It is a complete misunderstanding to say spiritual science must also be believed

Spiritual science can be understood by every person who wants to understand its findings. It strives to give people what each individual soul can truly achieve on its own, not by following the religious founders, as in earlier times. And although it must be individual researchers who make the results of this science of the spirit available today, they do so in a form that can be understood by everyone who wants to. 

I have often emphasized that it is a complete misunderstanding to say spiritual science must also be believed. When people say this, it is because they are so crammed full with materialistic prejudices that they do not look at what spiritual science really has to offer. As soon as it is examined, everything becomes understandable. One does not need clairvoyance for this; our ordinary understanding is enough to really grasp and comprehend all this gradually — of course, “gradually” will be inconvenient for some people.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 154 – The Presence of the Dead on the Spiritual Path: Lecture I: Understanding the Spiritual World (Part 1) – Berlin, April 18, 1914

Translated by Christian von Arnim

Previously posted on October 16, 2016

You can imagine what a difficult situation one is in, as representative of spiritual science

You can imagine what a difficult situation one is in as representative of spiritual science: One not only has the representatives of the religions against one, but also the whole philosophical world and their followers as well. Every Tom Dick or Harry then comes and says: Well, you claim this or that about the spiritual world; but after all, Kant has already proven – so they say – that nothing can be known about it! – This is actually the most generalizing objection that one can make. Someone can say: I do not want to hear anything that Steiner says, because Kant has already proven that nothing can be known about the Spiritual world.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 353 – Die Geschichte der Menschheit und die Weltanschauungen der Kulturvölker – Dornach, May 14, 1924 (page 240)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on May 28, 2018

The difference between an initiate and a clairvoyant

The person who, without being clairvoyant, understands everything spiritual science has to say, is an initiate. However, he who can enter these worlds, which we call the invisible world, is a clairvoyant. In earlier times, not so long ago, there existed a strict separation in the secret schools, between clairvoyants and initiates. As an initiate, without being clairvoyant, a person could attain to knowledge of higher worlds, if only he or she used their intellect in the right way.

On the other hand, someone could be clairvoyant without being initiated into a particularly high degree. It will be clear to you what is meant. Imagine two people, a very scholarly man, who knows all that physics and physiology possibly have to say about light and the phenomena of light, but who is so near-sighted, that he can barely see ten centimetres in front of himself: his eyesight is weak, but he is thoroughly acquainted with the laws of light.

Similarly, someone can be initiated into the spiritual world, but still be unable to perceive clearly what he sees. Another has excellent sight in the outer sensory world but has almost no knowledge of everything the scholarly man knows. Thus, there can also be clairvoyants who are able to perceive the spiritual world – they see into the spiritual world, but have no realisation, no knowledge of that which they see. 

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 56 – Die Erkenntnis der Seele und des Geistes – Berlin, October 10, 1907 (page 26)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on March 26, 2018 

Many consider this an incomprehensible demand

It must be emphasised again and again, that when it is given out, spiritual science, can indeed be understood. It cannot be emphasised often enough that one need not be a clairvoyant to understand spiritual science. One must of course be clairvoyant to arrive at results, but once they are there, one need not be clairvoyant. UNDERSTANDING of spiritual science must precede personal vision. 

Here one can say: the opposite path is correct to that which is correct in the physical-sensible world. In the physical-sensible world, we first have correct perceptions, then we pass over to a thoughtful consideration of these, and we then form our scientific judgments. This must be reversed in the ascent to the spiritual world. There, we must first develop ideas — we must make every effort to live into spiritual science objectively; otherwise we can never be certain that any observation we make in the spiritual world is interpreted by us in the right sense. 

Hence knowledge must precede vision, and this is what is so infinitely disagreeable to many; the fact that they have to study spiritual science. Many consider this an incomprehensible demand. For it is relatively easy to have perceptions; but to interpret them aright — for this it is necessary that one enters rightly, — objectively, selflessly — into spiritual science. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 161 – Meditation and Concentration – Dornach, 27th March 1915

Previously posted on April 16, 2017

Spiritual Science / Technical Science

It is only by descending into the depths of his own inner life that man comes into connection with the divine-spiritual Beings who work for his good, the normally evolving Beings of the spiritual Hierarchies. This coming together with the spiritual Hierarchies for whom we have in truth been spiritually born, this community with them, is rendered very much more difficult for man by the fact that the world is becoming more and more steeped in the milieu created by modern technical science. Man is as it were torn out of the spiritual-cosmic setting, and the forces he must unfold in order to be linked with the spirit-and-soul of the Cosmos are stifled and suppressed within him.

Therefore one who has already taken the first steps on the way to initiation perceives that everything which permeates modern life in the form of machinery and the like presses into the life of the human spirit-and-soul in such a way that a great deal is killed, destroyed. And he becomes aware that this destruction makes it particularly hard for him to develop those inner forces which bring him into connection with the lawful — please do not misunderstand the word — the lawful spiritual Beings of the Hierarchies.

If while in a railway carriage or steamer someone who has taken the first steps towards initiation wants to find his way into the spiritual world in meditation, he naturally makes efforts to develop the power of vision and seership which will bear him thither; but he perceives how the Ahrimanic world fills him with everything that opposes this striving to reach the spiritual world, and the battle then waged is intensely fierce. It is an inner battle, producing in the etheric body an experience of being crushed, hacked to pieces. Naturally, those who have taken no steps on the way to initiation are also involved in this battle, the only difference being that those who have taken these steps are consciously aware of what is happening. Everybody is obliged to undergo the battle; in its effects it is experienced by everybody. There would be no greater fallacy than to say: We must rebel against what technical science has brought to us in modern life, we must protect ourselves from Ahriman, we must withdraw from this modern life.

In a certain respect such an attitude would be an indication of spiritual cowardice. The real remedy lies, not in allowing the forces of the soul to weaken and to withdraw from modern life, but in so strengthening these forces that its pandemonium can be endured. World-karma demands a courageous attitude to modern life, and that is why genuine Spiritual Science calls at the very outset for effort, really strenuous effort on the part of the human soul.

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

Translated by Dorothy Osmond