The path to the peaks of knowledge and the path to the heights of compassion are one and the same. Only knowledge and understanding -not preaching- will lead to empathy.

A man with a broken leg will not be helped by the compassion of a surrounding crowd, but by one who, knowing what to do, treats his leg correctly.

Mere preaching is like standing before a stove, and asking it to perform its duty of warming up the room. It is the same when you tell people they need to practise brotherly love. Just  as one must put wood in the stove and light a fire, so must he give people the knowledge their souls need in order to join in brotherly love.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 97 – Das christliche Mysterium – Vienna, February 22, 1907 (page 245)

Anonymous translator

Previously posted on November 15, 2015

It is of no avail to speak of virtue, selflessness or freedom

Those who boast most about their altruism are really the least unselfish of all. Just as those who use the word “truth” in every third sentence usually are the least truthful. It is important to penetrate deeper and deeper into the truths and insights of spiritual science; not to pursuit ideals as: I know I will overcome my I – With such a phrase nothing is gained. Nothing happens, for example when I tell a burning stove: you must be a good stove, you need to make the room warm. – You can stroke the stove and treat him with loving kindness but nothing will happen. That stove will remain cold. Only when the wood is added and lighted will the stove become hot. Similarly, it has no value to preach virtue, selflessness or freedom. The right thing is: give the people fuel; and the right fuel in this instance will be the spiritual truths.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 56 – Die Erkenntnis der Seele und des Geistes – Berlin, December 12, 1907 (page 148)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger


Not preaching and restrictions are helpful, but insight

When people do not build their social ideas according to the foundations of Anthroposophical spiritual science, then humanity will not be able to avoid the disasters which are so terribly evident nowadays. I know the value of what emanates from people who are nowadays called pacifists and such, people who are enthusiastic about all kinds of peace movements. However such things do not get established through restrictions or by merely ordaining this or that must happen. People may fully agree about what should happen. If one, however, only establishes the rules, only the laws from out of the customary way of thinking, it is as if one would say to a stove: Dear stove, it’s your duty as stove to heat the room; so you are going to make this room nice and warm immediately. However, this will not happen, one must first fill the stove with wood and light the fire. It would be wonderful if this could be done by just by telling the stove to do so, but it will not happen. Not unless one provides the wood and light the fire.  

Just as little would the conventional ideas on peace-keeping and so on commonly accepted be adequate. The point here is that one does not just say: people, love one another, but that one – just as pointed out in the example of the stove –  provide the fuel that will speak to the human souls. The fuel needed here are ideas that stem from absorbing spiritual insight in a living way. Because the human soul does not only belong to material life, but also to spiritual life. And often it is still not understood nowadays what it really means that the human soul is part of the spiritual world. It is believed that one comes nearer to the supersensible through applying certain laws. This is not the case.

Source(German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 72 –  Freiheit Unsterblichkeit Soziales Leben – Basel, 18th October 1917 (page 58-59)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger