Who Are Other People?

Nowadays we generally regard the entrance of many people into our life in such a way that we see ourselves, our own personalities, as the centre of the review. What have we gained from this or that person who has come into our life?

This is our natural way of feeling. It is exactly this which we must try to combat. We should try in our souls to think of others, such as teachers, friends, those who have helped us and also those who have injured us (to whom we often owe more than to those who, from a certain point of view, have been of use to us). We should try to allow these pictures to pass before our souls as vividly as possible in order to see what each has done.

We shall see, if we proceed in this way, that by degrees we learn to forget ourselves, that in reality we find that almost everything which forms part of us could not be there at all unless this or that person had affected our lives, helping us on or teaching us something.

When we look back on the years in the more distant past to people with whom we are no longer in contact and about whom it is easier to be objective, then we shall see how the soul-substance of our life has been created by the people and circumstances of the past.

Our gaze then extends over a multitude of people whom we have known in the course of time. If we try to develop a sense of the debt we owe to this or that person - if we try to see ourselves in the mirror of those who have influenced us in the course of time, and who have been associated with us, then we shall be able to experience the opening-up of a new sense in our souls, a sense which enables us to gain a picture of the people whom we meet even in the present, with whom we stand face to face today.

This is because we have practiced developing an objective picture of our indebtedness to people in the past. It is tremendously important that the impulse should awaken in us, not merely to feel sympathy or antipathy towards the people we meet, not merely to hate or love something connected with the person, but to awaken a true picture of the other in us, free from love or hate...

(Steiner, Social and Anti-Social Forces, Dec 12, 1918, Berne, GA 186)

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posted: May 18, 2007