Saturday, March 16, 2019
The Self-Education of the Human Being
Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, March 14, 1912:
[Nota Bene: This translation sucks. — Larry]
The present cultural conditions and in particular the perspective on the conditions of the near future will certainly ascribe more and more importance to human self-education. This evening I would like to say something about that, even if only by way of a hint. Expressly I would like to stress from the start that this talk wants to speak on the usual self-education and not on the education for spiritual research. The usual self-education has to precede the education for spiritual research; it is not only of importance for the latter, but generally for every human being.
Everybody certainly feels already with the word self-education that in a certain respect this word indicates, actually, something contradictory or at least something whose execution causes big difficulties. Why this? Simply because education requires the support of something strange, of somebody outranking the child to be educated. If one speaks of self-education one means, of course, that education which the human being can grant to himself, that means that education where the human being is educator and pupil at the same time. With it, a big life difficulty is certainly called.
Let us consider what one can say about the education of the child, of the young human being, from the viewpoint of spiritual science. You find it summarized in my booklet The Education of the Child from the Viewpoint of Spiritual Science. It is impossible, of course, to state even introductorily today, what I have written in that booklet. But I would like to point to the fact that if we pursue the development of the young human being we get around to accepting certain main impulses of education as it were up to a certain degree of maturity of this human being. We realize that about up to the seventh year of the child, up to the second dentition, the education has to start from the imitative instinct of the child. I have stressed in that writing that what is more important than all rules of morality and all other instructions for the education of the child in these first years is that which the child sees and hears from the adults in its surroundings. If we go on, we find that important period which begins with the second dentition and lasts possibly until sexual maturity.
There we find again, if we get free from all prejudices and look only at the real development of the human being, at the real conditions of this development, that authority is the most significant impulse of education for these years. A healthy education for these years comes about if the child faces adults in whom he can trust, so that it can form its principles, its rules of conduct based on authority of these human beings without intervening with any pale intellectual idea or any immature criticism. The authoritative principle is the basic educational principle for these years.
If we pursue the young human being up to the twentieth, twenty-first years, we find as the essentials the maturity of reason and in particular the view up to an impersonal ideal, so to a purely spiritual educational impulse that stands over what the human being himself can be at this age. This is just the being of the ideal for which we strive and have the feeling any time, in particular as young people, that our whole behavior and being are not really commensurate to the ideal, that we can never really reach it. Not before these periods are over does the human being arrive at that epoch of his Earth existence in which he can begin self-education.
With the exception of the third educational impulse which is also for the young human being in such a way that he takes it as an ideal from the great impulses of world history, and that other human ideals are given to him that he takes over also from the outside, the other educational impulses are founded upon an ideal, upon the relation to something still strange, to something that is assumed to be more perfect. That is why the pupil faces the educational impulses as something strange; he looks up to them.
If one has really to speak of self-education, it is a given that one cannot speak as one has spoken of the educational impulses for the first years, and in that is not only contained the logical-inconsistent, but the ideal-inconsistent.
If the human being has to become his own educator, one has to assume that the impulses of that are in him. But if the human being has to become his own educator, does it not at once suggest itself that he less improves himself with this own education, or that he makes his living conditions richer than rather to restrict them? Does it not suggest itself at once that he undertakes the self-education according to certain things which are already in him which he has taken into his head or has accepted, and that he neglects the rich possibilities which may come from his inside, so that he could easily restrict himself by such a self-education instead of increasing and perfecting it? Does this contradiction not suggest itself?
Yes, we see — because of the conditions of civilization — that necessarily self-education becomes more and more the object of consideration that everywhere the views about self-education appear. We can understand this. We do not want to go back to ancient India or Egypt and to understand how there a certain caste classification put the human being to a certain place of life from the start and made it impossible to him to develop freely, and that the social order dictated or even dictates today how he had or has to behave.
We do not need going back to these old times. We can go to those times, which still project in ours, and we realize that the human being was or still is defined by blood relationship, by the fact that he was or is affiliated to a family, to a caste, and so on. But we also realize on the other side that from this social structure just in our present something else forms that confronts the human being with the other human being, so that human being and human being face each other in the social order. Yes, we see even that not only human being and human being face each other, but that the human being is on his own more and more if he feels confronted to nature and universe.
