Daily Soul Exercises
by Rudolf Steiner
Only decide from completely founded conviction, even where trivial things are concerned. All thoughtless acts, all meaningless doing, should be kept distant from the soul. You should have well considered reasons for everything. And you should abstain from everything which has no meaningful foundation. This is the so-called "right judgement", which is not dependent on sympathy or antipathy. If you are convinced of the correctness of a decision, you should remain constant to it. This is called Steadfastness.
Speaking: Only that which has sense and meaning should come from the lips of the person who strives for higher development. All talk for the sake of talk (for example, killing time) is harmful in this respect. The usual kind of conversation, in which everything is muddled together, should be avoided. One should not, however, avoid intercourse with others. It is just during this intercourse that speech should gradually become meaningful. All speech and answers should be carefully considered. Never talk without a reason (rather remain silent). Try to use neither too many nor too few words. This exercise is also called the right words.
Activities: They should not be disturbing to our fellow-men. When you are induced to act by conscience, weigh carefully how the inducement can best correspond to the well-being of all, the lasting happiness of your fellow-men, the eternal. When you act on your own initiative, beforehand make sure that the way you act is the most meaningful. This is also called the correct deed.
Arranging your life: Live naturally and spiritually. Donít get mired in lifeís trivialities. Avoid everything that causes haste and anxiety. Donít rush in but donít be lazy either. Consider life as a means to work, to higher development, and act accordingly. This is also called the right viewpoint.
Human striving: You should try to do nothing which is beyond your strength, but also not leave undone what lies within it. Look beyond the daily momentary and give yourself objectives (ideals) which correspond to the important duties of a human being; for example, when developing yourself in the sense of these exercises, do so in order to be able to eventually help and advise your fellow-men more effectively, although perhaps not in the immediate future. This can also be summarized as follows: make all the previous exercises habitual.
Strive to learn as much as possible from life: Nothing happens around us that doesnít provide an opportunity to gain experiences that are useful for life. If you do something wrongly or imperfectly, it will give occasion to subsequently do something similar correctly or perfectly. When you see others act, observe how they do so with similar objectives (but not with a loveless gaze) and donít do anything without looking back on the events which can be helpful in making decisions and arrangements. You can learn much from every person, also from children, when you pay attention. This is also called: Right remembrance, that is, remember what is learned and experienced.
Pay attention to your thoughts. Only think meaningful thoughts. Gradually learn to differentiate the essential from the unessential, the eternal from the transient, the truth from mere opinion Ė the so-called "correct" opinion. When listening to others speak, try to be completely still inside and to renounce agreement and, especially, disparaging judgements (criticizing, rejecting Ė also in thought and feeling).
From time to time look into yourself at the same hour daily Ė if only for five minutes. Thereby you should be immersed in yourself, in thought carefully taking council with yourself, forming and testing your principles of life, your knowledge (or lack of same). Consider your obligations, think about the content and true goals of life; in a word, seek out what is permanent and pose for yourself the corresponding goals, for example, earnestly strive towards the appropriate virtues. Donít make the mistake of thinking that you have done something good, but always strive further, according to the highest examples. This is also called: right contemplation.
Translation: Frank Thomas Smith
Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) Austrian philosopher and seer, was the founder of Anthroposophy. His indications have resulted in the Waldorf school movement, bio-dynamic agriculture and anthroposophical medicine. His many books and lectures are all available in German, and many in English. See the SCR Ebook Library .