Wisdom

When man needs wisdom in order to understand things, that is, when he extracts wisdom from them, it shows that wisdom exists in the things themselves. For however much the human being might try to understand the things by means of ideas filled with wisdom, he would be unable to extract any wisdom from them were it not already embodied in the things themselves. Anyone who wishes by means of wisdom to comprehend things that, as he thinks, have not first received wisdom, may also imagine that he can take water out of a glass into which none has previously been poured.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 13 – An Outline of Occult Science – IV. The Evolution of the Cosmos and Man

Translated by Maud and Henry B. Monges and revised for this edition by Lisa D. Monges.

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We owe all our wisdom to our suffering and pain during past lives on earth

It is important and of great interest to realise that everything which we have experienced in the course of one life — our feelings concerning the world, pleasure, pain, etc. — that in the spiritual world all this surrounds us as an external world. We need not feel sad that there our sufferings lie spread out before us. This is not sad at all, for there, all our sufferings exist in the same way in which storms exist in the physical world and in the spiritual world all our joyful experiences appear to us like wonderful cloud-phenomena. In Devachan our own inner experiences do not exist within us, as here on earth, but they live in our environment in an external form, in the same way in which a picture of Nature lies spread out before us. Our inner experiences live round about us, as if they were images, sounds or atmospheric phenomena; they have become objectified, as heavenly forms.

I have told you that it is not sad if our sufferings come raying towards us; just as little sad as lightning or thunder in physical life. Those who perceive these connections know what they owe to their sufferings in particular. Just those who have passed through pain and suffering will always say that they gratefully accept joy and pleasure, but that they would never wish to do without suffering and pain. We owe all our wisdom to our suffering and pain during past lives on earth. A man whose physiognomy bears upon it the mark of wisdom in this life, owes this to the fact that in former lives he experienced the world’s connection as suffering.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 100 – Theosophy and Rosicrucianism: Lecture V: Metamorphoses of Our Earthly Experiences in the Spiritual World – Kassel, 20th June 1907

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 PAINTING BY DAVID NEWBATT

Previously posted on April 1, 2016

The physical world is the expression of wisdom incarnate, divine wisdom.

Think of the marvelous structure of the femur, of the bone which bears the whole body. Its construction is such that the maximum amount of strength is produced with the minimum amount of substance. No engineer could create such a wonder-structure. In comparison with the physical body, the astral body – the seat of passions and desires – is rudimentary and crude.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 94 – An Esoteric Cosmology Lecture IV: Involution and Evolution  – Paris, 28 May 1906

Translated by Rene Querido

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Previously posted on May 9, 2018

Variety in the different incarnations (2 of 2)

And it must be constantly emphasised that when anthroposophists have the desire to sacrifice themselves, such desire is not enough. Many people would like to sacrifice themselves all the time — they feel happy in so doing — but before anyone can make a sacrifice of real value to the world he must have the strength required for it. A man must first be something before he can usefully sacrifice himself; otherwise the sacrifice of egohood is not of much value. Moreover in a certain respect a kind of egoism — although it is repressed — a kind of laziness, is present when a man makes no effort to develop, to persevere in his strivings, so that what he can achieve is of real value.

It might seem — but please do not misunderstand this — as though we were preaching lovelessness. The outer world is very prone to-day to reproach anthroposophists by saying: You aim at perfecting your own souls, you strive for the progress of your own souls. You become egoists! — It must be admitted that many capricious fancies, many failings and errors may arise in men’s endeavours towards perfection. What very often appears to be the principle of development adopted among anthroposophists does not by any means always call for admiration. Behind this striving there is often a great deal of hidden egoism.

On the other side it must be emphasised that we are living in an epoch of civilisation when devoted willingness for sacrifice only too often goes to waste. Although lack of love is in evidence everywhere, there is also an enormous waste of love and willingness for sacrifice. This must not be misunderstood; but it should be realised that love, if it is not accompanied by wisdom in the conduct of life, by wise insight into the existing conditions, can be very misplaced and therefore harmful rather than beneficial. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 135 – REINCARNATION AND KARMA THEIR SIGNIFICANCE IN MODERN CULTURE 4. Examples of the working of karma between two incarnations – Stuttgart, 21 February 1912 

Translated from shorthand reports unrevised by the lecturer, by D.S.   Osmond, C. Davy and S. and E. F. Derry.

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Buddha/The Eightfold Path/Christ

Nineteen centuries and roughly five more have now elapsed since the great Buddha lived on the Earth; in about three thousand years from now — this we learn from occultism — a considerable number of human beings will have reached the stage of being able to evolve the wisdom of the Buddha, the Eightfold Path, out of their own moral nature, out of their own heart and soul. Buddha had once to be on Earth, and the power that mankind will develop little by little as the wisdom of the Eightfold Path proceeded from him; after about three thousand years from now men will be able to unfold its teaching from within themselves; it will then be their own possession and they will no longer be obliged to receive it from outside. Then they will be able to say: This Eightfold Path springs from our very selves as the wisdom of compassion and love.

Even if nothing else had happened than the setting in motion of the Wheel of the Law by the great Buddha, in three thousand years from now humanity would have become capable of knowing the doctrine of compassion and love. But it is a different matter also to have acquired the faculty to embody it in very life. Not only to know about compassion and love, but under the influence of an Individuality to unfold it as living power — there lies the difference. This faculty proceeded from Christ. He poured love itself into men and it will grow from strength to strength. When men have reached the end of their evolution, wisdom will have revealed to them the content of the doctrine of compassion and love; this they will owe to Buddha. But at the same time they will possess the faculty of letting the love stream out from the Ego over mankind; this they will owe to Christ.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 114 – The Gospel of St. Luke – Lecture Nine – Basel, September 25, 1909

Previously posted on December 25, 2013

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