I’ve been asked to write a short introduction for newcomers on the theme of “What is anthroposophy?” for a website for the Anthroposophical Society in Sussex. Having set myself a limit of no more than 250 words, I came up with the following 224 words:
What is anthroposophy?
Anthroposophy (meaning “wisdom of the human being” or “consciousness of one’s humanity”) was defined by its founder, Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) as “a path of knowledge, to guide the spiritual in the human being to the spiritual in the universe.”
Steiner considered anthroposophy to be a science of the spirit, and a necessary complement to natural science. It deals with many large questions, such as: the purpose of life, the physical and non-physical aspects of the human constitution, the nature of divinity and the cosmos, and the understanding of those universal laws which govern life. Anthroposophy is a philosophy, not a religion, and people of all religions and none have found it useful in expanding their sense of what it means to be a human being.
Anthroposophy has been applied in many practical ways to great effect for the benefit of individuals and the community, including in agriculture (biodynamics), education (Steiner Waldorf schools), medicine and curative education, pharmacy, sociology, economics and diverse branches of the arts.
Freedom is at its core and Steiner was always insistent that anthroposophy must never force its existence upon people. It is instead something to be discovered by those individuals “who feel certain questions on the nature of human beings and the universe as an elemental need of life, just as one feels hunger and thirst.”
Writing a brief introduction to a subject as complex as anthroposophy wasn’t an easy exercise, by any means – so I’d be grateful for any comments, advice or alternative versions (preferably from people who are well disposed towards anthroposophy!).
82 responses to “What is anthroposophy? (in no more than 250 words)”
I think that you did an excellent job with the description. Very clear and informative!
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Thank you, Wendy!
Not an easy task indeed. I do wonder about describing anthroposophy as a “philosophy” which suggests it might be a body of speculative thought rather than a science based on spiritual observation and cognition.
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Thank you, Bernard. What word or phrase might be used instead of “philosophy”? I have heard anthroposophy described as “a set of doctrines” but many non-anthroposophists would dispute the use of the word “science”, as it is based on the spiritual observations of Steiner, which are not readily replicable by scientists.
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I don’t know if you have consulted this essay in compiling your words, Jeremy, but if anyone had a handle on “What Is Anthroposophy?”, it was Carl Unger, who was duly considered to be, “Steiner’s right-hand man”. Unger apparently also had many opponents, but his came out of the ranks of the anthroposophists, who were jealous of his relationship to Steiner. But, he did the work for many years in conveying the significance of spiritual science as epistemology , i.e., New Knowledge.
Actually, Anthroposophy is old knowledge that Steiner re-discovered through modern techniques of spiritual investigation. Thus, knowledge long forgotten in its seminal form was renewed by the power of modern exact clairvoyance, which Steiner asserts is a faculty on the horizon, and breaking forth, as we speak. What is most interesting is that this dilemma was addressed earlier in Plato’s Academy, when the issue of how new knowledge could arise out of ignorance was asked. The answer was this: Knowledge is a matter of remembering what has been forgotten in its old form, and renewing it in a new form. The old form was the ancient faculty of clairvoyance, which had been dwindling for many centuries. The new form was the faculty of thinking, which Socrates had first brought forth to his students in the discipline of introspection, or “know thou thyself”. Then, it was expanded by Plato, and his student, Aristotle. Aristotle brought introspection a step forward, and called it, ratiocination, which means apprehending the physical world through deductive reasoning, and then realizing that God has inserted the higher worlds into nature in the form of the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms. As seen, the faculty of thinking was on the rise in replacing the now old, and atavistic clairvoyance of earlier epochs. The transition from the Greek to the Roman Era saw the advent of inductive reasoning, which sees quantifiable elements of: measure, weight, and number, as its point of emphasis. The originating deductions from the Greek era fall into the background, and are lost. Steiner’s legacy is that he renews the lost value of the originating deductions, and brings them forth again with occult science, which is designed to uncover what was buried and forgotten for so long, and fashion it in a new form. This new form, while fully recognizing the fourfold thinking inherent in achieving the complete power of reasoning, leads to modern exact clairvoyance, which Steiner possessed fully, and stands to be our future. Anthroposophy represents the start of this objective.
Carl Unger’s essay was intended to be delivered in Nuremberg on January 4, 1929. He was shot and killed before he could speak.
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Thanks Steve, I like very much this concept: “Knowledge is a matter of remembering what has been forgotten in its old form, and renewing it in a new form.”
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You might wish to add something like this, Jeremy:
“A fundamental aspect of anthroposophy is the recognition of a real spiritual world in addition to and preceding the visible physical one.” Just sayin’ The concept may be already contained in your original draft.
Thank you, Frank, that is a good point to consider.
Very clear. What would it be like to switch the placements of the last two paragraphs?
I’ll try it out and see how it reads – thank you for the suggestion!
I would say “biodynamic farming” is it could be confused with biodynamics, which is something different.
Otherwise it’s certainly on the clearer end of the definition scale !
Thank you, Paul, I will make that change.
Thank You, Jeremy. I think this is an accurate and helpful formulation. I feel that the anthroposophical impulse essentially is a healing one in every realm. You could also include in your list Nutrition, Science (Nick Thomas’s work and others), Mathematics and Architecture.
Very helpful, Tom – thank you. I will add the topics you suggest, and try to work in the “healing” aspect somewhere.
I would leave out Science as it is not recognised by anyone outside of the Anthro bubble. Unless you can cite examples published in proper scientific journals.
“Anthroposophy is a philosophy, not a religion.” Why do you deny this?
One definition of religion as per Wiki
“Religion is a cultural system of behaviors and practices, world views, sacred texts, holy places, ethics, and societal organisation that relate humanity to what an anthropologist has called “an order of existence”.”
Seems like Anthroposophy to me.
I have never met an Anthroposophist who is an atheist, they all seem to go to the “Christian” Community Church.
Are there any Anthroposophists who reject Steiner’s Mystery of Golgotha?
Dear Truth Seeker,
I experience your comments as a mixture of rational reflections and over- simplification. To begin with your first comment, I would question whether all that is science is published in ‘proper scientific journals’. Is it part of your understanding of science that science is what is published in proper scientific journals? In my understanding of science it can be practiced and understood by anyone with the necessary theoretical background. This does not equate with being published by… etc.
I suggest you look at Arthur Zajonc on YouTube, (Arthur Zajonc, PhD, was professor of physics at Amherst College from 1978 to 2012)
Regarding your second comment, here you ask a rational question, namely, ‘Are there any Anthroposophists who reject Steiner’s Mystery of Golgotha?’. This is part of a serious question for anthroposophists, i.e., ‘Should something be accepted as true just because Steiner said it?’ Well, Steiner himself said NOT to believe something just because he had said it. Then as part of anthroposophy he offers an alternative to ‘Yes I accept that!’ or ‘No, I don’t accept that.’ The alternative involves living with a thought (of which we cannot decide its truth-value) living and feeling, feeling and contemplation, and then one can choose an active step, which is meditation. You, as an individual may reject all these. Thank God (or No-God) that we are all free to take up these modes or reject them as we please in our free secular society.
Your comment about anthroposophy being a religion is your opinion, which I guess will be predicated on your definition of religion. Others will have a different definition and a different opinion.
Your comment about all anthroposophists being members of The Christian Community is anecdotal and not born out by my 50 years experience of anthroposophists. In my experience very few anthroposophists are members of The Christian Community, there are quite a few members of The Christian Community who have little experience or understanding of anthroposophy.
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Thankyou for your comments TomHS. With regards to science I agree that it isnt limited to what is published in scientific journals, but my point is that anyone or institution making scientific claims should be able to back them up with credible evidence (not an unreasonable requirement). Gemma’s comment shows the irrational animosity many anthroposophists have towards science.
