I’ve sometimes wondered what it must have been like to have been a member of the audience at one of Rudolf Steiner’s lectures. “Sculpting in snow” is how Heinrich von Kleist described the art of acting in the theatre, and there is a similarly short term of life for the lecture; both the actor and the lecturer have the happiness of communication with the audience in moments of inspiration; but the lecture and the performance only exist as long as the creator is there, when he is present and speaking, when he is physically and spiritually alive.
If Steiner had lived another ten or twenty years, perhaps we would have had a recording or even some brief filmed glimpses of him – but he died in 1925, before the age of routine sound recordings, filmed newsreels etc.; so all we have are a few photographs, stenographic records of his words (“from shorthand reports unrevised by the lecturer”, as we are always told) and some recollections by people who heard him lecture.
It is from these written recollections of those who heard Steiner speak that we can gain some idea of the effect he had on his audiences. I’ve selected a few representative samples of these. Here, for instance, is Frederick William Zeylmans van Emmichoven (1893 – 1961), a Dutch psychiatrist and anthroposophist, who from 1923 until his death was chairman of the Dutch Anthroposophical Society. He recalls here1 his first experience of hearing Steiner lecture; this was in Dornach in December 1920.
“On December 17, in the evening, I was sitting in the Schreinerei (the carpentry workshop adjacent to the Goetheanum, often used for lectures and performances) with my fiancée, who was studying eurythmy in Dornach. Happy at being together again, we were waiting for Rudolf Steiner’s lecture. Outside it was bitterly cold; Dornach lay covered in snow. Suddenly the blue curtain by the side of the stage lifted, and Rudolf Steiner went to the lecture-desk. At that moment I had the direct experience of recognition. The impression was so strong that a whole series of pictures simultaneously arose before me, pointing indeterminately to earlier situations – as if I were seeing him as my teacher through ages of time. It was the most memorable experience I have ever had in all my life. For some time I sat as though carried away and did not realise until later that his lecture had already begun. It was the first of the three lectures subsequently published under the title: The Bridge between the Spirituality of the Cosmos and Physical Man….
When I came to myself again and saw Rudolf Steiner standing at the lecture-desk, I had the strange feeling that for the first time I was looking at a Man! It is not at all easy to describe this impression. I had met many well-known and famous people, among them scholars and noted artists, and had always moved in circles where a great deal was going on – it had by no means been a humdrum existence. But now I realised: this is what Man is meant to be. I began to question myself: what is the explanation for this? You have encountered many human beings – what is it that is so significant here? I said to myself first of all that it was his whole bearing, the bearing of one who is like a tree that grows freely between earth and sky. This impression was connected not only with his straight, erect figure, but above all with the poise of the head – it seemed to hover between heaven and earth. The second feeling was profoundly moving: from this beautiful, powerful voice came forth words which lived on even after they had been spoken. And thirdly, there were the thoughts. I was obliged to confess to myself that I could not always understand them, but I realised that they were not there merely to be understood intellectually, but they had another, quite different, significance as well. Listening to professors, what always mattered was whether one understood everything they said. What mattered here was not whether I actually understood – it was something different. Today I could speak of ‘ideas’, of seed-bearing impulses and the like, but at that time I could not. I knew only that different impulses were at work here.”
A different account comes from Assya Turgeniev (1890 – 1966), a Russian artist who was in close contact with Rudolf Steiner from 1912 until his death in 1925. She was married to the Russian writer, Andrei Belyi. When she and Belyi first came across the writings of Steiner in 1912, they were struggling with questions arising from some disturbing recent mystical experiences. The two books by Steiner they had read (Christianity as Mystical Fact and How to Attain Knowledge of Higher Worlds) had given them the sense that they could trust Steiner to provide answers to their questions. As soon as they had come to this conclusion, they rushed to catch a train from Brussels, where they had been staying, to Cologne, where Rudolf Steiner was lecturing. They first of all tried to meet Steiner but were rebuffed by a fierce lady, whom they came to know later as Marie von Sivers (the future Frau Dr Steiner). Instead, she invited them to attend a “members only” lecture later that day. They decided to attend this lecture, with very mixed feelings after their stern reception, particularly as neither of them spoke German. Turgeniev’s account2 continues:
“A remarkable audience assembled in a longish room decorated in blue. The majority were ladies, most of them not very young. Many were wearing peculiar shirtlike dresses with straight stoles over them, and others wore necklaces or chains with strange pendants. Even among those with some pretensions one could not discern any real style. The absence of make-up was very noticeable…
Half-bored, I watched the assembling audience. But what was that? Far off on the platform, partly covered by other people, something like a gleam of light showed. Then it disappeared and returned once more. Finally the outline of a head emerged. Dr Steiner! I knew that it was he, even though I could scarcely see him. Now he steps up onto the platform…an immense seriousness, a power which is beyond words spoke through those features…we sat there, gazed into the countenance of this person and listened to his words. That was the greatest and most important thing that had ever happened to me up till then, and something which went so deep into my very being that I could no more separate myself from it. One was immersed with such intensity into the voice with its resonance and rhythms, into the gestures and the expression of the face, that one accepted it all without question; one only knew that that in which one now lived and breathed was the original source of one’s being. Only when the lecture had come to an end did one ask oneself in amazement: “What has happened here? I did not understand one word of what was said and yet, in listening to it, I had such a deep experience, as though I had understood each word.”
Friedrich Hiebel (1903-1989) was a personal student of Rudolf Steiner and a teacher at the first Waldorf school in Stuttgart. Later in life he became a professor of German Literature and in 1963, he became a member of the Vorstand in Dornach. He attended seventy of Rudolf Steiner’s lectures. The following account3 is a description of the first lecture he ever heard, at the congress in Stuttgart in 1921, on the topic of Agnosticism – the Destroyer of Genuine Human Nature (not available online):
“…all eyes turned to the tall figure of the man in black tails who slowly walked from backstage to the centre and then let his eyes wander over the audience.
Slowly, Rudolf Steiner walked over to the lectern. The way he walked revealed something of the balance between a soaring freedom from the body and the permeation of earth substance with will. Indeed, Rudolf Steiner’s gait was like that of a young man. His face was framed by black hair, which still showed no trace of gray at the age of sixty. Lines on the forehead and furrows around the chin and the corners of the mouth bore witness to the spiritual battles of the quest for knowledge, and in their dignity contrasted strangely with the youthful agility of his limbs…
None of the many carefully taken photographs…can fully convey the essence of his stature. For even the best pictures remain silent, and it was only in his word that the essence of his being was revealed…
Rudolf Steiner’s word now resounded in the great hall, speaking to the almost two thousand listeners. The contrast between the delicate features of his spiritualised physique and the deep resonance of his speech, resulting from breathing deeply with the diaphragm, was surprising. The deep tone of his speech rested in the larynx, vibrated in the chest, and was permeated with the warmth of the heart…
During the introductory sentences of his lecture, he seemed to keep his eyes almost completely closed, and his glance directed downwards. His posture was that of a man listening inwardly. He remained in this inwardly listening stance, gathering himself with all his will forces, for the duration of several long sentences. Then came a clearly discernible breakthrough: he opened his eyes, looked directly at the listeners, and began to reinforce his talk with a forceful and diverse language of gestures…
Here, a man stood before me who taught first how to comprehend consciously and in freedom with the head, then knew how to reach people from heart to heart, and finally was able to enter into the depths of the will…Those who were gripped by these lectures were lifted out of themselves, as it were. They received an inkling of the future image of the human being that was exemplified and fought for by the founder of anthroposophy.”
But what about those people who heard Steiner but did not have that sudden shock of recognition or the sense that something very important had just happened to them? Here is one such example4, this time from England. In 1922, Steiner visited England to lecture at a conference on ‘Drama and Education’, which was taking place in Stratford-on–Avon. The Times Educational Supplement carried a front-page article ‘from a correspondent’, headed ‘Anthroposophy’.
This unnamed correspondent, who refers to himself in the third person throughout the following extract, first of all described in a semi-ironical way the development of anthroposophy out of theosophy and its vast ambitions in all areas of knowledge, its philosophical approach to the occult and the building of the Goetheanum. He then described his responses after listening to Steiner’s lectures:
“It is interesting to note the effect of all this on a typical English public school and old university man who spent a strenuous fortnight in listening to lectures and demonstrations on education. His impression of the man Steiner is noteworthy. It appears that the philosopher has an imposing presence, and exercises a remarkable effect upon his audience. Our English schoolmaster found this personal influence exhausting. At first he sat immediately in front, under the speaker’s eye. But after a day or two he found the strain more than he could bear, and retreated to a seat in the background. With quite a laudable mixture of scepticism and fair-mindedness the schoolmaster gave the lecturer every chance, but remained unconvinced. He says that the lectures appeared to him to be nearly nonsense, but delivered in a fascinating way and marked by all the appearance of sturdy common sense. From any other person the hearer said he would not for an instant have tolerated the startling things set forth by the lecturer, but from him they seemed somehow or other to be at the same time entirely plausible, not to say reasonable.”
