Rudolf Steiner on the Roots of Intolerance

At times like this, when nine people are slaughtered because of the color of their skin while praying in their church, words are hollow. But I remember fifty years ago when it seemed, from the outside at least, that light was being shed on the forces behind racism, and new understanding and acceptance were taking root. I thought it was the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.

I was wrong. For the sake of all the families who have lost loved ones to fanaticism, isn’t it time we identify the root cause of intolerance?’ This dangerous emotion lives in feelings of superiority, pride, fear and hate. Why has racism become so dangerously common? Is it the acceptance and fanning of extremist ideas? Is it mental illness? Why and how have the many facets of human existence—religion, politics, economics, education, health, culture—all become so polarized? Aren’t we responsible for this? Why is it now the norm NOT to cooperate for the higher good?

Ahriman world trade centerThere is a fascination today, and I am not digressing here, with the paranormal: ghosts, vampires, demons, etc., in novels, TV shows and movies. On some level, we humans understand there is more to these stories than meets the eye. Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), was an Austrian mystic, philosopher, social reformer, architect, and esotericist who saw into spiritual worlds. He consistently spoke of the battle between light and dark forces and the effects of spiritual beings on the physical world. If we don’t reverse the trend of the ever-expanding problem of violent intolerance, Steiner says life could end in a War of All Against All.

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Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925)

Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy (a path of insight which leads the spiritual in the human being to the spiritual in the cosmos), was a deeply devout man and while it may not be fair to him or to the reader to pull out a few paragraphs of his spiritual lingo from the book NATURE SPIRITS, his ideas are pertinent to the heart-wrenching issue of the growing and violent partisanship of our times:

“Matters which have a harmful result on the etheric body are bad laws, or bad social measures prevailing in a community. All that leads to want of harmony, all that makes for bad adjustments between people [causes] the accumulation in the etheric body . . . [of] detachments from beings working in the spiritual worlds [which are] now found in our environment—they are ‘spectres’ or ‘ghosts.’ We see [them] grow out of the life of human beings . . . For one who is able to see things spiritually, [the] physical body is crammed with phantoms, [the] etheric body crammed with specters. As a rule after a person’s death, all this rises up and disperses and populates the world.” Continue reading

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