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Rudolf Steiner Archive Section Name Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib

Self Observation

Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib Document

Sketch of Rudolf Steiner lecturing at the East-West Conference in Vienna.

“The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity”


About such an immensely great work as Rudolf Steiner's “PHILOSOPHY OF SPIRITUAL ACTIVITY” many various statements might be made. Here are noted two or three things that have especially struck one life-long student of it.


Upon the title-page Dr. Steiner inscribed the words: — “What we find when, in conformity with the methods of Natural Science, we observe the inner being of man.” We are required as we read these pages to conduct ourselves conformably with the methods of Natural Science. Without prejudices or assumptions; taking nothing from tradition and nothing from authority; relying exclusively for our data upon the facts under observation; using all the intelligence we can muster; we set out, not so much upon a reading, as upon an investigation ... In what we thus make our own — because of the way in which we have gained it; because it has been gained in those good ways by which a present-day scientifically-minded person makes his mental acquisitions — we know we have every right to confidence.

What is it we discover? We discover, if our self-observation has been thorough-going, that we are beings capable of genuine spiritual activity. We come to know indubitably that we are not subject in the last resort to “natural causation.” We discover within ourselves a source of activity not engendered by the physical world. We have come — and perhaps it is the greatest thing that can happen to us — into the fully conscious knowledge that we are “free.”


We turn to the most loved of Rudolf Steiner's books, to his “How to Attain Knowledge of Higher Worlds.” The opening sentence runs: — “There lie asleep in every human being faculties by means of which he can for himself gain knowledge of Higher Worlds.” Because of the work we have done upon ourselves with our study of the “Philosophy of Spiritual Activity;” because we have now a deeply-grounded assurance of the existence of our spiritual faculties; these opening words of Dr. Steiner's speak to us with an immense appeal. We feel ourselves irresistibly called upon to make use of these supersensible eyes and ears of ours, to encourage them to function. To this eagerness Dr. Steiner offers the relevant exercises and disciplines.


Mighty evolutionary forces are striving to write “Human Freedom” into the history of the Twentieth Century. In political manoeuvrings, upon battlefields, etc., they achieve only secondary results. They win a primary and permanent victory wherever a human being in courageous solitude lets them come to expression within himself. ... Rudolf Steiner's writings and lectures taken as a whole indicate many-sidedly what these forces are. The “Philosophy of Spiritual Activity” (written at the outset of his life-work) is a sort of gate-way into all that he was subsequently to say.

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