The way to regard a criminal

If I am a teacher, and my pupil does not fulfill my expectations, I must not divert my resentment against him but against myself. I must feel myself as one with my pupil, to the extent of asking myself: “Is my pupil’s deficiency not the result of my own action?” Instead of directing my feelings against him I shall rather reflect on my own attitude, so that the pupil may in the future be better able to satisfy my demands. Proceeding from such an attitude, a change will come over the student’s whole way of thinking. 

This holds good in all things, great or small. Such an attitude of mind, for instance, alters the way I regard a criminal. I suspend my judgment and say to myself: “I am, like him, only a human being. Through favorable circumstances I received an education which perhaps alone saved me from a similar fate.” I may then also come to the conclusion that this human brother of mine would have become a different man had my teachers taken the same pains with him they took with me. I shall reflect on the fact that something was given to me which was withheld from him, that I enjoy my fortune precisely because it was denied him. And then I shall naturally come to think of myself as a link in the whole of humanity and a sharer in the responsibility for everything that occurs.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 10 – Knowledge of the Higher Worlds: V: The Conditions of Esoteric Training

Translated by George Metaxa

rudolfsteinerlecture2011_07-2013_08_19-08_19_05-utc

Painting by David Newbatt

Previously posted on December 24, 2017

No one should imagine himself to be better than others

Anthroposophists must feel part of the whole and, to some extent, responsible for all that happens. […] No one should imagine himself to be good or even much better than other people. We must be permeated by the thought that we can’t be much better than others. What is the advantage of making a few happy when our lifestyle reduces many to unhappiness? Ignorance is the root of suffering. Ignorant as we often are, we help sharpen the knife for those who use it for evil.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 266a – Aus den Inhalten der esoterischen Stunden – Berlin, 15 February 1904 (page 34-35)

Anonymous translator

Previously posted on August 26, 2017

Man helps his fellowmen best when he lives soberly

Man thinks little about how he stands in social contexts and how responsible he is for what he does. If we take things seriously, we must feel responsible for what we do. One helps his fellowmen best when he  becomes undemanding. Someone with a few needs helps his fellowmen more than if he were a philanthropist. For example, one who does not write unnecessary letters, saves that some people might have to climb many stairs. It is a great mistake to believe that having many requirements helps people by providing them with more work. Giving people work does not increase in the least what they need.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 97 – Das christliche Mysterium – Cologne, November 30, 1906 (page 196-197)

Anonymous translator

Previously posted on May 12, 2016

The way to regard a criminal

If I am a teacher, and my pupil does not fulfill my expectations, I must not divert my resentment against him but against myself. I must feel myself as one with my pupil, to the extent of asking myself: “Is my pupil’s deficiency not the result of my own action?” Instead of directing my feelings against him I shall rather reflect on my own attitude, so that the pupil may in the future be better able to satisfy my demands. Proceeding from such an attitude, a change will come over the student’s whole way of thinking.

This holds good in all things, great or small. Such an attitude of mind, for instance, alters the way I regard a criminal. I suspend my judgment and say to myself: “I am, like him, only a human being. Through favorable circumstances I received an education which perhaps alone saved me from a similar fate.” I may then also come to the conclusion that this human brother of mine would have become a different man had my teachers taken the same pains with him they took with me. I shall reflect on the fact that something was given to me which was withheld from him, that I enjoy my fortune precisely because it was denied him. And then I shall naturally come to think of myself as a link in the whole of humanity and a sharer in the responsibility for everything that occurs.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 10 – Knowledge of the Higher Worlds: V: The Conditions of Esoteric Training

Translated by George Metaxa

All development which takes place out of self-interest is evil and reprehensible

There is no higher development without other [development] being thrust down into the depths. The mineral, plant and animal kingdoms were thrust down in this way. Whoever develops himself upwards, takes upon himself a tremendous responsibility, that is the great tragedy; the corollary of every saint is that a great number of beings are thrust down.

There would be no development if this kind of thrusting down did not take place. A man must continually thrust others down, as he develops himself upwards. That is why all development which takes place out of self-interest is evil and reprehensible; it is only justifiable if done for the development of other beings. Only he who would raise up those who have been thrust down is fit for development.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 93 – The Temple Legend: Lecture 14: CONCERNING THE LOST TEMPLE AND HOW IT IS TO BE RESTORED – Berlin, 5th June 1905

Translated by John M. Wood