On the religion or not question, I think woofles post below describes it very well. For me if something looks like a duck, etc, etc.
On Anthroposophists being members of the Christian Community yes you are right it is merely my own observation and of course anecdotal. But the ones I know (who are fully paid-up members to the big house in Dornach) all go to CC. Below Fran Russell describes Anthroposophicy as a very broad movement, again, my anecdotal evidence is that it is not – all the people seem of a very similar type and mindset.
One of the main mission of anthroposophy is to bring the idea of reincarnation to the modern culture, maybe would be good to find a way to place this key word or the concept somewhere in your description.
Also maybe the idea that anthroposophical knowledge is based on spiritual observation, experience, using spiritual organs one can develop. So the reader won’t think it is just speculations based on old myths.
Thanks, William – I didn’t want to go into too much detail in an introduction, so instead of mentioning karma and reincarnation, referred instead to “the universal laws that govern life.” I like your second point and will try to find a way to bring that into a revised draft.
I agree it would be good to mention reincarnation, it would be disingenuous not to 😉
Spiritual observation and spiritual organs are meaningless phrases unless you can exactly define them.
Neatly done, Jeremy. Written for newcomers, the text brings back memories of one’s own thrilling discovery of Anthroposophy in the library (shouldn’t it read: people of all religions but none?)
Thank you Jeremy, your introduction is excellent. Perhaps what the above comments show is that there is not one doctrinal view that one must follow but that different people have different interpretations and that that is OK. That anthroposophy is a broad movement. This is something people like your respondent ‘Truth Seeker’ perhaps find hard to take on board as well as those who positively want something more concrete and directive. Some say one must believe in re-incarnation but others, including Steiner, say no absolute belief in anything is necessary. Would that be right? As I understand it Anthroposophy is a guide to help you make sense of the world. Or is it more than that? I also agree with your comments about the use of the word ‘science’ as it means something else outside the Steiner world and can be confusing and be a source of ridicule.
Thank you Fran, I think your understanding of anthroposophy (and the way you express it at Greenwich Steiner School!) is spot on – a guide to help you make sense of the world is a very good phrase. There is no dogma in which you have to believe (which is just one good reason why it’s not a religion) and your school is a prime example of how anthroposophy evolves and adjusts so that it can relate to the rest of the world and stay fresh, modern and relevant.
So we have some interesting responses here. I’ll take them (roughly) in the order in which they are found on the page.
That, as a quotation is fair enough. My response is to ask you what form this must take, in our age of the Consciousness Soul. The age in which we must find that which makes us individually conscious – rather than just followers of rules imposed from outside.
Tom Hart Shea
Is it possible to expand on this. Because you are right; it’s more a matter of why this should be so.
And what if your reader should think you’re someone who dances with imaginary fairies at dawn? Most people prefer to look to those in authority for their answers – scientific journals being one of these. Quoting such things takes them away from the very things they need if they are to develop these spiritual organs. Just by way of an aside, the things one will discover with such organs are so refined, so subtle that you will have been seeing such things for a good many months – maybe even years – before you have the conceptual capacity to recognize them for what they are.
In this respect, any anthroposophist who depends on written language and terminology must preclude themselves from such understandings. For they truly lie beyond the human ability to describe.
Oh, dear. These so-called ‘proper’ scientific journals are written by people who are as defensive as any ordinary person in our day and age. They would not admit to a new idea from an outsider because it would be taken as a threat. Scientists need to be protected in their naivety, and the scientific journals are there to see their ideas promulgated, but also protected from nasty outsiders. I will add that the kind of science anthroposophy is based on cannot be measured with a ruler, nor can it be counted on your fingers – as the mainstream scientists demand. There are those outside the ‘Anthro bubble’ who understand the science behind anthroposophy quite clearly – but this requires the individual seeker to confront their own thinking to see if it stands up to scrutiny.
The approach I take is one that understands anthroposophy through the lens of the things Goethe wrote. After all, it was this which told the young Rudolf Steiner that the things he had seen were actually correct.
Frank Thomas Smith comes very close to this when he says:
Which is fair enough, but there are plenty of people who believe in fairies and souls reincarnated as butterflies or goodness knows what kind of fancies.
But the problem of addressing the reality of this statement to a newcomer has not been entered into.
Which is where we meet my own, practical approach to determining if someone has the ability to think in a way that begs the question that Socrates demanded (and the temple at Delphi), ‘know thyself’. Which in our day and age – the age of thought and reason – must ask “is what I imagine true – or mere wishful thinking?”
Now: a little background. Rudolf Steiner, following the concepts Goethe presented that so enlivened his heart, understood that the physical world is an expression of the spiritual. Now, to many, it may not look like it, what with all the machinery pumping pollution into the atmosphere in one way or another. However, the sun still rises – even if it does so through the grey of a morning smog. If you look at the sunset, you will find that the sun changes from the brightest light to a calmer yellow – and if the atmosphere is dense enough (say on a summer’s evening) you’ll find it darkened to the deepest of reds. The one thing it won’t do is turn blue.
Now whilst this does not prove the spiritual lies behind creation, it does point to a phenomenon that is closely bound up with it, that is to say, colour.
My point here is that if the person I’m talking with can understand – or at least accept this gentle fact – and it is a fact, for we all see suns setting. Don’t we? I mean, it is possible for us to agree on that much, isn’t it? My point here is that if they have any confusion on this issue – such as other people might see the colour red as blue or green (I’ve had this on several occasions, ridiculous as it might sound), or they just don’t get the simplicity of the idea that the colours of the sun seting is light darkened – then I’m afraid that it’s game over, so to speak.
Thus we have my own definition of anthroposophy:
“Reality is real, and anything one might think or imagine can be tested against the reality of the material world in one way or another.”
Thus, if we see a sunset, we will each of us see the same phenomenon, albeit that it will be reflected in our souls according to our temperament and our development. There are those who imagine we can bend such rules to our own ends… but that would not be seeking the truth, would it? We must ask our selves if what we experience is true – or not. We must ask Socrates’ question, phrased in the context of today: do we see the reality of nature, or are we engaging in illusion? Those who question the reality of nature need to do some conceptual untangling.
The step further asks the question that baffles scientists. I’ve asked them, and coming from a family of arch-scientists, I’ve had lots and lots of practice. Thus: if you count two acorns, one is making a material assumption. Because nothing in nature ever happens twice. Again, if someone can accept the reality of this simple statement – as was the young man on the train from Leipzig – they are armed with the correct conceptual tools to deal with the realities of the spiritual worlds. This innocent sounding question points to the manner in which the spiritual worlds exhibit themselves to us. You all know what I am alluding to.
Because the truth is this: everything that happens in nature has a spiritual counterpart.
The problem for anthroposophists is to find people who will work with this thought. Even electronic or mechanical devices have spiritual counterparts, albeit that they are of the ‘fallen’ kind.
Apologies, but owing to circumstances imposed from outside I may not be able to respond to your comments individually, as courtesy requires of one.
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I am new to the Steiner School and the main draw was the “philosophy/doctrine” that supported “experience” as the truth. Rare to find that Buddhist twist in Western philosophy that reminds us, “The finger that points to the moon is not the moon.” This encouragement towards freedom and self-exploration feels spiritually empowering. HAHA! Look at all these words in trying to express that 250 words might emphasize “experience” more. Thank you! Big job well done!
I started out reading Steiner with an assumption much like Fran Russell’s. But I soon discovered that this sort of description takes you only so far into the movement as it actually exists. I don’t know any first class members who question that the Foundation Stone meditation describes a real event. I heard a vorstand member decades ago saying that there should be a place at Dornach for people who don’t believe in Christ. He said that as something to aspire to, not something that reflected the reality there.
