Moderation and health

One can be impulsive because one eats or drinks too much. This is the lowest kind of impulsiveness. There the astral completely sinks into the bodily desire, and we completely enjoy life in our body. If, however, we control our desire, if we almost order the body what he has to do or not, then we are temperate, one can also say moderate. Then we keep by such moderation those forces in the correct order which should help that we do not deliver the concerning organs to Lucifer in the next incarnation. Since we deliver the forces to Lucifer, which we spend to a passionate life. Most badly when the passions transport us into a state of drunkenness, when we feel well with dozing.

Where we lose our temperance, we always deliver forces to Lucifer. He takes these forces, but with them, he also takes the forces from us we need for the respiratory and the digestive organs. We return then with bad respiratory and digestive organs if we do not practice the virtue of moderation. Those who like to be captivated by their life of passions, who dedicate themselves to their passionate life, are the candidates for the decadent people of the future, for those people of the future who will suffer from all possible shortcomings of their physical bodies.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 159 – The Mystery of Death – Zurich, 31st January 1915

Previously posted on May 29, 2016

Interest and understanding instead of criticism

Only a genuine concern of each man for his neighbour can bring salvation to mankind in the future — I mean to his community life. The characteristic feature of the epoch of the Consciousness Soul is man’s isolation. That he is inwardly isolated from his neighbour is the consequence of individuality, of the development of personality. But this separative tendency must have a reciprocal pole and this counterpole must consist in the cultivation of an active concern of every man for his neighbour.

This awakening of an active concern for others must be developed ever more consciously in the epoch of the Consciousness Soul. Amongst the fundamental impulses indicated in my book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds. How is it achieved? you will find mentioned the impulse which, when applied to social life, aims at enhancing understanding for others. You will find frequent mention of ‘positiveness,’ the need to develop a positive attitude. The majority of men today will certainly have to foreswear their present ways if they wish to develop this positive attitude, for at the moment they have not the slightest notion what it means. When they perceive something in their neighbour which displeases them — I do not mean something to which they have given careful consideration, but something which from a superficial angle meets with their disapproval — they immediately begin to criticize, without attempting to put themselves in their neighbour’s skin. It is highly anti-social from the point of view of the future evolution of mankind — this may perhaps seem paradoxical, but it is none the less true — to harbour these tendencies and to approach one’s neighbour with undisguised sympathy or antipathy. On the other hand the finest and most important social attribute in the future will be the development of a scientific objective understanding of the shortcomings of others, when we are more interested in their shortcomings than in our concern to criticize them.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 185 – From Symptom to Reality in Modern History – Lecture IV – Dornach, 25th October 1918

Translated by A.H. Parker

Previously posted on June 4, 2015

The six basic exercises – 6. Harmony

Thus we have named five capacities of the soul that the student must make his own by correct training: Control of the direction of thought; control of the impulses of will; calmness in joy and sorrow; positiveness in judging the world; impartiality in our attitude toward life. Anyone who has employed certain consecutive periods of time for the purpose of acquiring these capacities will still be subject to the necessity of bringing them into harmonious concord in his soul. He will be under the necessity of practicing them simultaneously, in pairs, or three and one, and so forth, in order to bring about harmony.

The exercises just characterized are indicated by the methods of spiritual training because by being conscientiously carried out they not only effect in the student what has been designated above as a direct result, but indirectly much else follows, which is needed on the path to the spiritual worlds. Whoever carries out these exercises to a sufficient degree will encounter in the process many shortcomings and defects in his soul-life, and he will find precisely the means required by him for strengthening and safeguarding his intellectual life, his life of feeling, and his character.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 13 – An Outline of Occult Science – V: Cognition of the higher worlds. Initiation. (Part 2)

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

Previously posted on June 20, 2017

The underlying reasons for suffering

In pursuing the laws of karma, we shall discover that the underlying reasons for suffering are similar to what can be described by the following example relating to the ordinary life between birth and death. Let us assume that a youngster has lived until his eighteenth year at the expense of his father. Then the father loses all his wealth and goes into bankruptcy. The young man must now learn something worthwhile and make an effort to support himself. As a result, life hits him with pain and privation. It is quite understandable that he does not react sympathetically to the pain that he has to go through.

Let us now turn to the period when he has reached the age of fifty. Since, by the necessity of events, he had to educate himself at an early age, he has become a decent person. He has found a real foothold in life. He realizes why he reacted negatively to pain and suffering when it first hit him, but now he must think differently about it. He must say to himself that the suffering would not have come to him if he had already acquired a sense of maturity — at least, to the limited degree than an eighteen year old can attain one. If he had not been afflicted by pain, he would have remained a good-for-nothing. It was the pain that transformed his shortcomings into positive abilities. He must owe it to the pain that he has become a different man in the course of forty years. What was really brought together at that time? His shortcomings and his pain were brought together. His shortcomings actually sought pain in order that his immaturity might be removed by being transformed into maturity.

Even a simple consideration of life between birth and death can lead to this view. If we look at the totality of life, however, and if we face our karma as it has been explained in the lecture two days ago, we will come to the conclusion that all pain that hits us, that all suffering that comes our way, are of such a nature that they are being sought by our shortcomings. By far the greater part of our pain and suffering is sought by imperfections that we have brought over from previous incarnations. Since we have these imperfections within ourselves, there is a wiser man in us than we ourselves are who chooses the road to pain and suffering. It is, indeed, one of the golden rules of life that we all carry in us a wiser man than we ourselves are, a much wiser man. The one to whom we say, “I,” in ordinary life is less wise. If it was left to this less wise person in us to make a choice between pain and joy, he would undoubtedly choose the road toward joy. But the wiser man is the one who reigns in the depth of our unconscious and who remains inaccessible to ordinary consciousness. He directs our gaze away from easy enjoyment and kindles in us a magic power that seeks the road of pain without our really knowing it. But what is meant by the words: Without really knowing it? They mean that the wiser man in us prevails over the less wise one. He always acts in such a way that our shortcomings are guided to our pains and he makes us suffer because with every inner and outer suffering we eliminate one of our faults and become transformed into something better.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 130 – Facing Karma – Vienna, February 8, 1912

Translated by Dietrich V. Asten

Previously posted on March 6, 2015

The six basic exercises – 6. Harmony

Thus we have named five capacities of the soul that the student must make his own by correct training: Control of the direction of thought; control of the impulses of will; calmness in joy and sorrow; positiveness in judging the world; impartiality in our attitude toward life. Anyone who has employed certain consecutive periods of time for the purpose of acquiring these capacities will still be subject to the necessity of bringing them into harmonious concord in his soul. He will be under the necessity of practicing them simultaneously, in pairs, or three and one, and so forth, in order to bring about harmony.

The exercises just characterized are indicated by the methods of spiritual training because by being conscientiously carried out they not only effect in the student what has been designated above as a direct result, but indirectly much else follows, which is needed on the path to the spiritual worlds. Whoever carries out these exercises to a sufficient degree will encounter in the process many shortcomings and defects in his soul-life, and he will find precisely the means required by him for strengthening and safeguarding his intellectual life, his life of feeling, and his character.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 13 – An Outline of Occult Science – V: Cognition of the higher worlds. Initiation. (Part 2)

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

Previously posted on November 27, 2014