We realize that he depends on his own judgment in the course of his life, on his convictions, on how he can think about moral, aesthetic, religious relations. It is quite natural that the human being who is more on his own must have the requirement: I have to look into myself what confronted me as a human being to the human being what puts me generally as a human being adequately in the world. We can understand that under these conditions more and more one calls for self-education. How the human being has to behave if he has to position himself in life and world according to particular conventional rules, this can be put into the education of the child. However, as our life develops and has to develop more and more, because the conditions of this development cannot be turned back, it turns out that the human being has to feel called in every situation of life in which he faces another human being, actually, to develop an unbiased judgment over and over again.
There he has to work on himself his whole life through to get a bigger and bigger perfection toward the world. The most important impulses for it are not given, actually, during our childhood, but when the human being has to gain his own position in the world, so that he is on his own according to his age. Then he has to begin becoming his own educator when he does no longer feel the urge to submit to other educators. Thus, we see our literature and our public life flooded with all possible considerations about the development of the personality, about the attempts to find the harmony of life and so forth. This is comprehensible for our time. However, someone who looks deeper into these things notices soon that within such contemporary attempts just that is often expressed which I have characterized as an impulse which limits life instead of improving and enriching it.
There we realize that one follows this or that ideal to give instructions with which the human being is able to work on his thinking. The other prefers physical instructions, prescribes for all human beings what he himself likes mostly maybe according to his palate and preference, gives all kinds of outer physical education or prescribes this or that diet, this or that daily organization, and so forth. However, I would like to stress from the start that I do not criticize these attempts completely; much good can be in them. However, a lot can also work one-sidedly, as for example the attempts which go back to the book In Tune with the Infinite (1897) by Ralph Waldo Trine. Somebody who dedicates himself to such attempts and makes a narrow concept of a harmonious life, develops and improves not so much his vitality, but restricts and limits it even if he may experience a feeling of well-being or inner satisfaction or maybe even bliss because of such a restriction. However, one can ignore that just with these attempts in the present the strangest peculiarities appear and give everybody the opportunity, without occupying himself very much with these matters, to recommend that as something generally human for which he has personal preferences.
One has to go deeper into human nature if one wants to speak spiritual-scientifically about self-education. This is just the characteristic of spiritual science that it avoids the one-sidedness of the other attempts. It has as it were these other attempts as small circles around itself, and it wants to be the big circle, which wants to recognize the conditions for the single human life from the devotion to the whole nature of the human being. It is always more comfortable to dedicate yourself to one-sided directions which promise to restore health possibly in a short time or to improve memory or to get practical results in life. The way of spiritual science is more difficult and more uncomfortable, but it is that which is based on the whole nature of the human being.
Speaking of self-education we maybe can get a tip thereby how self-education is to be managed favorably if we consider that already at that time when the human being has to be educated by others a certain self-education intervenes. This may appear as an even bigger contradiction than the earlier intimated one; but it is not. For spiritual science shows that the human self is different from that which is enclosed in the immediate personality. Yes, the whole spiritual-scientific consideration is based on the fact that the human being can exceed himself as it were without losing himself. Do you already find any example of that which spiritual science wants to represent in much more comprehensive way in all areas of existence, actually?
Yes, two things in the usual life already show that the human being gets beyond his personal and can stay, so to speak, with himself, does not need to lose himself. One of them is sympathy, shared joy, compassion, comprehensive love. What is this love based on? It appears not so mysterious only as it is because the human being accepts the habitual easily. As well as the savage does not ask why the Sun rises and sets, but accepts the habitual, and the human being only begins thinking about rising and setting if he is cultivated, the human being does also not think about shared joy and compassion. Not before one begins recognizing the sense and the purpose of life, something like shared joy and compassion become life riddles. We need only to imagine one thing, and we will realize at once that shared joy and compassion are extensions of the human self.
Joy and grief are the most intimate experiences of the human being. If we face another human being and an impulse appears in us that reflects his grief or joy in us, we do not live only in ourselves but also in the other. But any philosophical speculation that the sensory impression anyhow releases something in us cannot belie the reality that something active originates from the commiseration of joys and sufferings of the other in us. Where we feel his joy, his grief intimately, we have left ourselves and have penetrated into the sanctum of the other human being. We need only to imagine, because we cannot penetrate the consciousness of the other with our consciousness: if we experienced a faint-like state in the soul of the other when we feel compassion or shared joy in the other soul, then we would be unable to go from the one to the other personality without losing ourselves. As weird as it sounds, as significant as it is for life: we leave ourselves and penetrate into the other without becoming unconscious.