There you have a good example of solid, stolid British middle-class common sense and conservatism in the face of something strange and disturbing – yet almost in spite of himself, the correspondent noted the fascinating way in which the lecture was delivered and “the appearance of sturdy common sense”, which rendered the startling content somehow or other to be “entirely plausible, not to say reasonable.”
I will finish with some recollections5 by George Adams. He was a most remarkable man – an anthroposophist, mathematician, scientist and translator – who translated over one hundred of Steiner’s lectures, and translated for Steiner whenever he came to England. The arrangements he describes for these translations sound absolutely hair-raising: the lecture was divided into three parts by Steiner, who then spoke for 20-25 minutes, during which time Adams scribbled furiously, using his own system (he never learned shorthand) of invented signs, symbolic logic, abbreviations and capital letters. Steiner would then sit down, while Adams gave his translation. Then Steiner would give part 2 of the lecture, speaking for another 20 minutes, and so on. To the very end of his life, Steiner was unable to lecture in any language other than German.
In a 1957 essay, Rudolf Steiner in England, George Adams recalled his impressions of Steiner:
“My impression … was, so to speak, of many Rudolf Steiners. There was the simple, friendly gentleman…Then there was Dr Steiner lecturing – deeply impressive and stern, vivid in characterisation, then often moving into anecdote, good-natured satire, rollicking fun and humour… there was Dr Steiner speaking in a more esoteric meeting … the initiate from timeless realms. Moreover, there was Dr Steiner as you might see him during a personal interview, when you told him of your life’s difficulties and ideals and he answered your questions – the deep, silent look in his eyes, the warm kindness and encouragement at some moments, and at others the absolute quiet, so that it was left entirely to you to come out with what you had to say, with seemingly no help from him, but silent waiting. And then again there was Dr Steiner as I saw him at the large public gatherings in Germany in 1921-22, often with audiences of two or three thousand, partly indifferent or merely curious or even hostile – the way he held them, the firmness and buoyancy of his carriage, the utter lack of compromise or any attempt to influence them. He rather put them through the mill, building up the ground of spiritual science or the stages of higher cognition with closely knit trains of thought, speaking for two hours or more and yet holding his audience completely.”
1 From ‘Rudolf Steiner in Holland’, an essay included in Rudolf Steiner, Recollections by some of his pupils. Translated from the German and published in a special issue of The Golden Blade edited by Arnold Freeman and Charles Waterman, in London, November 1957.
2 From Reminiscences of Rudolf Steiner and Work on the First Goetheanum by Assya Turgeniev. Translated from German by John and Margaret Wood. Published by Temple Lodge, 2003.
3 From Time of Decision with Rudolf Steiner by Friedrich Hiebel. Translated from the German by Maria St. Goar. Published by Anthroposophic Press, 1989.
4 Quoted on page 704 of Volume II (1922 – 1925) of Rudolf Steiner in Britain by Crispian Villeneuve. Published by Temple Lodge, 2004
5 From ‘Rudolf Steiner in England’, an essay included in Rudolf Steiner, Recollections by some of his pupils. Published in a special issue of The Golden Blade edited by Arnold Freeman and Charles Waterman, in London, November 1957.
68 responses to “What was it like to hear Rudolf Steiner give a lecture?”
Thank you for compiling these. I enjoyed reading the recollections so much. And the photographs are appreciated also. Great post.
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Thank you very much, Wendy!
I am German in the Frankfurt area and read Steiner. He is difficult to read in German and I wonder how any translation can come close to im…-opening space for all sorts of personal Interpretations. When reading you can take all your time and stop, go back- when listening, you get easily lost. Steiner was close to Goethe and Nietzsche – without such an extensive background, it may be impossible to listen to Steiner. Or get into a Trance and absorb it as concert, movie. One aspect of enduring fascination, obsession may be the impossibility to understand anything at all. We fabricate our own stories…
I am not fortunate enough to be a German speaker, but I have heard from several people who are fluent in German, including some Germans, that they prefer to read Steiner in English! Apparently,it is easier to understand Steiner in English. It would be fascinating to speculate what might have been different today if Steiner himself had been able to speak and write in English.
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Come on Jeremy; we have spoken about Steiner in English for a long time now. Most recently, it was Theresa May’s visit to Trump on January 28th, in which he exhorted the position of the British opposition to remaining within the EU. He then proved his opposition to both NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
This week he met with Angela Merkel, from Germany, who also wants free being within her borders. Trump gave it, as far as I know. She left happy, as did May, so what could that mean in the English language?
Sorry, Steve, I don’t understand the point you’re making or what it has to do with this post.
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Oh yes, I see the difficulty here in apparently making a political comment about the English language. Personally, I have found the lectures quite readable and exact in the English language, made possible by some fine translators, like George and Mary Adams, Dorothy Osmond, and Charles Davy. So, in my experience over these last 30 years, I find little possibility for personal interpretation of the content of Steiner’s lectures, but rather, the continual encouragement to further extend and elaborate his findings.
One has to have a certain basic knowledge in order to gain from the lectures, otherwise it can appear like so many abstruse and abstract words on paper. I was reminded of this the other day when I sent the first lecture of GA201 to a friend for his Saturday morning philosophy class: topic, “Is Morality Objective”? He wrote back saying it was all nonsense and gibberish, and he could not understand anything of it. I wrote and said: “Just take the first two paragraphs about nature necessity, wherein we are not free, and the moral world order, where our true freedom resides, and you will be able to contribute a thought or two to the question about moral objectivity.”
He made me think, though, about how much more difficult the spoken word becomes when it is made into the printed word for reading. This is a huge obstacle for people today, especially if they haven’t read the basic books, especially Occult Science, an Outline. The lectures are a further elaboration of this book, as well as his other basic books, Philosophy of Freedom, Christianity as Mystical Fact, Theosophy, and Knowledge of Higher Worlds.
I am Germany, Ph D in Biochemistry… Steiner is a true Esoteric in a bad sense, as he invents his own language, all in German Alphabet and common words, but charged with his own most mysterious constructed meaning, that you may guess after reading him for 1000 s of hours….
The fascination he emanated may come from this ambiguity. And he was highly jealous for his place in History, to always make clear, that he is far superior. Read his comments on Swedenborg…There is NO way to translate Steiner into any other language! Impossible! What you read in English – is the opiate dreaming of the esoteric…
Rag wrote: “There is NO way to translate Steiner into any other language! Impossible! What you read in English – is the opiate dreaming of the esoteric…”
This is quite the opinion! Even so, Rudolf Steiner’s leading student formulated the epistemological principles of spiritual science, and presented them in hundreds of lectures given before the main Steiner course of German esoterica. Carl Unger was the man, and anyone studying spiritual science today, in any language, can find the way to the source out of one’s own personal spiritual activity.
“There is a method of presenting the theories of spiritual science or of anthroposophy, which in a certain sense involves an utter reversal of all we are used to in the descriptions of these theories. Epistemological is the name we shall give this method of exposition because it forces the student of this wisdom back onto his own principles of knowledge. On the other hand, such a method of exposition can also be of use in showing how a self-consistent theory of knowledge, which, as commonly practiced today has little help to give to philosophic needs, can yet be highly fruitful and positive for human knowledge, and is by no means forced to stay in those fetters that have been riveted upon it in the present stage of spiritual life. Moreover, an epistemology of this kind has no need to restrict itself to setting forth the forms of cognition, but it holds a distinctive and essential content of its own, which shows how near philosophic reflection, if only it keeps true to itself, comes to the teachings of spiritual science.”
The Principles of Spiritual Science, Carl Unger
I completely disagree. Though English is my native language, I read both German and Norwegian, and I find Steiner absolutely easiest to read in German!
Hopefully it would all have made more sense if Rudi had said it all in English. 🙂
“Hopefully it would all have made more sense if Rudi had said it all in English.”
Yes, if Rudi had said it in English, at least when he made his ten trips to England, we would know that the difference between the German language and the English language is negligible when the translator realizes that it sometimes takes three English words to meet the multi-syllabic content of one German word. The noted English translators of Steiner’s works, previously cited, possessed this very talent of finding at least three words in English for Steiner’s very technical German, which is why German simply had to be the language in which to first express spiritual science.
