Spiritual Knowledge/Selflessness

We do not, as a rule, find that the pursuit of purely intellectual knowledge has any specific effect on character; but when a man has probed to the heart of spiritual knowledge, he knows that he cannot apprehend such knowledge without its affecting his character, without its entering — to speak in a paradox — into the flesh and blood of his soul, developing in him an inclination to selflessness, to love.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 231 – Spiritual Knowledge: A Way of Life – The Hague, November 16th, 1923

Translated by Mary Adams


Previously posted on October 20, 2017


Education in Selflessness

We can search through the entire evolution of the world without finding a deeper understanding of selflessness than that offered by Christ’s appearance upon earth. To know Christ is to go through the school of unselfishness, and to become acquainted with all those incentives to human development that fall gently into our souls, warming and animating every unselfish inclination within us, arousing it from passive to active soul life.
Under the influence of materialism the natural unselfishness of mankind was lost to an extent that will be fully realized only in the distant future. But by contemplating the Mystery of Golgotha, by permeating our knowledge of it with all our feeling, we may acquire again, with our whole soul-being, an education in selflessness.


Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 152 – The Four Sacrifices of Christ – Basel, June 1, 1914

Translated by May Laird-Brown, and edited for this edition by Gilbert Church, Ph.D.

Previously posted on May 5, 2017

About morality and empathy

All moral deeds can be traced back to selflessness, all immoral acts to egotism. Only in ordinary life, a true moral assessment is concealed by the fact that one can be immoral, filled with selfish motives, but still follow the conventional moral rules. However, these are not his own rules at all. He acts according to how he was taught to behave, or because he is ashamed of what others will think. His behaviour is determined in the same way a link is inserted into a chain. 

But true morality is part of the human individuality, lives in him. Right actions result from the interest in the other person. Through interest, we acquire the ability to feel and experience what others feel and experience as if it happens to ourselves; the immoral in its origin manifest, where man closes himself off, where he does not feel what other people feel. 

Good thinking means one can place oneself in the position of the other person; wrong thinking means there is an inability to transpose oneself in the situation of the other. This inability can become law, can develop into conventional rules. One can either be ashamed or not ashamed when following these rules. As a result, what is selfishness can be significantly hidden under the rules of convention. One cannot assess a person’s moral value by how he acts in a given situation; one has to look deeper into the human character, into human nature to be able to judge the actual moral value of a human being.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 221 – Erdenwissen und Himmelserkenntnis – Dornach, February 17, 1923 (page 117-118)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

The effect of the spiritual knowledge on the character

The effect upon character is one of the most important results that can accrue from spiritual knowledge. Abstract intellectual knowledge is like an artificial root; it has been constructed by the intellect — no plant can grow from it. This is true of all the scientific knowledge that men respect and revere to-day, useful though it be, and by no means to be disparaged. From a real root grows a real plant; and from a real knowledge, whereby man can unite his spirit with the Spirits of the World, grows little by little the complete man who knows what true selflessness — selfless love — is, and what egoism is, and from this understanding derives impulses to act and work in life — the impulse, where it is right, to be selfless; or again, where he perhaps has need to draw forth something from his own being in preparation for life — there, openly, without any disguise, to develop egoism.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 231 – Spiritual Knowledge: A Way of Life – The Hague, 16th November 1923

Translated by Mary Adams

Prfeviously posted on August 30, 2016

Equally glad

In the universal pattern it is of no importance whether something happens through us or through another person. […] How glad every individual feels that he is capable, that he can do it. A certain resignation is necessary for us to feel equally glad when someone else can and does do something. One should not love something because one has done it oneself, but love it because it is in the world irrespective of whether he or someone else has done it. If we repeatedly ponder this thought it will lead most certainly to selflessness.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 140 – Life Between Death and Rebirth – IV – Vienna, 3rd November 1912

Translated by Rene Querido

Previously posted on December 21, 2016