Character / Soul / Body

Character is not confined to the inner life of the soul, but penetrates into a man’s external physique and limbs. It finds expression, first, in his gestures; second, in his physiognomy; and third, in the plastic formation of the skull, the origin of what we call phrenology.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 58 – Metamorphoses of the Soul / Paths of Experience – Volume One: LECTURE 5: Human Character – Munich, 14th March 1909

Translated by C. Davy and C. von Arnim

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Deadening of the soul

We only need to look at certain details in present-day education to appreciate the great difficulties in the way of progress. Those who today consider themselves well-versed in the problems of education say again and again that all instruction, even in the lowest grades, must be in the form of object lessons. In the teaching of arithmetic, for instance, mechanical aids to calculating are introduced. The greatest value is placed upon having the child see everything first, and then form his own inner concepts about it. To be sure, the urge for such objectivity in education is in many respects fully justified. 

Nevertheless, it raises the question, what becomes of a child if he only receives object lessons? He becomes psychically dried up; the inner dynamic forces of his soul gradually die out. His whole being unites with the objective surroundings, and what should sprout from his inmost soul is gradually deadened. The way material is presented in much of our education today is connected with this deadening of the soul. People do not realize that one kills the soul, but it really happens. 

And the consequence is what we experience with people today. How many are problem-laden personalities! How many are unable in their later years to produce out of their own inner resources that which could give them consolation and hope in difficult times and enable them to cope with the vicissitudes of life! We see at present many shattered natures. At important moments we ourselves are doubtful as to the direction we should take.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 296 –Education as a Social Problem: Lecture IV: Education as a Problem Involving the Training of Teachers – Dornach, August 15, 1919

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About smallpox and vaccination (1 of 2)

Let us suppose that a great number of people, because of uncharitableness, had been impelled to absorb certain infectious germs, so that they succumbed to an epidemic. Let us further suppose we were in a position to protect them from this epidemic. 

We should in such a case preserve the physical body from the effects of uncharitableness, but we should not have removed the inner tendency towards uncharitableness. The case might be such that, in removing the external expression of uncharitableness, we should undertake the duty of influencing the soul also in such a way as to remove from it the tendency towards a lack of charity. 

The organic expression of uncharitableness is killed in the most complete sense, in the external bodily sense, by vaccination against smallpox. There, for instance, the following becomes manifest, and has been investigated by Spiritual Science. In one period of civilisation, when there prevailed a general tendency to develop a higher degree of egotism, and uncharitableness, smallpox made its appearance. Such is the fact. In anthroposophy it is our bounded duty to give expression to the truth.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 120 – Manifestations of Karma: Lecture: Karma of the Higher Beings – Hamburg, May 25, 1910

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In earthly life the spiritual depends on the physical

We might easily imagine, for example, that thinking is a purely spiritual act, and that in the way it comes about on earth in the human soul it has nothing to do with existence in a body. In one sense this is so. But spiritually independent as human thinking is, it could not take its course here in earth existence were it unable to have the support of the body and its processes. I may avail myself of a comparison which I have often used here on similar occasions. When a man is walking, the ground he walks on is certainly not the essential part of his activity; the essential part is inside his skin; but without the support of the ground he could not get along.

It is the same with thinking. In essence, thinking is certainly not a brain-process, but without the support of the brain it could not take its earthly course. In the light of this comparison one gets a right conception of the spirituality as well as of the physical limitations of human thinking. In short, my dear friends, here in earthly life there is nothing in man that does not depend on the body for support.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 218 – MEMORY AND LOVE – Stuttgart, 4th December, 1922

Previously posted on January 3, 2019

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Getting older, growing younger

In future, human beings, the older they get, will need to take in spiritual impulses if they want to be able to grow younger and younger and really develop their inner life. If they do so, they may have grey hair and wrinkles and all kinds of infirmities, but they will get younger and younger, for their souls are taking in impulses which they will take with them through the gate of death. People who relate only to the body cannot grow younger, for their souls will share in everything the body experiences. Of course, it will not be possible to change the habit of going grey, but it is possible for a grey head to gain a young soul from the wellsprings of spiritual life.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 177 –  Fall of the Spirits of Darkness: Lecture 12: The Spirits of Light and the Spirits of Darkness – Dornach, 26 October 1917

Translated by Anna R. Meuss

Previously posted on July 21, 2018

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