In other words, anthroposophy may not have dogmas, but it does seem to have a self-sorting process. Most people who aren’t anthroposophists would take it as a given that a movement that in its upper/inner institutional echelons has a consensus that Golgotha was the turning point of time is a religious movement. They certainly wouldn’t describe such a movement as philosophical.
I’m aware of the various ways in which anthropsophists try to incorporate their conviction about Christ into the claim that anthroposophy isn’t a religion, but it always sounds like special pleading. If anyone unfamiliar with anthroposophy asks me what it is, my answer runs along the lines of an extraordinarily wide-ranging kind of esoteric Christianity that generates all sorts of practical applications.
In any case, I’m not sure that anything but the briefest description of anthroposophy that doesn’t mention Christ is really describing it accurately (someone once described it as Hegel on LSD, which isn’t bad as a very short attempt).
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“Anthroposophy is a philosophy, not a religion, and people of all religions and none have found it useful in expanding their sense of what it means to be a human being”.
There seems to be something wrong with this sentence, or maybe there isn’t as a quick skim of the other posts seems to suggest that many people endorse it ??
Surely the words “and none” need to be removed – or maybe there is something too subtle in these words for my post-midnight consciousness to comprehend !
What I meant by “people of all religions and none” is that no matter what your religious faith, or even if you do not subscribe to any particular religion, anthroposophy can give us an enhanced sense of what it is to be a human being, because it can expand our thoughts on why we are here on Earth and where we are heading in the future. For example, I do not belong to any church or faith and have found religious dogma to be off-putting – but I do find the concepts of anthroposophy very helpful in giving insights into the true potential and ultimate destiny of human beings – and actually, when I feel despair at some of what humans are doing in the world, anthroposophy can help me to regain a sense of pride in being human and being alive at this time.
Dear Jeremy, such a wonderful and very precise words! I couldn’t say it better.
I sent your post to many friends of mine. Thank you!
Thank you very much, Gabriela, for your kind words!
When are you actually going to start studying spiritual science Jeremy?
I think this is the question that Gemma asks me all the time! 🙂
It all depends on what you think spiritual science is… whether it’s reading from the books in the archive… or reading from the book of nature as Rudolf Steiner did.
“It all depends on what you think spiritual science is… whether it’s reading from the books in the archive… or reading from the book of nature as Rudolf Steiner did.”
The books in the archive are there for a reason. As such, Anthroposophy exists as a cultural imperative of hugely educational proportion. Reading from the book of nature informs us of what encloses us in the stranglehold of “natural necessity”, but as well, there is a path of freedom from above, known as the Moral World Order. Steiner’s work exists to cultivate this free being, in spite of nature. Please remember, Steiner only improved on Goethe.
All I hear from Gemma is laborious opinions.
You will find that by the very manner in which Spiritual Science is presented, the aberration leading into the region of Ahriman is avoided. When one person or another is beginning to study Spiritual Science, the remark is very frequently to be heard: “I cannot grasp these things until I have seen them myself clairvoyantly, so I take them on trust.” I have emphasised over and over again that, rightly understood, this is not the case. At the present time human beings have sufficient intellectual capacity to understand everything that has been given out. The whole of Spiritual Science in the form it has been presented is within the grasp of the intellectual capacities existing in men at the present time. The intellectual capacities are there and can be roused into activity, and those who refuse to admit that it is so are in error. When what has been given in Spiritual Science is really worked upon by the intellect, the intellect is being employed in the right way and it is then impossible to enter into the Ahrimanic realm by an unlawful path. If men make no attempt to understand Spiritual Science, they are not applying their intellect to it but Spiritual Science cannot be blamed for that! Laziness alone is responsible.
Come on Jeremy choose a lecture cycle to study.
Dear Jeremy – thanks for your explanation – A sentence along the following lines would perhaps remove the ambiguity of the current one ? “Anthroposophy is a philosophy, not a religion, and both religious and non-religious people have found it useful in expanding their sense of what it means to be a human being”
Thank you, M.R. – that’s a definite improvement!
I have noticed that a number of critical comments to your short introduction, “What Is Anthroposophy”?, would have the relation to science left out. This is absurd. As well, reincarnation and karma are central, so you might as well say it directly. My contribution was also intentionally limited to 250 words, and wherein Steiner’s focus on describing the past ages of evolution can be seen as the aim of Anthroposophy in the rediscovery of former knowledge, long forgotten, and its renewal in a form capable of being grasped by the human intellect today.
Steiner was a spiritual investigator equipped with a modern clairvoyant faculty, which gets its fair share of criticism by those who continue to say that Steiner claimed this and that with his “supposed” faculty, but never proved anything with scientific rigor.
Yet, in a short introduction for ‘newbies’, they should be given as much of what makes anthoposophy unique as possible. Trimming down the content, or conceding to those that would have limits placed on the function of informing those of interest is wrong. For example, Christ is central to anthroposophy, as well as the Mystery of Golgotha, but there are people who would have it all excised in order to meet the needs of a secular society.
Anthroposophy is unique and profound for all the reasons that should be stated up front. As an epistemology of wide-scope, it can and does deepen religious knowledge and experience, even as it is not a religion. Rather, it is a guiding light.
“Steiner was a spiritual investigator equipped with a modern clairvoyant faculty, which gets its fair share of criticism by those who continue to say that Steiner claimed this and that with his “supposed” faculty, but never proved anything with scientific rigor.”
Exactly. Modern clairvoyant, great expression.
So what do you think you prove with this assertion about modern clairvoyance? Does it mean nothing, in spite of the 360 volumes of proof? Is it really only a great expression? What if it could be told in a different form, and wherein the faculty of thinking is shown as the evolutionary motive, by way of reasoning itself, in achieving spiritual-scientific knowledge?
As such, it already exists, except to the sceptics, like yourself, already noted with a mere wand of consideration; moving right along. In reality, there is much more to contemplate on this matter, and will be taken up with your next post. You see, truth seeking is a serious matter, and why you claimed the nom de plume, is still in question 🙂
Steve I seem to have hit a raw nerve, sorry! The point I was making is how can being clairvoyant (for those who believe in such things) be in some way modern?
“360 volumes of proof” Now as a truth seeker this is the sought of thing I like to hear 🙂 Please provide a source for your proof so i can check it out.
I’m enormously grateful to everyone who has taken the trouble to comment on my draft description, “What is anthroposophy?” I’ve found your insights and suggestions to be very helpful and have incorporated many of them in the revised text below. The word count has gone up from 224 to to 248 words, but that is still within my self-imposed limit of 250 words – and the result seems to me to be a clearer and better short description of anthroposophy than was provided by my first draft.
With thanks and best wishes to all,
“What is anthroposophy?
Anthroposophy (meaning “wisdom of the human being” or “consciousness of one’s humanity”) was defined by its founder, Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) as “a path of knowledge, to guide the spiritual in the human being to the spiritual in the universe. ”
Steiner considered anthroposophy to be a science based on spiritual observation, and a necessary complement to natural science. A fundamental aspect of anthroposophy is the recognition of a real spiritual world that interpenetrates the visible physical one. It deals with many large questions, such as: the purpose of life, the physical and non-physical aspects of the human constitution, the nature of divinity and the cosmos, and the understanding of universal laws such as karma and reincarnation which govern life. Anthroposophy is a philosophy, not a religion, and both religious and non-religious people have found it helpful in expanding their sense of what it means to be a human being.
Freedom is at its core and Steiner was always insistent that anthroposophy must never force its existence upon people. It is instead something to be discovered by those individuals “who feel certain questions on the nature of human beings and the universe as an elemental need of life, just as one feels hunger and thirst.”
