There can be no beauty in the world without pain and suffering and illness

Fabre d’Olivet, who has investigated the origins of the Book of Genesis, once used a beautiful simile, comparing destiny with a natural process. The valuable pearl, he says, derives from an illness: it is a secretion of the oyster, so that in this case life has to fall sick in order to produce something precious. In the same way, physical illnesses in one life reappear in the next life as physical beauty.

Either the physical body becomes more beautiful as a result of the illness it endured; or it may be that an illness a man has caught from infection in his environment is compensated by the beauty of his new environment. Beauty thus develops, karmically, out of pain, suffering, privation and illness. This may seem a startling connection, but it is a fact. Even the appreciation of beauty develops in this way: there can be no beauty in the world without pain and suffering and illness.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science: Lecture Eight: Good and Evil/Individual Karmic Questions – Stuttgart, 29th August 1906

Translated by E. H. Goddard & Charles Davy

Previously posted on October 13, 2016

Purposeful Action

When a human being is suffering, people sometimes say: “He deserves his suffering and must bear his karma; if I help him, I am interfering with his karma.” This is nonsense; I know his poverty, his misery is caused through his earlier life, but if I help him, new entries will be made in his book of life; my help brings him forward. 

It would be foolish to say to a merchant who could be saved from disaster by 1,000 or 10,000 Marks: “No, for that would alter your balance.” 

It is precisely this possibility of altering the balance that should induce us to help a man. I help him because I know that nothing is without its karmic effect. This knowledge should spur us on to purposeful action.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 99 – Theosophy of the Rosicrucian – VII – The Technique of Karma – Berlin, May 31, 1907

Translated by M. Cotterell & D. S. Osmond

Previously posted on January 4, 2017

Pain and suffering/Joy and happiness/Karma (2 – End)

Simple reflection upon the influence of personal enjoyment shows that inherent in it is something that makes us stagger and blots out our true being. No sermon is here being delivered against enjoyment, nor is an invitation extended to practice self-torture, or to pinch ourselves with red hot pliers, or the like. If one recognizes a situation in the right way, it does not mean that one should escape from it. No escape, therefore, is suggested, but a silent acceptance of joy and happiness whenever they appear. We must develop the inner attitude that we experience them as grace, and the more the better. Thus do we immerse ourselves the more in the divine. Therefore, these words are said not in order to preach asceticism, but in order to awaken the right mood toward joy and happiness.

If it is thought that joy and happiness have a paralyzing and extinguishing effect, and that therefore man should flee from them, then one would promote the ideal of false asceticism and self-torture. In this event, man, in reality, would be escaping from the grace that is given to him by the gods. Self-torture practiced by ascetics, monks and nuns is nothing but a continuous rebellion against the gods. It behooves us to feel pain as something that comes to us through our karma. In joy and happiness, we can feel that the divine is descending to us.

May joy and happiness be for us a sign as to how close the gods have attracted us, and may our pain and suffering be a sign as to how far removed we are from what we are to become as good human beings. This is the fundamental attitude toward karma without which we cannot really move ahead in life. In what the world bestows upon us as goodness and beauty, we must conceive the world powers of which it is said in the Bible, “And he looked at the world and he saw that it was good.” But inasmuch as we experience pain and suffering, we must recognize what man has made of the world during its evolution, which originally was a good world, and what he must contribute toward its betterment by educating himself to bear pain with purpose and energy.

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

Translated by Dietrich V. Asten

Previously posted on September 23, 2015

Pain and suffering/Joy and happiness/Karma (1 of 2)

While our pain and suffering lead us to ourselves and make us more genuinely ourselves, we develop through joy and happiness, provided that we consider them as grace, a feeling that one can only describe as being blissfully embedded in the divine forces and powers of the world. Here the only justified attitude toward happiness and joy is one of gratitude. Nobody will understand joy and happiness in the intimate hours of self-knowledge when he ascribes them to his karma.

If he involves karma, he commits an error that is liable to weaken and paralyze the spiritual in him. Every thought to the effect that joy and happiness are deserved actually weakens and paralyzes us. This may be a hard fact to understand because everyone who admits that his pain is inflicted upon himself by his own individuality would obviously expect to be his own master also with regard to joy and happiness.

To be continued

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

Translated by Dietrich V. Asten

Previously posted on September 22, 2015