Critics of Rudolf Steiner in English often use the term “bowdlerize” in order to attempt to characterize the translators as purposefully excising difficult passages. Here is the dictionary definition of the term:
verb (used with object), bowdlerized, bowdlerizing.
to expurgate (a written work) by removing or modifying passages considered vulgar or objectionable.
Personally, I don’t think this ever took place with any specific intent to modify the words of Rudolf Steiner in order to make his world conception more palatable to the listening audience in the English theatre of comprehension. Rather, it make me think of how a young boy was brought to England in 1879, from India, in order to be educated in the English language. This was Sri Aurobindo, who wrote exclusively in the English language which he learned as a seven-year old boy. He corroborates Steiner’s vision and world-view in every respect.
Thank you for this piece. I have been recently wondering about and looking for (to no avail) any audio recordings of Rudolf Steiner. The mind can and will make up stories in wonderment, so it was nice to read the perceptions of a few of those blessed enough to be there to see and hear him in person. Photographs have come along way since the early 1900’s and the ones of Dr. Steiner that I have seen, well, I didn’t think they did him full justice. Thank you once again.
Thank you, A.G. As far as I’m aware, there are no audio recordings of Rudolf Steiner in existence, unless someone reading this knows better and can point us in the right direction!
“The Spiritual Beings in the Heavenly Bodies and in the Kingdoms of Nature” was the first of only two lecture-courses given in Helsinki, Finland, and especially for the Russian members, c.1912-1913. The Russian philosopher, Nikolai Berdyaev, was there, and recounts in his autobiographical book, “Dream and Reality”, that Steiner appeared as a very satanic figure, gesticulating his odd pronouncements like a visionary to behold. As such, Berdyaev hardly could contain his own displeasure. And this feeling is very much a Russian trait, largely kept from the general populace because of its cultural heritage of slow advancement toward the sixth cultural epoch. Andrei Belyei is another Russian who suffered tremendously under the influence of Steiner; and he became a member of the anthroposophical movement from 1912 until early 1916. According to his biographer, Konstantin Mochuksky, Belyei’s genius as a symbolist poet was destroyed by Steiner’s occultism. Of course, it is important to note that both Berdyaev and Mochulsky were rather entrenched within Russian Orthodoxy, which is the eastern European version of the Catholic Church.
This brief account of how Andrei Belyei met Rudolf Steiner in 1912, and then became a follower, and met with him again in 1923 is important.
What does Mochulsky say about Petersburg? Bely wrote that as an anthroposophist and it has a devoted following today, so it doesn’t seem that anthroposophy had a generally adverse affect on his genius or o his ability to communicate it. Visionary meditative drawings he was doing around the same time in Dornach can be seen here: http://petersburg.berkeley.edu/bely/city.html
I certainly agree. Bely was meant to find Steiner, and if Vladimir Solovyov had lived beyond 1900, he would have likely found him, as well. These two represent the Russian Folk Soul that Steiner spoke to in the Helsinki lectures in April 1912. Yet, Nicolas Berdyaev was definitely at these lectures, while Solovyov had already died, and Andrei Bely was just one month shy of meeting him for the first time in May of 1912, at the Cologne lecture.
So, Berdyaev, who gives a rather short, but graphic account of experiencing Steiner’s lecture-style in these Helsinki lectures of 1912, also attends his private lecture to the Russians on April 11, 1912, and gets to hear about what the Russian Folk Soul really means for the future. Thus, he hears from Steiner’s own lips what it meant for Rudolf Steiner to follow the soul and spirit of Vladimir Solovyov across the threshold in late July of 1900.
Yet, it appears that all Berdyaev can do in assessing the work of Rudolf Steiner in the aftermath of this lecture-course and private lecture to the Russians, is to write this essay some four years later, c. 1916:
Konstantin Mochulsky, who wrote biographies of Andrei Bely, as well as Vladimir Solovyov, was very much of the Russian Orthodox persuasion, as was Berdyaev, who was exiled in 1922 from Russia, as were many other anti-marxist philosophers. So, while Mochulsky obviously sees superior value in Bely’s “Petersburg”, c. 1916, he also sees four years with Steiner as a wasted time in the life of his subject. It is important to know from Bely’s extensive memoirs that he was frustrated in living in Dornach, and following the Steiner entourage from 1912 to 1915. As a Russian, he felt he was shunned by the largely German members, and having left a place where he was duly recognized as one of the leading lights of the Russian symbolist movement, he really was looking for an opportunity to return home. This occurred in early 1916, when he was notified of his enforced enlistment in the Russian Army.
Thus, he returned to Russia, while Assya remained in Dornach for the rest of her life. Sadly, by the time he returned, Russia had vacated its involvement in WWI, and he was left to finish “Petersburg”, and experience all the suffering of the Russian Revolution. He never could get back to his “Shangrila”, which was Dornach, Switzerland, but for eighteen more years he proved his worth as the premier Russian symbolist poet in keeping and holding the people strong. Rudolf Steiner had a great deal to do with influencing this man in support of his own folk soul.
This is something that would escape a writer like Mochulsky, and even the philosopher, Berdyaev, who lived fourteen years longer than Belyi, in the occupied confines of France.
So, what does it mean for us today? We have absolutely no limits in taking up the science of the spirit. That means progress, and moving forward if one chooses to do so, which also means freedom of choice and will. PoF returns to its roots, and reflects its extension.
“A different account comes from Assya Turgeniev (1890 – 1966), a Russian artist who was in close contact with Rudolf Steiner from 1912 until his death in 1925. She was married to the Russian writer, Andrei Belyi.”
Andrei Belyi wrote three volumes of memoirs, and much of it to do with his years as a student of Rudolf Steiner. His account of this first experience with Steiner in May 1912, while attending a lecture in Cologne on “Christ and the 20th Century”, tells of how Steiner’s personal secretary, Margarete Woloschin, who spoke Russian, encouraged a meeting with Steiner, which she translated. In this meeting, Steiner said that they [Turgeniev-Belyi] should come to Munich and learn the German language, and then attend his summer course on “Initiation, Eternity and the Passing Moment”, http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA138/English/AP1980/IniPas_index.html
This they did, and became immediate followers of Steiner and his anthroposophical movement. J.D. Elsworth’s biography of Andrei Belyi indicates:
“Andrei Belyi and Assya Turgieneff moved to Dornach when it was chosen to be the site of Steiner’s spiritual movement, and the home of its extraordinary amphitheatre to the spirit. Belyi recalls his ineptness with a hammer while pounding nails into its wooden structure, which was outwardly completed by April of 1914. But it wasn’t called the “Goetheanum” then. It was called the “Johannesgebaud” or John’s Temple, according to the excerpts from Belyi’s memoirs cited in this biography. And when Belyi left Dornach reluctantly in 1916, having been called to enlist in the Russian army during WW I, it was still known as the Johannesgebaud.”
Source: Andrei Belyi, J.D. Elsworth, 1972
In 1917, the year after Andrei Belyi left Dornach and returned to Russia, Rudolf Steiner spoke this in a lecture on “Aspects of Human Evolution”, here:
“It is essential that man develop a sense for the kind of thoughts that do relate to reality; only then will he be able to recognize the kind of concepts and ideas capable of bringing order into society. Just think how essential it is that we acquire concepts enabling us to understand people living on Russian soil. Remarkably little is done to reach such understanding. What is thought about the Russian people, whether here or in the West or in Central Europe, is very far from the truth. A few days ago I read an article which suggested that Russians still have to some extent the more mystical approach to life of the Middle Ages, whereas since then in the West and in Central Europe intellectuality has become widespread. The article makes it clear that the Russian people should begin to acquire the intellectuality which other European peoples have had the good fortune to attain. The writer concerned has not the slightest inkling that the character of the Russian people is utterly different. People nowadays are not inclined to study things as they truly are. The sense is lacking for the reality, the truth, contained in things.
One of our friends [Andrei Belyi] made the effort to bring together what I have written about Goethe in my books with what I said in a lecture concerning human and cosmic thoughts, ref. GA151. From this material he produced a book in Russian, a remarkable book already published, ref. Boris Bugajeff (Andrej Bjelyi), 1880–1934. Rudolf Steiner and Goethe in der Weltanschauung der Gegenwart. I am convinced it will be widely read in Russia by a certain section of the public. Were it to be translated into German or any other European language, people would find it deadly boring. This is because they lack the sense for appreciating the finely chiseled thoughts, the wonderful conceptual filigree work that makes this book so striking.