Exactly after the same pattern, any spiritual-scientific development takes place. As the human being penetrates by shared joy and compassion into a foreign being without losing himself, he penetrates spiritual-scientifically recognizing into foreign beings without losing himself. In the normal life, this is not possible, because if the human being leaves himself recognizing, perceiving, he just falls asleep, then he is no longer aware of himself. In the normal life, the human being does not do this what he does in the moral life just in the case of shared joy and compassion. This is why the peculiar behavior of the human being with shared joy and compassion is the exemplary picture of any spiritual-scientific activity; it proceeds in such a way as the normal life proceeds in compassion and shared joy. This is the one where the human being exceeds his own personality and does not lose himself.
The other thing that is also for the usual life in the field of moral is the conscience. Someone who investigates the conscience knows that it already exceeds the personal sympathies and antipathies; yes, it can even correct them powerfully. Again, our moral life is so organized that we do not lose ourselves or faint if we exceed ourselves by such judgments of conscience. Spiritual science is based on the fact that the human being can enter an area which is beyond the personality which he encompasses with his everyday consciousness and in which he still does not lose himself. Is that also not based on that with which we have dealt in these talks repeatedly: the insight into the repeated lives on Earth and into the principle of causes and effects from one life to the other? It is also based on it. The human being who encompasses with the usual consciousness what is between birth and death learns to recognize by spiritual science that he may regard this as his personal self. He also learns to recognize his higher self to which he ascends if he leaves his personal self with thinking. He recognizes that this self builds up the body and lives not only between birth and death, but goes through many births and deaths and appears repeatedly.
If the human being cannot remember former conditions of the Earth and only theoretically convinces himself of the truth of reincarnation and karma, he can still assume that that which is in him which is transpersonal does not exhaust itself in his personality, but that it creates his personality first, becomes effective in it. As we exceed ourselves in our conscience, in compassion and shared joy by immediate experience, spiritual-scientific research exceeds by experience to a higher area.
But the human being can never admit if he knows spiritual science that he himself is lost in this higher area, but there something prevails that is connected with him, to which he belongs and in which he does not lose himself at all if he loses himself at first with his usual normal consciousness there.
Thus, spiritual science is something that appears as an exemplary image of a being enclosing a higher self as we enclose other foreign beings in compassion and shared joy without losing ourselves. If we know our enlarged self by which we enter into foreign beings, we are allowed already to speak with the education of the child that except that with which we can comply as educators, which develops from the normal consciousness, a higher being already works on the child. If we consider this, we maybe find something in the child where already a kind of education takes place, while we can turn with our usual education only to the personal self of the child.
Where do we find the higher self of the child, which does not become conscious? It may seem weird; still it is right, that it works in the child with the rational, with the well-controlled playing. To the playing child we can only give the conditions of education. But what is done by playing is done by its self-activity, by everything that we cannot formulate as strict rules. Yes, just the essentials and the pedagogic of playing are based on the fact that we stop with our rules, with our pedagogic arts, and leave the child to its own forces. Since then the child tries playing with outer objects whether this or that works by its own activity. It puts his own will in motion, in activity. And by the way in which the outer things behave under the effect of its will, the child can educate itself in another way than by the influence of a person or his educational principle, even if only playing.
Hence, it is so important that we mingle as little intellectual as possible into the play of the child. The more the play operates in what is not understood, what is looked in its living, the better the play is. If we give, hence, the child toys which simulate the movements of human beings or things by drawing threads or in any way, may it be in a picture book with movable animals or human beings, or in other toys, we educate it by the play better than giving it the nicest boxes of building blocks. Since in this too much intellectual activity interferes already what belongs to a more personal principle than that experimenting around with the alive-movable that is not grasped intellectually but is observed in its full activity. The less defined and contrived this is what appears in the play, the better it is because something higher that cannot be forced into the human consciousness can then enter because the child relates to life trying and not intellectually. There we realize how something educates the child already that exceeds the personal.
In a way, playing remains an important educational factor for the whole life. Of course, I do not mean the card game here, because all games that are directed to the intellect claim the personal of the human being that is bound mostly to the instrument of the brain. Even if much favorable is said about chess, it can never be a factor of self-education because it depends on that which is bound mostly to the instrument of the brain that has to infer. If the human being is active with gymnastics where he has to set his muscles in motion in such a way that he can infer nothing at all that he does not strain his intellect, but directly develops with the activities and not with intellectual understanding, then we deal with a self-pedagogic play.
