Sunday, February 19, 2017

Life is an open book — read it and weep for joy

Rudolf Steiner:  "The manner in which a man's own being confronts him imaginatively depends entirely upon his soul. The point is that we alter our own being if we really get completely away from ourselves, if we work with all our energy to learn to know all our attributes that we can observe in ordinary life, the attributes we believe to be dreadful and possibly objectionable to other people. We must take serious note of these attributes that we carry about with us but really should not possess. We are naturally not concerned here with saying agreeable things but with speaking the truth objectively. We can rest assured that, if we will only go to work objectively, self-criticism will prove to be a full-time task, and only in the last extremity should we engage, as is rather commonly done by humanity, in criticism or judgment of others. He who occupies his mind much with others and criticizes them freely can be sure that he is far too little concerned with himself to enable him to clear away what must be cleared away if he is to see his own individuality in its true likeness. The reply to the oft-repeated query of why one does not progress, which by rights a man should answer himself, is obvious. He should refrain from all criticism of others except when outer necessity demands it. Above all, he should never forget what this “refrain” implies. It includes, for example, the occasional acceptance of something disagreeable or baneful. Certainly one must accept such things, but anyone who seriously believes in karma knows, naturally, that he brought all that on himself; karma placed the other man where he was in order that he might inflict the injury. A genuine personal reason for taking the world to task never really exists.
A great deal, then, is required to attain to this imagination, this self-cognition. Having achieved it, you will see why Frohschammer's picture of imprisonment is wrong. You come to realize that, while this incarnation in which you find yourself is indeed wonderfully beautiful and glorious, you yourself are not beautiful, you are not so constituted as to be able to take advantage of all that it offers. You say to yourself, “Here I stand in the world, at a certain point of time and space, surrounded by all that is grand and mighty. I have bodily organs to convey all this glorious and mighty magnificence. I have every reason to believe that we live in a paradise, even when ills befall us, because it all depends merely upon whether the dome of the sky towers above us, the stars travel their paths, the Sun rises every morning and sets in the glow of evening.” For full satisfaction, however, we are given our outer world and our bodies with their organs, but great indeed is the difference between what we might derive from the world and what we actually do derive. Why do we extract so little from it? Because something is embodied in our corporeality that is diminutive compared with the world, something that allows us to perceive a trifling sector of it. Just compare what your eyes actually see in the world with what you might see!
When we have learned to know ourselves imaginatively, we realize that we are by no means as well adapted to this world as we would be if we could make proper use of our entire organism. We discover that what we are, in the light of imaginative cognition, must be opposed by something else in the world. Here we arrive at an interesting dilemma that must impress our souls if we would really learn to know the world. We find that in view of all that surrounds him in the world, man, as he learns to know himself in the imaginative world, cannot possibly consider himself great and mighty. It is not a case of coming from a higher world and being imprisoned in this earth body, but of being not at all adapted to it, not able to make use of it all. For this reason the imaginative world is opposed by another, a world that corrects what man does badly as a result of his inability to use his body. As opposed to what man is in the imaginative world we have the whole cultural evolution of man, from the beginning of the world to the end.
    Why is this the case? We understand now that in the course of the cultural evolution of the Earth man must become, through many incarnations, what he will be able to be in some one future incarnation, and for this reason he has the longing to keep returning. In each incarnation he must long for what is impossible of achievement in a single Earth life. He must keep returning; then he can eventually become what it is possible to be in one incarnation. Precisely by acquiring the knowledge of and feeling for what he really should be in one life, but what he cannot be for inner — not outer — reasons, he knows what feeling must predominate in the soul when he passes through the portal of death. The predominating feeling must be a longing to return, in order to become, in the next life and in subsequent ones, what he could not become in one incarnation. This longing for ever new Earth lives must be the most powerful force. These thoughts can only be touched upon, but they yield the strongest confirmation of reincarnation."


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