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

Tolerance

To be tolerant means in the sense of Spiritual Science something quite different from what one understands usually about it. It means also to respect the freedom of thought in others. To push others away from their place is an insult, but if one does the same thing in thought nobody would say this is an injustice. We talk a lot about “regard for the other’s opinion,” but are not really willing to apply this principle ourselves.

The “Word” today has almost no meaning, one hears it and one has heard nothing. One has to learn to listen with one’s soul, to get hold of the most intimate things with our soul. What later manifests itself in physical life is always present in the spirit first. So we must suppress our opinion and really listen completely to the other, not only listen to the word but even to the feeling. Even then, if in us a feeling will stir that it is wrong what the other one says, it is much more powerful to be able to listen as long as the other one talks than to jump into their speech. This listening creates a completely different understanding — you feel as if the soul of the other starts to warm you through, to shine through you, if you confront “her” in this manner with absolute tolerance.

We shall not only grant the freedom of person but complete freedom. We shall even treasure the freedom of the other’s opinion. This stands only as an example for many things. If one cuts off someone’s speech one does something similar to kicking the other from the point of view of the spiritual world. If one brings oneself as far as to understand that it is much more destructive to cut somebody off than to give them a kick, only then one comes as far as to understand mutual help or community right into one’s soul. Then it becomes a reality.

Bron: Rudolf Steiner – GA 54 – Brotherhood and the Fight for Survival – Berlin, November 23nd, 1905

Translated by Manfred Maier & Nicholas Stanton

Previously posted on June 6, 2016

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 September 1, 2014

Tolerance

To be tolerant means in the sense of Spiritual Science something quite different from what one understands usually about it. It means also to respect the freedom of thought in others. To push others away from their place is an insult, but if one does the same thing in thought nobody would say this is an injustice. We talk a lot about “regard for the other’s opinion,” but are not really willing to apply this principle ourselves.

The “Word” today has almost no meaning, one hears it and one has heard nothing. One has to learn to listen with one’s soul, to get hold of the most intimate things with our soul. What later manifests itself in physical life is always present in the spirit first. So we must suppress our opinion and really listen completely to the other, not only listen to the word but even to the feeling. Even then, if in us a feeling will stir that it is wrong what the other one says, it is much more powerful to be able to listen as long as the other one talks than to jump into their speech. This listening creates a completely different understanding — you feel as if the soul of the other starts to warm you through, to shine through you, if you confront “her” in this manner with absolute tolerance.

We shall not only grant the freedom of person but complete freedom. We shall even treasure the freedom of the other’s opinion. This stands only as an example for many things. If one cuts off someone’s speech one does something similar to kicking the other from the point of view of the spiritual world. If one brings oneself as far as to understand that it is much more destructive to cut somebody off than to give them a kick, only then one comes as far as to understand mutual help or community right into one’s soul. Then it becomes a reality.

Bron: Rudolf Steiner – GA 54 – Brotherhood and the Fight for Survival Berlin, November 23nd, 1905

Translated by Manfred Maier & Nicholas Stanton

Previously posted on 10 February 10, 2014