Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions

In human beings who perish as a result of earthquakes or volcanic eruptions one notices, during their next incarnation, inner qualities which are quite different. They bring from birth great spiritual pre-dispositions because, through their death, they were brought in touch with forces which showed them the true nature of reality and the illusion of material life.

Source: Rudolf Steiner  – GA 94 – An Esoteric Cosmology – Lecture XVI: Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Human Will – Paris, 12th June 1906

Translated by René Querido



Previously posted on May 13, 2018


Certain instincts and needs of our innermost being in particular mislead us into deceiving ourselves about our own being. Take the case of a person who is terribly vain, who suffers from a form of megalomania. Such people are by no means few in number.

[…] Vanity and megalomania exist in many souls who have not the very slightest inkling that it is so.

Megalomania gives rise to many wishes …[..] — these wishes do not become conscious, they remain wholly in the depths. Such a person may wish to exercise a controlling influence upon someone else, but because he would have to admit that this desire for control over the other is born of vanity and megalomania, he will not admit it.

[,,,] such a person never gets to the point of saying to himself: ‘What I have in me, producing the desire for action, is really vanity, megalomania.’

[…] In connection with a series of actions, a man once said to me that he had done them out of an iron sense of duty, out of infinite devotion to the cause he represented. I was bound to say to him in reply: “The opinion you have about the motives of your procedure and of your actions is no criterion whatever. Only reality is the criterion, not the opinion one may have. The reality shows that the impulse, the urge to these actions was to gain influence in a certain direction.” I said to the man quite baldly: “Although you believe that you are acting out of an iron sense of duty, you are really acting under the impulse to acquire influence and you misinterpret this way of acting as being selfless, done purely out of a sense of duty. You are not acting out of this motive but because it pleases you to act so, because it brings you certain pleasure – again, therefore, out of a certain inner impulse.”

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 161 – The Problem of Death: Lecture 1 – Dornach, February 5, 1915

See also: Apparent motives and real motives

Bust by David Dozier

Egotism and Altruism

Under certain circumstances, what is called love may, however, be very self-seeking. Observation of life will show how often what is called love is self-seeking. But an egotism extended beyond the person may also be very selfless, that is, it may protect, cherish and take care of what belongs to it.

By such examples as these, my dear friends, we ought to learn that life cannot be parcelled out according to ideas. We talk of egotism and altruism, and we can make very beautiful systems with such ideas as egotism and altruism. But facts tear such systems to pieces; for when egotism so extends its interests to what is around it that it considers this as part of itself, and thus cherishes and takes care of it, it then becomes selflessness; and when altruism becomes such that it only wishes to make the whole world happy according to its own ideas, when it wishes to impress its thoughts and feelings on the whole world with all its might, and wishes to adopt the axiom, ‘If you will not be my brother, I will break your head,’ then even altruism may become very self-seeking. The reality which lives in forces and in facts cannot be enclosed in ideas, and a great part of that which runs counter to human progress lies in the fact that in immature heads and immature minds there arises again and again the belief that the reality can in some way be bottled up in ideas.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 145 – The Effect of Occult Development Upon the Self and the Sheaths of Man – Lecture VII – The Hague, 26th March 1913

Translated by Harry Collison

Previously posted on February 2, 2018