them the evolution of humanity will not be able to continue.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 140 – Life Between Death and Rebirth – Lecture 9: Life After Death – Linz, January 26, 1913

Translated by Rene Querido

Previously posted on February 25, 2017

Transformation

Here on earth it may be all the same for one if one is perfect or not, but that is not so in the life between death and rebirth. There irresistible forces compel one to transform imperfection into perfection. One realizes that in many cases this can only be achieved at the cost of pain and suffering, and one knows that to achieve perfection one must accept the pain and pleasures of a life on earth. And one then goes full steam into a new incarnation.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 150 – Die Welt des Geistes und ihr Hereinragen in das physische Dasein – Stockholm, 10 June 1913 (page 85)

This English translation has been copied from the book: How the Spiritual World Projects into Physical Existence – The Influence of the Dead (page 65) – Published by Rudolf Steiner Press

Previously posted on December 18, 2016

Self-occupied

When we do not have enough interest in the world around us, then we are thrown back into ourselves. Taken all in all, we have to say that if we look at the chief damages created by modern civilization, they arise primarily because people are far too concerned with themselves and do not usually spend the larger part of their leisure time in concern for the world but busy themselves with how they feel and what gives them pain … And the least favorable time of life to be self-occupied in this way is during the ages between 14, 15 and 21 years old.

The capacity for forming judgments is blossoming at this time and should be directed toward world-interrelationships in every field. The world must become so all-engrossing to young people that they simply do not turn their attention away from it long enough to be constantly occupied with themselves. For, as everyone knows, as far as subjective feelings are concerned, pain only becomes greater the more we think about it. It is not the objective damage but the pain of it that increases as we think more about it. In certain respects, the very best remedy for the overcoming of pain is to bring yourself, if you can, not to think about it.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 302a – Education and Instruction: Education for Adolescents – Stuttgart, June 21, 1922

Translated by Clifford Bax

Previously posted on 19th January 2018

Pain and suffering/Joy and happiness/Karma (2 – End)

Simple reflection upon the influence of personal enjoyment shows that inherent in it is something that makes us stagger and blots out our true being. No sermon is here being delivered against enjoyment, nor is an invitation extended to practice self-torture, or to pinch ourselves with red hot pliers, or the like. If one recognizes a situation in the right way, it does not mean that one should escape from it. No escape, therefore, is suggested, but a silent acceptance of joy and happiness whenever they appear. We must develop the inner attitude that we experience them as grace, and the more the better. Thus do we immerse ourselves the more in the divine. Therefore, these words are said not in order to preach asceticism, but in order to awaken the right mood toward joy and happiness.

If it is thought that joy and happiness have a paralyzing and extinguishing effect, and that therefore man should flee from them, then one would promote the ideal of false asceticism and self-torture. In this event, man, in reality, would be escaping from the grace that is given to him by the gods. Self-torture practiced by ascetics, monks and nuns is nothing but a continuous rebellion against the gods. It behooves us to feel pain as something that comes to us through our karma. In joy and happiness, we can feel that the divine is descending to us.

May joy and happiness be for us a sign as to how close the gods have attracted us, and may our pain and suffering be a sign as to how far removed we are from what we are to become as good human beings. This is the fundamental attitude toward karma without which we cannot really move ahead in life. In what the world bestows upon us as goodness and beauty, we must conceive the world powers of which it is said in the Bible, “And he looked at the world and he saw that it was good.” But inasmuch as we experience pain and suffering, we must recognize what man has made of the world during its evolution, which originally was a good world, and what he must contribute toward its betterment by educating himself to bear pain with purpose and energy.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 130 – Facing Karma – Vienna, 8th February 1912

Translated by Dietrich V. Asten

Previously posted on September 23, 2015