From it, we directly gain an important principle of any self-education. This is that the human being who has to educate himself by the education of his intellect and in particular by the education of his will depends on the care of the contact and interrelation with the outside world. The human will can be educated not by inner intellectual training, but it strengthened, so that the human being has a firm hold inside if he maintains the will while the own will and the outside world interact.
That is why the usual self-education is almost injured if the human being tries to strengthen his will for the outer life by inner means, by inner training. There we get to various things which are downright recommended for self-education today, and against which spiritual science cannot enough warn. There one recommends how you can get a confident manner how you develop the will, so that you can position yourself in life and carry out such actions which correspond to your intentions. There one recommends, for example: do such exercises to avoid fear, curiosity, or other passions and negative sensations. I know that someone who hears that will say after, today he has spoken against the control of fear, of passion and so forth. — But this is not the case, I have said that the requirements that the human being puts to himself in such a way can lead to no real will culture. Since he should get this will culture which the human being needs for the outer life by the interaction with the outer life. It is much more appropriate if the human being needs a strong will for life that he tries to get it by exerting outer strength while he has to strain his body and to pay attention with his eyes, so really leading off the fight with the immediate sensory world. This harmonizes us with the outer world, with that outer world from which our whole physical organization is formed, admittedly, formed by the spirit.
However, while we direct our self-education in such a way, we also work on those parts of our spiritual organism that harmonize us with that outside world. But if we work only inside with concentration of thought and other methods that are found in the bookstores today, we work separated from the world in this restricted soul that is not harmonized with the world, but just has its importance from the fact that it secludes itself. It is quite correct that whoever exposes himself to outer dangers and tries to overcome them practices a better self-education than he who buys some books about self-education and carries out exercises to achieve fearlessness, dispassion, and the like.
Indeed, such things of easy kind can give personal advantages, but always because the person concerned develops what separates him from the world, while he positions himself by the first-characterized attitude unselfishly in the world. I said, now someone could state, so you speak against fearlessness, dispassion, and against all things about which one can say that it leads to self-education while overcoming them. — Only in one case, this must be stressed if it concerns the development of the will for the outer physical world, if the human being wants to strengthen the will in the outer world, because just these things cause only an inner work and are applied wrongly to the education of the character, to the education of the will. Rightly, you apply them to the education of your knowledge.
Someone who wants to get knowledge, who wants to see into the supersensible world and has no other goal at first, can rightly do such exercises. Hence, if anything is got out of spiritual science competently, the instruction is not given: How Does One Attain Forces to Develop the Will in the Everyday World?, but there are instructions: How Does One Attain Knowledge of the Higher Worlds? Where such instructions are given, one pays attention to such terms exactly. These things, as they are described in my book How Does One Attain Knowledge of the Higher Worlds?, also lead to a culture of the will, not directly, but indirectly, while that which aims at this development in the higher worlds waits for that which comes then. The development of the will must take place by itself, and then it works in the right sense and takes healthy ways.
So we can say that will culture, self-education of the will, must be out to produce a healthy relation to the outside, whether this relation refers more to issues of the physical culture, whether that which is searched for here refers more to the development of character. There it is much more important instead of brooding how one becomes intrepid, without passion and the like to face life and the human beings, and then to leave yourself to your impartial feeling which is filled more or less with sympathy or antipathy. While we go through life in such a way that we develop our interest in life everywhere, we produce that interplay with the outer world that can lead the will from step to step. This develops our will, while we face life with all sympathies and antipathies that it claims from us. To put it another way: that forms our will which leads us beyond us to the world. Everything that leads us from the world into us develops — and there it is necessary — our knowledge, this just furthers our inner life if we want to develop own knowledge. However, own knowledge is in the field of psychic development. We have to confess that we become more harmonious in relation to the philosophy of life, to the achievement of life riddles, while we develop our cognitive faculties, while we appropriate inner forces. Against it, the will is only developed for life itself in the right way.