Anthroposophy is applied in many practical ways for the benefit of individuals and the community, including in agriculture (biodynamic farming), architecture, economics, education (Steiner Waldorf schools), mathematics, medicine and curative education, nutrition, pharmacy, science, sociology, and diverse branches of the arts.”
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As an introduction it is as good as one can get.
I will add that for the anthroposophist welcoming those into the fold, as it were, the question of whether they are able to ascertain within themselves what anthroposophy is has not been addressed.
We live in the Fifth Epoch, the epoch that has been formed to create the realization of the consciousness soul – and it has been formed through that which drives humans to action. The Fifth Epoch is characterized by challenges: challenges that arise from the very things each individual human wants. The challenge is to both accept the differing needs of others – but also for them to accept mine.
This, in and of itself speaks of the ability to express one’s own needs, which are an expression of one’s own drives. There are those who cannot do this, and so are unable to determine what is properly theirs – and that which is driven by impulses they have no recourse to. Namely, Ahriman.
In being unwilling to express their own needs, they do not challenge others: for any ability to express oneself is to challenge the others directly.
Because if it is self-expression, it implies that it is what one person needs and not another.
The inverse of this is the person who can express themselves will be aware of the needs of others, and thus will have the capacity to listen.
There are a very great number of excuses for not working after the demands of the Fifth Epoch. All of which revolve around the unwillingness to express themselves – hence quotation, hence management speak. All of which to one degree or another will revolve around resisting those who do express themselves. And thus either clapping their hands over their ears or just shutting them up in one way or another.
As all of you will know from the things Rudolf Steiner is recorded to have said, if a person is acting out of the impulses of a previous epoch, they are acting out of tendencies that are evil.
That cannot be part of anthroposophy. Anthroposophy has to meet the demands of the epoch in which we live.
Either that or it will flounder and gather only those who are happy to discuss the contents of the archive – rather than, as Steve Hale said: “Steiner’s work exists to cultivate this free being, in spite of nature. Please remember, Steiner only improved on Goethe.”
Albeit that this cannot be in spite of nature, the very thing we depend on for our existence. Such freedoms as we express must be in accord with Goethe – who saw the truth painted on creation. Steiner didn’t improve on Goethe, he brought us a modern understanding of that which has – and will be – seen through eternity.
All that matters is that people know what this entails of them. It entails a little more than quoting from the things other people said. It requires each of us to understand the realities of nature as Goethe, Steiner and others expressed them, but to do so in our own, individual way.
If something is free, yet contradicts the reality of created nature, it can only be put down to illusion. For we can imagine anything. Which, in the lands beyond the Abyss, it is possible to do.
It just won’t get you anywhere.
But then, nor will quoting Rudolf Steiner.
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Steiner, who wrote, “The Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe’s World Conception”, made a great deal known that Goethe himself never realized. That is how he improved on Goethe. As well, Steiner made his own theory of knowledge quite explicit as a both a world, and a universal, conception.
The secret to Goethe’s natural scientific studies, as well as all his literary works, concerns a former life that he felt increasingly compelled to remember. The breakthrough occurred when he finally went to Italy when he was nearing 40 years of age. This is where a strong act of remembrance occurred, and he began to write his “Metamorphosis of Plants”. Also, an impulse concerning resurrection made him renew work on “Faust”, and Part II was born. You see, Rudolf Steiner followed the evolution of consciousness in Goethe, and was able to place him in Greece at the time of the elderly Plato. In fact, Plato is said to have admired this young Athenian. He was an artist, but became a follower and disciple of a philosopher.
Thus, in Goethe’s life he bore a dual personality. One part was his personality as Goethe, living under the ordinary conditions of life in Germany from the mid- 18th, into the first third of the 19th century. The other personality was this former life as a Greek, and needing to express itself. Many people bear a dual personality of this kind, and it will become increasingly so as this organ of the future self-remembering continues to develop.
The brain has conscious structures that symbolize the path of human spiritual evolution. At one time, the brain was unitary and undivided. Then, the corpus callosum formed, and hemisphericity brought about the first recognition of dualities. Further structures, such as the cerebrum, cerebellum, temporal lobes, and the frontal lobe, all exist at the present time to bring certain limitations into our conscious awareness, but for the purpose of providing the necessary self-referentiality that goes to make up the experience of individual ego consciousness.
In the future, as the Consciousness Soul Age continues to progress toward Philadelphia, these present structures will be ameliorated in favor of the self-remembering of our past lives. This will serve to expand consciousness tremendously.
As mentioned before I do not see how you can make science claims for anthroposophy. Has anthroposophy lead to any change in scientific thinking, any new discoveries or rejection of established views? Citing a scientist who happens to be an anthroposophist is an insufficient claim. Anthroposophy freely embraces non-science such as astrology and homeopathy on the one hand and attacks conventional “materialistic” science on the other.
Claims for mathematics and economics are also spurious.
But, what if it can be shown that spiritual science exists now for the future? As such, it readily admits it won’t convince many today toward its truths. Yet, it has never attacked conventional science, but has only applauded its findings, and encouraged its growth and development. It sees materialism as the basis for growing up to a science of the spirit that can acknowledge an invisible causality.
Today’s science has to have a material precept in the domain of measure, weight, and number. Yet, this is all effective representation, when we know that a cause exists above it all. Even modern-day science admits a cause that it cannot grasp. Why? Because it lacks measurement, calculation, and weight, of course. In other words, it refuses to accept an invisible parameter which is spaceless and timeless,
And that is why spiritual science has to be taken as a theory, or conception. It seeks to redeem the denizons of the deep in an upward climb toward the spirit realms. Even ‘truth seeker’ might see that as a handy idea.
It is not correct to call Anthroposophy a philosophy Jeremy. Philosophy is part of Anthroposophy (GA018) however; the total Pleroma of Anthroposophy embodies the Wisdom of Christ and is a religion.
This is the truth Schiller wrote:
‘Only through beauty’s dawn-lit gate
Can you pass into the realms of knowledge’
The knowledge he refers to is primarily moral knowledge. (GA170)
“What is the meaning of “religion?” It signifies union, union of the physical world with the spiritual.” The Gospel of John, Lecture 9: The Prophetical Documents and the Origin of Christianity, (GA103)
JS: Anthroposophy (meaning “wisdom of the human being” or “consciousness of one’s humanity”)
How can one be consciousness of one’s humanity without the Christ?
“With the incarnation of the Logos, the earthly mission — or in other words, what the earth was to become through the Event of Palestine — first really began. Previously, all was only a preparation.
What then did the Christ, who dwelt within the body of Jesus of Nazareth, especially have to represent Himself to be? It may be said He had to represent himself as the great bringer and quickener of the self-conscious, independent human being.
The earth exists in order that full self-consciousness, the “I AM,” may be given to mankind. Previously, everything was a preparation for this self-consciousness, for this “I AM;” and the Christ was that Being Who gave the impulse that made it possible for every human being — each as an individual — to experience the “I AM.”
The Gospel of John, Lecture 3: The Mission of the Earth, (GA103)
I also appealed to Jeremy to make his description of anthroposophy, Christ-centered. Why? Because it is, as your references from the Gospel of St. John clearly indicate. Yet, in today’s world, I think the goal is to be cosmopolitan in scope, and seek to embrace the world combine of various beliefs, including religious traditions, as well as atheism and agnosticism . What essentially represents Anthroposophy is the renewal of the Gnosis that was deemed heretical in the nearly direct aftermath of the Mystery of Golgotha, and decimated “root and branch”, as Steiner often indicated.
