One cannot extract thoughts out of a world devoid of thoughts

The first thing that should be present in someone who wants to develop truly practical thinking is faith and confidence in the reality, the reality of thoughts. What does that mean? From a glass in which there is no water, one cannot pour water. And in a world, in which there are no thoughts, one cannot find any thoughts. It is most absurd to believe that the sum of our thoughts is present only in us. If someone dismantles a clock and discovers the laws out of which it was built by thinking, then he must assume that the clockmaker put the parts of the clock together according to these laws. No one should believe that one can design and from a world that was not designed and formed out of thoughts. Everything we discover about nature and natural events consists of nothing else but what first must have been laid into it before. There are no thoughts in our souls, which were not out there in the world beforehand.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 057 – Wo und wie findet man den Geist? – Berlin, 11 February 1909  (page 251)

Translated by Nesta Carsten

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Previously posted on May 17, 2018

Imponderable things of life

It is no exaggeration to say: If a man most inwardly endeavours to be a good man in the presence of a child before the age of seven; if he endeavours to be sound in every way, if he conscientiously resolves to make no allowances for himself even in his inner life, in thoughts and feelings that he does not outwardly express — then, through the intangible, imponderable things of life, he works most powerfully upon the child.  

In this connection there are many things still to be observed, things which, if I may so express myself, “lie between the lines.” We have become enmeshed in a more materialistic way of life, especially as regards life’s more intimate and finer aspects. And so we have grown accustomed to pay little attention to these things. Yet it is only when they are rightly observed and estimated once again, that a certain impulse will enter into our educational thought and practice — an impulse that is very badly needed, especially in an age which claims to be a social age, an age of social thought.

There are certain experiences in life, which we cannot rightly estimate unless we take into account these real observations of the soul- and spiritual-life within the human being.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 297 – Spiritual Science and the Art of Education – November 27, 1919   

Translated by George Kaufmann from a Shorthand Manuscript of an Address to School Teachers

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The Spiritland – The person with spiritual vision is as familiar with spirit beings as he is with his dog or his cat

It must above all things be emphasized that this world is woven out of the substance of which human thought consists. The word “substance,” too is here used in a far from strict or accurate sense. Thought, however, as it lives in man, is only a shadow picture, a phantom of its true nature. Just as the shadow of an object on the wall is related to the real object that throws this shadow, so is the thought that makes its appearance through a human brain related to the being in the spiritland that corresponds to this thought.

When his spiritual sense is awakened, man really perceives this thought being, just as the eye of the senses perceives a table or a chair. He goes about in a region of thought beings. The corporeal eye perceives the lion, and the thinking directed to the sensibly perceptible thinks merely the thought, “lion” as a shadow, a shadowy picture. The spiritual eye sees in spiritland the thought “lion” as really and actually as the corporeal eye sees the physical lion.

Here we may again refer to the analogy already used regarding the land of the soul. Just as the surroundings of a man born blind operated upon appear suddenly with the new qualities of color and light, so do the surroundings of the person who learns to use his spiritual eye appear as a new world, the world of living thoughts or spirit beings. In this world there are to be seen, first, the spiritual archetypes of all things and beings that are present in the physical and soul worlds. Imagine a painter’s picture existing in his mind before it is painted. This gives an analogy to what is meant by the expression archetype. It does not concern us here that the painter has perhaps not had such an archetype in his mind before he paints and that it only gradually develops and becomes complete during the execution of the picture.

In the real world of spirit there exist such archetypes for all things, and the physical things and beings are copies of these archetypes. It is quite understandable when anyone who only trusts his outer senses denies this archetypal world and holds that archetypes are merely abstractions gained by an intellectual comparison of sense objects. Such a person simply cannot see in this higher world. He knows the thought world only in its shadowy abstraction. He does not know that the person with spiritual vision is as familiar with spirit beings as he himself is with his dog or his cat, and that the archetypal world has a far more intense reality than the world of the physical senses.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 9 – Theosophy -Chapter III: The Three Worlds: 3. The Spiritland

Translated by Henry B. Monges and revised for this edition by Gilbert Church, Ph.D.

Previously posted on June 25, 2016

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After death (3 of 5)

Between birth and death we have experienced this or that with this or that person or plant or mountain spring, with all we have approached during life. There is no single experience whose spiritual counterpart is not engraved into the spiritual world in which we are ever present, even while on earth. Every hand-shake we have exchanged has its spiritual counterpart; it is there, inscribed into the spiritual world. Only while we are surveying our life in the first days after death do we have these pictures of our life before us. These conceal, to a certain extent, what we have inscribed into the world through our deeds, thoughts and feelings.

The moment we pass through the gate of death to this other ‘life’, we are at once filled with the content of our life-tableau, i.e. with pictures which extend, in perspective, back to birth and even beyond. But all this vanishes into the wide cosmic spaces and we now see the spiritual counter-images of all the deeds we have done since birth. All the spiritual counter-images we have experienced (unconsciously, in sleep) become visible, and in such a way that we are immediately impelled to retrace our steps and go through all these experiences once more. In ordinary life, when we go from Dornach to Basle we know we can go from Basle to Dornach, for we have in the physical world an appropriate conception of space. But in ordinary consciousness we do not know, when we go from birth to death, that we can also go from death to birth. As in the physical world one can go from Dornach to Basle and return from Basle to Dornach, so we go from birth to death during earthly life, and, after death, can return from death to birth. This is what we do in the spiritual world when we experience backwards the spiritual counter-images of all we have undergone during earthly life. Suppose you have had an experience with something in the external realm of Nature — let us say, with a tree. You have observed the tree or, as a woodman, cut it down. Now all this has its spiritual counterpart; above all, whether you have merely observed the tree, or cut it down, or done something else to it, has its significance for the whole universe. What you can experience with the physical tree you experience in physical, earthly life;now, as you go backwards from death to birth, it is the spiritual counterpart of this experience that you live through.

If, however, our experience was with another human being — if, for example, we have caused him pain — there is already a spiritual counterpart in the physical world; only, it is not our experience: it is the pain experienced by the other man. Perhaps the fact that we were the cause of his pain gave us a certain feeling of satisfaction; we may have been moved by a feeling of revenge or the like. Now, on going backwards through our life, we do not undergo our experience, but his. We experience what he experienced through our deed. That, too, is a part of the spiritual counterpart and is inscribed into the spiritual world.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 234 – Anthroposophy, An Introduction – Lecture IX – Dornach, 10th February 1924

Translated by Vera Compton-Burnett

Previously posted on April 5, 2018

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Control of Thought  

How difficult it is for a person to push away intruding thoughts time and again. Often thoughts keep on intruding – especially the unpleasant ones – for days on end. One cannot get rid them. It gets even more difficult once we have taught ourselves to concentrate our thoughts. The thought content on which we have concentrated, takes hold of us and we need to summon up tremendous effort to eliminate it again.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 305 –Die geistig-seelischen Grundkräfte der Erziehungskunst – Oxford, 20 August 1922 (page 87)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previoualy posted on June 24, 2016

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