With it, we have shown where the teacher of self-education is to be searched, actually, who would have to be the human being himself. No, the human being must not be it in his narrow personality, and in particular, he has not to be it in relation to the self-education of will. If we assume with spiritual science that the human being can leave his personality without losing himself, then we educate if we open ourselves to life, in particular in such a way as playing works on the child — the comparison must not be misunderstood — then we educate our will. But how? The intellectual culture does not really further our development, has no self-pedagogic value. That element must play the biggest role with self-education that outreaches intellectuality, reason, while we appropriate maturity of life. Just like playing educates the child best of all that it is educated not intellectually, but while it is trying, the human being educates his will best of all with those experiences of life which he understands not with his reason but facing them with sympathy, with love, with the feeling that the things are lofty or touch humor. This furthers us. Here is the self-education of the will. Reason, intellectual culture, cannot work on the will at all. Observe how the immediate experience works on the will.
A moral philosopher who does not stand on the viewpoint of reincarnation — Carneri (Bartholomäus C., 1821–1909, Austrian philosopher, poet, politician) — draws attention to the fact that the character of the child is something steady, but forms just with those elements which emerge immediately from life. Then he asks, what can the character of a human being change in short time? He says, it can change radically, for example, by mighty love or by a friendship where the human being suddenly unfolds such a sympathy that does not examine but loses itself in the human being. — There the character can suddenly take another turn simply because in those spheres where the character is, that is where the will works, the frames of mind are involved in the immediate life. If we face a human being and recognize him as this or that excellent or bad person working directly with our reason, our character does not change; otherwise, the judges would often have to change within one week. But if these or those feelings of friendship occur, the whole configuration of the human character often changes. This is evidence of the fact that the culture of will depends on the development of the frames of mind. Because we can take charge of our life, can change our frames of mind, in a way, so to speak, we take charge of our will-education in certain respect. But it is important to pay attention to life and that we do not live chaotically and dedicate ourselves comfortably to the stream of life, but just pay attention to it. Then we realize that a human being can be more the educator of his self if he can take charge of his frames of mind but that the worst self-educator is that human being who never takes charge of his moods, but perpetually loses himself in them.
If we want to be educators of our will, we have to turn to our feelings and sensations and to investigate in wise self-knowledge how we can work on our feelings and sensations. If we have lost ourselves in sympathy or antipathy, then it is not the time to work on us. Hence, we must pick out the moments of will education where we especially are not engaged with our moods, but can think about our life and our sensations. That means that self-education must take place just when the demanded moments require it the least from us. But then people do it the least, because they are not concerned. Someone who resorts to his moods after again notices only later that he has omitted something. This is one of the most important principles: that the will must be educated in life, while the human being wisely takes charge of the course of his moods.
Against it, the will is always developed to the selfish side when the human being wants to strengthen his will from the intellect. Such exercises are good immediately for our knowledge culture, for that which we want to get in the spiritual or later even in the psychic fields. But then we can do nothing but work on ourselves within our souls. Besides, it is particularly important that the human being pays attention above all to the big contrast which exists between the self-education of the inner life and the self-education of the outer life. In relation to both, mistakes are made, and we see one-sidedness about one-sidedness working. What is not recommended for the body? It has become maybe rare, but there also are even today people who wrap themselves especially strongly and say, wrapping also protects against heat. The other is more widespread, that one recommends one-sided toughening to protect against cold and the rigors of weather, against it to expose oneself to aerial and solar cures. These are not the essentials that the human being exposes himself to solar heat so and so long what may be quite useful for this or that purpose, but may not be a means of education, or that he does cures with cold water repeatedly. The essentials for the body are versatility which enables the body to expose itself also once to the cold, without catching cold, or to walk once in the boiling solar heat about a quite unshaded place. Hence, one could say that a reasonable self-education cannot agree as a rule with most things that one recommends today, but will pay attention that something of all works on us harmoniously.
Just the opposite of what is good for our body is good for the mind, for the soul. While the outer body needs versatility, adaptation to the outer conditions, the soul needs concentration for the intellectual culture, the possibility to lead back the sum of thoughts, sensations, and perceptions to a few basic ideas. That human being who does not endeavor for his intellectual self-education to lead back his knowledge to some basic ideas that can control everything else will see his memory suffering, also his nervous system and the way in which he has to position himself in life. Someone who can lead back certain things to main ideas will realize that he faces the outer life quietly where it demands actions from him. However, someone who goes through life only in such a way that he does not lead back to some basic ideas that which life offers will show that he remembers poorly, that he faces life with a certain disharmony. Because in our time the belief in the concentration of the mind exists so little and is searched so little, also a lot of other evil appears as defects of self-education, above all nervousness. While one develops the will, while one lets his muscles interact with the outer life, one has to develop his nervous system by mental concentration. Briefly, everything that works from the inside out and develops in the nervous system is furthered by leading back our life to single ideas, by recollection. The care of the nervous system and of that which forms its basis in the spiritual is necessary if the human being wants to face life internally strengthened.