Thus, anthroposophy today is a neo-gnostic renewal of knowledge once known, but destroyed by the forces of denial of the spiritual working in the material world. These forces are stronger than ever today. But, to try to make anthroposophy even remotely appealing to secular society is wrong because it imposes limitation, and Steiner took great pains to identify transient limitations, and their overcoming. This was the very incentive of his book, Truth and Knowledge, c. 1892, in which he proclaimed the limits of logical empiricism, which was ready to affix the so-called “kantian epistemology” as the summit of human knowledge.
As well, Spiritual Science seeks to be a guidepost to all the matters of the heart, mind, and soul. It does this through revealing the facts of spiritual evolution, which at a certain point of time became religious conviction for what was once directly known. In other words, spiritual science itself is not a religion, but supports its truths, as contained here:
“Spiritual Science can only be an instrument of the religious life, never a religion itself. Religion is best characterized through the content of the human heart, that sum of feelings and emotions through which man’s sensitive soul sends up all that is best in it to the super-sensible beings and powers. The character of a man’s religion depends on the fire of these feelings, the strength of his sensitivity, just as it depends on the warm pulse-beat in the breast and on the feeling for beauty how a man will stand before a picture. True it is that the contents of the religious life is what we call the spiritual or super-sensible world. But just as little as an aesthetic feeling for art is the same as an inner grasp of its laws — though it may assist understanding just as little are the wisdom, the science, that lead into the spiritual worlds the same as religion. This science will make religious feeling more earnest, worthier, broader, but it will not be religion itself. Grasped in its true sense it may lead to religion.”
Apocalypse of St John, 17 June 1908
Well, Caryn, if anthroposophy is indeed a religion, as you assert, then you have sided with PLANS and Dan Dugan and undermined the rights of Waldorf schools in the USA to exist. Fortunately, in the two court cases that PLANS have brought in which they sought to make the case that anthroposophy is a religion, on both occasions they have lost, as the courts clearly did not accept their arguments. Anthroposophy is not a religion, even if some anthroposophists talk and behave as if it were.
Anthroposophy is really hard to describe in a such limited text – it is so wide-ranging. Given the limitation, in my opinion you have done a great job, Jeremy. Here is something I just came across in my readings:
“Spiritual Science cannot hand people something which, once assimilated, is enough for the rest of life. I have often pointed out that there exists no short summary of a world view which can be kept at hand in one’s pocket. In place of ready formulas, science of the spirit provides something with which the human soul must repeatedly unite itself, which must be repeatedly inwardly assimilated and digested. External truths such as those provided by natural science we can, if we have a good memory, take in and then possess them once and for all. That is not possible with spiritual-scientific truths, the reason being that the truths of natural science are lifeless concepts. The laws of nature are dead once they have been formulated into concepts, whereas spiritual-scientific truths are living concepts; if we condemn them to lifelessness because we accept them as if they were external truths, then they provide no nourishment; then they are stones the soul cannot digest.”
‘Aspects of Human Evolution’, lecture VIII, Berlin 24 July 1917
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This is, indeed, a very good example of Steiner’s position with regard to spiritual science. And yet, who listens to this rationale today, except those that “listen to this rationale”? As can be seen right here, you have people who say that spiritual science is not science because it cannot replicate its findings in the experimental sense of repeatable proofs. But, repeatable proofs only involve measure, weight, and number, which only adhere to the external world. As such, spiritual science, which completely accords with the system of proofs that can be repeated on a material level, also recognizes higher laws of causality. And, it is these higher laws of causality that present-day science rejects; for the simple reason that they do not know them.
But, the only limitation is in the eye of the scientist who refuses any other proof than the material one, in which repeatable outcomes can be expected, and do occur. Steiner always upheld these proofs as a given, and worthy of regard in the domain of natural science. What he wanted was to go on, and take it to the next level. As seen, this has hardly even begun to take place because of all of the prejudice against a science of the spirit. And yet, who would deny that a cause stands in front of its effect?
This lecture, cited, is one of the very best examples of how Steiner did not mince words. He knew the limitations of natural science, and also applauded its achievements, and then implored moving to the next level of comprehension.
Has present-day science even remotely shown the courage and challenge that Steiner spoke of in looking into the invisible causes behind phenomenal distinctions?
Thank you, Liliana and Steve, for your comments. The text in question, let us remember, is an introductory page on a website. It is aimed at those who are unfamiliar with anthroposophy and will no doubt be skipped over by experienced anthroposophists. It is not intended to reveal everything about anthroposophy in 250 words but rather, to act as a kind of indication of what someone might expect were they to be sufficiently intrigued to want to find out more. We should never take away the joy of discovery from people but instead should encourage them to explore further in their own way and in their own time. I thought hard about whether to mention Christ but decided against it, because it seems to me that it would put up unnecessary preliminary barriers for those who come from non-Christian backgrounds. Anthroposophy may be Christ-centred but the concept of Christ that Steiner brings is something that when properly understood is common to all people, regardless of whether they are religious or not. The quotation you have cited, Liliana, is very relevant here, because it implies that anthroposophy is a continuous path of discovery and development – and the purpose of the introduction is surely to help people to decide whether this is a path they might wish to go down.
Yet Jeremy you have introduced the anti-christ for months (evil, ahriman, sorat, black magic) but I introduce the Christ and this is the response? And on top of it you worry what Dan Dugan thinks when for years his site waldorf-critics have consistently mocked Anthroposophy.
Although I do not agree with you I understand your reaction which is a symptom of the church in the middle ages and especially the formation of the English church through Henry VIII wanting a divorce. The whole nuance of English religion is felt as a divorce, consciously or unconsciously, religion is viewed as a divorce from the spiritual life.
And across the channel; to retain political power in the middle ages the church implemented a schism in Christendom which Martin Luther stood against. The church through doctrine kept the entire development of spiritual insight and the knowledge of the divine separated from man who simply now had to be obedient without insight on their part. Through this the element of mediation between God and man is apprehended and viewed as something external and the essential unity of the divine and human needing a clergy to act as a medium between this unity as man was declared incapable of recognizing the divine. And while humanity is thus separated from the supreme good, no change of heart, as such, is insisted upon – for this would suppose that the unity of the divine and the human is to be found in man himself – but the terrors of Hell are exhibited to man in the most terrible colours, to induce him to escape from them, not by moral amendment, but in virtue of something external – the “means of grace”. These, however are an arcanum to the laity; another – the “confessor”, must furnish him with them. The individual has to confess, is bound to expose all the particulars of his life and conduct to the view of the confessor, and then is informed what course he has to pursue to attain spiritual safety. Thus the Church took the place of conscience; it put men in leading strings like children, and told them that man could not be freed from the torments which his sins had merited by any amendment of his own moral condition, but by outward actions, – actions which were not the prompting of his own good will, but performed by command of the ministers of the Church e.g. hearing mass, doing penance, going through a certain number of prayers, undertaking pilgrimages – actions which are unspiritual, stupefy the soul, and which they are only mere external ceremonies, but are such as can be even vicariously performed. The supererogatory works ascribed to the Saints, could be purchased, and the spiritual advantage which they merited, secured to the purchaser. Thus was produced an utter derangement of all that is recognized as good and moral in the Christian church; only external requirements are insisted upon, and these can be complied with in a merely external way. A condition the very reverse of freedom is introduced into the principle of freedom itself. (Hegel, Philosophy of History, pg 332)
This was not what I was referring to as religion. The Temple is Man.
I know this post is not on topic, Jeremy, but I do not like to see the spiritual striving of others slighted in any way. If you do not wish to include it, I will understand.
I am puzzled by Caryn Louise’s sentence, ‘The whole nuance of English religion is felt as a divorce, consciously or unconsciously, religion is viewed as a divorce from the spiritual life.’
