Friday, January 1, 2016

Anthroposophy: Self-education of the soul



Rudolf Steiner, April 3, 1912:  "We work together in our groups and gatherings; not only do we hear there certain truths which tell us that there are various worlds — that man consists of various principles or bodies, or whatever we like to call them; but by allowing all this to influence us, although we may not always notice it, our soul will gradually change to something different, even without our going through an esoteric development. What we learn through spiritual science makes our soul different from what it was before. Compare your feelings after you have taken part in the spiritual life of a working group for a few years, the way in which you feel and think, with the thoughts and feelings you had before, or with the way in which people think and feel who are not interested in spiritual science. Spiritual science does not merely signify the acquisition of knowledge; it signifies most pre-eminently an education, a self-education of our souls. We make ourselves different; we have other interests. When a man imbues himself with spiritual science, the habits of attention for this or for that subject which he developed during previous years, alter. What interested him before, interests him no longer; that which had no interest for him previously, now begins to interest him in the highest degree. One ought not simply to say that only a person who has gone through esoteric development can attain to a connection with the spiritual world; esotericism does not begin with occult development. The moment we make any link with spiritual science with our whole heart, esotericism has already begun; our souls begin at once to be transformed. There then begins in us something resembling what would arise, let us say, in a being who had previously only been able to see light and darkness, and who then through a special and different organization of the eyes, begins to see colors. The whole world would appear different to such a being. We need only observe it, we need only realize it, and we shall soon see that the whole world begins to have a different aspect when we have for a time gone through the self-education we can get in a spiritual science circle. This self-education to a quite definite feeling with regard to the spiritual world, this self-education to a perception of what lies behind the physical facts, is a fruit of the spiritual scientific movement in the world, and is the most important part of spiritual understanding. We should not believe that we can acquire a spiritual understanding by mere sentimentality, by simply repeating continually that we wish to permeate all our feelings with love. Other people, if they are good, wish to do that too; this would only be giving way to a sort of pride. Rather should we make it clear to ourselves how we can educate our feelings by letting the knowledge of the facts of a higher world influence us, and transforming our souls by means of this knowledge. This special manner of training the soul to a feeling for a higher world is what makes the spiritual scientist."