If we speak about these questions, a newer, materialistic view can force itself on us in this respect, even if the older one can be often disputed from the viewpoint of modern humaneness. One confuses two things normally. The human being cannot become nervous by education of his will, but by a wrong education of his will. The will education can lead to nervousness while the human being searches it wrongly, if he wants to get around to it with some inner means that work on his mental pictures instead of connecting himself with the outer world and strengthening his will with its obstacles.
Thereby his will can easily become nervous. Today this nervousness is already so understood that it has to be treated rather leniently. Carneri tells an interesting case of it. Once there was a landowner who, while he was otherwise a good-natured person, had such a soul state sometimes that he pummeled his people, and one called this a special case of nervousness. His people had to suffer exceptionally much, but those endlessly regretted who understand the most after the present views that he had to pummel his people repeatedly. This went well as long as he caught a Tartar once whom he also wanted to pummel. However, the other man took a stick and pummeled the landowner severely, so that he had to remain lying in bed for one week. Now something appeared, while once the landowner was regretted because of his soul states, now one stopped not only regretting him, but he was completely changed after some time.
I do not want to recommend something with it, but such a fact is exceptionally instructive. If we check it, we can realize very well: if one had tried to persuade the landowner, his nervousness would have remained. If one had worked on his mind, he would not have interacted with the outside world, he would not have changed. However, he interacted with the outside, namely with the cane of the other. With something that he would never have understood in the very own sense he got to know the effect which he had produced from his frame of mind, from his nervousness when he faced life. Thus, the concept “will culture” must be corrected first that the will can be only toughened by the contact with the outside world even if we do not want to educate our will as in the cited drastic case.
As to the intellectual life with self-education, we have to be able to live internally in such a way that we evoke this fruitful element that is in us, indeed, but may lie idle. We develop it while we hold together our stock of perceptions, while we peruse it repeatedly, look back at certain ideas, and survey what we have experienced in life to put it repeatedly before us. In particular, it is important that we can not only remember, think, imagine, but that we learn to forget in right way. Oblivion should not be recommended here as a special virtue, but if we face the one or the other in life, we notice very soon that we cannot carry what we experience completely from one moment of the experience to a later one. We can do it with mental pictures sometimes, but we can do it in the least cases with sensations, feelings, pains, and sufferings. How do these work on? They grow pale, and in the hidden depths of the soul, they are working on. That which one forgets there is a healthy element, which descends in the hidden depths of our soul life. By this descending of a healthy element, we have something that works on us that can bring us again from step to step. It does not concern that we stuff ourselves as it were with all kinds of material, but it concerns to pursue the things carefully but to keep back that which we need, and to sink that which we have otherwise experienced in the depths of our soul. Thereby we maintain attention in particular. Someone who does not believe that this is something important will say, oh that does not matter. — He does not take charge of his own personality. However, somebody who knows that it matters what one forgets, says to himself, I have to take charge of my life, I must not let everything work on myself. If I go to this or that circle where one chats silly stuff only, it can be that I forget it because I am an intellectual person, but it matters whether I forget this silly stuff or something reasonable. — Thus, it matters which object you include in your oblivion. Since from this forgotten something often ascends that now is the object of our imagination, of our fancy. While the intellectual element fatigues life, everything that sets our soul forces in motion in such a way that we invent something is a fruitful, stimulating, and life-supporting element. This is something that we have to foster in a wise self-education in particular.
Thus we have also considered some moments of self-education relating to the intellect and the inner soul element. If we foster this inner soul element in particular and appreciate it, we will realize that it flows into the will automatically, into the character, while we rather weaken it with all efforts that we undertake to influence the character directly because we do not interact with the world.
Spiritual science can support all such things that can serve for self-education with the principle of reincarnation and karma. That means, what I experience in the present life is the effect of former lives, and what I experience now causes that which I face in the following lives.
