The expression of suffering and pain

When we realise this connection of suffering and pain with the conscious spirit that surrounds us, we shall well understand the words of a Christian initiate who knew such things fundamentally and intuitively, and saw pain at the basis of all conscious life. They are the words: In all Nature sighs every creature in pain, full of earnest expectation to attain the state of the child of God. — You find that in the eighth chapter of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans as a wonderful expression of this foundation of consciousness in pain.

Thus one can also understand how thoughtful men have ascribed to pain such an all-important role. I should like to quote just one example. A great German philosopher says that when one looks at all Nature around one, then pain and suffering seem to be expressed everywhere on her countenance. Yes, when one observes the higher animals they show to those who look more deeply an expression full of suffering. And who would not admit that many an animal physiognomy looks like the manifestation of a deeply hidden pain?

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Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 55 – The Origin of Suffering, Origin of Evil, Illness and Death – Berlin, 8th November 1906

Translated by M. Cotterell

Previously posted on May 14, 2016

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Hindrances to our development

What a human being experiences in the physical body is of value to him because he evolves to higher and higher stages as the result of what he achieves on earth. That is the essential point. On the other hand, between birth and death there are many inducements for individuals to create hindrances to their development, for example, everything that we do to injure our fellowmen. Every time when, at the cost of our fellowmen, we provide satisfaction for our own aims or embark for self-seeking reasons on a project that in some way affects the world, we create a hindrance to our development: Suppose we give someone a box on the ear. The physical and moral pain connected with it is a hindrance to our development. This hindrance would cling to us for all our subsequent lives in future epochs if we did not expunge it from the world. During the kamaloka period an impetus is given to a man to get rid of these hindrances to his development.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 109 – Rosicrucian Esotericism: Lecture IV: Man Between Death and Rebirth – Budapest, 6th June 1909

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond

Previously posted on April 10, 2015

Pain and sorrow – The basis of forthcoming joy

Pleasure and joy are founded on pain; without it they cannot exist. Just like the pleasure of satiety depends on hunger, so do knowledge and joy originate in pain. That is also the reason why, in a tragedy, the sense of an expected redemption fills us with satisfaction. Everything that will have fullness in the future endures states of sadness and pain at present. The knowledge that what is now pain and suffering will in the future turn to plenitude comforts us.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 101 – Mythen und Sagen Okkulte Zeichen und Symbole – Berlin, October 28, 1907 (page 96)

Anonymous translator

Previously posted on October 24, 2015

Antipathy and karma (2 of 4) – People go through the world with far more hatred than they think

Then, in the next earthly life, out of the hatred is born what comes to us from the outer world as pain, distress, unhappiness caused from outside — in a word, the opposite of joy. You will reply: we experience so much of suffering and pain; is it all really due to hatred — greater or lesser hatred — in our preceding life? “I cannot possibly imagine,” man will be prone to say, “that I was such a bad lot, that I must experience so much sorrow because I hated so much.”

Well, if you want to think open-mindedly of these things, you must be aware how great is the illusion which lulls you to sleep (and to which you therefore readily give yourself up) at this point. You suggest-away from your conscious mind the antipathies you are feeling against others. People go through the world with far more hatred than they think — far more antipathy, at least. It is a fact of life: hatred gives satisfaction to the soul, and for this reason, as a rule, it is not at first experienced in consciousness. It is eclipsed by the satisfaction it gives. But when it returns as pain and suffering that comes to us from outside, it is no longer so; we notice the suffering quickly enough.

To be continued


Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 235 – Karmic Relationships: Esoteric Studies – Volume I: Lecture IV – Dornach, 24th February 1924

Translated by G. Adams, M. Cotterell, C. Davy, & D. S. Osmond

Previously posted on September 14, 2016

Fear of the spiritual world

The soul life of man, as well, is entirely accommodated to space and time. If you enter a world to which you are not adapted, the lack of adaptation implies sensations of pain and suffering; so that the first entrance into the spiritual world is not won without the vanquishing of pain and suffering. […] There are indeed few people today who have sufficient inner courage to venture themselves, as it were, into the bottomless and timeless in actual experience. Certain people, however, are bound by their destiny to cross over the threshold; and without the wisdom which can be brought over from beyond the threshold no further progress is possible.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 194 – The Mysteries of Light, of Space, and of the Earth: Lecture III: Historical Occurrences of the Last Century – Dornach, December 14, 1919

Translated by Frances E. Dawson

Previously posted on February 7, 2015