THE KARMA OF MATERIALISM
“When faced with the way events are depicted in history, we should sense how necessary it is to rethink them. We should sense that today’s difficult time, which has brought such misery upon humanity, is the karmic effect of distorted, superficial thinking. We should sense that the painful experiences we are going through are in many respects the karma of materialism.” —Rudolf Steiner
We read in modern history books about external events isolated within themselves or subject to the random, blind working of mechanistically conceived causes and effects. But is it possible to view the events of our times—pandemics, war, political upheaval, etc.—as symptoms of an underlying disease, karmic consequences of humanity’s fall into materialism? In these lectures, given in the midst of World War I, Rudolf Steiner addresses this question with insight, nuance, and a deep love for humanity and the collective spiritual mission of our Earth.
Science—which should not be a set of beliefs or dogmas but a method and practice of inquiry—has become wedded, especially since the nineteenth century, to the worldview of materialism. This problematic union is most dangerous when erroneous concepts and lines of thought are extended beyond the domain of theory into the sphere of practical life. In these lectures, Steiner implores his audience “to become conscious of where humanity will be led if what today calls itself science is allowed to set the tone and to insinuate itself into realms where concepts become realities.”
Every day, we witness the ravages of war—both physical and ideological—that continue to darken the globe. Authoritarianism rears its head in manifold forms, more or less subtle, but always with the acquiescence of alarmingly large portions of the population. As Steiner puts it, “The infallibility of the Pope may be questioned, but in our time, when humanity is thought to be beyond any belief in authority, the infallibility of a great many people is gladly accepted.” Meanwhile, there are those who, through inner cowardice, would turn away from the conflict that rages between the forces of Christ and those of Ahriman, between the spiritualization and materialization of the Earth. Steiner makes clear that, in fact, this reluctance to face the real spiritual conflict of our time is the true source of global catastrophes.
Although given more than one hundred years ago, the message of these lectures is more urgent today than ever before.
20th March 2023; Translated by Rita Stebbing; Introduction by Clifford Venho; (CW 176); SB; 384 pages; 235mm x 152mm; Paperback;
£35.00 ISBN 9781621483120