Thereby you learn if you introduce the ideas of the repeated lives on Earth and of karma in your life to cause the right balance of resignation and desire of activity. Concerning both, we can commit the biggest sins with our self-education. People do just the opposite of that resignation and desire of activity that corresponds to a real wise self-education. An anthroposophist will say to himself, what occurs to me in life as my destiny, as pains or joys, what brings me together with these or those human beings and so on I have to consider it under the viewpoint that I am that with my self which exceeds my narrow personality who has caused all that.
Then we get to something that could appear at first in such a way as if it could lead to weakness, to the resignation of fate because we know that we ourselves have caused it. As well as the things occur to us, they must occur because they have originated from us in such a way. If we have this resignation, it strengthens our will because it is not caused by an inner training of the will, but by a relation to the outer destiny, to what occurs to us. There is nothing in the self-education that can make our will stronger but resignation and the devotion to destiny, but serenity. Someone weakens his will who is liverish at any opportunity and is indignant at his destiny. Someone strengthens his will who is able to submit to his destiny in wise self-education. Those human beings have the weakest will who feel at any opportunity in such a way as if this and that occurs to them completely undeservedly, as if they have simply to shake off it from themselves.
The present human being does seldom like this devotion. For it, he develops another devotion even more. Everywhere we see the devotion to the inside widespread, to the intellect, to the inner forces. There the human being dedicates himself straight away to his inner soul state and says, if you do not like this, it is due to you, because you are not attentive enough. — Today just those people are dedicated to the inside in the most who are indignant at the outer destiny. How complacent is the human being. The human being is especially complacent if he stresses repeatedly that nothing must be developed, actually, but that is already in him today. Today's doctrine of individuality is the purest doctrine of devotion. The fact that the individuality must be led up and that one has to let no opportunity unused for that is something that argues tremendously against the feelings of devotion of the modern active human beings.
One has to harmonize inner humility and activity properly. But we are able to do this only if we are open to life. This is a demand that we must put just to ourselves self-education. So the human being looking at the future can say to himself, that which I develop will work on me in future, will enrich my destiny. — If the human being extends his life beyond the present embodiment and can look at the effect of his present existence, the urge of activity will awake and the human being will rise beyond his present nature, and his devotion will be active in right way, if he understands that he himself has caused what he experiences in the present.
Thus, just the ideas of reincarnation and karma can deliver what we want for our destiny. The questions of self-education no sooner get right answers before spiritual science cannot merge into the inner longing of the searching human beings. Spiritual science does not want to agitate, but it wants to give that to the present which corresponds to the inner urge of the modern human being. It was always in such a way that, indeed, truth had to serve to any age for which it was determined in appropriate form but that at the same time this age has always rejected truth. Hence, spiritual science can also not escape from the destiny, as necessary as it is, to be misjudged and faces the fact that today one says, it is an empty pipe dream, daydreaming, unless anything worse. But just if one considers such decisive questions, one sees the meaning and the range of what spiritual science can offer as an elixir of life. Then one can also expect what it is, and what it can be as an elixir of life. One can apply a saying to it which can help somebody who realizes its true depths and significance get over any opposition and misunderstanding, a saying which a man has spoken with whom one cannot agree everywhere but who hit the nail right on the head in a certain respect. The saying of Arthur Schopenhauer is applicable to the destiny of the spiritual-scientific truth: “During all centuries, the poor truth had to blush about the fact that it was paradoxical, and, nevertheless, it is not its guilt. It cannot accept the figure of the sitting enthroned general fallacy. There it looks up sighing to its protective god, Time, which promises victory and fame, but its strokes of wing are so big and slow, that the individual dies in the meanwhile.”
Schopenhauer could not yet add what the modern spiritual science can add. May the protective god do such big strokes of wing that the individual cannot realize the truth of the time, that the individual has to die before the truth is victorious, spiritual science yet shows that in the human being an everlasting essence lives which always comes again and does not confine itself, but goes from life to life.
Hence, we can say to ourselves, even if the time's strokes of wing are so big that the single individual dies and does not experience the victory of truth, — our self, exceeding our personality, can still experience the victory of truth, this victory and all victories, because the always new life will defeat the old death. — The soul can express that which the spiritual researcher has to say about the enclosing nature of the human being as the deepest, most significant force of its life while saying to itself with Lessing: “Is not the whole eternity mine?”