What is so remarkable about the Russian character is that as it evolves something will emerge which is different from what has emerged in the rest of Europe where mysticism and intellectuality exist, as it were, apart. In Russia a mysticism will appear which is intellectual in character and an intellectuality which is based on mysticism. Thus it will be something quite new, intellectual mysticism, mystical intellectuality and, if I may put it so, quite equal to its task. This is something that is not understood at all. It is there nevertheless, though hidden within the chaos of Eastern Europe, and will emerge expressing the characteristics I have briefly indicated.”
Note: Herein, with this paragraph, Rudolf Steiner is referring to the emergence in 1917 of the esoteric system that would eventually leave Bolshevik Russia, and emigrate to the west; to France, England, and eventually the United States during WWII. Borne out of the Michael Impulse, it would prove to be the advance-guard of the Russian Folk Soul’s future destiny, now working for the Consciousness-Soul Age.
And what is the common trait of Middle-Europe (thereby including Steiner’s striving)?
“Looking for an expression to use instead of the word “nationality” in the case of Middle-European culture, we find, even from geographical considerations, the words: “Striving after individuality”. And within this striving after individuality we include not the German only, for Middle Europe must be taken to embrace a number of other peoples as well, in all of whom this striving is present in a most marked degree.”
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According to Belyi: a deep voice resounds … his subdued, somewhat deep voice
Part of the Fascination and even infectious effect may be the unresolvable ambiguity. Like in Christianity, anybody cites his personal individual Interpretation of “Scripture” – HIS own “Word of God” – the only Truth he personally owns.
In mathematics, a solution set depends on the kind of Function and the kind of set you define as possible solution. In esoteric texts, this solution set may be infinite. Even persons apparently having similar impressions, may in structure differ vastly. As they are beyond the language to express it, they agree …
Certainly Steiner was a highly talented Visionary and at a high level of German expression. And reflecting his texts certainly is of great value. When you were so blessed to have a Personal Computer in 1983 and were astounded, what that wonder of High Technology was capable of – nobody ever could have imagined, what a tiny Smart Phone can do today. Which again will be Kindergarten when we reach new unknown levels in Technology. In this Imagery we may locate the world of Steiner. He talks about visions that so highly surpasses the technology of any expression. He uses common words with new associations that are more dreamlike than precise definitions. To even attempt to “translate” that into any other Language seems utterly impossible to me. The Dark side of this is, any Demagogue uses that technique, every day simple words – in a mystic ambiguous context, that you may interpret as you like it…Were Jesus and his followers even capable of Writing? Was the Spoken word, the intonation, incantation much clearer than any writing? Is oral tradition of a higher value than any texts? Speech is more picturesque than any word can be. When Steiner spoke, you could see his entire personality, the way he expressed it. You could discuss at length with him and clarify concepts. When you discuss today with any Steiner expert- what can he clarify? He only can reiterate his personal opinion and belief. The amount of Opiate in his presentation determines the resonance he gets…You may experience this phenomenon when you listen to a any recording of someone reading a Steiner text – no matter how well presented, you get the impression, there may be something wrong… or you look at those Steinerites, who appear like Opiate Addicts…
I think the points you make about the impossibility of understanding Steiner in the fullest sense apply just as much in German as in any other language. Surely what all of us non-initiates do is to take from his words as much as our current development allows us to understand – but he is also introducing us to concepts of what it means to be a human being that are enlarging our understanding and (I hope) continuing our development. I agree that it is not satisfactory to hear someone reading the text of a Steiner lecture; one has to hear these words in one’s own head and heart so as to make something of them.
You are also right to remind us that, as Steiner warned, one of the many techniques Ahriman will use is to offer a kind of mystical clairvoyance to those who are thirsting for a deeper meaning to life, yet this clairvoyance will indeed be some kind of opiate, devoid of true meaning and insight.
Steiner rightfully says, warns, if you do not Experience! What he calls the “Higher Worlds”…personally Experience – than there is nothing to Communicate. Nothing!
Steiner is no Master to initiate anybody. This will come via enormous study and personal sacrifice. There is a huge price to pay. If you only like to consume the texts, it will be a sort of mystical fairy tale.
The lament is, that those Schools of Initiation like Pythagoras seem to be lost forever. Pythagoras who seems to have been initiated with real Priests in Egypt, who themselves came from an old lineage of Priests, Sages, Masters.
It looks like attempting to climb Mount Everest again, when all previous knowledge is lost. Like courageous Mallory… paying the price. And he was utterly warned…
Goethe was serious with his major story Faust. Not the Deal with the Devil. The quest for the higher knowledge – which you never can get out of any Book! Never ever. The reason why all those text based clubs and religions are empty and can tell you nothing. Reading the New Testament a 1 000 times in all reconstructed Urtexts and scientific translations – tell you Nothing about that Jesus. Nothing! You may attempt to meet him in Spirit, in Person. But then- who meets whom…That is the Dilemma of Steiner… And he knew it. Like Jesus he faced the very same problem, how to explain what he experienced. Impossible – you need to go the Mountain Top all alone by yourself…Exercise , how to tell a Blind person, what you see…
In the worst case… we may equally ask, when you publish Tools of the Path to Higher Knowledge- anybody can read it, you even promote those Books to make more money…
Then you do not care who will read that and what he will do… Hitler certainly Hated Steiner – Hitler’s Anti-Semitism does never mean, he did not study what their wisdom had to offer. You may adapt the teachings to use them to destroy the teacher…This certainly was the major concern to keep this wisdom secret in secret societies. The eternal fuel for never ending conspiracy Theories and devotees and druthers of all kinds. The secret Societies may be more benevolent than the open Societies abusing their wisdom for maximum chaos and Destruction. The fact that USA has such a Leadership reflects, how wisdom is abused- and why there is no powerful opposition ignoring all that wisdom to do something about it. Even the Saint Steiner – what did he ever do against Hitler? All this reflects, what the Speaker Steiner may have accomplishment – versus the texts we read to day, which may have lost their initial Spirit…
“Surely what all of us non-initiates do is to take from [Rudolf Steiner’s] words as much as our current development allows us to understand – but he is also introducing us to concepts of what it means to be a human being that are enlarging our understanding and (I hope) continuing our development.”
Exactly so, Jeremy. Spiritual Science, being new knowledge ahead of its time, is meant for the future. Thus, because we lack the requisite soul-spiritual organs of direct perception, this content of knowledge must be received in a conceptual fashion, much like theories are built. Carl Unger’s book proposes that we simply study the findings of the spiritual investigator, and also self-observe our own responses as we carry the research to a further stage. This then becomes the Experience that we can verify. In large respects, the furtherance of Steiner’s great work represents Psychosophy, wherein our own self-creative efforts and findings are added to the cause.
“The lament is, that those Schools of Initiation like Pythagoras seem to be lost forever. Pythagoras who seems to have been initiated with real Priests in Egypt, who themselves came from an old lineage of Priests, Sages, Masters.”
Those old Schools of Initiation are lost forever, having been replaced by the incarnation of Christ on earth, which brought initiation-science into the world-historical process. Pythagoras, indeed, sought for new knowledge, and so wandered from his home on the island of Samos to the east, where he found a great Teacher in the region of Chaldea, where Zarathos had incarnated. Thus, Pythagoras was initiated by Zarathos, c. 550 BC, and then returned back to the west, and found his way to the Mystery of Ephesus at the time of Heraclitus.
Then, he was encouraged to find a certain pupil, and went to Croton, in southern, Italy, where he located Philolaus, and the Pythagorean colony was formed there.
Steiner claimed to be exact clairvoyant, both visionary and thinker, occultist and mystic, imagination and inspiration:
“Let it never be imagined that Ahriman will appear as a kind of hoaxer, playing mischievous tricks on human beings. No, indeed! Lovers of ease who refuse to have anything to do with spiritual science would fall prey to his magic, for by means of these stupendous magic arts he would be able to make great numbers of human beings into seers — but in such a way that the clairvoyance of each individual would be strictly differentiated. What one person would see, a second and a third would not see. Confusion would prevail and in spite of being made receptive to clairvoyant wisdom, people would inevitably fall into strife on account of the sheer diversity of their visions. Ultimately, however, they would all be satisfied with their own particular vision, for each of them would be able to see into the spiritual world. In this way all culture on the earth would fall prey to Ahriman.” GA0191/19191115 (cf. Revelation 13:13: And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; …)
“There is, however, still another path that is safer and above all more exact, but it is also more difficult for many human beings. This path is presented in my books, A Theory of Knowledge Based on Goethe’s World Conception, and Philosophy of Freedom. These writings offer what human thought can acquire if thinking does not give itself up to the impressions of the physical-sensory world, but only to itself. It is then pure thought, which acts in the human being like a living entity, and not thought that merely indulges in memories of the sensory. Etc. “ GA013_c05-03
(cf. The Boundaries of Natural Science GA 322)
…Steiner claimed to be exact clairvoyant,
Yes he claims…
and his functions have many solutions,
pick yours you prefer,
it certainly is equally exact and precise and congruent with Steiner…
– how can it be otherwise…
What I tried to say: you always need an interaction of two ways to achieve something. Climb and descend the mountain, theoretical and practical, initiation and enlightenment, inspiration and imagination, text and experience, von Neumann and Zuse, Abel and Cain, old and new. That’s Steiner’s claim.
