The role of the media is key - because it is through the media that people get their information and form their ideas; and it is ideas that determine human action.
In The Philosophy of Freedom, Rudolf Steiner shows how vital it is that we combine the correct thought with the object; find the concept that truly corresponds to the percept - as distinct from illusory or sentimental abstractions.
When our ideas about the world are full of untruth, empty phrases and dead abstractions; we cannot but create a deeply sick society; and catastrophes like the wars of the twentieth century are bound to recur.
Meanwhile, the media go on distracting us from awakening to the realities of world events by presenting an endless circus of celebrity, sport, sex and shopping....
What can we do? Steiner's answer was simple and direct: endeavour to understand! See through things!
Thoughts are forces, and have effects.
It is not supposed to be easy for humans to enter spiritual life. Crises are opportunities for change.
Clear and proper understanding of what is going-on is the only way - "Nothing else is of any use".
Excerpted and freely-edited from Terry Boardman's Introduction to Rudolf Steiner's lecture series The Karma of Untruthfulness - Volume 2 - Steiner's lectures are from 1916, Terry Boardman's Introduction from 2005. See also this 20 minute documentary.
A century ago; in "The Karma of Untruthfulness" Steiner gave the first 'media studies' course in which he analysed the causes of the ongoing Great War.
And he gave what I believe is the best advice for those and these times: our first duty is to understand, clearly and truly, what is happening: to See Through Things.
And this is primarily a matter of having true ideas, true concepts - with which to understand the 'facts', observations and perceptions.
'Evidence is a red-herring'. Everybody has, more or less, the same' data; and certainly enough data:
It is having right ideas/ true concepts, that differentiates the rare wise man from the mass of fools.
Understanding truth, and then recognising that Thoughts Are Forces - have general effects; so that thinking truth is a positive intervention in The World.
Indeed, clearly to understand; to think, to know Truth - is the single most positive intervention we can make in the world.
NOTE ADDED: The above imperative of understanding marks a cleavage point from a more mainstream spirituality of oneness, quietism, 'mindfulness', and Zennish, Hinduish-type New Age teachings - which assert the totality of the present moment, non-discrimination, non-judgmentalism, neither thinking nor choosing, reducing or eliminating the 'ego', 'consciousness' etc...
If, indeed, a person was genuinely to be utterly Unworldly - taking no notice At All of the mass media or officialdom, and deriving no information At All from media, official or any bureaucratic sources; having No Opinion on any of the issues of the day (especially the Litmus Test issues); and if he took No Part At All in any public discourse on such matters...
- Then (but only then) there would, indeed, be no reason to understand the truth behind the mainstream media/ official/ bureaucratic Untruthfulness.
Otherwise - which category embraces every single person of whom I am aware, because I know of nobody wholly-unworldly - we must discern lies from truth, evil from Good, the side-of-Satan from those (few?) affiliated with God.
We must therefore follow Steiner's advice, this needs to be a conscious choice; and actually to do so in practice we must be convinced, in particular, that "Thoughts are forces, and have effects" - otherwise we would simply not take the daily mission seriously enough, nor give it sufficient priority against the many other distractions, temptations and compulsions of modern living.
Thoughts are also forces in a sense beyond their being a prelude to action (and by determining action, determining consequences of those actions). I believe this insight has been touched upon in this blog quite a few times in the past.
Divinely aligned thinking has an effect on the world (on the Beings of Creation) which goes beyond visible chains of causality.
this is not to be confused with Wishful Thinking, because the type of thought which is capable of direct effect on Creation (i.e. without the "intermediary" of bodily action) is of a specific and mostly rare type.
However, this type of thinking is being done by all of us to some degree or another at all times (it seems, in most cases, dimly and sputteringly and weakly), and uses our more "rationalistic" thinking as a "check" (verifier), so it behooves us to be very careful of what we allow ourselves to believe is true.
This is because our "rationalistic" thinking can override the other type of thinking to a large extent, and disfigure its proper expression (we can choose to believe rationalistic thinking even when it goes against original thinking, and thus negate the original thinking and its direct effect).
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