The higher truth of religion got lost

Anthroposophy is neither an adversary of religion nor of science. It wants to attain truth like the researchers by knowledge, and it does not deny the basic truth of the religions.

This basic truth is often little understood by those who represent the religions. Original, eternal truth forms the basis of all religions. The religions existing today developed from it. Then, however, later ingredients overgrew them. They lost their deeper truth. The core of truth lies behind them. However, science has not yet advanced so far that it has ascended from the matter to the spirit. It is not yet so far that it investigates the spiritual with the same enthusiasm as it investigates the natural phenomena. Science finds its core of truth in future. So, this higher truth of religion got lost, and science has not yet found it. Today, anthroposophy stands between them. It falls back on the past, on the lost, and it tries to investigate in the future what has not yet been found. In return, it is attacked by both sides. The habits and the external customs of today are different from those of former times, but in spite of the frequently praised tolerance of our modern time one still tries to intimidate those who represent an uncomfortable opinion. Somebody who speaks of the soul today, like the naturalist speaks of the external facts, is no longer burnt, indeed, but also methods are found to burden and to suppress him.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 52 – Spiritual Teachings of Soul/World: Course I: Lecture II: The Origin of the Soul – Berlin, October 3, 1903

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Tolerance for other opinions

It is the most extraordinary thing that nobody nowadays really ever listens to anybody else. Is it ever possible to start a sentence without someone interrupting to state his own view of the matter, with a resultant clash of opinion? It is a fundamental characteristic of modern civilization that nobody listens, that nobody respects anyone’s opinion but his own, and that those who do not share his opinions are looked upon as dunces.

But when a person expresses an opinion, my dear friends, it is a human being’s opinion, no matter how foolish we may think it, and we must be able to accept it, to listen to it. […]

If one has acquired a little wisdom, one even takes pleasure in hearing people say something foolish, if you will forgive my putting it so bluntly. One sometimes finds such stupidities cleverer than the things people of an average degree of cleverness say, because they often issue from a far greater humanness than underlies the average cleverness of the average of clever people. An ever deepening insight into the world increases one’s interest in human foolishness, for these things look different at differing world levels. The stupidities of a person who may seem a fool to clever people in the ordinary physical world can, under certain circumstances, reveal things that are wisdom in a different world, even though the form they take may be twisted and caricatured.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 257 – Awakening to Community – Dornach, 4th March 1923

Translated by Marjorie Spock

Previously posted on February 24, 2019

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Tolerance of the dead in life between death and birth

He who lives in the soul life in the time between death and a new birth, practises this tolerance both in relation to the beings who are with him in the spiritual world and in relation to those who are still incarnated as men here in the physical life. It is part of the very character of man, when he has passed through the gate of death, that he acquires this tolerance. 

He always sees through the fact that Lucifer and Ahriman are playing such and such a part in a human being. He does not say, ‘That is a bad man, following evil desires’, but he sees through the fact that Lucifer is playing such and such a part in him. He does not say, ‘That is an envious fellow’ but he says, ‘Ahriman is playing such and such a part in him’.

He who lives above, between death and birth, judges in this way, it belongs to his very being to do so, just as it belongs to our being to have good eyesight (if we are sound and healthy).

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 168 – The Influence of the Dead on the Life of Man on Earth – Zurich, 3 December 1916

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The Shadow Side of our Personal Convictions

The shadow side of personal conviction is wilfulness, pride in our thoughts. As good as it is to advocate one’s own opinion without reservation, from another point of view, it is necessary to assert the ideas of one’s fellow human beings as entirely as well. And how little does this fit the character of those who hold fast to their conviction! They often show intolerance in their feeling and thinking, which makes it impossible for them to engage in the opinions of others.

Sure: they will almost always advocate the importance of tolerance. But in practice, they can hardly manage it because it is not a question of recognising a principle but living it. One must make it one’s own through practice. One should get used to inward tolerance, tolerance of thought, through strict self-discipline. And if you manage it in the smallest instances, it will eventually become a fundamental characteristic for your entire life.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 34 – LUCIFER- GNOSIS 1903-1908 GRUNDLEGENDE AUFSÄTZE ZUR ANTHROPOSOPHIE UND BERICHTE – april 1904 (bladzijde 453)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Whoever wants to attain wisdom dare not take notice of his own opinion

One of the first basic sayings which has to be conquered is the old, beautiful saying of the wise Greeks: “Whoever wants to attain wisdom dare not take notice of his own opinion.” You will find that whoever has really experienced the spiritual scientific route, will say: Yes, my opinion doesn’t provide much; I can give descriptions of experiences, but not regularization principles, not claims of action, and these descriptions should be taken as instructions flowing into the theory of occult science. Opinions and points of view need be given up by the spiritual researcher. He has no point of view because all observations are like images originating from different points of view, which are as varied as people looking at the world from the most diverse angles. On the one side is the image of the materialistic standpoint, then from the other side that of a spiritual or a mechanistic or the easy-life observation. These are all observation angles. To not only recognise them theoretically but to live with every worldview in order to create images as to how each observation creates a different side, that is the inner tolerance which is important here. One opinion shouldn’t fight another. As a result an inner and from this an outer tolerance develops which we need if we, mankind, want to meet our healing in future.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 108 – What is Self-knowledge? – Vienna, 23 November 1908

Translated by Hanna von Maltitz

Previously posted on October 28, 2017