The real spirit

When do we speak legitimately of the spirit? When do we speak truly of the spirit? We speak truly of the spirit, we are justified in speaking of the spirit, only when we mean the spirit as creator of the material. The worst kind of talk about the spirit — even though this talk is often looked upon today as very beautiful — is that which treats the spirit as though it dwelt in Utopia, as if this spirit should not be touched at all by the material. No; when we speak of the spirit, we must mean the spirit that has the power to plunge down directly into the material. And when we speak of spiritual science, this must he conceived not only as merely rising above nature, but as being at the same time valid natural science. When we speak of the spirit, we must mean the spirit with which the human being can so unite himself as to enable this spirit, through man’s mediation, to weave itself even into the social life. A spirit of which one speaks only in the drawing room, which one would like to please by goodness and brotherly love, but a spirit that has no intention of immersing itself in our everyday life — such a spirit is not the true spirit, but a human abstraction; and worship of such a spirit is not worship of the real spirit, but is precisely the final emanation of materialism.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 194 – The Mysteries of Light, of Space, and of the Earth: Lecture I: The Dualism in the Life of the Present Time – Dornach, December 12, 1919

Translated by Frances E. Dawson

Previously posted on February 10, 2015

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Kant was right, and so is Spiritual Science

In the past years, when one brought forward the spiritual-scientific world-conception in this or in that place and certain people thought that they had to assert their own views in the face of the spiritual-scientific world-conception, one could frequently hear the following argument: Kant has already proved by his philosophy that there are limitations to man’s knowledge; human knowledge cannot reach the spheres which the spiritual-scientific world-conception tries to reach. Then they bring forward certain interesting things showing how Kant is supposed to have proved that human knowledge cannot reach the spiritual world. If spiritual science was upheld in spite of all, then they came along and said: This person rejects everything that has been proved by Kant! Of course, this more or less implied: What a foolish person he must be, for he rejects strictly proved facts!

But this is not the case: The spiritual scientist does not deny that Kant is absolutely right, for it is evident that he demonstrated this clearly. But my dear friends, suppose that someone had stated that the plant consists of minute cells, at a time when the microscope had not yet been invented, but that these cells could not be found because human eyes are unable to see them. It might have been proved that the cells do not exist and this would have been quite correct, for the constitution of the human eye does not permit us to penetrate into the plant’s organism to the extent of seeing these tiniest cells. The proof would be absolutely correct and it could not be overthrown. Yet in the course of human development the microscope was discovered as an aid to the human eye, so that in spite of the strictest proof to the contrary, people were able to recognise the existence of these tiniest cells.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 159 – The Subconscious Forces – Vienna, 9th May 1915

A thousand times better

It is a thousand times better to have grasped the ideas of Spiritual Science with thought first of all, and then — sooner or later, each according to his karma — to be able oneself to ascend into the spiritual worlds; a thousand times better than to have ‘seen’ straight-away and not to have grasped with thought the knowledge that is imparted in the Movement known as the Anthroposophical. A thousand times better it is indeed, to know spiritual science and to see nothing as yet, than to see something and not be able to penetrate it with thought, for that is how unreliability is introduced.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 117 – The Tasks and Aims of Spiritual Science – Stuttgart, November 13, 1909

Why do we occupy ourselves with Spiritual Science?

Why do we occupy ourselves with Spiritual Science? It is as though we were learning the vocabulary of the language through which we approach the Christ. If we take the trouble to learn to think the thoughts of Spiritual Science, and make the mental effort necessary for an understanding of the Cosmic secrets taught by Spiritual Science, then, out of the dim, dark foundations of the Cosmic mysteries, will come forth the figure of Christ Jesus, which will draw near to us and give us the strength and force in which we shall then live. The Christ will guide us, standing beside us as a brother, so that our hearts and souls may be strong enough to grow up to the necessary level of the tasks awaiting humanity in its further development.

Let us then try to acquire Spiritual Science, not as a mere doctrine but as a language, and then wait till we can find in that language,  the questions which we may venture to put to the Christ. He will answer, yes, indeed, He will answer! Plentiful indeed will be the soul-forces, the soul-strengthening, the soul-impulses, which the student will carry away with him from the grey spiritual depths through which humanity in its evolution is now passing, if he is able to receive instructions from Christ Himself; for, in the near future He will give them to those who seek.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 175 – Cosmic and Human Metamorphoses – Lecture 1 – Materialism and Spirituality (bottom of lecture) – Berlin, February 6, 1917

Translated by Harry Collison

Previously posted on February 23, 2016

It is of the very essence of Spiritual Science that activity should be demanded

One hears it said so often: The literature of Spiritual Science available to us is written in such a difficult style; it demands such effort and such intense development of the forces of the soul if any real headway is to be made. “Well-meaning” people — the adjective in inverted commas — are always coming forward with the suggestion that difficult passages should be simplified for their fellow-men; they want to trivialise — this I say without inverted commas — what is written in a rather difficult style.

But it is of the very essence of Spiritual Science that activity should be demanded of the soul; that Spiritual Science should not be easy to master. For in Spiritual Science it is not a matter merely of absorbing what is said about one thing or another, but of how things are absorbed — by dint of effort and activity of the soul. What Spiritual Science has to offer must be assimilated with sweat of the brow. That is a sine qua non in the whole business — forgive the colloquialism.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 275 – Technology and Art: Their Bearing on Modern Culture – Dornach, 28th December 1914

Translated by Dorothy Osmond

Previously posted on January 18, 2016