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Jakob Matham, copperplate engraving of one of the seven deadly sins: Superbia (c. 1600)

Pride (Greekὕβρις hubris or less frequently hybris; Latinarrogantia, superbia), also called arrogance, is counted in the Christian occidental tradition among the seven major vices. For the student of the spirit arrogance becomes a special danger, especially when he strives for a clairvoyance not sufficiently permeated by thought.

„There are sharp thinkers in the present day who can reasonably see the spiritual-scientific world-view. Why is it sometimes so difficult for them to attain clairvoyance? - It is relatively easy for those who are not sharp thinkers to attain visionary clairvoyance, and they then easily become arrogant towards thinking, whereas it is difficult for sharp thinkers to attain clairvoyance. There is a very narrow cliff where a certain masked arrogance asserts itself. There is hardly anything that breeds arrogance as much as clairvoyance not illuminated by thought, and it is therefore particularly dangerous because the person concerned does not as a rule know that he is arrogant, but even believes himself to be humble. He does not even know how much pride is involved in disregarding the intellectual work of men and in placing the main value on certain inspirations. There is a masked arrogance in it that is monstrous.“ (Lit.:GA 117, p. 86f)

In the ancient pre-Christian Mysteries, when the ego was much less developed, the student of the spirit could not so easily become supercilious.

„Even at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha and centuries later, therefore, man as he lives on earth was called, in the sense of the ancient mystery wisdom: the natural man. But at the same time people were of the opinion that this natural human being is not the true human being, is not the full human being, does not carry the full human being in himself. And they distinguished the pneumatic human being, the spiritual human being, from this natural human being. And one was of the opinion that the human being can only be a full human being as such a pneumatic human being when he has become a pneumatic human being after laying aside the physical body and passing through the gate of death. Therefore, the initiation into the Mysteries of ancient times was connected with the development of the highest modesty for the earth-consciousness of man. The earthly man could not be made arrogant by the Mystery Initiation, for he did not get the feeling: you are already human on this earth in the full sense of the word, but he got the consciousness: you are, so to speak, a candidate of the human here on earth, and you must use your earthly life in such a way that you could become fully human after your death.“ (Lit.:GA 221, p. 18)


References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
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Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English.
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.