Just reading is not enough

This book (Theosophy) cannot be read in the customary manner of the present day. In certain respects every page, and even many sentences, will have to be worked out by the reader. This has been aimed at intentionally because only in this way can the book become to the reader what it ought to be. The one who merely reads it through will not have read it at all. Its truths must be experienced, lived. Only in this sense has spiritual science any value.

The book cannot be judged from the standpoint of science if the point of view adopted in forming such a judgment is not gained from the book itself. If the critic will adopt this point of view, he will certainly see that the presentation of the facts given in this book will in no way conflict with truly scientific methods. The author is satisfied that he has taken care not to come into conflict with his own scientific scrupulousness even by a single word.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 9 – Theosophy – An Introduction to the Supersensible Knowledge of the World and the Destination of Man: From the prefaces to the first, second and third editions

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

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Helping the dead

A person has died. During his lifetime for [one] reason or another he did not concern himself with spiritual science. The one who remains behind on earth can know by means of spiritual science that the deceased has a burning thirst for spiritual science. Now if the one who remains behind concerns himself with thoughts of a spiritual nature as if the dead were there with him, he performs a great service to him. We can actually read to the dead. That enables the gulf that exists between the living and the dead to be bridged.

The two worlds, the physical and the spiritual, are severed by materialism. Consider how their union will take hold of life itself! When spiritual science does not remain mere theory but becomes a life impulse as it should, there will not be separation but immediate communication. By reading to the dead we can enter in immediate connection with them and help them. The one who has avoided spiritual science will continue to feel the anguish of longing for it unless we help him. We can assist him from the earth if such a longing is at all present. By this means the living can help the dead.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 140 – Life Between Death and Rebirth: VII: The Working of Karma in Life After Death – Bern, December 15, 1912

Previously posted on April 25, 2017

In the first place

When we accustom ourselves to consider without prejudice the method and nature of modern thought, and see how powerful it is in all the varied conditions of life, we can then form some picture of what we have to do and of what mankind stands in need. We must in the first place overcome all tendency to slackness, all love of sloth and laziness, we must see clearly that a spiritual-scientific movement has duties other than that of merely listening to lectures or reading books.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 165 – ON THE DUTY OF CLEAR, SOUND THINKING – Dornach, 1st January 1916

About learning to read too early, calcification and baldness 

A child that learns to read too early in life, is introduced to abstraction too soon. And one would do many a future sufferer from sclerosis a service if one would not teach them to read too early. This hardening of the organism which manifests in the most diverse forms of sclerosis, can be traced back to children learning to read too soon. Of course, there are many other reasons why these symptoms occur. The point is that these things happen and that a more natural method of teaching, from out of the forces of soul and spirit, works in a healing way on the body. If you understand how you must give form to your educating activities, then you understand at the same time how you can help the child towards the best health for its future life. And you can be very sure: if healthier methods prevailed in the current school system, then many a male would not walk around with a bald head so early in life.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 306 – Die pädagogische Praxis – Dornach, April 18, 1923 (page 82)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on December 7, 2017

Why does the human being not remember his former incarnations?

Why does the human being not remember his former incarnations? Put like this, this question makes little sense. You will understand in a moment why I say this. It is as if someone says: ‘human beings call themselves human beings; in front of us stands a four-year-old child that can’t count’. Then he continues to say: ‘this child cannot count, however if it is a human being so that means humans cannot count.’ It is, however, a matter of development. At some stage in life every person will come to a point which advanced students have already reached, namely the ability to recall past lives; If he cannot remember anything, then he has to acquire this skill first just like the child acquires the skill of reading, doing arithmetic and writing. The person must not unconsciously let destiny pass him by if he intends to let his experiences lead him towards the point where he can remember earlier lives on earth.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 054 – Berlijn, Die Welträtsel und die Anthroposophie – February 15,  1906 (page 300)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on August 5, 2016