Karma-Moral-Egoism (5 of 5)

People have a certain antipathy toward moral preachments. They say, “What is being preached to me is the will of someone else and I am supposed simply to acquiesce to it.” This belief will become more and more dominant to the degree that materialistic consciousness becomes dominant.

One says today that there is a morality of class, of social standing, and what such a class morality considers to be right is then applied to the other class. Such an attitude has found its way into human souls and in the future it will become worse and worse. People will come increasingly to feel that they themselves want to find everything that is to be acknowledged as correct in this sphere. They will feel that it should originate in their own inclination toward objective knowledge. The human individuality wants to be taken ever more seriously. But at the moment in which the heart, for instance, were to realize that it too would be sick if the whole organism became sick, man would do what is necessary in order not to fall ill. At the moment in which man realizes that he is embedded within the total organism of the earth and has no business being a festering boil on the earth’s body — at that moment there exists an objective basis for morality. And man will say, “If I steal I am seeking my own personal advantage. I refrain from stealing because if I do steal I shall make sick the entire organism without which I cannot live. I do the opposite and thereby bring about something advantageous not only for the organism but also for myself.”

In the future the moral awareness of human beings will form itself in this general way. He who, through anthroposophy, finds an impetus to moral action will say to himself that it is an illusion to seek personal advantage through an immoral action. If you do that, you are like an octopus that ejects a dark fluid: you eject a dark aura of immoral impulses. Lying and stealing are the seeds of an aura into which you place yourself and through which you make the whole world unhappy.

People say, “All that surrounds us is maya.” But such truths must become truths for life itself. Let us suppose that one can demonstrate that through anthroposophy humanity’s moral development in the future will enable man to see how he wraps himself in an aura of illusions when he seeks his own advantage. If one can demonstrate this, it will become a practical truth to say that the world is a maya or illusion.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 127 – The Significance of Spiritual Research For Moral Action – Bieleveld, 6 March 1911

Translated by Alan P. Cottrell, Ph.D.

Portraits of Rudolf Steiner 0018

Previously posted on April 25, 2018

Karma-Moral-Egoism (2 of 5)

It would actually be a severe reproach if one were able to maintain that theosophy prompts people to develop moral action not out of sympathy and compassion but out of fear of punishment. Let us now ask ourselves whether such a reproach is really justified. We must reach very deeply into occult research if we wish to refute such a reproach to anthroposophy in a really fundamental way.

Let us assume that someone were to say that if a person does not already possess this striving for perfection, theosophy will certainly never prompt him to moral actions. A deeper understanding of what anthroposophy has to say can teach us that the individual is related to the whole of humanity in such a way that by acting immorally he not only does something that may earn him a punishment. It is rather the case that through an immoral thought, an immoral action or attitude he brings about something really absurd, something that cannot be reconciled with truly healthy thinking.

The statement has many implications. An immoral action not only implies a subsequent karmic punishment; it is rather in the most fundamental respect an action that one definitely ought not to do. Let us assume that a person commits a theft. In so doing the person incurs a karmic punishment. If one wishes to avoid this punishment one simply does not steal. But the matter is still more complicated. Let us ask ourselves what really motivates the person who lies or steals. The liar or thief seeks personal advantage — the liar perhaps wishing to wiggle out of an unpleasant situation. Such an action is only meaningful if one actually does gain an advantage through lying or stealing. If the person were now to realize that he simply cannot have that advantage, that he is wrong, that on the contrary he will bring about a disadvantage, he would then say to himself that it is nonsense even to think about such an action. As theosophy penetrates ever deeper into human civilization, people will know that it is absurd, indeed that it is ridiculous, to believe that through lying or stealing one can acquire what one seeks to acquire.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 127 – The Significance of Spiritual Research For Moral Action – Bieleveld, 6 March 1911

Translated by Alan P. Cottrell, Ph.D.

