Karma-Moral-Egoism (2 of 5)

It would actually be a severe reproach if one were able to maintain that theosophy prompts people to develop moral action not out of sympathy and compassion but out of fear of punishment. Let us now ask ourselves whether such a reproach is really justified. We must reach very deeply into occult research if we wish to refute such a reproach to anthroposophy in a really fundamental way.

Let us assume that someone were to say that if a person does not already possess this striving for perfection, theosophy will certainly never prompt him to moral actions. A deeper understanding of what anthroposophy has to say can teach us that the individual is related to the whole of humanity in such a way that by acting immorally he not only does something that may earn him a punishment. It is rather the case that through an immoral thought, an immoral action or attitude he brings about something really absurd, something that cannot be reconciled with truly healthy thinking.

The statement has many implications. An immoral action not only implies a subsequent karmic punishment; it is rather in the most fundamental respect an action that one definitely ought not to do. Let us assume that a person commits a theft. In so doing the person incurs a karmic punishment. If one wishes to avoid this punishment one simply does not steal. But the matter is still more complicated. Let us ask ourselves what really motivates the person who lies or steals. The liar or thief seeks personal advantage — the liar perhaps wishing to wiggle out of an unpleasant situation. Such an action is only meaningful if one actually does gain an advantage through lying or stealing. If the person were now to realize that he simply cannot have that advantage, that he is wrong, that on the contrary he will bring about a disadvantage, he would then say to himself that it is nonsense even to think about such an action. As theosophy penetrates ever deeper into human civilization, people will know that it is absurd, indeed that it is ridiculous, to believe that through lying or stealing one can acquire what one seeks to acquire.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 127 – The Significance of Spiritual Research For Moral Action – Bieleveld, 6 March 1911

Translated by Alan P. Cottrell, Ph.D.

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Previously posted on April 22, 2018

Karma-Moral-Egoism (1 of 5)

The objection is frequently made that anthroposophy does not really work its way into the realm of morality. In fact it is said that through certain of its teachings it in some respects not only does not counter egotism but furthers it. Those who are of this opinion share the following thoughts. They say that anthroposophy demonstrates how the human being develops his existence from life to life and that the main point is that even if he suffers defeats he has the possibility of striving ever higher, employing in a subsequent life the results of what he has learned in a given life as in a kind of “school.” He who immerses himself completely in this belief in human perfectibility will strive to render his “I” ever more pure, to make it as rich as possible, so that he may ascend ever higher and higher.

This, so these people say, is after all really an egotistic striving. For we anthroposophist, they say, seek to attract teachings and forces from the spiritual world in order to elevate our “I” to ever greater heights. This is therefore an egotistic basis for human action. These people maintain further that we anthroposophists are convinced that we prepare a bad karma for ourselves through imperfect actions. Thus in order not to do so the anthroposophist will avoid doing this or that which he would otherwise have done. He therefore refrains from the action for fear of karma. For the same reason he would probably also do this or that which he otherwise would not have done, and this too would be but one more quite egotistic motivation for an action. There are a number of people who say that the teachings of karma and reincarnation as well as the rest of the striving for perfection which originates in anthroposophy leads people to work spiritually for a refined form of higher egotism. 

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 127 – The Significance of Spiritual Research For Moral Action – Bieleveld, 6 March 1911

Translated by Alan P. Cottrell, Ph.D.

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Previously posted on April 21, 2018

Variety in the different incarnations (2 of 2)

And it must be constantly emphasised that when anthroposophists have the desire to sacrifice themselves, such desire is not enough. Many people would like to sacrifice themselves all the time — they feel happy in so doing — but before anyone can make a sacrifice of real value to the world he must have the strength required for it. A man must first be something before he can usefully sacrifice himself; otherwise the sacrifice of egohood is not of much value. Moreover in a certain respect a kind of egoism — although it is repressed — a kind of laziness, is present when a man makes no effort to develop, to persevere in his strivings, so that what he can achieve is of real value.

It might seem — but please do not misunderstand this — as though we were preaching lovelessness. The outer world is very prone to-day to reproach anthroposophists by saying: You aim at perfecting your own souls, you strive for the progress of your own souls. You become egoists! — It must be admitted that many capricious fancies, many failings and errors may arise in men’s endeavours towards perfection. What very often appears to be the principle of development adopted among anthroposophists does not by any means always call for admiration. Behind this striving there is often a great deal of hidden egoism.

On the other side it must be emphasised that we are living in an epoch of civilisation when devoted willingness for sacrifice only too often goes to waste. Although lack of love is in evidence everywhere, there is also an enormous waste of love and willingness for sacrifice. This must not be misunderstood; but it should be realised that love, if it is not accompanied by wisdom in the conduct of life, by wise insight into the existing conditions, can be very misplaced and therefore harmful rather than beneficial. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 135 – REINCARNATION AND KARMA THEIR SIGNIFICANCE IN MODERN CULTURE 4. Examples of the working of karma between two incarnations – Stuttgart, 21 February 1912 

Translated from shorthand reports unrevised by the lecturer, by D.S.   Osmond, C. Davy and S. and E. F. Derry.

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Egoistic love must also exist

Where the cause of love lies not in the one who loves but in the object of love, this form and kind of love in the sense world is absolute proof against every luciferic influence. But now if you observe human life, you will soon see that another kind of love is playing its part, in which a person loves because he himself has certain qualities that feel satisfied, or charmed, or delighted, when he can love this or that other being. Here he loves for his own sake; he loves because his disposition is thus or so, and this particular disposition finds its satisfaction in loving someone else.

This love, which one can call egoistic love, must also exist. It really has to be present in mankind. Everything we can love in the spiritual world, all the spiritual facts, everything that love can cause to live in us as a longing for and an impulse upwards into the spiritual world, to comprehend the beings of the spiritual world, to perceive the spiritual world: all this springs naturally from a sentient love for that world. This love for the spiritual, however, must — not may but must — come about necessarily for our own sake. We are beings whose roots are in the spiritual world. It is our duty to make ourselves as perfect as we can. For our own sake we must love the spiritual world in order to draw as many forces as possible out of it into our own being. In spiritual love a personal, individual element — we can call it egoistic — is fully justified, for it detaches man from the sense world; it leads him upwards into the spiritual world; it leads him on to fulfill the necessary duty of continually bringing himself further and further towards perfection.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 147 – Secrets of the Threshold – Lecture 2 – Munich, 25th August 1913

Translated by Ruth Pusch

Previously posted on april 9, 2020

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Kamaloka – The positive develops out of the negative (3 – End)

I thus realise all the effects of my deeds and thereby absorb the force to wipe them away. And during this time in Kamaloka — which lasts a third of the earth-life — I absorb all the forces which may be expressed as an intense longing in the now disembodied soul, to remove everything which destroys perfection by retarding the soul’s evolution. 

If you ponder over this you will see that man himself makes his own Karma, that is, that he has in himself the wish to become such that everything undesirable may be wiped out. Thus is Karma prepared, during this particular time. We incorporate into our souls the force which we must take up between death and rebirth, in order to bring about in the next incarnation that configuration of our life which we are able to regard as the right one. This is how Karma is created. […] 

For the positive develops out of the negative. Through insight into that which we have done, we develop the power of making compensation.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 157a – The Forming of Destiny and Life after Death: LECTURE 2: ON THE FORMING OF DESTINY – Berlin, 18th November, 1915

Translated by Harry Collison

Previously posted on May 4, 2018