Perhaps the most puzzling step in human development seems to be the path to the Transistor.
Research without any precedent. Try to imagine, what is required for such a development. Once the concept became clear, the Path to the Microprocessor was wide open. A technical example of the process of Initiation. All those geniuses like Zuse, Newman, and Turing – they could do nothing without that step of Initiation of the Transistor. As a metaphor. To become Initiated may require becoming humble. Develop your own kind of “Transistor” before you go any step further. Once you are on solid state ground, you may work on your “Microprocessor”, your “Software” – and then the journey starts…This also means, we have not much to expect from the new kids with the state of the Art tech and software – they never get the Initiation that is required for the next break through. To do that, you need to start somewhere else, where a huge Mount Everest threatens you… and you do not know, where to go…That is Steiner…I t is the Path to the Quantum mathematics of Ideas. Not fairy Tales. To get access to the unlimited Universe of Ideas, Concepts, problem solutions, constructive Interactions. This is the Solid State Quantum Physics of the Philosophers Semi-Conductor…The transistor ca not be “invented” – it can only be discovered as a higher concept in the world of Ideas…This is the Path to go…That may have been the fascination to listen to the real Steiner…
One Point in the Life of Steiner seems to be, when he clashed with Nietzsche´s Sister – without ever giving any detail. It may have humbled him so much, he began to work much harder. Learning, even more important WHAT you say is HOW you say it. Observing in detail the empty shell of Nietzsche, most certainly from Neuro Lues- what Steiner may have known – this Turning point closed the 19 th Century to open the 20 th century. Steiner´s Era. To imagine how Steiner appeared later in public, those turning points are crucial to see and to understand. Steiner was so blessed to still have been able to live in the private sphere of the Giants of the Culture of Germany. Certainly he absorbed enough of that light to keep it deep in himself, irradiating during his presentations…The source of eternal Romanticism…
Rag, it would do well for you to read for context and content before writing such as this:
“Observing in detail the empty shell of Nietzsche, most certainly from Neuro Lues- what Steiner may have known – this Turning point closed the 19th Century to open the 20th century.”
From Rudolf Steiner’s autobiography, we have this from chapter 18:
“Later I got into a serious disagreement with Frau Elizabeth Förster-Nietzsche. Her emotional and lovable spirit claimed at that time my deepest sympathy. I suffered inexpressibly by reason of the disagreement. A complicated situation had brought this to pass; I was compelled to defend myself against accusations; I know that it was all necessary, that the happy hours I was permitted to spend among the Nietzsche archives in Naumburg and Weimar should now lie under a veil of bitter memories; yet I am grateful to Frau Förster-Nietzsche for having taken me, on the first of many visits I made to her, into the chamber of Friedrich Nietzsche. There he lay on a lounge enveloped in darkness, with his beautiful forehead-artist’s and thinker’s forehead in one. It was early afternoon. Those eyes which in their blindness yet revealed the soul, now merely mirrored a reflection of the surroundings which could find no longer any way to reach the soul. One stood there and Nietzsche knew it not. And yet one could have believed, looking upon that brow permeated by the spirit, that this was the expression of a soul which had all the forenoon long been shaping thoughts within, and which now would fain rest a while. An inner shudder which seized my soul may have signified that this also underwent a change in sympathy with the genius whose gaze was directed toward me and yet failed to rest upon me. The passivity of my gaze so long fixed won in return a comprehension of his own gaze: his longing always in vain to enable the soul-forces of the eye to work.
And so there appeared before my soul the soul of Nietzsche, hovering above his head, boundless in its spiritual light; surrendered wholly to the spiritual worlds, longing after its environment but failing to discover it; and yet chained to the body, which would have to do with the soul only so long as the soul longed for this present world. Nietzsche’s soul was still there, but only from without could it hold to the body, that body which so long as the soul remained within it had offered resistance to the full unfolding of its light; now I perceived the Nietzsche who bore within his body ideas drawn from widely extended spiritual regions – ideas which still sparkled in their beauty even though they had lost on the way their primal illuminating powers. A soul which from previous earthly lives bore rich wealth of light, but which could not in this life cause all its light to shine. I had admired what Nietzsche wrote; but now I saw a luminous form behind that which I had admired.”
Precisamente esse! Yes, this is the point! The Empty Shell! The “Soul” – … the soul of Nietzsche, hovering above his head, …The abstract Soul, seen by the Soul, above the Empty Shell! NOT Inside!!!! The Empty Shell! If we can not even agree on such elementary most simple things – than as Steiner states himself. There Can Not be any Communication…The importance of Steiner´s experience for the rest of his development was his Turning Point: Beware of the Soul. It may NOT reside in the empty shell! It may be somewhere else. And we may not be able to recognize this. The source of our errors! To Never attach to any empty shell! To not follow a Person! He admired the personal courage of Nietzsche, – but he never became his Disciple. As he experienced the emptiness in the Life of Nietzsche, that destroyed him. Steiner was not cured yet, as he became victim of adoration again with Blavatsky. With HER in Person! Steiner may later have been victim of his own Mirror Image, almost like a Narcissist…
All those comments are relevant to that quest: what was Steiner like? It is such a loss, we do not know! WE, NOW, HERE – we would see Steiner so differently him as a Living person here now! The persons describing Steiner at his time saw Steiner as patrons of their time. So they were fascinated with ideas out of their experience. And became attached to those ideas made congruent with the personality of Steiner. Which may be a distorted image If we are really interested in what Steiner experienced and the way he expressed it, we need to be more careful, more discerning – before speed reading and assuming anything…unfortunately, Steiner loved to make things difficult and demanding a lot of effort. What price to pay…
To Steiner, Nietzsche (or Goethe) wasn’t the only turning point. ‘A profound revolution’ took place:
Ch.18: Goethe found the spirit in the reality of nature; Nietzsche lost the spirit-myth in the dream of nature in which he lived. I stood between these two opposites.
Ch.22: At the end of the Weimar period of my life I had passed my thirty-sixth year. One year previously a profound revolution had already begun in my mind.
Precisely! Why would Steiner matter to us today? Why even bother touching anything from him? I could use my precious time otherwise…
For me as a Scientist it is the Power to face the insurmountable – and start climbing. There are metaphors like in the Soar, where the Gates of Wisdom, of which are many, are blocked by powerful Guardian Angels. A very different meaning of the concept Guardian- which we children of Romantics and other delusions want to occupy as OUR own very intimate exclusive Guardian Angel, who protects me even in the most idiotic self-destructive behavior… A Guard to protect the Gate. Prove, you have the Power to overcome the Guard to pass the Gate. What a Concept! And Steiner developed such Powers to go through Gates. Not with the attempt of Magic like Goethe: look into the origin of the name Goethe…Goes…Goetia… Not with the Super Human Power of the Luetic Nietzsche… The self-created Power. The courage to walk alone. Not attaching to anybody. To do this requires many Phase transitions. To assemble enough energy to transform one phase into another. In this Nietschean Zarathustra sense – we need to overcome also Steiner – or we stay in Steiner’s Kindergarden babbling nonsense. To even become Atheist in Nietzsche’s view, NOT as God is Dead – the delusion of that Priest Concept of “God” – to cash in the club membership fees. This is the concept of Mosis: to destroy the synthetic gods. The real God is beyond any imagination or experience; you may be much safer being Atheist than adhering to any Clubs. Once we gather that inner strength – and walk away into the Unknown, we may get killed; we may walk into the twilight zone that Steiner describes. Nobody ever enters these forbidden guarded zones solely by reading any texts, no matter which ones. That is the idea of this Quest: What was Steiner REALLY????? A very strange, highly mysterious Man. As any of those who left all things Human behind them…And this will determine the future and destiny of the entire Human world…
A great Moment in my little Life was in 1979, when I was invited by Prof Karl Schlechta, the Nietzsche – Schlechta…what a Man! All his Life he researched everything available on Nietzsche. So strangely he remarked to me, he would never ever want to meet that MAN Nietzsche in person! Never! All those bad traits of that personality – he felt disgusting. Wagner remarked in utter Disgust, how unbearable he felt Nietzsche…No wonder Nietzsche was such a poor, isolated, sick, lonely Man. … What a difference with Steiner… it WAS his personality, his sincere radiation that almost infected others to follow him, to devote their entire Life to him. His honest Quest to reach higher realms of Existence…His sincere fascination of Christ radiated from him…
Schlechta is known for revealing certain sinister and very serious discrepancies that marked the manipulation of the work of Friedrich Nietzsche by his sister, Elizabeth. This tendency of deception with its underlying motivation is what stood behind Rudolf Steiner’s rejection of the invitation to become editor of the Nietzsche archives in Naumburg in 1895, when he visited the paralytic philosopher, still brightly cognizant behind the supposed empty shell.
Rudolf Steiner only began to take an interest in the work of Nietzsche after the collapse in Turin, Italy in early January 1889. Then, his investigation took on large proportion in revealing many aspects of how FN was actually the “consciousness of the age” now culminating as the 19th century in Germany. Part of this consciousness involved how his own sister had taken up with a professor of the old school of the original Bavarian Illuminati of Adam Weishaupt, c. 1776, and now seeking to establish a German-Aryan colony in Paraguay that became know as “Nueva Germania”. So, this fellow, Bernhard Forster, took up with the sister, Elizabeth, of Friedrich Nietzsche in 1885 in order to form this town of German colonists of pure blooded aryan’s who despised the Jews. Friedrich Nietzsche despised this whole arrangement, as he was neither an aryanist, as proven by his falling out with Richard Wagner, nor an anti-semite.
Steiner, of course, found out about all this, and this was the basis of his disagreement with E. Forster-Nietzsche in 1895. I don’t have my notes on this at hand, but the Rita Stebbing edition of Steiner’s autobiography, c. 1977, with the notes by Paul Allen, contains a significant entry on the findings of Karl Schlechta relative to why Steiner found the whole environment there in Naumburg very strange at the time he visited. This was 1895, and by the time Elizabeth Forster- Nietzsche died forty years later, in 1935, she was an avid Nazi and supporter of Adolf Hitler, who is said to have cried at her funeral.
Of course, her brother’s legacy had been brutally mutilated with the distorted belief in aryan supremacy and eradication of the evil Jews. This was her doing, and some forty years before, Rudolf Steiner saw it coming. He would have no part of it.
Thank You Steve! Great comment- very much needed for clarification. What I learned from Schlechta was surprising, as I assumed, when you dedicate all your scientific study to mostly one Person, you would feel sympathetic for the person. He did not! And Schlechta was sincere about the Neuro-Luetic Nietzsche, citing personal encounters in Leipzig, where Nietzsche was treated for his apparent recurrent! Syphilis. The dark side of Nietzsche was inherent in his personality. In Leipzig I had the chance to talk to a Psychiatrist, whose grandfather was with Nietzsche at SchulPforta- where they got drunk one Sunday- with bad consequences for Nietzsche. Paul Lanzky mentions some dark aspects too…
It is NOT about Nietzsche here at all.
It is about the way Steiner was sensible enough, NOT to get infected with the Nietzsche World. Seeing the Luetic empty shell of Nietzsche and KNOWING why! That had a profound effect on Steiner. Strangely nobody else seems to have realized that… Anything we read- should be seen in the light of the Biography of this person. When we read “Mein Kampf” as such, without knowing anything else, it may sound like an interesting concept. Knowing the person who conceives and realizes those ides, makes it totally different in its perception. Even reading Steiner and NOT comprehending the text – Steiner’s Biography and Integrity encourages the reader to go on. It my all be wrong, but the Author is not to blame. He had the best intentions, as Selg so enthusiastically exclaims…better intentions than anybody today…
The point is to examine very carefully what we read. What pleases us may be not so pleasant…
What discourages us may be worthwhile many attempts…
Amazing are the utterances of the luetic Nietzsche. When he said about himself, I am dead – because I am Dumb. And he regretted that he drove so many good people into the abyss he created. He was not so honest at all his waking Life…
The Path of Steiner can be seen as a way of an intellectual Immune system, to recognize the toxic elements hidden inside the nice decorations. ..Certitude is the purified Element out of the Conglomerate of dissociated thoughts…This may have transpired in the way Steiner presented his concepts, the way he was with others. This may be a lasting driving force, why he still finds persons to follow his ideas…
“It is NOT about Nietzsche here at all.”
I beg to differ. It is all about Nietzsche here. Friedrich Nietzsche in the light of anthroposophy.
Very interesting lecture, as it hits all the high notes of a man suffering under the torments of his age. Syphilis has never been proven in the life of FN; as a student in Pforta he may have visited a brothel twice. What is definitively know is that he contracted diphtheria and dysentery early in the Franco-Prussian War, c. 1870, and this shattered his health. His life became a quest for truth and knowledge in a corrupted world.
Also interesting is that Karl Schlechta was born in 1904, the year of this lecture, and some four years after the death of Friedrich Nietzsche. His analysis thus becomes a kind of proto psychological biography wherein the sister and her paramour, Bernhard Forster, become the sinister villains seeking to misuse the name and reputation of Friedrich Nietzsche for their own nefarious purposes.
As Rudolf Steiner indicated in his meetings with the man laying in a white robe, c. 1895, his soul-spiritual aura stood high above the massive brow, wherein after doing a morning’s work of philosophic rumination, he now pondered it within the astral light of the afternoon. This is where the two men gazed into each other’s eyes, and Steiner detected the bright-lit spirit, still as cognizant as ever, and Nietzsche saw his Zarathustra in the flesh.
Homeless Souls spiritual nourishment
Steiner Lecture 16: Homeless Souls (Dornach, June 10, 1923)
This is the presentation with the basic clearance, to reflect on our Identity. Before going any further, this appears to me vital, essential, and necessary. Where is the person capable of absorbing this concept so deeply to be able to present it in a Steiner- way, live on stage, with proper recording? To find such a person…To also present in clarity, that Steiner is NOT the Home! Steiner is a pathfinder, eventually to find your own home…or stay homeless…
The Homeless Souls Dornach, 10 June 1923
For me his most important Presentation…
What Steiner does not reflect on, when a Homeless Soul is unaware of its homelessness – and adheres to a world he does not understand and penetrate- what forces may drive such a misplaced Soul to violence and terrorism. Which will not be limited, restricted to a single Group like a Terror Islamist splinter groups. Or McVeigh and Pierce…They may as well appear in peaceful groups defending their fragile home with all force and power and even violence – Green Peace -Terror… Becoming a Zealot ready to burn any heretic on a very slow burning stake…Taking this lecture seriously, we ask ourselves, where we are now, is this a true Home – or a Camping Site on a longer voyage – with changing destinations…Maybe to be Scientific, we need to stay homeless…nonlocal…
In Steiner’s early public lectures he pointed to ‘homelessness’ as an inspirational initiation path. The imaginative (illuminative) precedes this inspirational (connective) path:
“… if he is able to influence his astral body from his etheric body. Then he has become the chela, the real disciple of a great initiate. Then he can continue this path. One calls such a human being who has ascended this level a homeless human being, because he has found the connection with a new world because the spiritual world sounds to him and because he has no longer his home, so to speak, in this sensuous world.” GA0053/19050316 (cf. GA010_c02 enlightenment and initiation)
Thank You Dear Ton! This seems for me the utmost importance, regardless of Steiner or any Philosophy. We can ask the same question, was this the message of Jesus, when he started gathering people and teaching? Even to the extent of Luke 12 : 51 51Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52From now on, five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three.…This is the concept of Homeless…What Buddhists claim: No Attachment = Homeless..
That is also Steiners ethical individualism (PhoF, pure thinking), which is to be complemented by one’s own sensuous experience and imagination (Bounderies, GA 322, Ch.8). Zarathustra: Listen!
Here is another good example of what it means to be a “homeless soul” in the living history of spiritual experience. Coming some four years later, in the 2nd lecture of GA112/19090625, it uses the term, “wanderer”, to good effect. I personally can relate to the part about the reprehensible father:
“There is one stage, for instance, that is soon reached by serious striving along the path of enlightenment: the stage of the so-called Wanderer, of him who has outgrown the prejudices of his immediate surroundings and has cast off the fetters imposed by his environment. This need not make him irreverent: we can become all the more reverent; but he must be free of the prejudices of his immediate surroundings. Let us assume that this man dies at a stage in which he has already worked his way through to a modicum of freedom and independence. When he is born again it can happen that comparatively early in his life some experience will re-awaken this feeling of freedom and independence in him. As a rule, this is the result of losing his father or someone else to whom he is closely bound; or it might be a consequence of his father’s reprehensible behavior toward him — he might have cast him out, or something of the sort. All this is faithfully reported in the legends of the various peoples, for in matters of this kind the folk myths and legends are really wiser than is modern science. Among the legends you will often find the type in which the child is cast out, is found by shepherds, nourished and brought up by them, and later restored to his station (Chiron, Romulus and Remus). The fact that their own home plays them false serves to re-awaken in them the fruits of former incarnations. The legend of the casting out of Oedipus is in this category, too. You will now understand that the more advanced a man is — whether at the stage when his higher ego is born or even farther — the richer in experience his life must be if he is to be capable of a new experience, one he had not yet had.”