I ask myself first , what is the function of the qualifying clause, ‘….consciously or unconsciously….’? I suppose that it could be a statement about phenomena, i.e., that there are English people who consciously regard religion as a divorce from the spiritual life, and also there are English people who unconsciously regard religion as a divorce from the spiritual life.
I have never encountered a person who is a devout member of the Church of England who viewed religion as a divorce from the spiritual life, though clearly it is a possibility to hold such a view.
The sentence in which this clause appears begins, ‘The whole nuance……’, and I am really at a loss as to what could be meant by this apparent generalisation. Maybe Caryn believes that there is only one nuance in English religious life?
I am concerned about some deep, good and faithful soul who devoutly prays, attends the sacraments, is actively part of the rich compassionate soul life of the C. of E. but who, according to Caryn, unconsciously views religion as a divorce from the spiritual life. What could it be like, what implications does it have, – to be full of love for the Christ and one’s fellow human beings, to live a life of genuine devotion , but unconsciously harbouring this strange view – that religion is divorced from the spiritual life?
Members of the Church of England may only be doing what they feel would help them draw nearer to God.
I would be interested to learn what Caryn believes goes on in the souls of devout members of the Church of England.
Thanks for the reply Tom regarding the history of the formation of the C. of E. and querying my generalisation on the nuance I wrote about.
First, if I may say, my contemplation on the generalisation is experienced being born in a British family where going to church was never a consideration; it was viewed as something totally foreign to do such a thing. My mother’s settler family were slightly different as the migration from England to SA was under the auspices of the Wesleyan faith and tracing my fore-fathers and mothers history in SA this faith never wavered and gave them much support in times of despair and joy as well. It was my granny who gave me her old King James bible which I cherish today. But as mentioned in my father’s family and, with my dear mother as well, attending church was seen as something foreign and was never contemplated.
If we look at the spiritual history of England before the Roman invasion. It was the land of the Celts, and referring to my book on mythology:
“The ancient Celts: Once a great empire, the empire of the Celts, stretched across the whole northern part of Europe, from the Black Sea to the British Isles. Historians have argued that its people (the British Isles) should be called not Anglo-Saxon but Anglo-Celtic. Ireland was never visited by the Roman legionaries, and so was able to retain some of its early Celtic characteristics. Wales has an almost unmixed Celtic population.”
The British Isles was known as Pretannoi (an ancient Greek word) and then later became known as Britanni. But even before Pretannoi it was said to be called Albion. History places the Celtic era around the 12th century BC.
This part of history is remarkable:
“At Maes Howe, a chambered tomb built around 3000 BC shows that builders devise a standard unit of length by taking detailed readings from the movement of the sun and stars. The possibility also exists that the skills developed here are exported across Britain and from there to Egypt where they are used to construct the first pyramids.”
The Romans were the first from Europe to enter into Britain around 40 AD until they withdrew in 410 AD. Every English person should know the sorrow of Avalon during this time. Then the Jutes, the Angles, the Saxons then the Norsemen arrived.
This history takes us up to the 1500’s and King Henry VIII and the reformation and where the query into my original post on the nuance started. If I may reply more directly to the query in part two of this post later this evening.
“Members of the Church of England may only be doing what they feel would help them draw nearer to God. I would be interested to learn what Caryn believes goes on in the souls of devout members of the Church of England.”
Likely, she is telling you that it is all “maya”, illusion, in our terminology. I loved how she traced it for you, with the idiocy of Henry VIII, and yet, the C. of E does exist today. As such, it is a weakling soul that you acknowledge, while maybe not partaking yourself. When Caryn notes the “Temple of Man” in her exhortation, it means the nine-fold church which is resident within us all:
1) Physical Body
2) Etheric Body
3) Astral Body
4) Sentient Soul
5) Intellectual Soul
6) Consciousness Soul
7) Spirit Self
8) Life Spirit
9) Spirit Man
Thus, what needed an outside church, in the form of the ancient mysteries when initiation was actively sought for, became an inner operation after the Christ Event. Yet, retrogressive forces created a church dogma in Rome, and this only extended to the Protestant dimension, c. 1547, when Henry VIII died, and left a daughter to uphold the “protestant” conviction. Even her cousin, Mary, former Queen of Scotland, became the arch-enemy, and was sent to the guillotine on charges of treason and sedition. In reality, it was the hatred of Catholicism that made Mary a sacrifice, and all owing to the brand that Henry VIII had placed on the head of his one daughter and heir; Elizabeth.
This is what the Church of England upholds today, and yet, it respects the son of Mary, Queen of Scotland, who bore a son who would one day be the King of all Britain. He even revised the Bible, which you consider a myth, by removing fourteen previously accepted books in order to create the King James Bible.
So, Tom, how are we supposed to understand these events coming from relatively recent times? Caryn is clearly indicating that present churchgoers are
deluding themselves with prayers, alms, and the forgiving stance. You uphold these churchgoers as being righteous, and yet, what if they sacrifice to a fraudulent enterprise?
Only spiritual science can explain it, and likely better than Caryn, although she has given some excellent history to consider for our British brethren.
THis reply should come further down the thread but I can’t see how to get it there!
Both Caryn’s and Steve’s replies to my question are interesting historical speculations but they do not tell me what the state of soul of an individual may be. I can understand that Caryn’s experience of family religious life (or the lack of it) could be experienced in the way she describes, but I think it is a mistake to generalise this to all current members of the Church of England.
Caryn and Steve do not answer my question about the position of a devout member of the church of England.
Steve says, ‘ Caryn is clearly indicating that present churchgoers are
deluding themselves with prayers, alms, and the forgiving stance. You uphold these churchgoers as being righteous, and yet, what if they sacrifice to a fraudulent enterprise? ‘
I do not think the Christ judges people on whether their thoughts match someone else’s religious template . I believe He is more interested in what lives in their hearts as pure intention and real love.
It is important to me to be respectful of other people’s spiritual striving. I believe Scientology to be a ‘fraudulent enterprise’, but I also believe there may be Scientologists who are actually seeking the Christ, (though they don’t know it!), and the experiences they have in Scientology may be important milestones in their development.
I am mindful of C.S. Lewis’s ‘The Last Battle’ and what Aslan (the Christ-figure) says to the young warrior, Emeth, who is a true and honourable man but who was brought up to worship a ‘false’ god named ‘Tash’. Emeth confesses to Aslan his previous religious convictions, but is told that any honour he displays could not have been done in Tash’s name, just as any cruelty can not be truly done in Aslan’s name. Aslan says all of Emeth’s good works done for Tash were accepted as works done for Aslan.
Emeth’s retelling of the conversation ends with his admitting he had been seeking Tash his whole life and Aslan responding, “Beloved, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek.”
From religion, philosophy or science, definitely, if anything, science should be chosen as attribute to anthroposophy. Philosophy, as Steiner himself explains is already dead for some time, and religions there are many and none of them is science, so only relation to religion is probably fact that Anthroposophy provides scientific basis for religion. Those who cannot grasp scientific character of anthroposophy probably won’t be able to approach it in the right way, so there is no way around it, it has to be grasped for what it is – spiritual science and fundament for any true science at all, or it is misunderstood. Of course, fact that it is not ‘recognized ‘ by those who ‘fucking love ‘ modern so -called science should normally only add to the appeal to those who are approaching it in right way.
Dear Visitor, you seem a little confused. Anthroposophy provides no scientific basis for religion.
I freely admit that I do not understand anthroposophy, but you seem to have a poor grasp of science. Here is a definition which might help clarify your thinking:
“knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation.”
