Thoughts and health  

Correct ideas have a healing effect on man, and wrong ideas make him sick. One can find a wrong idea behind every disease, if one traces it back. Mankind in general is responsible for this and not individuals. Interest also has a destructive effect when people run from one sensation to the other and always want to be amused. That makes people sick. It’s also a hindrance to progress to have a personal interest in higher knowledge. Men become scleroticized thereby.

A man must not become indifferent to his surroundings. He must retain his feeling and sympathy for his surroundings. Some say that sympathy can also come from egotism. That may be the case. Many kinds of sympathy only arise because one doesn’t want to see other people suffer. That’s even a good thing. It’s better for a man to help someone out of egotistical sympathy than not to help him at all. But we must learn to develop a sympathy that stands above egoism, that helps neighbors because it’s one’s duty to help them.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 266 – From the Contents of Esoteric Classes: Esoteric Lesson – Berlin, 15th May, 1908

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Previously posted on May 21, 2018

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Fragments from The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy (3 of 3)

It is not moral talk or prudent admonitions that influence the child in this sense. Rather is it what the grown-up people do visibly before his eyes. The effect of admonition is to mould the forms, not of the physical, but of the etheric body; and the latter, as we saw, is surrounded until the seventh year by a protecting etheric envelope, even as the physical body is surrounded before physical birth by the physical envelope of the mother-body. All that has to evolve in the etheric body before the seventh year — ideas, habits, memory, and so forth — all this must develop ‘of its own accord,’ just as the eyes and ears develop within the mother-body without the influence of external light … What we read in that excellent educational work — Jean Paul’s ‘Levana’ or ‘Science of Education’ — is undoubtedly true. He says that a traveler will have learned more from his nurse in the first years of his life, than in all his journeys round the world. The child, however, does not learn by instruction or admonition, but by imitation. The physical organs shape their forms through the influence of the physical environment. Good sight will be developed in the child if his environment has the right conditions of light and colour, while in the brain and blood-circulation the physical foundations will be laid for a healthy moral sense if the child sees moral actions in his environment. If before his seventh year the child sees only foolish actions in his surroundings, the brain will assume such forms as adapt it also to foolishness in later life.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 34 – The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy

Translated by George and Mary Adams

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Previously posted on April 11, 2018

Things perhaps that are completely forgotten, but influence a man’s entire state of health and of mind

We would understand many human lives if we were to know what has entered the hidden depths during the course of life. We would understand many a human being in his 30th, 40th, 50th year — we would know why he has this or that inclination, why he feels so deeply the cause of his dissatisfaction — we would understand many things if we were to trace the life of such a man back to his childhood. In his childhood, we would see how parents and surroundings influenced him; what was called forth during childhood in the form of sorrow and joy, pain and pleasure — things perhaps that are completely forgotten, but influence a man’s entire state of health and of mind. For what surges and rolls down into the hidden depths of soul-life out of our consciousness, continues to be active there below.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 143 – Reflections of Consciousness, Super-consciousness and Sub-consciousness – Munich, February 25, 1912

Previously posted on April 5, 2015

A stealing child

Once a father came to me and said: “up to now our boy has been well-behaved, did everything in a way that was morally pleasing to us; now he has stolen money!”  – Well, someone who really knows people, will ask the following question: “Yes, from where did the child take the money?” You get the answer: “from the closet.” – “Who takes money out of the closet every day?” – so you continue to ask – “mother!” – the child has seen mother take money from the closet daily. The child is essentially a mimicking being, as a sense organ, it stands with its soul completely focused on its surroundings and acts, when its own being becomes active, in the same way as it has seen it happen in its environment.

The child is not adjusted to receive admonitions in its first years of life, it is not attuned to receive commands and prohibitions – these are not retained in its soul, the child focuses solely on what it sees in its environment. Its total organism becomes an imprint of its environment.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 218 – Geistige Zusammenhänge in der Gestaltung des menschlichen Organismus – London, November 20, 1922 (page 249)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger  

Previously posted on August 21, 2017

Strength and Power/Egoism

Strength and power are not acquired by sitting down and brooding all day long over such questions as — “What shall I think now? What shall I do? What’s that pain I feel coming on again?” — but by opening the heart to everything great and beautiful in our surroundings, and by showing interest and understanding for everything that warms the hearts of others, as well as for their wants and privations. In this way we strengthen the life-forces in the realm of feeling within us; we overcome narrow minded egoism and we enhance and enrich our Ego by bringing the true form of egoism into harmony with our environment. 

[…] A man who exerts his will only for himself and his own advantage will always feel inwardly dissatisfied. Only when he can see his resolves reflected in the outer world and his will-impulses realised in action — only then can he say that he has brought his willing into harmony with outer events. And here we learn that our inner strength and power are not developed by anything we will for ourselves, but by whatever we will for the outer world and for other people. Our willing becomes reality and its reflection shines back to us. As our eyes are formed by light, so is our strength of soul developed by our actions and activities.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 58 – Metamorphoses of the Soul/Paths of Experience Vol. 1: Lecture 7: Human Egoism – Berlin, 25th November 1909

Translated by Charles Davy and Christian von Arnim