Thank You Dear Ton! This seems for me the utmost importance, regardless of Steiner or any Philosophy. We can ask the same question, was this the message of Jesus, when he started gathering people and teaching? Even to the extent of Luke 12 : 51 51Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52From now on, five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three.…This is the concept of Homeless…What Buddhists claim: No Attachment = Homeless..
Is there a way to realize this idea, to find a suitable actor, capable of portraying Steiner, on stage, reciting Steiner, contemplating the Live experience, going back to Steiner´s texts and fusing those mental impressions of the stage and the text…The BBC made an excellent portrait of George Orwell: A Life in pictures, which comes very close to the real person. https://youtu.be/s6txpumkY5I
Nothing of that kind ever was done with Steiner, as far as I can see.
Gospel of Mark Chapts 1 3 Max McLean
Excellent well done example
Rag Mars, have you ever wondered where all the anger comes from that is engendered in you by Steiner? Maybe a Phd in Biochemistry is not the best basis from which to start studying his teachings.
When you say : “Steiner loved to make things difficult and demanding a lot of effort. What price to pay…” does that not betray a certain mental ‘unwillingness’ on your part? How did you obtain your Phd if not by effort – or is biochemistry so easy and straightforward that it’s all clear at the first reading?
Steiner does not ‘make things difficult’ – the cosmos seems to be somewhat complicated.
Anthroposophy is not something that can be spoon-fed – it does require great efforts on the part of the student – efforts that anyone who hungers for knowledge that will give some clues to questions such as ‘who am I, really?’ and ‘what is life on earth all about, really?’, will gladly and enthusiastically undertake.
But we are not dealing with any one discipline, where you study the textbooks, pass an exam and receive your piece of paper. Anthroposophy is an open-ended study that can change you if you undertake the study OBJECTIVELY – new vistas open up that help elucidate not only our personal conundrums but humanity’s very existence – it talks of the entire cosmos and our place in it – and no matter how much we take in of these teachings, we will never receive our ‘piece of paper’ because our growth as human beings does not even end with our demise, but will continue through many, many lifetimes, on this earth and in the earths to come.
The study of Anthroposophy is humbling and although I don’t see that there is any price to pay for it, if there were, it’s well worth it.
Dear Liliana! I am German and write in my own English, which may be very different…Thinking is abstract and translated into images, sounds, words. Not only do we miss much in any translation, we also do poor translations. When you read any ANGER in anything from my utterances, I wonder myself, what may provoke that Anger – which is the farthest from any intention I have anywhere. When I do anything, it is fuelled more by fascination. Steiner by himself is exceptional and worth studying, no matter what he did. There is Nothing that could provoke any Anger in anything about Steiner. He was extremely courageous and lived a heroic, ascetic Life. This alone is worth studying, how can I transform my self, an ongoing Meta Morphosis, to get onto that infinite Path, that never ends. If there is Life after death maybe that is the only Path to pursue, as we approach Eternity, which may be very long, as Dr. Woody Allen tries to prove…
The only reason I take my time to read and reflect is, I hope, there is any value in it. What IS Value? Value relates to the Power of Transformation. You give me the impression, sorry for my bad interpretation, you belittle Biochemistry. Ok, it has no social appreciation of having any value at all. The next time you have a frustrating experience in your body and ask any Medical Person about it, you will be surprised, how very little they know and how rich their speculation is to fill their Ignorance. As We ARE Biochemistry…I wonder, the mysterious illness of Steiner and his death , the weird discussions about “Poisoning”…nobody goes back to the basics and asks, could that have been Pancreatitis, that in most cases is undetected, and at the time, there was no biochemical test available to diagnose anything… it makes also the qualifications questionable of the so called medical “Doctors” attending to Steiner…And when we study that, we encounter quickly the limitations. We deal with incomprehensible complex structures which interact incomprehensible in ever changing ways. When you study one thing, much is lost in all the other interactions we do neglect – Werner Heisenberg…I ask myself, did Steiner study natural science far too lightly and more speculative, when you look into the minute time he devoted to any subject he ever studied. Steiner tries to be encyclopedic, rather than specific….Which relates to the other devastating mystrey and final turning point; The destruction of his first temple by Fire. What a biblical allusion! Those weird discussions about Jesuit Masons all those evil forces …. or was it the the naive spirit dominance of taking things far to lighly.. that Wood may burn? Burn easily from minute inflammation…heat from an electrical cable, cigarette ash. etc…not possible, no way…
So the Biochemist is a humble person knowing extremely well the limitations in personality, power, capability and the power of study.
Then the question rises is there more…
Yes, infinite more
Like Steiner. Then I realize, how time consuming that is. Only reading his approach to “higher Worlds” is extremely difficult and complex. If you do it seriously. I listen again to the audio recordings – ok, sounds easy. Done, did it…well, that is Kindergarten, amusement, fairy tales. If we really want to learn and study, we need to take it apart into all of its elements. That is the Nature of any Science. Steiner does not do that. So the Natural Scientist in me starts asking questions. Perhaps, not even the best expert today, may be able to answer- as even he did not even SEE that question -Peter Selg remarks similar experiences…ever….happens all the time. Or it is a naïve, belittling, foggy way…
There is a lot to say about that…
I apologize if it sounded like I was belittling biochemistry – that was not intended. I very much admire those who sincerely and with sacrifice spend so much time and effort immersing themselves in their chosen discipline. And I truly appreciate all the advances that our societies have made thanks to the discoveries of science – where would we be today without what was built out of western science? Is that not the reason why Europe is being flooded by so many people from countries that have not had such benefits?
Our western science has undeniably led to incredible achievements – and it is to be hoped that our moral fibre will be equal to the many pitfalls that our technology is presenting us with, and that we will avoid destroying life on earth.
But the spirit does no lend itself to being dissected and studied in the laboratory – that would be like wanting to see the sky from inside a hermetically sealed box. Material science cannot attain to the spirit except possibly by inspiring ideas that go beyond material evidence. But such ideas can only evolve in human beings as they themselves evolve spiritually – the human being himself is both the laboratory and the instrument in this search. Our physical senses enable us to contemplate the physical world, so it stands to reason that in order to see into the spiritual world we must develop the appropriate spiritual senses.
In the meantime all we can do is use our intellect to evaluate what is given to us by those who say that they have achieved such vision and decide for ourselves which of these explanations make sense to us and can help us achieve a wider perspective of the world in which we find ourselves alive and thinking.
In the third of three lectures that Steiner gave on ‘The Philosophy of Thomas Aquinas’ he says: “…in the long run we human beings MUST acquire knowledge through IDEAS.´
But if we box in our ideas and limit them to what is material we will never attain to any certainty concerning the origin of existence and, no matter how wonderful our scientific progress, we will always be left with that terrible angst that intensifies as our life draws to a close.
That is not to say that we should espouse spiritual ideas because they make us ‘feel good’ – that will never work because our intellect wants its due – it is the intellect that must be satisfied with the explanations given by others, and for this reason we must not handicap its operation by refusing to examine beyond the material.
Until we can ‘see’ for ourselves, this is the best we can do to attain some explanation of everything that is hidden from us. But as we start to piece together these spiritual building-blocks of knowledge with our intellect, we begin to gain some confidence that perhaps there is truth to be had and that life is not just one giant joke, but that we are part of a purposeful plan the dimensions of which are too great for us to conceive at the present time in our evolutionary journey.
In a sense we have to move from faith in what is taught by authority, to faith in our own judgement, all the while taking full responsibility for this move.
P.S.: In my opinion it is impossible to make any sense of Steiner if one begins with teachings meant for those who had already attained a good basic knowledge of his concepts and terminology. From what you say, I feel that you would really like to understand Steiner and I hope you won’t give up. I started by participating in a reading group where the leader was already well versed in anthroposophy. Maybe you could possibly find such a group in your area. Best wishes.
