Spiritual scientific insights / Practice of everyday life

The quest for insight only for the sake of gaining insight would be egotistical. Whoever searches for cognizance in order to acquire vision of higher worlds is acting selfishly. But he who wants to apply this insight directly in the practice of everyday life is working on the continuation of the evolution of future mankind. It is very important to learn how to transform spiritual scientific insights ever more energetically into practical deed.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 99 – Die Theosophie des Rosenkreuzers – München, 5 juni 1907 (page 150)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on October 12, 2015

theory-into-practice-sign

Compassion/Knowledge/Practice

Suppose a man is lying in the road with a broken leg. If fourteen people stand around him pityingly but not one of them is able to help, the whole fourteen together are of less importance than a fifteenth who comes, perhaps, without any sentimentality at all, but is able to and actually does deal with the broken leg.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 99 – Theosophy of the Rosicrucian: 1 – The New Form of Wisdom – Munich, 22nd May 1907

Translated by M. Cotterell & D.S. Osmond

Previously posted on June 16, 2016

illustration of Man with a broken leg

Spiritual truths are best recognized in their fruits

If the knowledge of Anthroposophy were applied in practical spheres like education, the idle talk that this knowledge has first to be proved would quickly disappear. Whoever applies it correctly, will find that the knowledge of Anthroposophy proves itself in life by making life strong and healthy. He will see it to be true in that it holds good in life and practice, and in this he will find a proof stronger than all the logical and so-called scientific arguments can afford. Spiritual truths are best recognized in their fruits and not by what is called a proof, be this ever so scientific; such proof can indeed hardly be more than logical skirmishing.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 34 – The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy

Translated by George and Mary Adams

Previously posted on November 5, 2016

A Working-man in America

An uncommonly interesting book has recently appeared, A Working-man in America (Als Arbeiter in Amerika, pub. Sigismund, Berlin). The author is State-Councillor Kolb, who had the enterprise to spend several months as a common worker in America. In this way he acquired a discrimination of men and of life which was obviously neither to be obtained along the educational paths that led to councillorship, nor from the mass of experience which he was able to accumulate in such a position and in all the other posts that a man fills before he becomes a Councillor of State. He was thus for years in a position of considerable responsibility; and yet, not until he had left this, and lived — just a short while — in a foreign land, did he learn the knowledge of life that enabled him to write the following memorable sentence in his book: “How often, in old days, when I saw a sound, sturdy man begging, had I not asked, in righteous indignation: Why doesn’t the lazy rascal work? I knew now, why. The fact is, it looks quite different in theory from what it does in practice; and at the study table one can deal quite comfortably with even the most unsavory chapters of political economy.

To prevent any possible misunderstanding, let it be said at once, that no one can feel anything but the warmest appreciation for a man who could bring himself to leave a comfortable position in life, in order to go and do hard labor in a brewery and a bicycle factory. It is a deed worthy of all respect, and it must be duly emphasized, lest it should be imagined that any disparagement is intended of the man who did it. Nevertheless, for anyone who will face the facts, it is unmistakably evident that all this man’s book-learning, all the schooling he had been through, had not given him the ability to read life.

Just try and realize all that is involved in such an admission! One may learn everything which, in these days, qualifies one to hold posts of considerable influence; and yet, with it all, one may be quite remote and aloof from that life where one’s sphere of action lies. Is it not much the same, as though a man were to go through a course of training in bridge construction, and then, when called upon actually to build a bridge, had no notion how to set about it? And yet, no! — it is not quite the same. Anyone who is not properly trained for bridge building will soon be enlightened as to his deficiencies when he comes to actual practice. He will soon show himself to be a bungler and find his services generally declined. But when a man is not properly trained for his work in social life, his deficiencies are not so readily demonstrated. A badly built bridge breaks down; and then even the most prejudiced can see that he who built it was a bungler. But the bungling that goes on in social work is not so directly apparent. It only shows itself in the suffering of one’s fellow-men. And the connection between this suffering and bungling is not one that people recognize as readily as the connection between the breakdown of a bridge and the incompetent bridge builder.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 34 – Anthroposophy and the Social Question – Part 1 (essay which first appeared in the journal “Lucifer-Gnosis”, October 1905/1906 – translated by Harry Collison)

Previously posted on October 17, 2014

Theories have no practical value

Nowadays people feel pleased with themselves when they hear Goethe’s maxim: matter in spirit, spirit in matter. – It is good that people feel comfortable with this saying, because after all, it really corresponds to reality. But for those who are used to seeing the spiritual and the physical together everywhere, it can also be a triviality, if one exhorts him to recognise that which is a matter-of fact truth. And when people feel so pleased with such a theoretical aphorism that is drawn up for them, it just proves that they do not themselves possess the reality that is expressed in the theory. As a rule, categorically stated theories are proof that we have not made it our own in practical life, as history shows. People only started to discuss theories about the Lord’s Supper, when they no longer could muster the necessary feeling for it in practice. Theories are generally drawn up for what we do not have in life, not for what we do have.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 303 – Die gesunde Entwickelung des Menschenwesens – Eine Einführung in die anthroposophische Pädagogik und Didaktik – Dornach, 28 December 1921 (page 103-104)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger