Archive for category Politics
This is maybe the most important video in our time, he is pinpointing the main problem of materialism in a very practical and usable way.
In many ways the life before the seventies was in this way, although the state had made life somewhat complicated, but most people still managed their own time, and the children wasn’t put into institutions and few worked in public administration, they were their own masters or had much influence on their work. My father used much time building on the house, and generally lived a very little organized life with lots of freedom.
About Jon Jandai: Jon is a farmer from northeastern Thailand. He founded the Pun Pun Center for Self-reliance, an organic farm outside Chiang Mai, with his wife Peggy Reents in 2003.
Pun Pun doubles as a center for sustainable living and seed production, aiming to bring indigenous and rare seeds back into use. It regularly hosts training on simple techniques to live more sustainably.
Outside of Pun Pun, Jon is a leader in bringing the natural building movement to Thailand, appearing as a spokesperson on dozens of publications and TV programs for the past 10 years. He continually strives to find easier ways for people to fulfill their basic needs. For more information visit http://www.punpunthailand.org
And on Ecologic Sustainable Farming.
Pun Pun (meaning ‘thousand varieties’) is an organic farm, seed-saving operation, and sustainable living and learning centre based about 50km North of Chiang Mai, Thailand in Mae Taeng district.
Peggy and Jo – the two founders of Pun Pun.
I just saw this quote by Rudolf Steiner, and I had to read it more than once to understand it fully.
But it is sensible, only what we do out of love is fully our doing, if we don’t do it out of love, something else have ‘forced’ us to do it, desires, opinions, public opinions, regulations, laws, and so forth.
So to be truly free is to live in love, but it’s of course not some hallelujah kind of love or a sentimental one, it’s a genuine state of mind, being in peace in the soul.
But it’s impossible to live that way in a materialistic society, there is not much room for compassion and care in a society build on things and consumption.
We need a society build on Jon’s experience, a decentralized society, with local sustainable production.
Centralization is the problem of our current economic and political systems, evident in political decision-making, public institutions, companies and capital. The mantra ‘Big is Beautiful’ is wrong: The productivity per employee drops with the increasing size of the organisation, and that is because the single employee has less possibility to influence his own work and is too bound by rules. Also the large organizations are difficult to manage.
Centralized decision-making, for instance in the distance between government and population, increases the damage by wrong decision. The same goes for large corporations: the bigger the organization, the greater the danger for wrong decisions and for catastrophic results. However, this is only a small part of the danger of centralisation. In the following paragraphs I will look at its implications, which will be seen in greater aggressiveness, fewer social skills and decreasing possibilities to control our future. In other words, there are less possibilities to make decisions on a large scale as well as in our own lives, at home and work.
The danger of centralization works through various mechanisms, as
- Materialism, a purely physical view of the universe,
- Pervasive Politics, proliferation of the political system in daily life,
- Groupings, emphasis on group, race, and ethnicity, us and them,
- Orthodoxy, literal and “simple” interpretation of the Gospels,
- Superstition, spiritual beliefs without foundation in thinking skills,
- Abstract Thinking, cultivating abstract theorization,
- Quantitative Thinking, purely quantitative (statistical) observation.
Combined with a dualistic worldview where everything is black and white, these will increase the strife between people all over the world.
Dualistic thinking sees everything in opposites, and this is one of the greatest dangers today: “If you are not with me, you are against me”. This is a widespread sickness, especially on the internet where you can hide under anonymity. However, orthodoxy of any kind – religious, atheistic, or political – moves our future in a dangerous direction. What makes it so dangerous are that both sides believe that they fight on the side of good, but the reality is that they both fight for extremism, whereas truth is always somewhere in-between.
The deception is not to see the full picture, to understand both sides in any relation!
The challenge is to find the golden mean between the extremes.
The following paragraphs will look into different areas where dualism endangers our society.
The deception is not to see the full picture, to understand both sides in any relation!
The challenge is to find the Golden Mean between the extremes.
The following paragraphs will look into different areas where Dualism endangers our society.
Science is seen as the absolute truth against black superstition represented by religion. The latter is not seen as having different and complementary views on the same reality. It has become a kind of atheistic religion in itself, attacking spirituality and moral values. Darwin is their prime god, and their Messiahs are the sentient robots they hope will come and save the world. The problem are that most of the atheists don’t really understand what they are preaching, and they don’t accept scientific evidence if it’s against their own beliefs. See Is it possible to make Intelligent Machines?
Science can’t make decisions or take responsibility, as Science in itself has no morality per se. Science is always used by others: more dynamic groups in society, by players on the market or in politics, whose morals aren’t better than that of the courts or the voters.
You see dualism in politics, especially in two-party systems, where there is no space for other views. Politics dominates today everybody’s life, in contrast to forty years ago, where politics was talked about at the elections every fourth year. Back then, the laws gave rules for the relation between citizens, whereas today the laws regulate the relation between state and citizens.
The political invasion of the private sphere destroys the natural equilibrium of society. The economic system today is an example of this: the equilibrium of that system ends regularly in chaos, as the system is made for speculators, not for companies, nor for the country and its citizens. Today the decisions are taken via regulations or laws on behalf of groups, whereas in earlier times, the decisions were taken on behalf of individuals by those who were familiar with specific cases. Wrong decisions had only small consequences then, whereas wrong decisions today have far heavier consequences as more people are dependent on these decisions.
This is a problem all over the world, and it gets worse the more laws and rules people have to follow.
One of the biggest lies of today: We need more regulations as a result of society’s complexity. Wrong, it is more complex as a result of all those regulations. Computers take the complexity out of complex tasks, and prefabricated goods take the complexity out of manual work, so what is complex today, except the laws?
There is a tendency to split up in groups, instead of seeing mankind as one: people split up according to race, religion, language, land, locality, sex, or whatever. There is a lots of hate in this, not least on the Internet.
There is a tendency to read religious texts too narrowly. For instance, the Jehovah Witnesses and other religious groups who take their holy books too literally. Durban Two, where the Islamic countries tries to prohibit any criticism of religion, is a typical example showing that discussions of religious content is unwanted. New religious movements like Scientology, Atheism, the Moonies, and so on, are also too rigid.
Another trap is to accept words of religious, esoteric, and scientific origin without thought. The spiritually-inclined are in danger of reading spiritual literature without conscious understanding, but that includes also atheists reading scientific texts without understanding.
In contrast to real understanding, abstract thinking is seen everywhere, including the previous subjects discussed. Man is seen as a thing, not as a being. But reality is not abstract, and every decision based on abstract thinking is wrong, especially if living beings are involved.
This involves statistics, but without understanding. Let us say a politician want to make a law, and it will make 0.123% of all families go bankrupt, but as the percent is so low, nobody sees it as a problem. Nobody understands that there are real people behind those figures. Quantitative thinking always works through abstractions.
The development moves in a direction where we can expect that our personal ‘I’ is assimilated by the masses, the collective. In the western world we talk about freedom: that nobody should tell us what to do, and we fight (duality problem) against conspiracies, against CO2 pollution, against many other things, but we don’t define and work consistently for a world worth living in. At the same time, our capabilities to decide our own destiny are diminishing, regulated by law, organizations, computers, and infrastructure. The result may be that everybody just follows the paths with least resistance, which are built through directives, regulations, computer capabilities, ending in a situation where nobody thinks or makes decisions any more. And it’s all made for the good of the citizens by Big Mother.
Political Correctness is sneaking in everywhere, without any conscious effort by any conspiratorial agency, but because of the path of least resistance.
Many of the restrictions and laws are made because of poor parenting: children no longer learn to live in a community; they are each and all small kings and princesses, who don’t understand that others don’t see them as such. Their understanding of scientific, historic or creative endeavors is as small as it has ever been. Children of olden times learned more at the campfire than the children of today. As they don’t know how to behave, more and more laws are created to remedy this deficient parenting.
The central problem are that children aren’t allowed to be children any longer, or as Michael Jackson says:
You can’t make tax-systems as complicated as they are today without computers, and you can’t control the many citizens or employees, as we can today, without computers; the amount of data is enormous. They make it possible to create structures which are difficult to manage without using computers, and computers don’t know HR.
GM and the American Automobile Industry are good examples of these gigantic companies, who would be impossible to manage without stiff administrative structures and computers, and it’s extremely difficult to change these structures if it were needed. But modern software organizations have the same problems, with their software bases: Microsoft with its operating system, and Office system, Yahoo with it’s big software base. There are also problems with reduction of labour, and new organizations such as Google with its extreme growth, will quickly get into the same problems. The only way out is to regularly rebuild old systems from the ground without any application reuse, to keep different applications separated on application level and to use methods which make the programming as simple and cost effective as possible.
These big organizations are extremely susceptible to the Peters Principle:
I believe computers can be a boon to mankind, but we have to control how and what they are used for, not letting their possibilities decide our future, as their strength can be used both for good and evil purposes.
Management and Computers
You can use computers for many things: they can plan routes for transport, or decrease energy consumption, and many other useful things. This sounds good, but if we don’t take care, it could mean that it makes the knowledge and experience of man superfluous or even dangerous: man’s role can become degraded to that of a machine.
The need for knowledge is diminishing everywhere in society, except within the computer world. Many jobs which needed educated craftsmen can now be done by unskilled labor, as building materials don’t need special skills any more, and the computer has taken over a lot of paperwork and decision-making. This turns everyone into secretaries except the secretaries: Even executives write their own letters and calculating sheets on their computers, instead of using secretaries, so they don’t do what they were hired and paid for – manage.
The term “human resources” is in itself a degradation. People are no longer individuals: They are a kind of commodity. See “Human Resources” by Scott Noble.
The physicist Geoffrey B. West studies large structures like cities and corporate organisations, and has found that cities increase their productivity and also their problems, while corporate organisations decrease their productivity as they grow.
Public organisations have of course the same problems as the corporate companies, they don’t trust their employees.
Cities are good examples on how the unstructured principles works, how the size of the city increases the production per citizen.
No Competent Leaders
What makes it so frustratingly absurd is that we are giving away our independence to a system, a network of directives and conventions, without any persons being in charge. There is nowhere you can go to say that it’s wrong and it should be otherwise. Everybody will tell you, “That’s how it is and it has always been that way, and it can’t be in any other way, as it’s too costly to change the computers programming just because of you!” Of course we have leaders at the top of the state or the corporate companies, but as the decision-making is moved up through the hierarchy (following automatic rules,) it therefore becomes more and more difficult to manage big organizations, as everything becomes dependent on one decision- maker alone, and few can, or know how to, change the course. It’s more difficult to change the direction of a state, organization, or company than a supertanker. Consequently, organizations becomes automatons, and companies go under in the event of unanticipated events, when structural change is what is actually needed.
GM and the American automobile industry are good examples of this inability to change: They had known for decades that they should change their models to compete with Japanese and European manufacturers, but they couldn’t.
The incompetence of these organizations gives rise to conspiracy theories as Hanlon’s Law warns about:
Buying and selling on the stock market are for a great part based on automated decisions made by computers, but as we have seen, it can go terrible wrong when some unanticipated events shows up. What’s worse, the stock market was made to foster strong and sound companies: not for computer-controlled gaming, but for intelligent investment.
As fewer and fewer managers can make decisions, these decisions will be automated as rules in computers, and it will be impossible to make decisions based on individual concerns.
Decreasing Social Intercourse
Computers are very effective for entertainment: you can live your whole life on the internet, without any direct social contact. You can play games and do your work through the net if necessary. You can also discuss, shop for sex/ books/ programs/ random data on the net (It can be like a drug in itself). You can book your food from a local pizzeria, book escort girls, men, and boys, eventually finding mates on the net if you really want to live together with another living being. The film Matrix is a plausible destiny, not by force, but semi-freely. It’s not Big Brother, it’s Big Mama.
Less Social Skills
In the old days, children, teenagers, and adults learned by living in a community, and there was room for everybody, even the village idiot. These and other unusual persons were educated by their social environment which were mostly normal. We are today living more and more on the internet, learning our social skills through social applications and computer games. The old community’s influence is replaced by the internet friends, and as like seeks like, they can only increase their phobias or other disorders. Examples are numerous: pedophilia, school killings, terrorists, all kind of surrealistic interests, and so forth. The Law of Sayre’s is relevant in many of these cases:
Children and teenagers can be reached by mobile and GPS always and everywhere, followed on the internet through Twitter or Facebook by their parents: no privacy. The same goes for the adults: no privacy and always available for state officials, economic institutions and employers. Password protection, pseudonyms, and like precautions are no hindrance, Cyber-Investigators will find everything, relevant or not. You cannot even go to the North Pole or to the Himalayas in peace: they can always reach you, and you them.
In our hyper-connected world, getting away from it all is easier said than done. New Scientist.
The frustration has to go somewhere, and while there are no one responsible for our situation, and no one with enough insight, determination, and power to change the situation, we invent some god-like powerful conspirators who in all secrecy, with hundreds of employees, stands behind all the bad in this world. The truth is that most leaders are so incompetent that it hurts. Just look at Iraq: The military invasion was well thought out, but the rest was incompetence par excellence. And that is not an exception, it’s the rule. Of course, there are conspiracies and secret operations, but if more than one participant knowing about the conspiracy is alive a year later, it’s just a question of time before the world know. Another reason to use few people is that really competent people are difficult to find, and the more people involve, the bigger the risks for failure. Moreover, the bigger the consequences of a possilble failure, the less interesting the project becomes. The best way to check if a conspiracy theory is viable or not, isn’t to examine the technical evidence but rather the psychology and the necessary resources that would be needed behind the scenes, also how big is the risk, who gains, what’s their gain, how many participate, and what expertise is necessary.
A sober view on conspiracy theories from the left:
Noam Chomsky on Conspiracy Theories
In case the video is not functioning look here
The Independent: The French economist forcing America to wake up to the end of The Dream.
Out of America: Thomas Piketty’s tome which skewers the idea that anyone who works hard can make it in the US seems to have hit a nerve
“Capital In The Twenty-First Century”, all 685 pages of it, is the No 1 best-seller on Amazon – apparently the first time that anything published by the venerable Harvard University Press has attained such dizzying celebrity. No self-regarding dinner party in Washington or New York is worth its salt without a discussion of it. Last Friday, came the ultimate accolade of a multiple coronation on the op-ed page of The New York Times.
The Huffington Post: Economist Thomas Piketty Explains Why Income Inequality Is Just Getting Started
Flash Boys explores the world of high-frequency trading, a scheme in which traders use ultra-fast network connections to sniff out the intentions of other, slower traders, thereby acting before others can respond. Critics of the practice–Lewis chief among them–argue that high-frequency trading creates something akin to insider trading: a predatory environment for less advantaged investors. WIRED spoke with Lewis at an event organized by Live Talks in downtown Los Angeles.
An unlikely political star tells the inspiring story of the two-decade journey that taught her how Washington really works—and really doesn’t.
In this passionate, funny, rabble-rousing book, Warren shows why she has chosen to fight tooth and nail for the middle class—and why she has become a hero to all those who believe that America’s government can and must do better for working families.
New York Times: Book review of A Fighting Chance
A good review, also giving a good idea about who she is.
The the Bafta-winning film-maker Adam Curtis:
The Closing of the American Mind, Simon & Schuster Inc.
Haven in a Heartless World, 1977, Basic Books, Inc.
In the American political vocabulary, “family” and “family values” no longer simply evoke pictures of harmonious scenes; they also push our buttons (left and right) about what is wrong with society. One of the earliest and sharpest cultural commentators to investigate the twentieth-century American family, Christopher Lasch argues in this book that as social science “experts” intrude more and more into our lives, the family’s vital role as the moral and social cornerstone of society disintegrates – and, left unchecked, so does our political and personal freedom. Haven in a Heartless World is a trenchant analysis of the plight of the family. Lasch takes a clear-eyed look at the institution in which America’s future generations are being raised and finds it faltering.
Geoffrey B. West
A New York Times article on his work.
Describes the mathematical background for his work.
Huffington Post – The Psychology Of Materialism, And Why It’s Making You Unhappy
That’s our entire economic system: buy things. Everybody buy. It doesn’t matter what you buy. Just buy. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have money. Just buy. Our entire civilization now rests on the assumption that, no matter what else happens, we will all continue to buy lots and lots of things. Buy, buy, buy, buy, buy. And then buy a little more. Don’t create, or produce, or discover — just buy. Never save, never invest, never cut back — just buy. Buy what you don’t need with money you don’t have… Buy like you breathe, only more frequently.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
have written a little book called “Night Flight” which describes man’s fight against the Materialistic docility to keep man competent and responsible.
All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace
The Bafta-winning film-maker Adam Curtis have made a documentary series called “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace”, describing the philosophy of materialism. He says about the background:
“about how we have been colonised by the machines we have built. Although we don’t realise it, the way we see everything in the world today is through the eyes of computers. My underlying argument is that we have given up a dynamic political model of the world – the dream of changing things for the better – for a static machine ideology that says we are all components in systems.”
This is the best description of the materialistic problem of today, the film is pure art, making the viewers stop and think.
Adam Curtis shows how this “machine ideology” have entered the thoughts of man up through time, starting with ideas of the economic policies of Alan Greenspan and his fascination with the philosopher Ayn Rand; the “selfish gene” popularised by Richard Dawkins; the “self-organising” dreams of hippies in the 1960s; and utopian visions of the internet preached by cyber-nerds in Silicon Valley.
His point is not that computers are worryingly ubiquitous, or that machines are enslaving us, but that we have fooled ourselves into believing that every sphere of human experience – from the democratic nation state to the global economy and even the natural world – can be thought of like a computer, as an ordered network of millions of individually insignificant nodes (i.e. us) whose only achievable goal is to maintain order and stability within the system. Andrew Pettie
And, Curtis says:
“One downside of this machine organising principle,” he says, “is that it undermines something really important: the old Enlightenment idea that human beings have the power and the imagination to change the world, to make it what they want and bend it to their will. [This] can be dangerous, but it can also be wonderful.”
Wikipedia have a good article here.
The three documentaries are comprised of:
1. Love and Power.
This is the story of the dream that rose up in the 1990s that computers could create a new kind of stable world. They would bring about a new kind global capitalism free of all risk and without the boom and bust of the past. They would also abolish political power and create a new kind of democracy through the Internet where millions of individuals would be connected as nodes in cybernetic systems – without hierarchy.
The film tells the story of two perfect worlds. One is the small group of disciples around the novelist Ayn Rand in the 1950s. They saw themselves as a prototype for a future society where everyone could follow their own selfish desires.
The other is the global utopia that digital entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley set out to create in the 1990s. Many of them were also disciples of Ayn Rand. They believed that the new computer networks would allow the creation of a society where everyone could follow their own desires, yet there would not be anarchy.
They were joined by Alan Greenspan who had also been a disciple of Ayn Rand. He became convinced that the computers were creating a new kind of stable capitalism. But the dream of stability in both worlds would be torn apart by the two dynamic human forces – love and power.
2. The Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts. This is the story of how our modern scientific idea of nature, the self-regulating ecosystem, is actually a machine fantasy. It has little to do with the real complexity of nature. It is based on cybernetic ideas that were projected on to nature in the 1950s by ambitious scientists. A static machine theory of order that sees humans, and everything else on the planet, as components – cogs – in a system.
But in an age disillusioned with politics, the self-regulating ecosystem has again become the model for utopian ideas of human “self-organising networks”, with dreams of new ways of organising societies without leaders and in global visions of connectivity like the Gaia theory.
This powerful idea emerged out of the hippie communes in America in the 1960s, and from counter-culture computer scientists who believed that global webs of computers could liberate the world.
But, at the very moment this was happening, the science of ecology discovered that the theory of the self-regulating ecosystem wasn’t true. Instead they found that nature was really dynamic and constantly changing in unpredictable ways.
But it was too late, the dream of the self-organising network had by now captured imaginations…
3. The Monkey in the Machine and the Machine in the Monkey. This episode looks at why we humans find this machine vision so beguiling. The film argues it is because all political dreams of changing the world for the better seem to have failed – so we have retreated into machine-fantasies that say we have no control over our actions because they excuse our failure.
At the heart of the film is Bill Hamilton, a scientist. He argued that human behaviour is really guided by codes buried deep within us – a theory later popularised by Richard Dawkins as the “selfish gene”. It said that individual human beings are really just machines whose only job is to make sure the codes are passed on for eternity.
This final part begins in 2000 in the jungles of the Congo and Rwanda, where Hamilton is to help prove his dark theories. But all around him the Congo is being torn apart. The film then interweaves the two stories–the strange roots of Hamilton’s theories, and the history of the West’s tortured relationship with the Congo and technology…
The title is borrowed from a poem handed out on the streets of San Francisco in 1967 by the writer Richard Brautigan:
I like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
like pure water
touching clear sky.I like to think
(right now, please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.I like to think
(it has to be!)
of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal
brothers and sisters,
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace.Richard Brautigan
Other places with videos: topdocumentaryfilms.com
Nothing is such a joy as to learn something new, so enjoy each time you are wrong, you get wiser.
Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.
Do not believe in anything because it is spoken and rumoured by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything on the authority of your teachers and elders.
But after observations and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason; conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it. (Chop Wood, Carry Water p. 281)
Buddha was once asked, “What is truth?” He replied, “Truth is that which can be used.”
[ What can be used? See truth as a puzzle piece, it fits together with other puzzle pieces and together they create the full picture. A lie is a piece that don’t fit. ]
Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.
He who begins by loving Christianity better than Truth will proceed by loving his own sect of church better than Christianity, and end by loving himself better than all.
The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him. 1897
Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.
Every formula of every religion has in this age of reason, to submit to the acid test of reason and universal assent.
Faith… must be enforced by reason… when faith becomes blind it dies.
Those who know how to think need no teachers.
And, not least
Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.
Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self-sustained.
Lie, n. :
A very poor substitute for the truth, but the only one discovered to date.
Sometimes we have to spend more time trying to understand, instead of pretending that we already do. Katherine gm
The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.
Anybody can become angry, that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
Plato is dear to me, but dearer still is truth.
To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true.
Beware the man of one book.
Truth is the equation of thing and intellect.
A judgment is said to be true when it conforms to the external reality.
14, 6: I am the way and the truth and the life.
Personality is only ripe when a man has made the truth his own.
There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.
The truth is a trap: you cannot get it without it getting you; you cannot get the truth by capturing it, only by its capturing you.
The reason I cannot really say that I positively enjoy nature is that I do not quite realize what it is that I enjoy. A work of art, on the other hand, I can grasp. I can — if I may put it this way — find that Archimedian point, and as soon as I have found it, everything is readily clear for me. Then I am able to pursue this one main idea and see how all the details serve to illuminate it.
Knowledge resides in brains that are filled with the thoughts of others, but wisdom resides in the souls of those who attentively listens to their own thoughts.
Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though ’twere his own.
Oblivion is full of people who allow the opinions of others to overrule their belief in themselves.
First and last, what is demanded of genius is love of truth.
Common sense is the genius of humanity.
Few people have the imagination for reality.
We are never deceived; we deceive ourselves.
A person hears only what they understand.
Nothing is more terrible than to see ignorance in action.
Not to keep from error, is the duty of the educator of men, but to guide the erring one, even to let him swill his error out of full cups — that is the wisdom of teachers. Whoever merely tastes of his error, will keep house with it for a long time, … but whoever drains it completely will have to get to know it.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
‘I have the courage to be mistaken’.
Sokrates could save his life if he renounced his teachings, but he said: “I think it’s better to have my lyre or a chorus that I might lead out of tune and dissonant, and have the vast majority of men disagree with me and contradict me, than to be out of harmony with myself, to contradict myself, though I’m only one person.”
True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.
Understanding a question is half an answer
The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.
Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.
To find yourself, think for yourself.
Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.
The unexamined life is not worth living
There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.
I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.
He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.
If you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can’t hold on to it forever. Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change. Free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death. But change is law and no amount of pretending will alter that reality.
Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance.
Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine or idealism.
Follow that will and that way which experience confirms to be your own.
In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.
The word “belief” is a difficult thing for me. I don’t believe. I must have a reason for a certain hypothesis. Either I know a thing, and then I know it – I don’t need to believe it.
Truth never triumphs — its opponents just die out.
It is not the possession of truth, but the success which attends the seeking after it, that enriches the seeker and brings happiness to him.
New scientific ideas never spring from a communal body, however organized, but rather from the head of an individually inspired researcher who struggles with his problems in lonely thought and unites all his thought on one single point which is his whole world for the moment.
I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.
No matter where and how far we look, nowhere do we find a contradiction between religion and natural science. On the contrary, we find a complete concordance in the very points of decisive importance. Religion and natural science do not exclude each other, as many contemporaries of ours would believe or fear. They mutually supplement and condition each other. The most immediate proof of the compatibility of religion and natural science, even under the most thorough critical scrutiny, is the historical fact that the very greatest natural scientists of all times — men such as Kepler, Newton, Leibniz— were permeated by a most profound religious attitude.
Anyone who doesn’t take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either.
Everyone should be respected as an individual, but no one idolized.
If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.
Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler.
I very rarely think in words at all. A thought comes, and I may try to express it in words afterwards.
No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.
The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.
Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.
Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.
Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.
He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice.
Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.
I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.
It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.
E. F. Schumacher
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.
Reserve your right to think.
For even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all.
Consequently he who wishes to attain to human perfection, must therefore first study Logic, next the various branches of Mathematics in their proper order, then Physics, and lastly Metaphysics. He, however, who begins with Metaphysics, will not only become confused in matters of religion, but will fall into complete infidelity.
Dalai Lama XIV
Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.
Enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It’s seeing through the facade of pretense. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.
Being wrong is erroneously associated with failure, when, in fact, to be proven wrong should be celebrated, for it elevates someone to a new level of understanding.
What we are trying in all these discussions and talks here, is to see if we cannot radically bring about a transformation of the mind. *Not accept things as they are* – but to understand it, to go into it, examine it, give your heart and your mind with every thing that you have to find out. A way of living differently. But that depends on you and not somebody else. Because in this there is no teacher, no pupil. There’s no leader, there is no guru, there’s no master, no savior. You yourself are the teacher, and the pupil, you’re the master, you’re the guru, you are the leader, you are everything! And, to understand is to transform what is“.
You must understand the Whole of life, not just one little part of it.
That is why you must read,
that is why you must look at the skies,
that is why you must sing and dance,
and write poems,
for all that is life.
The more one knows, the more one simplifies.
One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.
The recipe for perpetual ignorance is: be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge.
If you can’t answer a man’s argument, all is not lost; you can still call him vile names.
If you live by what I say, you are truly my disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And do not marvel for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
So, you have full responsibility for what you believe!
You are the light of Presence, the awareness that is prior to and deeper than any thoughts and emotions.
If the root be in confusion, nothing will be well-governed.
When making a mistake, do not be afraid to correct it.
We journalists… are also extremely impressed with scientists, and we will, frankly, print just about any wacky thing they tell us, especially if it involves outer space.
It sounds paradoxical to say the attainment of scientific truth has been effected, to a great extent, by the help of scientific errors.
“If only the sun-drenched celebrities are being noticed and worshiped, then our children are going to have a tough time seeing the value in the shadows, where the thinkers, probers and scientists are keeping society together.”
To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.
Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.
A lie can travel half way around the world before the truth gets out the front door.
Nevertheless, one feature, at any rate, we have in common with the scientific method of investigation. We take nothing on faith, and we go beyond and higher than any dogmatic religion or materialistic physical science, since our motto—“There is no religion higher than truth” is followed by the principle enunciated by Arago: “outside of pure mathematics never pronounce the word impossible.”
I speak “with absolute certainty” only so far as my own personal belief is concerned. Those who have not the same warrant for their belief as I have, would be very credulous and foolish to accept it on blind faith. Nor does the writer believe any more than her correspondent and his friends in any “authority” let alone “divine revelation”!
Intellect may arrive at certain inferences, but intellect is an unconscious phenomenon. You are almost behaving sleepily. Intelligence is awakening, and unless you are fully awake, whatsoever you decide is bound to be wrong somewhere or other. It is bound to be so, it is doomed to be wrong, because it is a conclusion arrived at by an unconscious mind.
To bring intelligence into activity you don’t need more information, you need more meditation. You need to become more silent, you need to become more thoughtless. You need to become less mind and more heart. You need to become aware of the magic that surrounds you: magic that is life, magic that is God, magic that is in the green trees and the red flowers, magic that is in people’s eyes. Magic is happening everywhere! All is miraculous, but because of your intellect you remain closed inside yourself, clinging to your stupid conclusions arrived at in unconsciousness or given to you by others who are as unconscious as you are.
Savita, intelligence is certainly creative because intelligence brings your totality into functioning — not only a part, a small part, the head. Intelligence vibrates your whole being; each cell of your being, each fiber of your life starts dancing, and falls in a subtle harmony with the total. That’s what creativity is: to pulsate in absolute harmony with the total. That’s how one becomes a Buddha, Christ, Zarathustra. These are the real creative people.
Beinsa Douno (Peter Deunov)
Wise persons do not need long speeches, what they need is a short, but sensible and comprehensible talk.
To truly know the world, look deeply within your own being; to truly know yourself, take real interest in the world.
there’s something else that lies between believing and disbelieving, and that is listening without prejudice
Many people think that they’re working for the good of mankind from morn till eve, but this is questionable.
A clairvoyant can see that efforts coming from materialistic thinking have the wrong effect, and it may lie in some people’s karma that they should wait until they can do certain things. Then a higher being can whisper such a task in his ear, so that it’s not induced by outer circumstances. Life is a destructive process for someone who only devotes himself to outer sense impressions. A meditating esoteric doesn’t let his life be determined by outer circumstances as much. One who makes repeated meditational efforts isn’t exposed to astral confusions at night and makes himself ready to receive the instructions of spiritual beings. And it’s very necessary that we be instructed in this way.
The fact is, no art of any kind can be mastered without humour, especially the art of dealing with human beings.
This means that part of the art of education is the elimination of ill-humour and crossness from the teachers, and the development of friendliness and a love full of humour and fantasy for the children, so that the children may not see portrayed in their teacher the very thing he is forbidding them to be.
Nevertheless one will sometimes have great trouble in controlling the children’s liveliness. You will succeed in controlling it if you possess a thing not sufficiently appreciated in this connection, namely humour.
The teacher must bring humour into the class room as he enters the door.
Essentially, there is no education other than self- education, whatever the level may be. […] Every education is self-education, and as teachers we can only provide the environment for children’s self-education. We have to provide the most favourable conditions where, through our agency, children can educate themselves according to their own destinies.
That is what you need – an enthusiasm in the experience of truth. This enthusiasm is an absolute sine qua non.
For years it has been so terribly painful to me, the way the members of the anthroposophical movement stand there as if they were rooted to the spot – and the young too, almost as much as the old. But now consider what it means, that they can stand there so impassively.
Look at Nietzsche! What a different sort of fellow he was – even if he did get ill from it! He made his Zarathustra become a dancer. Can’t you become dancers – in the sense Nietzsche meant it?
Why, you should be leading lives of joy – deep inner joy in the truth! There is nothing in the world more delightful, nothing more fascinating than the experience of truth.
The right attitude for raising oneself into the higher world is never a sentimental one. Mere sentimentality is of no use for the man who wants to toil up the spiritual heights, in the right way, for it always smacks of egoism. You know how often, when the highest spiritual subjects are being discussed, I mix with our considerations something not designed to take you out of the mood, but simply to banish any egoistic sentimentality from it.
A genuine ascent to the spiritual must be undertaken in purity of soul (which is never destitute of humour), not from a motive of egoistic sentimentality.
Theosophists also often tend to turn away from the outer world. But a loving interest in our surroundings is absolutely necessary if one wants to make progress. One doesn’t have to neglect what one is striving for theosophically thereby.
Love is higher than opinion. If people love one another, the most varied opinions can be reconciled. Hence it is deeply significant that in Theosophy no religion is attacked and no religion is specially singled out, but all are understood, and so there can be brotherhood because the adherents of the most varied religions understand one another.
This is one of the most important tasks for mankind today and in the future: that men should learn to live together and understand one another. If this human fellowship is not achieved, all talk of occult development is empty.
The mood of meditation should not be: I will inwardly lie down in a warm nest, which must become warmer and warmer for me.
Rather, our mood must be that we are about to dip into reality, to grasp something real.
Devoted attention to little things, indeed to the least thing, is what it comes down to.
“Never should the phrase be heard that truths are accepted simply because I have voiced them!
We should sin against the truth were we to say any such thing. One thing or another may be grounded on confidence; but that can never be made into a principle.
Someone else may perhaps be better able to tread the path; but the rule to which every individual should adhere is this: not to accept things on authority, but to put them to the test.
Truth has to conquer its domain with complete disinterestedness. That is why, at bottom, nothing is more hated than the truth, the unvarnished truth. And so there may be many adherents here and there who actually cherish hatred deep down within them. No wonder that this hatred sometimes cuts through the force that builds a wall against it — cuts through this force because the hatred has been accumulating for so long. Such hatred is far more widespread than is imagined and it is a factor that must be reckoned with.
The occultist will never dream of imposing dogmas.
He is one who tells what he has seen and tested in the astral and spiritual worlds or what has been revealed to him by trustworthy and reliable teachers.
He does not desire to convert but to quicken in others the sense that has awakened in him and to enable them to see likewise.
The Rosicrucian way, which leaves the pupil with the greatest possible independence. … When we are on the physical plane, we perceive with the physical senses only what is to be found on that plane. Astral perceptions are valid for the astral plane; devachanic hearing is valid only in Devachan. Thus each plane has its own specific form of perception.
But one activity — logical thinking — goes through all worlds. Logic is the same on all three planes. Thus on the physical plane you can learn something which is valid also for the higher planes; and this is the method followed by Rosicrucian training when on the physical plane it gives primary attention to thinking, and for this purpose uses the means available on the physical plane.
A penetrative thinking can be cultivated by studying theosophical truths, or by practising mental exercises. Anyone who wishes further training for the intellect can study books such as Truth and Science, and The Philosophy of Freedom, which are written deliberately in such a way that a thinking trained by them can move with certainty on the highest planes. Even a person who studies these books and knows nothing of Theosophy might find his way about in the higher worlds.
But, as I have said, the teachings of Theosophy act in the same way.
The first condition is the cultivation of absolutely clear thinking. For this purpose a man must rid himself of the will-o’-the-wisps of thought, even if only for a very short time during the day – about five minutes (the longer, the better).
He must become the ruler in his world of thought. He is not the ruler if external circumstances, occupation, some tradition or other, social relationships, even membership of a particular race, the daily round of life, certain activities and so forth, determine a thought and how he works it out.
There is, in truth, no difference between esoteric knowledge and all the rest of man’s knowledge and proficiency. This esoteric knowledge is no more of a secret for the average human being than writing is a secret for those who have never learned it. And just as all can learn to write who choose the correct method, so, too, can all who seek the right way become esoteric students and even teachers….He must begin with a certain fundamental attitude of soul.
In spiritual science this fundamental attitude is called the path of veneration, of devotion to truth and knowledge. Without this attitude no one can become a student.
The disposition shown in their childhood by subsequent students of higher knowledge is well known to the experienced in these matters. There are children who look up with religious awe to those whom they venerate…. Only it must not be thought that this disposition leads to submissiveness and slavery. What was once a childlike veneration for persons becomes, later, a veneration for truth and knowledge.
Experience teaches that they can best hold their heads erect who have learned to venerate where veneration is due; and veneration is always fitting when it flows from the depths of the heart. … If we do not develop within ourselves this deeply rooted feeling that there is something higher than ourselves, we shall never find the strength to evolve to something higher.
The initiate has only acquired the strength to lift his head to the heights of knowledge by guiding his heart to the depths of veneration and devotion. The heights of the spirit can only be climbed by passing through the portals of humility. You can only acquire right knowledge when you have learned to esteem it. Man has certainly the right to turn his eyes to the light, but he must first acquire this right. …
A person who darts from one impression of the outer world to another, who constantly seeks distraction, cannot find the way to higher knowledge. The student must not blunt himself to the outer world, but while lending himself to its impressions, he should be directed by his rich inner life.
This life of the soul in thought, which gradually widens into a life in spiritual being, is called by Gnosis, and by Spiritual Science, Meditation (contemplative reflection).
This meditation is the means to supersensible knowledge. But the student in such moments must not merely indulge in feelings; he must not have indefinite sensations in his soul. That would only hinder him from reaching true spiritual knowledge. His thoughts must be clear, sharp and definite, and he will be helped in this if he does not cling blindly to the thoughts that rise within him. Rather must he permeate himself with the lofty thoughts by which men already advanced and possessed of the spirit were inspired at such moments.
He should start with the writings which themselves had their origin in just such revelation during meditation. In the mystic, gnostic and spiritual scientific literature of today the student will find such writings, and in them the material for his meditation. The seekers of the spirit have themselves set down in such writings the thoughts of the divine science which the Spirit has directed his messengers to proclaim to the world.
For through his I the human being attains to control of his sensations, feelings, thoughts, instincts, passions, and desires. Perception and thought cannot be left to themselves in the soul. They must be regulated through attentive thinking.
It is the I that employs these laws of thinking and through them brings order into the life of visualization and thought. It is similar with desires, instincts, inclinations, and passions. The ethical principles become guides of these soul powers. Through moral judgment the I becomes the guide of the soul in this realm.
If the human being now draws a higher I out of his ordinary I, the latter becomes independent in a certain sense. From this I just as much of living force is withdrawn as is bestowed upon the higher I.
Let us suppose, however, the case in which the human being has not yet developed a sufficient ability and firmness in the laws of thought and in his power of judgment, and he wishes to give birth to his higher I at this stage of development. He will be able to leave behind for his everyday I only so much thought power as he has previously developed. If the measure of regulated thinking is too small, then there will appear a disordered, confused, fantastic thinking and judgment in the ordinary I that has become independent. Because the new-born I can only be weak in such a personality, the disturbed lower I will gain domination over supersensible perception, and man will not show equilibrium in his power of judgment in observing the supersensible world.
If he had developed sufficient ability in logical thinking, he would be able, without fear, to permit the ordinary I to have its independence.
This is also true in the domain of the ethical. If the human being has not attained firmness in moral judgment, if he has not gained sufficient control over his inclinations, instincts, and passions, then he will make his ordinary I independent in a state in which these soul powers act. It may happen that the human being in describing the knowledge he has experienced in the supersensible is not governed by the same high sense of truth that guides him in what he brings to his consciousness in the physical outer world.
With such a demoralized sense of truth, he might believe anything to be spiritual reality that in truth is only his own fantastic imagining. Into this sense of truth there must act firmness of ethical judgment, certainty of character, keenness of conscience, which are developed in the lower, first I, before the higher, second I becomes active for the purpose of supersensible cognition.
Indeed, we only understand this physical world aright when we realize it to be this copy of reality. It behooves us, however, to feel the true reality within us [Astral world]; we must be aware of our connection with the spiritual world. And this is only possible if the bond that links us with pre-earthly existence remains intact.
This bond is strengthened by a love of truth and Integrity. Nothing establishes man’s true and original sense of existence so firmly as a feeling for truth and truthfulness.
To feel himself in duty bound first to “prove all things” he utters, to set due restraint on all his words — this helps to consolidate the sense of existence that is worthy of his being.
To be aware of the spirit within the physical body — with this, indeed, the sense of being is connected. There is, in effect, an intimate kinship between the physical body and this ideal of Truth.
After Atlantis was destroyed by water, continued evolution resulted in our contemporary fifth race, during which deductive reasoning was a special achievement. This enabled the human race to bring art and science to a high level of development, which previously had not been possible.
People think often enough that it is unnecessary to talk about the principles of man’s being, or the evolution of humanity or the different planetary evolutions, they would rather acquire beautiful feelings, they do not want to study earnestly.
Nevertheless, however many beautiful feelings one acquires in one’s soul it is impossible to rise into the spiritual worlds by that alone. Rosicrucian theosophy does not try to arouse the feelings, but through the stupendous facts of the spiritual worlds to let the feelings themselves begin to resound.
The Rosicrucian feels it a kind of impertinence to take people by storm with feelings. … It is only an empty phrase to say one should address oneself direct to the feelings, that is just indolence. Rosicrucian theosophy lets the facts speak, and if these thoughts flow into the feeling nature and overpower it, then that is the right way.”
Rosicrucian Theosophy does not wish to revel in feelings, it wishes to bring the facts of the spirit before your eyes. The pupil must take part, must let himself be stimulated by the facts which have been described, feelings and sensations must be aroused in him through them.
In this sense Spiritual Science should become a powerful impulse for the sphere of feeling, but at the same time be that which leads us direct into the facts of supersensible perceptions, which lets them first arise as thoughts and then leads the seeker upwards into the higher worlds.
Reality is not contained in the abstract concept; it is, however, contained in thoughtful observation, which does not one-sidedly consider either concept or percept alone, but rather the union of the two. PoF
Our highest endeavor must be to develop free human beings who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives. The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility—these three forces are the very nerve of education.
Fanatism and Objectivity
How does a fanatic behave? He wants to convert people as quickly as possible — while they, as a rule, do not want to be converted. Everybody is expected immediately to believe what the fanatic wants them to believe and he is angry when this does not happen.
In our day, when someone sets out to expound a particular subject, people simply do not believe that his aim may be not to voice his own views but something quite different, namely, the thoughts and opinions of the one of whom he is writing. For many years I was held to be a follower of Nietzsche because I once wrote an absolutely objective book about him.
People simply cannot understand that the aim of a writer may be to give an objective exposition. They think that everyone must be a fanatic on the subject of which he happens to be speaking!
Imaginaire Thinking – Memory
The pupil now, however, begins to perceive his etheric body more directly. The most striking change that takes place in the etheric body, which many do not appreciate at all, and which is not recognised as a change in the etheric body, although it is such, is that as a result of esoteric or theosophical development it becomes very distinctly evident that the power of memory begins somewhat to diminish.
Through esoteric development, the ordinary memory almost invariably suffers diminution. At first one’s memory becomes poorer. If the student does not wish to have a less efficient memory, he cannot undergo an esoteric development.
Especially does that memory cease to be strongly active which may be described as the mechanical memory, best developed in human beings in childhood and youth, and generally meant when memory is alluded to.
Many esotericists have to complain of the diminution of their memory, for it soon becomes perceptible. In any case, this depreciation of the memory can be observed long before one perceives the more delicate things which have just been explained. But as the student, by pursuing correct theosophical training, can never suffer injury in his physical body — in spite of its becoming more mobile — neither will his memory be injured for long. …
Now, as regards the memory, we must also do the correct thing. We lose the memory belonging to the external life: but we need suffer no injury if we take care to develop more interest, a deeper interest in all that affects us in life, more concern than hitherto.
We must especially acquire a sympathetic interest for the things which to us are important. Previously we developed a more mechanical memory, and the working of this mechanical memory was fully reliable for a time, even without any particular liking for the things observed; but this ceases.
It will be noticed that when undergoing a theosophical or esoteric development it is easy to forget things. But only those things fly away for which one has not a sympathetic interest, which one does not particularly care for, which do not become part of one’s soul, as it were.
On the other hand, that which appeals to one’s soul fixes itself in the memory all the more. Therefore, the student must try systematically to bring this about. The following may be experienced. Let us imagine a man in his youth, before he came to Theosophy when he read a novel he was quite unable to forget it; he could relate it again and again. Later, when he has come into Theosophy, if he reads a novel, it very often vanishes from his mind; he cannot recount it. But if a student takes a book, of which he has been told — or tells himself — that it might be valuable, and reads it through once and then tries directly afterwards to repeat it mentally, and not only to repeat it, but repeat it backwards, the last matters first and the first last; if he takes the trouble to go through certain details a second time, if he becomes so absorbed in it that he even takes a piece of paper and writes brief thoughts on it, and tries to put the question: — what aspect of this subject especially interests me — then he will find that in this way he develops a different kind of memory. It will not be the same memory. By using it, the difference can be accurately observed.
When we use the human memory, things come into our soul as remembrances; but if, in the manner just described, we systematically acquire a memory as an esotericist or theosophist, then it is as though the things thus experienced had remained stationary in time.
We learn to look back into time, as it were, and it really seems as though we were looking at what we were remembering; indeed, we shall notice that the things become more and more picture-like and the memory more and more imaginative.
If we have acted in the manner just described — for instance, with a book — then, when it is necessary to bring the matter to mind again, we need only meet with something in some way connected with it, and we shall look back, as it were, at the occasion when we were studying the book, and see ourselves reading it.
The remembrance does not arise, but the whole picture appears. Then we are able to notice that, while previously we only read the book, now the contents actually appear. We see them as at a distance in time; the memory becomes a seeing of pictures at a distance in time. This is the very first beginning, elementary to be sure, of gradually learning to read the Akashic Record.
The memory is replaced by learning to read in the past. And very often a man who has gone through a certain esoteric development may have almost entirely lost his memory, yet he is none the worse for it, because he sees things in retrospect. He sees those with which he himself was connected, with special clearness. I am now saying something which, if it were said to anyone not connected with Theosophy, would only make him laugh. He could not help laughing, because he could not form any idea of what it means when an esotericist tells him that he no longer has any memory, and yet that he knows quite well what has happened, because he can see it in the past. The first man would say: ‘What you have is in reality a very excellent memory,’ for he cannot conceive of the change that has taken place. It is a change in the etheric body that has brought it about.
Then, as a rule, this changing of the memory is connected with something else, viz., we form, we might say, a new opinion about our inner man. For we cannot acquire this retrospective vision without at the same time adopting a certain standpoint as regards our experience. Thus when at a later date a man looks back at something he has done, as in the case described above about the book, for instance, when he sees himself in that position, he will, of course, have to judge for himself whether he was wise or foolish so to occupy himself.
With this retrospect there is closely united another experience, viz., a sort of self-criticism. The pupil at this stage cannot do otherwise than define his attitude towards his past. He will reproach himself about some things; he will be glad he has attained others. In short, he cannot do otherwise than judge the past he thus surveys, so that, in fact, he becomes a sterner judge of himself, of his past life.
He feels within him the etheric body becoming active, the etheric body which — as may be seen by the retrospect after death — has the whole of his past within it; he feels this etheric body as included in himself, as something that lives in him and defines his value. Indeed, such a change takes place in the etheric body that very often he feels the impulse to make this self-retrospect and observe one thing or another, so as to learn in quite a natural manner to judge of his own worth as a man.
While in ordinary life one lives without being aware of the etheric body, in the retrospective view of one’s own life it can be perceived, and this gradually rouses in the student an impulse to make greater efforts when he undergoes an esoteric development. The esoteric life makes it necessary for one to pay more attention to one’s merits and demerits, errors and imperfections. [GA-145]
Thinking in Words
Our ordinary thought life reaches only up to the astral world. No matter how brilliant our thoughts may be, thoughts that are not sustained by feelings go no further than into the astral world; they have no significance for other worlds. You will certainly understand in this connection what is said in regard to external science, dry, matter-of-fact external science.
No man can by means of thoughts not permeated by emotion affirm anything regarding other worlds than the astral realm. Under ordinary circumstances, the thinking of the scientist, of the chemist, the mathematician, runs its course without any sort of feeling. This goes no further than just under the surface. Indeed, scientific research even demands that it shall proceed in this way, and for this reason it penetrates only into the astral world.
Where there is desire for discussion, however, there is as a rule no knowledge of the truth. Discussion begins only when there is a lack of knowledge, and it is always and everywhere the sign of a decline regarding the seriousness of a subject when it is discussed. Disintegration of a particular trend is always proclaimed by discussions. It is important that in spiritual science we come increasingly to understand that the wish for discussion may really be taken as a sign of ignorance.
On the other hand, the opposite of discussion, the will to learn, the will gradually to comprehend what is in question, should be cultivated.
Only when delight or repugnance are associated with the thoughts of the research scientist is there added to these thoughts the element needed in order to penetrate the world of Devachan.
Only when emotions enter into thoughts, into concepts, when we feel one thing to be good and another evil, do we combine with thoughts that which carries them into the Heavenly World. Only then can we get a glimpse into deeper foundations of existence. If we wish to grasp something belonging to the world of Devachan, no theories help us in the least. The only thing that helps us is to unite feelings with our thoughts. Thinking carries us only into the astral world.
To say something that is incorrect is not the worst thing that can happen, for the world itself will soon put one right about it; but it is really serious to regard a one-sided truth as the absolute truth and to persist in so regarding it.
Again and again one can listen: this is my opinion, I think this or that… As if it matters, what one or the other thinks! The point is much more to what the truth is!
KGM: “When Rudolf Steiner made the first Goetheanum, an artist asked if he could design the doorknobs. Steiner said “Yes, but you’ll have to design the whole of Goetheanum around them”.
All of our reality is an integral whole, and that includes good art. So when we study esoteric science we should look for the whole pattern, and not draw conclusions out of details.”
Compare the soul of an average European man with the soul of some of the people Darwin came across on his travels. The soul of contemporary man has a sense of right and wrong, of good and evil, of true and false.
Darwin wanted to explain to an aborigine, who was still cannibalistic, that one should not eat fellow human beings, that it was bad to do such things. The aborigine looked at him strangely and said, “How can you know that, you have to first have eaten him. Only if we have eaten him can we know if he was good or bad.”
That is how an imperfect soul understands the world; it will develop through time, becoming more and more perfect. Our individual souls do not arrive in the world like new-born babies but each soul has developed first through many imperfect incarnations in which at first it understood nothing more of right and wrong, than the pleasant or unpleasant taste on the tongue and the like.
Stage by stage the soul has evolved and only through many incarnations has it learned to get to the level it has reached at present.
‘The more often a human being incarnates, the stronger becomes his character and his moral sense, and the more numerous and greater the talents and abilities.’ GA 55 VIII.
Thinking… is no more and no less an organ of perception than the eye or ear. Just as the eye perceives colours and the ear sounds, so thinking perceives ideas.
I have changed “ego” to “I” in Steiner’s texts as it’s a better translation of the German “Ich”, as “ego” is used in modern New Age to describe the Sentient Soul.
I have never known much about Michael Jackson, I think I first found out who he was after his problem with the face.
A newspaper commented on the Memorial Service at the Staples Center, mentioning that the family still had problems with commercialism.
There was a reference to a speech Michael held at Oxford University which were impressing. I have here an extract from his speech (Speech at Oxford University(2001)):
But I do have a claim to having experienced more places and cultures than most people will ever see. Human knowledge consists not only of libraries of parchment and ink – it is also comprised of the volumes of knowledge that are written on the human heart, chiselled on the human soul, and engraved on the human psyche. And friends, I have encountered so much in this relatively short life of mine that I still cannot believe I am only 42. I often tell Shmuley that in soul years I’m sure that I’m at least 80 – and tonight I even walk like I’m 80! So please harken to my message, because what I have to tell you tonight can bring healing to humanity and healing to our planet.
All of us are products of our childhood. But I am the product of a lack of a childhood, an absence of that precious and wondrous age when we frolic playfully without a care in the world, basking in the adoration of parents and relatives, where our biggest concern is studying for that big spelling test come Monday morning.
But while performing and making music undoubtedly remain as some of my greatest joys, when I was young I wanted more than anything else to be a typical little boy. I wanted to build tree houses, have water balloon fights, and play hide and seek with my friends. But fate had it otherwise and all I could do was envy the laughter and playtime that seemed to be going on all around me.
There was no respite from my professional life. But on Sundays I would go Pioneering, the term used for the missionary work that Jehovah’s Witnesses do. And it was then that I was able to see the magic of other people’s childhood.
I loved to set foot in all those regular suburban houses and catch sight of the shag rugs and La-Z-Boy armchairs with kids playing Monopoly and grandmas baby-sitting and all those wonderful, ordinary and starry scenes of everyday life. Many, I know, would argue that these things seem like no big deal. But to me they were mesmerizing.
Today, it’s a universal calamity, a global catastrophe. Childhood has become the great casualty of modern-day living. All around us we are producing scores of kids who have not had the joy, who have not been accorded the right, who have not been allowed the freedom, or knowing what it’s like to be a kid.
Today children are constantly encouraged to grow up faster, as if this period known as childhood is a burdensome stage, to be endured and ushered through, as swiftly as possible. And on that subject, I am certainly one of the world’s greatest experts.
Ours is a generation that has witnessed the abrogation of the parent-child covenant. Psychologists are publishing libraries of books detailing the destructive effects of denying one’s children the unconditional love that is so necessary to the healthy development of their minds and character. And because of all the neglect, too many of our kids have, essentially, to raise themselves. They are growing more distant from their parents, grandparents and other family members, as all around us the indestructible bond that once glued together the generations, unravels.
This violation has bred a new generation, Generation O let us call it, that has now picked up the torch from Generation X. The O stands for a generation that has everything on the outside – wealth, success, fancy clothing and fancy cars, but an aching emptiness on the inside. That cavity in our chests, that barrenness at our core, that void in our centre is the place where the heart once beat and which love once occupied.
Love, ladies and gentlemen, is the human family’s most precious legacy, its richest bequest, its golden inheritance. And it is a treasure that is handed down from one generation to another. Previous ages may not have had the wealth we enjoy. Their houses may have lacked electricity, and they squeezed their many kids into small homes without central heating. But those homes had no darkness, nor were they cold. They were lit bright with the glow of love and they were warmed snugly by the very heat of the human heart. Parents, undistracted by the lust for luxury and status, accorded their children primacy in their lives.
I would therefore like to propose tonight that we install in every home a Children’s Universal Bill of Rights, the tenets of which are:
1. The right to be loved without having to earn it
2. The right to be protected, without having to deserve it
3. The right to feel valuable, even if you came into the world with nothing
4. The right to be listened to without having to be interesting
5. The right to be read a bedtime story, without having to compete with the evening news
6. The right to an education without having to dodge bullets at schools
7. The right to be thought of as adorable – (even if you have a face that only a mother could love).
Friends, the foundation of all human knowledge, the beginning of human consciousness, must be that each and every one of us is an object of love. Before you know if you have red hair or brown, before you know if you are black or white, before you know of what religion you are a part, you have to know that you are loved.
If you enter this world knowing you are loved and you leave this world knowing the same, then everything that happens in between can he dealt with. A professor may degrade you, but you will not feel degraded, a boss may crush you, but you will not be crushed, a corporate gladiator might vanquish you, but you will still triumph. How could any of them truly prevail in pulling you down? For you know that you are an object worthy of love. The rest is just packaging.
But if you don’t have that memory of being loved, you are condemned to search the world for something to fill you up. But no matter how much money you make or how famous you become, you will still fell empty. What you are really searching for is unconditional love, unqualified acceptance. And that was the one thing that was denied to you at birth.
Friends, let me paint a picture for you. Here is a typical day in America – six youths under the age of 20 will commit suicide, 12 children under the age of 20 will die from firearms – remember this is a DAY, not a year – 399 kids will be arrested for drug abuse, 1,352 babies will be born to teen mothers. This is happening in one of the richest, most developed countries in the history of the world.
Yes, in my country there is an epidemic of violence that parallels no other industrialised nation. These are the ways young people in America express their hurt and their anger. But don’t think that there is not the same pain and anguish among their counterparts in the United Kingdom. Studies in this country show that every single hour, three teenagers in the UK inflict harm upon themselves, often by cutting or burning their bodies or taking an overdose. This is how they have chosen to cope with the pain of neglect and emotional agony.
In Britain, as many as 20% of families will only sit down and have dinner together once a year. Once a year! And what about the time-honoured tradition of reading your kid a bedtime story? Research from the 1980s showed that children who are read to, had far greater literacy and significantly outperformed their peers at school. And yet, less than 33% of British children ages two to eight have a regular bedtime story read to them. You may not think much of that until you take into account that 75% of their parents DID have that bedtime story when they were that age.
Clearly, we do not have to ask ourselves where all of this pain, anger and violent behaviour comes from. It is self-evident that children are thundering against the neglect, quaking against the indifference and crying out just to be noticed. The various child protection agencies in the US say that millions of children are victims of maltreatment in the form of neglect, in the average year. Yes, neglect. In rich homes, privileged homes, wired to the hilt with every electronic gadget. Homes where parents come home, but they’re not really home, because their heads are still at the office. And their kids? Well, their kids just make do with whatever emotional crumbs they get. And you don’t get much from endless TV, computer games and videos.
They say that parenting is like dancing. You take one step, your child takes another. I have discovered that getting parents to re-dedicate themselves to their children is only half the story. The other half is preparing the children to re-accept their parents.
When I was very young I remember that we had this crazy mutt of a dog named “Black Girl,” a mix of wolf and retriever. Not only wasn’t she much of a guard dog, she was such a scared and nervous thing that it is a wonder she did not pass out every time a truck rumbled by, or a thunderstorm swept through Indiana. My sister Janet and I gave that dog so much love, but we never really won back the sense of trust that had been stolen from her by her previous owner. We knew he used to beat her. We didn’t know with what. But whatever it was, it was enough to suck the spirit right out of that dog.
A lot of kids today are hurt puppies who have weaned themselves off the need for love. They couldn’t care less about their parents. Left to their own devices, they cherish their independence. They have moved on and have left their parents behind.
Then there are the far worse cases of children who harbour animosity and resentment toward their parents, so that any overture that their parents might undertake would be thrown forcefully back in their face.
But what I really wanted was a Dad. I wanted a father who showed me love. And my father never did that. He never said I love you while looking me straight in the eye, he never played a game with me. He never gave me a piggyback ride, he never threw a pillow at me, or a water balloon.
But I remember once when I was about four years old, there was a little carnival and he picked me up and put me on a pony. It was a tiny gesture, probably something he forgot five minutes later. But because of that moment I have this special place in my heart for him. Because that’s how kids are, the little things mean so much to them and for me, that one moment meant everything. I only experienced it that one time, but it made me feel really good, about him and the world.
Almost a decade ago, I founded a charity called Heal the World. The title was something I felt inside me. Little did I know, as Shmuley later pointed out, that those two words form the cornerstone of Old Testament prophecy. Do I really believe that we can heal this world, that is riddled with war and genocide, even today? And do I really think that we can heal our children, the same children who can enter their schools with guns and hatred and shoot down their classmates, like they did at Columbine? Or children who can beat a defenseless toddler to death, like the tragic story of Jamie Bulger? Of course I do, or I wouldn’t be here tonight.
To all of you tonight who feel let down by your parents, I ask you to let down your disappointment. To all of you tonight who feel cheated by your fathers or mothers, I ask you not to cheat yourself further. And to all of you who wish to push your parents away, I ask you to extend you hand to them instead. I am asking you, I am asking myself, to give our parents the gift of unconditional love, so that they too may learn how to love from us, their children. So that love will finally be restored to a desolate and lonely world.
But it all begins with forgiveness, because to heal the world, we first have to heal ourselves. And to heal the kids, we first have to heal the child within, each and every one of us. As an adult, and as a parent, I realize that I cannot be a whole human being, nor a parent capable of unconditional love, until I put to rest the ghosts of my own childhood.
And that’s what I’m asking all of us to do tonight. Live up to the fifth of the Ten Commandments. Honour your parents by not judging them. Give them the benefit of the doubt.
That is why I want to forgive my father and to stop judging him. I want to forgive my father, because I want a father, and this is the only one that I’ve got. I want the weight of my past lifted from my shoulders and I want to be free to step into a new relationship with my father, for the rest of my life, unhindered by the goblins of the past.
In a world filled with hate, we must still dare to hope. In a world filled with anger, we must still dare to comfort. In a world filled with despair, we must still dare to dream. And in a world filled with distrust, we must still dare to believe.
There are no problems today which don’t need a commission. Nobody dares or can take a decision, as no one trusts common sense any more. This missing common sense is the explanation for many so-called “laws”, as in the quotes below about malice versus incompetence. These “common sense” laws describe some of the symptoms of the Trap of Materialism. Many conspiracy theories are constructed on the theory of underlying malice, where in reality it is merely incompetence.
The following law’s are taken from Wikipedia.
Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.
Robert A. Heinlein‘s 1941 short story “Logic of Empire”
“You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity“
Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, but don’t rule out malice. or … but keep your eyes open.
Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774)
“…misunderstandings and neglect create more confusion in this world than trickery and malice. At any rate, the last two are certainly much less frequent.“
“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the universe.“
Compare Schiller‘s ”
Against stupidity, the gods themselves contend in vain.“
Elbert Hubbard said,
German General Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord in Truppenführung, 1933:
“I divide my officers into four classes; the clever, the lazy, the industrious, and the stupid. Each officer possesses at least two of these qualities. Those who are clever and industrious are fitted for the highest staff appointments. Use can be made of those who are stupid and lazy. The man who is clever and lazy however is for the very highest command; he has the temperament and nerves to deal with all situations. But whoever is stupid and industrious is a menace and must be removed immediately!“
Sir Bernard Ingham’s Cock-up theory
“Cock-up before conspiracy“.
The full quotation
“Many journalists have fallen for the conspiracy theory of government. I do assure you that they would produce more accurate work if they adhered to the cock-up theory.“