The grasp of life given by Anthroposophy is in the highest sense practical. The light it throws on questions of education will be deeply useful to humanity long before people are clairvoyant, and long before a person attains to direct vision he can convince himself that in Anthroposophy the truth about life is to be found.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual ScienceVI: THE UPBRINGING OF CHILDREN. KARMA. – Stuttgart, August 27, 1906

Translated by E.H. Goddard & Charles Davy

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Practical thinking

Whenever anything really practical has been invented, it has been done by a person without practical knowledge of that particular subject. Take, for instance, the modern postage stamp. It would be most natural to assume that it was invented by some practical post office official. It was not. At the beginning of the last century it was a complicated affair to mail a letter. In order to dispatch a letter one had to go to the nearest receiving office where various books had to be referred to and many other formalities complied with. The uniform rate of postage known today is hardly sixty years old, and our present postage stamp that makes this possible was not invented by a practical postal employee at all but by someone completely outside the post office. This was the Englishman, Rowland Hill


Rowland Hill

After the uniform system of postage stamps had been devised, the English minister who then had charge of the mails declared in Parliament that one could not assume any simplification of the system would increase the volume of mail as the impractical Hill anticipated. Even if it did, the London post office would be entirely inadequate to handle the increased volume. It never occurred to this highly “practical” individual that the post office must be fitted to the amount of business, not the business to the size of the post office. Indeed, in the shortest possible time this idea, which an “impractical” man had to defend against a “practical” authority, became a fact. Today, stamps are used everywhere as a matter of course for sending letters.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 108 – Practical Training In Thought – Carlsruhe, January 18, 1909

Translated by Henry B. Monges and revised by Gilbert Church, Ph.D.

The mission of  spiritual knowledge is to permeate, not to escape from material existence

It has only been possible to give a very bare outline of this subject. Abundant literature exists today and is at the disposal of everybody. In one brief lecture I have only been able to indicate certain guiding lines, but what has been said will to some extent show you that anthroposophical knowledge of the super-sensible worlds has not the slightest tendency to be remote from the world, to be unpractical. It does not wish to lead human beings in their egotism into vapid castles in the air; on the contrary, it holds that to alienate a man from the world would be to sin against the Spiritual. The Spirit is only truly within our grasp when the flow of its power makes us practical and capable human beings.

The Spirit is creative; the mission of the Spirit is to permeate, not to escape from material existence. Anthroposophical knowledge of the super-sensible worlds is therefore at the same time a power in practical life. Hence — as I shall show in other lectures here in Christiania — Anthroposophy strives to enrich the several sciences, the life of art, as well the domains of practical life, with all that knowledge of the reality of higher worlds can add to the things of the material world.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 79 – On the Reality of Higher Worlds – Christiania (Oslo), November 25, 1921

Translation by D. S. Osmond

Previously posted on March 6, 2017

Every form of life is spiritual

You will understand the physical world, only if you learn to know the spiritual world. Spiritual science is not meant for cranks, but for the most practical of the practical! Every form of life is spiritual. Even as ice is condensed water, so matter is condensed spirit. Mineral, plant, animal, or man — each is a condensed form of the spirit.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 100 – Theosophy and Rosicrucianism: Lecture I – Kassel, 16th June 1907

For the truly practical person it is not important what the contents of the thoughts are, but the activity they bring about

It is not the theories that have significance, but the habits of thought. For the truly practical person it is not important what the contents of the thoughts are, but the activity they bring about. That is what it is all about. It does not matter whether someone is an idealist, but what is important in life is that one’s thoughts are fruitful, that they stimulate life and bring progress.

It must be kept in mind that Spiritual Science does not want to have any part in one or the other dogma or belief system. It is of no importance that someone has many spiritual theories, but that these ideas are fruitful when applied to life. When someone declares that they are not materialistic and believe in the force of life, even in the spirit, but at the same time treat the human being like a gigantic test tube when considering nutritional matters, his worldview cannot bear fruit. Spiritual Science can only bring adequate answers to concrete questions when it is able to penetrate the details – and it is indeed able to shed light on nutritional as well as health issues.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 57 – Wo und wie findet man den Geist? – Berlin, December 17, 1908 (p. 172-173)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on August 2, 2014