Dear Truth Seeker,
For someone who readily admits they do not understand anthroposophy, and also states with conviction, “Anthroposophy provides no scientific basis for religion”, one must wonder where you have started, especially when you recently asked: “how can being clairvoyant (for those who believe in such things) be in some way modern? “360 volumes of proof”. Now as a truth seeker this is the sort of thing I like to hear. Please provide a source for your proof so I can check it out.”
Will you check it out? I mean, do you actually study and gain the knowledge that becomes understanding? If so, then I likely would not have to be the one doing your legwork for you. Personally, I’m not big on ‘proofs’ for the reason that they are everywhere. Also, because I have proofs in my own experience, as many people can also attest. If people were more candid about, say early childhood, then clairvoyance would be accepted and not have to be proven. Here is something I ponder as part of my larger memory review:
While we are not born with initial perceptive-cognition of the self, we are born, out of the state of unbornness, with a naive-form of clairvoyance, which proves that the kingdoms of nature become the early educators of the child. I remember this very distinctly. When I was just five years old, my mother upset my little world of being educated in the backyard interface with “the kingdoms of childhood”, by getting me dressed and walking me down the block and up the street to Washington Elementary School, where I started Kindergarten, c. September 5, 1955.
As can be imagined, my clairvoyance diminished rapidly in favor of artificial lights, learning early social skills, listening to teacher read, and teaming with other kids in building a house out of sticks. I could never relate to this because I could not get out of “gestalt”. My entry into the secular world was very sudden and direct. That is why children need time to transition, and why Waldorf Schools are ideal.
Definition of Gestalt: a configuration, pattern, or organized field having specific properties that cannot be derived from the summation of its component parts; a unified whole.
This is my fourth – and last of the comments I am limited to. IF you wish to respond to this, you will have to go to my website where only your initial comment will need moderation. I trust you will not abuse this; you will also be required to stick strictly to topic and not wander about as is so common here.
Tom Hart Shea
When anybody uses a conditional term such as ‘feels’, you must ask yourself why it is that it is only seemingly so. Because the things spoken of in the Bible are far from uncertain. Jesus spoke in a way that inflamed the hearts of people across modern times – and did so on account of the certainties He spoke of.
Why then do modern Christians only feel that they come closer to God? Why is it not spoken of the fact that they do come closer to God. There is no help needed here: it is a simple fact, one that Jesus speaks of in the Gospels several times.
You speak of anthroposophy as a science, yet you do not even hint at what makes it so in the face of the ‘modern scientists’ who are so sure of themselves. They are so sure of themselves, as you know. But like so many who are unsure of themselves, they do not find communication easy, and they would rather still the voices of those who speak against them because of the pain it brings them!
The truth is the truth, and if modern science cannot explain it all, then it must answer to those who challenge them, and do so reasonably and without speaking of their challengers as slanderers, liars or fraudsters. That kind of language will only tell you that they haven’t thought things through as they should, that in one way or another, they are living in an illusion. It is always painful to have a cherished illusion dispelled – pricked. One of the things they can do to defend themselves and their deluded colleagues from this is to tell the ‘outsider’ that they are in some way or other, a lesser being. In this case, in the moral sense because they do not accede to the morals of modern science – hence slander, lies and fraud, all which I have heard from the mouths of scientists. Such as they aren’t. Should this continue, their greatest weapon is that of censorship: for they have run out of answers and must thus stop the other person from talking in any way possible.
You will meet this in universities and cults across the planet. They would rather stifle the thoughts and ideas of other people than reason them out for themselves. When you meet this in any shape or form, you have met somebody who has no interest in their own future. Modern science is a material science because of that, and in being material, protects them from the challenges that our modern world of the Fifth Epoch would bring them if but they would live their lives fully and openly.
If a person meets their challenges, they will prick their illusions. It’s how it works, and it’s what the science of alchemy* is all about. The question is “What does this lead to?” I have a series on my blog entitled ‘Beyond Newton’ which gives a few introductory thoughts on what this might be. Things that we meet in everyday life that contradict the very foundations of modern science. (*Alchemy is distinguishable from true anthroposophical science only in the terminology that they use).
Gemma says, ‘Because the things spoken of in the Bible are far from uncertain. Jesus spoke in a way that inflamed the hearts of people across modern times – and did so on account of the certainties He spoke of. ‘
I disagree. Nothing in the bible has the logical certainty of maths, nor the experiential certainty that comes from getting burnt by a candle flame. The bible is a myth among myths. Its truth value lies in its ability to lift souls to the spiritual world. This is not the kind of truth that can be determined in terms of certainty. It is when people are certain about their understanding of religious texts that their behaviour can become lethal.
Steiner verified the certitude of the Bible in many ways; thus to say, “the bible is a myth among myths”, is no different than putting the accounts of the beliefs of the ancient cultures down to legends and superstitions. Yet, it can be shown that prior to, and right up to the 18th century, an instinctive knowledge was beheld by humanity which encompassed intuition and inspiration of an old form of clairvoyance. Thus, nothing was questioned of what was right or wrong to believe. It was simply known and accepted. Then, the 19th century signified a huge change in perception and reasoning. The era of abstract thinking began.
And, with this abstract thinking, every bit of prior knowledge was re-evaluated and scrutinized as to its former acceptance as a given. Much was deemed unproven, and not provable. The Bible and its Gospels were called into question as to their authenticity. Even the Christ was made a myth, albeit a useful one according to David Friedrich Strauss, and Arthur Drewes works.
Now, what is driving this transition is contained in a passage Jeremy cited from the previous essay, “The Evolution of the Michael Impulse”. And, as can be seen, we are still beholding to our abstract thinking in deference to a Michael Regency which has brought forth Anthroposophical Spiritual Science.
“At no time in human evolution have two successive epochs been so radically different from one another as that which has just run its course and the epoch upon which we are now entering (ie before and after 1879). And never before have souls been more alien to one another than will be the souls of those who incline to what is spiritual and the souls who still adhere to what past centuries have brought.” GA152, May 2, 1913
Truth seeker – nice definition, if you take ‘natural world ‘ in a bit broader sense, fits anthroposophy quite well. 🙂
For sure anthroposophy provides scientific basis for religion since it provides knowledge for that which is usually left to faith in context of so many religion.
Gemma – yeah, that’s how thingz go with Academia and ‘serious’ science. We are long overdue with some anthroposophic institutes and a like, which could by now make some difference. Unfortunately all we have is ‘lost century ‘ for any serious progress or broader impact in that direction.
King Henry VIII had six wives; Catherine of Aragon (who Henry divorced in 1533 and with this establish the early Anglican church), Anne Boleyn (whom he beheaded), Jane Seymour (who died while giving birth to Edward), Anne of Cleves (whom he divorced), Kathryn Howard (whom he beheaded) and Katherine Parr (Henry VIII’s surviving wife when he died in 1547 – and she narrowly escaped beheading at that!)
It was during Katherine Parr’s time that the new learning came from Martin Luther to Britain. It was a dreadful time in the prosecution of the innocents towards the new learning and one cannot pass this period without thinking of Anne Askew who was burnt at the stake for her faith in the true meaning of the sacrament.
Thus, it was in this mood that the people of Britain entered into the spiritual world at the end of the middle ages. The feeling of divorce from the spiritual world and the dawn of new learning. And from this mood or nuance there appears in the eighteenth and nineteenth century a cultural impulse to create social orders. It can be seen in people like Locke, Hume, Darwin and even in the settlements of undeveloped countries.
Although it may be called materialistic it is wisdom-filled guidance in the fruitful progression of mankind. It can be seen how the inside becomes the outside and the outside becomes the inside.
Consideration may also be given to the Copernicus world system and the Ptolemaic world system in this regard.
