These questions about all possible sorts of things made me as a boy very lonely

Toward Wiener-Neustadt and farther on toward Styria, the mountains fall away to a level country. Through this level country the Laytha River winds its way. On the slope of the mountains there was a cloister of the Order of the Most Holy Redeemer. I often met the monks on my walks. I still remember how glad I should have been if they had spoken to me. They never did. And so I carried away from these meetings an undefined but solemn feeling which remained constantly with me for a long time. It was in my ninth year that the idea became fixed in me that there must be weighty matters in connection with the duties of these monks which I ought to learn to understand. There again I was filled with questions which I had to carry around unanswered. Indeed, these questions about all possible sorts of things made me as a boy very lonely.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 28 – The Story of My Life – Chapter I

44bb7bf1-764c-4419-a3e0-bfb8530ea6e9

Previously posted  om May 30, 2014

Advertisement

Mobility of thoughts

I was overjoyed recently when I read that there are still people who, going beyond the ordinary routine of life, have already perceived the practical life as something important. Recently a news item spread through the world, describing how Edison tested the people he wished to prepare for some sort of practical work. It did not interest him at all whether or not a merchant was able to keep books. That, he said, can be learned in three weeks if one is a reasonable, intelligent person. None of these specialties interested him at all; these one can learn. 

When Edison wished to know whether people would be of any use in practical life, however, he tested them by asking them questions like, “How large is Siberia?” Thus when he wished to discover whether someone was a good bookkeeper, Edison did not ask whether he could conduct an audit properly, but he asked, “How large is Siberia?” or “If a room is five meters long, three meters wide, and four meters high, how many cubic meters of air are contained in this room?” and similar questions. He posed questions like, “What is standing at the place where Caesar crossed the Rubicon?” and so on, just general questions. And according to the extent to which a person could answer such questions, Edison hired him as a bookkeeper, or whatever. He knew that if a person could answer such a general question this was a proof that his schooling had not been in vain, that as a child he had developed mobile thoughts, and this is what Edison demanded.

This is how practical life really should be conducted, whereas in recent times we have steered precisely in the opposite direction, succumbing more and more to specialization, so that finally one could really despair of finding the people needed for practical life. It is impossible to get anyone to do something outside the pigeonhole into which he wants to fit. Already today it must be said that in this way too we must work toward the mobility of thoughts. If there is such a working toward the mobility of thoughts, then these thoughts will not harden, and Ahriman will be in a difficult position.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 205 – Therapeutic Insights: Earthly and Cosmic Laws – Dornach, July 3, 1921

Translations by May Laird-Brown, Alice Wulsin and Gerald Karnow

Previously posted on January 18, 2020

gettyimages-615312634

Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931)

The greatest medical art lies in asking the right questions and in being familiar with the patient

With truly effective remedies it is important that the doctor knows not only what medicine cures what disease but also what questions to ask the patient. The greatest medical art lies in asking the right questions and in being familiar with the patient. This is extremely important. 

Yet it is strange, for example, that we meet doctors who frequently have not even asked the patient his age, though this is significant. While he may use the same remedies, a doctor can treat a fifty-year old in a manner completely different from the way he treats one who is forty, for example. They should not be so schematic as to say, “This medication is right for this illness.” For instance, it makes a great difference if you want to cure someone who is constantly afflicted with diarrhoea or someone who has chronic constipation.

Such remedies could be tested, and here experiments with animals would be much less objectionable than they are in other areas. Regarding constipation or diarrhoea, you can easily learn how some remedy reacts in the general physical organism that men have in common with the animals by giving the same medicine to both a dog and a cat. The dog regularly suffers from constipation, and the cat from diarrhoea. You can acquire a wonderful knowledge by observing the degree of difference in the medication’s effect in the dog or the cat. 

Scientific knowledge really is not attained by university training in how to do this or that with certain instruments. True science results, rather, when common sense is aroused a little; then people know how they must conduct their experiments.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 348 – Health and Illness I: Lecture IX: Why do We Become Sick? – Dornach, December 27, 1922

Questions concerning the meaning and significance of life must remain unanswered if there be no access to supersensible worlds

Anyone attempting an exposition of the results of spiritual science as recorded in this book must, above all, take into account the fact that at present these results are universally looked upon as something quite impossible. For things are said in the following exposition that the supposedly exact thinking of our age affirms to be “probably entirely indeterminable by human intelligence.”

He who knows and appreciates the reasons why so many earnest persons are lead to maintain this impossibility will wish to make ever new attempts to show the misconceptions upon which is based the belief that entrance into supersensible worlds is denied to human knowledge. […]

Any human soul, by reflecting deeply, will in the long run be unable to disregard the fact that its most important questions concerning the meaning and significance of life must remain unanswered if there be no access to supersensible worlds. We may theoretically deceive ourselves about this fact, but the depths of the soul-life will not tolerate this self-delusion.

If we do not wish to listen to these depths of the soul, we shall naturally reject any statement about supersensible worlds. Yet there are human beings — really not few in number — who find it impossible to remain deaf to the demands coming from these soul depths. Such people must always knock at the door that conceals, according to the opinion of others, the “inconceivable.”

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 13 – An Outline of Occult Science: Preface fourth edition

Translated by Maud and Henry B. Monges and revised for this edition by Lisa D. Monges

Previously posted on July 23, 2016

Questions concerning the meaning and significance of life must remain unanswered if there be no access to supersensible worlds

Anyone attempting an exposition of the results of spiritual science as recorded in this book must, above all, take into account the fact that at present these results are universally looked upon as something quite impossible. For things are said in the following exposition that the supposedly exact thinking of our age affirms to be “probably entirely indeterminable by human intelligence.” He who knows and appreciates the reasons why so many earnest persons are lead to maintain this impossibility will wish to make ever new attempts to show the misconceptions upon which is based the belief that entrance into supersensible worlds is denied to human knowledge. […] Any human soul, by reflecting deeply, will in the long run be unable to disregard the fact that its most important questions concerning the meaning and significance of life must remain unanswered if there be no access to supersensible worlds. We may theoretically deceive ourselves about this fact, but the depths of the soul-life will not tolerate this self-delusion. — If we do not wish to listen to these depths of the soul, we shall naturally reject any statement about supersensible worlds. Yet there are human beings — really not few in number — who find it impossible to remain deaf to the demands coming from these soul depths. Such people must always knock at the door that conceals, according to the opinion of others, the “inconceivable.”

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 13 – An Outline of Occult Science: Preface fourth edition

Previously posted on September 10, 2014