Thank You! The first lessons in any serious Science are to best forget everything. Format the Hard drive…Then, never trust and never believe anything and anybody. Never. Like Pythagoras: find out yourself. I came to Steiner, to look for ways to go further into unknown territory. As a student I asked already, what is that, an idea, how can we have ideas, inspirations… this is beyond any Science. We at best experience it in an Inspiration…What we can learn is to better open our mind, to better receive ideas, we cannot explain. And then find ways to explore those ideas. All we have and see today once was only an idea. So we may extrapolate, this is only a part of the world of ideas, there is much more to be discovered. Ocean Water desalination with membranes, Photosynthesis and food and energy, better techniques in communication to ease cultural differences in a global society… and when taking Steiner at his Core, anybody can do this here and now – as soon as we want to enter those realms of ideas, where all problems are already solved. I believe in that. The very last thing is to attach myself to any Dogma, Ideology, Cult, or Dreamers….
This is about which impression Steiner made, when he talked… Reading his texts I wonder, How could anybody follow Steiner talking? … Nach Rittelmeyers Empfinden langweilte Steiner einen Großteil der Hörerschaft und sprach lediglich für die Handvoll geschulter Anthroposophen, welche im Saale waren. That would be my Impression…To listen to Steiner only – when you had previously studied the text. And at his time, he was far from being the Saint he is elevated to today.. with infinite credit… and not understanding Steiner and his Personality may have deterred many to even look into his texts…
“According to Rittelmeyer’s feeling, Steiner bored a large part of the audience and spoke only for the handful of trained anthroposophists who were in the hall.”
“Lev Lvovitch Kobilinsky (1874-1947) who wrote under the name of Kobilinsky-Ellis, left Russia in 1911. The instructive story of his emigration is told in Andrey Bely’s Memoirs. He became a disciple of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy. As he listened to his lectures, be began to wonder whether Steiner worshipped the powers of light or of darkness. One day, while waiting for the lecture to begin, Kobilinsky asked the German ladies, followers of Steiner, whether he served Christ or Beelzebub, and they answered “Wir sind ein Luciferianisches Volk” (“we are a Luciferian people”). Then Kobilinsky renounced anthroposophy, became a Catholic and settled in Switzerland at Locarno-Monti. I know about Kobilinsky’s attitude to Steiner from his letters to me.”
—From Nicholai Lossky’s, History of Russian Philosophy
This is disturbing and may indicate the fertile Ground for the emerging Nazi Ideology. It is never the leader who is successful, it is the fertile ground out of which he grows. Steiner had his fertile ground in the disappointed Christians, experiencing the priests as fakes. Charismatic Persons filled that void. The question still remains, what were the Charismatic traits of Steiner, that made him so popular? Till today…Is there a spiritual connection to what he calls “Guardian of the Threshold” – once you dare passing that Guardian – what happens then? Do you enter the Spiritual Death Zone? The closer you climb to the Mountain Top, Martin Luther King…The more deluded you will become, the more irreversible damage will occur. Is there a Transition in a person who becomes Charismatic, who first attracts others by his fascination – then enters the Infectious Zone, where you are drawn with the fascination to pass the Guardian of the Threshold…or do we have a natural spiritual Immune system, that protects us from such experiences? Was Steiner reckless? Infecting the disturbed – repelling the healthy…Like Tucholsky: I buy nothing…What is this mystery…
Thanks Steve, this is a great example of someone who lacked confidence in his own power of judgement and sought refuge in sanctioned tradition. We seem to be drawn to where our inner current carries us – which is as it should be.
It is interesting to consider, though, that by 1911 Rudolf Steiner had clearly carved out the fundamental esoteric Christology that stands behind and supports Anthroposophy as its central doctrine. Yet, these so-called “Steiner dames”, sitting in the audience from lecture to lecture are kind of caught up in the “lady ga-ga” mold of worshipping the Steiner charisma; and maybe, not having listened to a word of it.
Steiner did acknowledge that anthroposophy started with the lucifer-gnosis project, and even still in 1911 many of his largely female audience still saw Lucifer as their comfort zone. Sadly, for Kobilinksy-Eliis, he must have talked to the wrong person for an objective opinion. Anyone truly awake would have told him immediately: “Oh we serve the evolutionary Christ”.
What is interesting in today’s time-frame is how anyone could take this little anecdote, which was a serious miscommunication, and caused a serious aspirant to take refuge in the institution of the Catholic church, and see it as being the harbinger of the apparent and weak right-wing voice of a new Nazi ideology today. I quote: “This is disturbing and may indicate the fertile Ground for the emerging Nazi Ideology.”
I leave it to the folks who actually study spiritual science to decide.
I totally agree, Steve – the devil is always in the details and he will take any ‘fertile’ detail and twist it, inflate it and use it as propaganda. We see the specialists in this technique every day in the media, and it works wonderfully in those who rely on the opinion of others for an explanation of reality, because reality ‘is sooo complicated’!
Rudolf Steiner gave lectures wherein either the devil, or more possibly, God was in the detail. Take, for example, his course from March 2011 on Occult Physiology, here:
Now, from this course it was designed to show how the various organs of the human body, including the pancreas, are distributed either left or right of the stomach. So, liver, spleen, gall bladder, kidneys, all find their place in the human organism; left/right, front and back, and even below the stomach, like the pancreas. The pancreas excretes digestive enzymes for a normal and healthy human being, but its function can be disturbed by intentional human error in which acute and chronic pancreatitis is the result. Most commonly, these are due to alcoholism accompanied by heaving smoking.
Now, with Rudolf Steiner’s incident on the final day of the CC of 1923, it can be shown that he was not suffering from any ill effects of a sensitive pancreas, but rather with the immediate need to vomit up a poison, and this was the procedure that occurred over several hours with the aid of Dr. Wegman. The poison was of a caustive nature, and this had the effect of injuring the esophagus, as well as the lining to the stomach. Pancreatitis can be ruled out entirely because Dr. Steiner would suffer from diminished metabolic capacity for the rest of his life, and suffer a premature death as a result.
Jeremy wrote here of Franz Kafka’s experience of Rudolf Steiner in Prague, during this course:
Most recently, I wrote of Saul Bellow’s commingled account of Rudolf Steiner’s sayings in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Humboldt’s Gift, in which Kafka is noted for remembering that Steiner had a cold, and was seen shoving a hanky deep into his nostrils.
So, whether it is the devil in the details, or God in the detail, it all proves that we are alive and working in the world if we care to.
Thank you so much for this collection. I have always wondered the same thing, and what wouldn’t I give to have even one human meeting that affects me in the way van Emmichoven describes!
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Thank you, Gudrun. I’m currently putting together a post on examples of Steiner’s supernatural powers, so I hope you will find that interesting as well!
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Would it not be more correct to say that Steiner possessed supersensible powers? Supernatural powers indicates the ability to override the Laws of Nature, and Steiner never indicated his ability to do this. His scholarly study of Goethe would seem to uphold his firm belief that the laws of nature are not really understood today. Yet, by awakening certain organs of perception which have laid dormant for a long time, and for definite reasons, the supersensible dimension arises in mankind.
For example, Steiner gave a lecture-course in Holland in November 1923, entitled: Supersensible Man.
It is noted that herein with these lectures, and especially with the two lectures given in the afternoon and evening of November 17, 1923, that Rudolf Steiner resolved to refound the General Anthroposophical Society at Christmas, rather than retiring, which he had planned to do. Ita Wegman is said to be the influence on this day to plead with RS to keep the ship afloat. Of course, he honored her plea. He would have done it for anyone who asked more of him.
Even a simple request to write his autobiography was acknowledged with what began on December 9, 1923, serialized in Das Goetheanum on a weekly basis until his own death, which ended the account.
Yes, Steve, you are quite right – “supersensible” is the word I should have used.
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Thank you for your translation of this post into Italian.
“…Steiner was unable to lecture in any language other than German…”
Steiner only spoke Steinerish, that cannot be translated into any language, not even into Steinerish. Steiner did not allow to stenograph his “lectures”- as he found too many errors in the recordings… maybe Steiner did not understand Steinerish himself…. it is a spiritual language like “talking in tongues…” Alan Watts was humane and drank a bottle of Vodka to talk Wattsianish…To be spiritual may require some distilled Spirit Alcohol…to endure it…
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Walt Whitman has said ” I convince by my presence, not by argument. For a split second I had an internal vision of steiner’s presence and I almost fainted. His presence was so powerful that I felt discombobulated and numb. The same thing happened to carlos castaneda on his encounter with don juan matus.
Footnote: Gary lachman in his biography of steiner says that persons in the audience fell into a mesmeric sleep over this high initiate