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 up 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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If students are apt to be bored

If students are apt to be bored by what they have to listen to in preparation for their medical studies, it is not the fault of the natural science but of those who expound it. We should never speak of science as “boring,” but rather of “boring” professors! Truly the fault does not lie with science, for science has undoubtedly good solid matter to offer. However God-forsaken are many of those who expound science to-day, science herself has the co-operation of good Spirits.

When, however, we turn from these achievements of genuine and scholarly research and listen to what psychologists and philosophers have to say about the soul or the eternal part of man, we very soon realise that, apart from what has come from earlier traditions, it is all words, words, words, which lead nowhither. If out of the deepest needs of his soul a man turns to-day to psychology or philosophy, he will not merely be bored, he will find nothing whatever to answer his questions.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 231 – Supersensible Man: Lecture I – The Hague, 13th November 1923

Translated by Mary Adams

One-sided truth

To say something that is incorrect is not the worst thing that can happen, for the world itself will soon put one right about it; but it is really serious to regard a one-sided truth as the absolute truth and to persist in so regarding it. […] It is always essential to look at truths not only from the one side but also from the other. The fault of most philosophers is not that they say what is false — in many cages their assertions cannot be refuted because they do state truths — but that they make statements which are due to things having been viewed from one side only.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 119 – Macrocosm and Microcosm: LECTURE SIX: Experiences of Initiation in the Northern Mysteries – Vienna, 26th March 1910

Previously posted on January 21, 2014

One-sided truths

To say something that is incorrect is not the worst thing that can happen, for the world itself will soon put one right about it; but it is really serious to regard a one-sided truth as the absolute truth and to persist in so regarding it. […] It is always essential to look at truths not only from the one side but also from the other. The fault of most philosophers is not that they say what is false — in many cases their assertions cannot be refuted because they do state truths — but that they make statements which are due to things having been viewed from one side only. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 119 – Macrocosm and Microcosm – Lecture 6 – Experiences of Initiation in the Northern Mysteries – Vienna, 26th March 1910

All religions are equally justified revelations of the great truths of initiation  

We find the most varied religions spread out over the earth, all of which point back to this or that founder. We find first the Krishna religion, leading back to Krishna; second, the Buddha religion, leading back to Buddha; third, the ancient Hebrew religion, leading back to Moses; and we find Christianity, leading back to Jesus of Nazareth. The religions having all flowed out of initiation, we must be quite clear that we cannot today take the position taken by the philosophers of religion who consider themselves “enlightened.” The philosophers of comparative religion have a secret outlook on religions; they regard them all either as false or as childish stages of human development. But we, as anthroposophists, since we learn to know that the religions are only different formulations of the truths of initiation, are in a position to grasp the true and not the false in the various religious systems. We do justice to all the religious systems in comparison with one another. We regard them as equally justified revelations of the great truths of initiation.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 143 – The Three Paths of the Soul to Christ – Lecture II: The Path of Initiation – Stockholm, 17th April 1912