Words and reality

This will be so infinitely necessary to the future of mankind; that men accustom themselves to enter into reality. People think almost exclusively in words today; they do not think in real terms.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 293 – The Study of Man: Lecture VII – Stuttgart, 28th August 1919

Translated by Daphne Harwood & Helen Fox

Previously posted on May 28, 2014


Not just the literal content

Today, lazy people, concerning themselves with the content of words only, often say when they read something: ‘I have read this before somewhere or other.’ They must learn to realise that what is of real importance is not the content of what is said, but who it is who is speaking; to realise that the man must be recognised from what he says, because the words are only gestures and the real point is to know who is making these gestures. That is what humanity must come to realise.
Here we have a great mystery of everyday life. It makes all the difference whether each sentence is the outcome of intense struggle on the part of the personal Ego or has been ‘inspired’ in some way either from below, or from above, or from one side or another. The power of suggestion is actually the greater in what has been inspired in this way, because in reading what has been the outcome of struggle, we ourselves have to wrestle with it. The time is approaching when the primary importance must no longer be attached to the purely literal content of what is before us, but above all to who is saying this or that — I do not mean only the actual physical personality, but the whole human-spiritual setting.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 182 – How Do I Find the Christ? – Zürich, October 16th, 1918

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond & Alan P. Shepherd

Words and Deeds

I always find it extremely humorous when well-meaning people say all the time that words don’t matter, deeds do! I’ve heard it proclaimed at the most unsuitable times, during discussions and from the rostrums, that it isn’t words but actions that count!
Everything that happens in the world in regard to actions depends on words! One who can see through things knows that nothing takes place that hasn’t been prepared in advance by somebody through words.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 339 – The Art of Lecturing: Lecture IV – Dornach, 14th October 1921

Translated by Maria St. Goar

If students are apt to be bored

If students are apt to be bored by what they have to listen to in preparation for their medical studies, it is not the fault of the natural science but of those who expound it. We should never speak of science as “boring,” but rather of “boring” professors! Truly the fault does not lie with science, for science has undoubtedly good solid matter to offer. However God-forsaken are many of those who expound science to-day, science herself has the co-operation of good Spirits.

When, however, we turn from these achievements of genuine and scholarly research and listen to what psychologists and philosophers have to say about the soul or the eternal part of man, we very soon realise that, apart from what has come from earlier traditions, it is all words, words, words, which lead nowhither. If out of the deepest needs of his soul a man turns to-day to psychology or philosophy, he will not merely be bored, he will find nothing whatever to answer his questions.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 231 – Supersensible Man: Lecture I – The Hague, 13th November 1923

Translated by Mary Adams

The great misfortune of our age

It is very pleasant to have ideals and fine principles and often still pleasanter to give expression to them. But what is needed is that we should really plunge down into the reality, recognise it, and penetrate it. We are plunging more and more deeply into that which has brought about these sad times, if we continue to carry on this worshipping of the idols of the husks and shadows of ideas, if we do not learn to see that it is not of the slightest value to have ‘such beautiful ideas and conceptions,’ and to talk about them unless there is the will to get right down to the realities and recognise them. If we do that, we shall not only find the substance, but also the Spirit therein. It is the worshipping of idols, of the mere shadows and husks of ideas, which lead us away from the Spirit. It is the great misfortune of our age, that people are intoxicated with fine words.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 175 – Cosmic and Human Metamorphoses – Lecture 4 – Morality, As A Germinating Force – Berlin, 27th February 1917

Translated by Harry Collison