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Previously posted on April 22, 2018

Example and imitation

In the first period of life, from the first to the seventh year the child is mainly an imitating being. But we have to understand this in the broadest sense of the word. […] In relation to these things people sometimes ask for advice at one or the other event.

So, for example, a father once complained to me about his five-year-old child. ‘What did this five-year-old child do? ‘ I asked. ‘It stole ‘, said the father unhappily. I told him: ‘Then one must first consider how the theft actually took place.’  Then he told me, that the child had not actually stolen out of wickedness. He had taken money from the drawer of his mother and purchased sweets. Afterwards he divided the sweets among the children in the street. So it was not bare selfishness.

What actually took place then? Now, every day the child sees the mother take money from the drawer. At the age of five years the child is an imitator. It did not steal; it simply did what he had seen his mother do daily, because the child instinctively considers what the mother does as right. – This is a typical example of the subtleties which one should be aware of when one wants to educate in accordance with the true being of man.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 297a – Erziehung zum Leben – Utrecht, 24th February 1921 (p. 19-20)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on September 30, 2016

About stealing, exploitation and karma

A European might claim that he does not steal. But the Eastern Yogi does not look at it so simply. In the regions where these exercises were first promulgated by the great teachers of humanity, conditions were much simpler: stealing was easy to define. But a Yoga teacher would not agree that Europeans do not steal. For example, if I unjustifiably appropriate another man’s labour, or if I procure for myself a profit which may be legally permissible but which involves the exploitation of another person — all this the Yoga teacher would call stealing. With us, social relations have become so complex that many people violate this commandment without the slightest awareness of doing so. Suppose you have money and deposit it in a bank. You do nothing with it; you exploit no-one. But suppose now the banker starts speculating and exploits other people with your money. In the occult sense you will be responsible for it, and the events will burden your karma. You can see that this precept requires deep consideration if you are entering on a path of occult development.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science: Lecture XIII: Oriental and Christian Training – Stuttgart, 3rd September 1906

Translated by E.H. Goddard & Charles Davy

Previously posted on August 26, 2015

Karma-Moral-Egoism (5 – End)

People have a certain antipathy toward moral preachments. They say, “What is being preached to me is the will of someone else and I am supposed simply to acquiesce to it.” This belief will become more and more dominant to the degree that materialistic consciousness becomes dominant.

One says today that there is a morality of class, of social standing, and what such a class morality considers to be right is then applied to the other class. Such an attitude has found its way into human souls and in the future it will become worse and worse. People will come increasingly to feel that they themselves want to find everything that is to be acknowledged as correct in this sphere. They will feel that it should originate in their own inclination toward objective knowledge. The human individuality wants to be taken ever more seriously. But at the moment in which the heart, for instance, were to realize that it too would be sick if the whole organism became sick, man would do what is necessary in order not to fall ill. At the moment in which man realizes that he is embedded within the total organism of the earth and has no business being a festering boil on the earth’s body — at that moment there exists an objective basis for morality. And man will say, “If I steal I am seeking my own personal advantage. I refrain from stealing because if I do steal I shall make sick the entire organism without which I cannot live. I do the opposite and thereby bring about something advantageous not only for the organism but also for myself.”

In the future the moral awareness of human beings will form itself in this general way. He who, through anthroposophy, finds an impetus to moral action will say to himself that it is an illusion to seek personal advantage through an immoral action. If you do that, you are like an octopus that ejects a dark fluid: you eject a dark aura of immoral impulses. Lying and stealing are the seeds of an aura into which you place yourself and through which you make the whole world unhappy.

People say, “All that surrounds us is maya.” But such truths must become truths for life itself. Let us suppose that one can demonstrate that through anthroposophy humanity’s moral development in the future will enable man to see how he wraps himself in an aura of illusions when he seeks his own advantage. If one can demonstrate this, it will become a practical truth to say that the world is a maya or illusion.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 127 – The Significance of Spiritual Research For Moral Action – Bieleveld, 6 March 1911

Translated by Alan P. Cottrell, Ph.D.

Previously posted on December 31, 2015