The book: From Luther to Steiner, by a direct disciple of Rudolf Steiner, Ernst Boldt, describes how what Martin Luther started as the Protestant Reformation, is completed in the Anthroposophical Christology of Steiner’s great work in interpreting the four Gospels, the spiritual history of the Old Testament era,
and the essential nature of Christ, and what the Mystery of Golgotha really means. Steiner himself really appreciated this book. It was written in 1921, and translated into English in 1923, making it likely one of the first full-scale studies on Rudolf Steiner.
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“How is it that ye sought me?” Luke 2:49
I am certainly not indicating that the Anglican church-goers are deluding themselves and the suggestion that everything I wrote is a farce is not true. The historic episode of Britain is the impulse of the consciousness soul giving birth to her own Christian Religion and it was hard won but won it was and, even though it may seem that Henry VIII was peculiar, there is spiritual meaning behind his conduct towards his six wives.
In today’s age the actual violent acts of Henry are the strangest to us and so this historic episode may also indicate the transition from mars (the war-like planet) and the first half of earth’s evolution to mercury (the etherisation of the blood) which is the second half of earth’s evolution.
The influence of the romanisation of Christianity is well known and I therefore I say to you – the Romans may have romanised Christianity but – Britain Anglicised Christianity.
And for good reason, unless Jeremy and Tom tell me otherwise, the sheer immoral corruption in the roman church would not be tolerated in the Anglican church.
In large respects, my comments were based on your previous post, which contained the excerpt from Hegel’s Philosophy of History. Ref:
Thus, my use of the words, “deluding themselves”, seemed to apply, but I apologize for putting those words in your mouth. Sorry.
You know I love you Steve. You are the only genuine Anthroposophist that I have known and have understood the revelations of the disciple whom the Lord loved as written in our hearts and recorded in the Gospel of John chapter 16.
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“The influence of the romanisation of Christianity is well known and therefore I say to you – the Romans may have romanised Christianity but – Britain Anglicised Christianity.”
And would you say that one was right and one was wrong; or were they both right, or both wrong? Your historical review made me think of Sir Thomas More, who refused to take the Oath of Supremacy, and was towered, and eventually beheaded. As well, the original roman church of Constantine I, saw Peter as its first Pope. But why? It came out of scripture, i.e., Matthew chapter 16, assuredly, but who has the right to fabricate such a belief that the first mention of,”My Church”, has anything to do with the Romans?
In reality, it all comes down to territorial control, and Rome ruled Palestine long before any real idea of Christ took place, except for maybe those followers of the revolutionary, Jesus, and living on a backstreet in Rome, according to the historian, Tacitus, c. 100 AD.
So, just as Rome had conquered Palestine at the time of Christ, it would also conquer the westernmost region of Europe, and name it, Britannia. Thus, in actuality, romanisation + anglicanation = modern christianity.
But do these versions afford what the modern Christian really seeks? No. They merely represent dogma systems based on the traditions first handed down by Rome, and duly opposed by Luther, some 1500 years later with his reformation ideas. Just consider the 95 theses he posted on the door of the church which had first enabled the use of indulgences to escape purgatory.
In today world, what church still allows the so-called “confessional” as the means of receiving penance for past sins? Is it any different than the method of indulgences from earlier years? Yet, as always, the faithful need their belief in both an eternal immortal, which is comprised of: pre-existence, and the after death experience of returning home. If religion today can effectively convey this, whether catholic or protestant, than that is good, because that is what people are seeking. Spiritual science upholds the truth, and we deserve it.
On Henry VIII, the catholic Thomas More and the brotherhoods at the time of transition between the 4th period and the 5th period, see Steiner GA0167/19160502.
I am not sure what Steve intends by this comment – ‘In today(sic) world, what church still allows the so-called “confessional” as the means of receiving penance for past sins? Is it any different than the method of indulgences from earlier years?’
I don’t doubt that there are naive catholics who believe that confessing their sins and being asked to say 10 Hail Marys, then frees them from further consequences – though they are, of course, enjoined to forego the ‘sinful’ behviours that they have confessed.
There are naive believers in any spiritual movement. In Anthroposophy there are people who believe that what they eat will enable them to progress spiritually, or, conversely, inhibit their spiritual progress.
However there are sophisticated and highly developed souls within Catholicism whom, when they turn their attention to their short-comings, experience a real meeting with the guardian, and just like anyone else can become sensitive the double within their own being. They know that the sacrament is an outer sign of an inner resolve, the sort of resolve , ‘…to take oneself firmly in hand..’ (Rudolf Steiner’s words!). They know that without this real inner resolve the sacrament is compromised.
Rudolf Steiner gave The Christian Community the ‘Healing Conversation’ to replace the sacrament of confession. He could see the spiritual archetype hidden behind the old Catholic form.
I am not a Catholic, and could never bring myself to believe the things they believe, nor tolerate the abuses which continue within their churches, but I have known Catholics who walked daily with the Christ in their hearts. Just so I have known Methodists, Anglicans, Atheists and people who did not name their spiritual stance in any way.
I also concluded by saying: “as always, the faithful need their belief in both an eternal immortal, which is comprised of: pre-existence, and the after death experience of returning home. If religion today can effectively convey this, whether catholic or protestant, than that is good, because that is what people are seeking. Spiritual science upholds the truth, and we deserve it.”
For me, spiritual science acts as a sermon given from the pulpit of truth. For a church-goer, the same effect is realized, as is the confession of sins, and the taking of communion. I have never opposed the practice of faith, or any denominational church service, including Catholicism. Faith, in fact, has proven over time to have been the means to allow the Intellectual Soul to fully develop.
Thus, the various religious systems of the world were born out of the mechanism of faith and belief. This was brought about when the early church fathers, including Mohammed, all received a revelation of Truth from the Disciples of Christ, who were collectively sojourning in the sphere of Venus in their afterlife ascent through Devachan. ref. GA182/184. What the eleven faithful disciples received was the wisdom concerning their destiny to become “fishers of men”, and the fullness of the Pleroma that they had followed on earth. Passing this experience directly down to those prepared on earth to receive it as Revelation, the true inspiration for religion began.
Noteworthy, as well, is that the Church of England, founded on an absurdity, became what it is today for thousands of parishioners. ref. GA171, lecture VII.
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I reckon BT, right in the beginning on the 4th Oct, answered Jeremy’s question:
“…….a science based on spiritual observation and cognition”
GA0171 – also on Henry VIII and Thomas More:
“What matters is the education of mankind through the education of the earth.”
Wow, this is a really good summary indeed! I see a lot of influence from the leading thoughts in there as well, but individually reflected, not merely repeated as is oft the case.
Thanks for your kind remarks! If I were to try to summarise again, I would include the word “love” as central to anthroposophy – a conspicuous omission in the present draft.
There’s a russian director called Tarkovsky, who actually thought about making a film about Steiner together with a swedish colleague, who said something like: Love is making sacrifices in the name of freedom.
I haven’t read all the comments so I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this, but I was curious whether this sentence conveys exactly what you wanted to say because I sort of “tripped over” it where it says “none have found it useful.” I now see what your intention was, but it might be stated more clearly. Perhaps “…and people of all religions and no religion have found it useful…”?
“Anthroposophy is a philosophy, not a religion, and people of all religions and none have found it useful in expanding their sense of what it means to be a human being.”
Good point – thank you for making it!
I think the whole of the last paragraph Freedom at it’s core…
sums it up beautifully thank you.
Thank you for your kind words! If I were writing it now, I would also try to convey how Love underpins and permeates the whole of anthroposophy, as I don’t think this is obvious when people first encounter Steiner’s work – but it is absolutely fundamental to everything that Steiner taught.