Old Age & Anthroposophy – Part 2

In the first part of this two-part posting, we looked at old age from an anthroposophical perspective, and noted the physical and mental development processes that go on as we age, in both their negative and positive aspects. All of us want to have a fulfilling old age despite the infirmities and diminishing independence associated with the last phases of life. This implies that, alongside looking after our physical welfare, we also need to be able to express our soul and spiritual capacities.

The elderly are growing closer to the end of their physical lives and the process of excarnation (preparing to leave the body), just as, at the opposite end of the age spectrum, young children are involved in the process of incarnation, of grounding themselves here on Earth in their bodies. With young children, up until the age of 9 or 10, there is still a part of them in the spiritual world. With old people, the gradual loosening of the astral body (Soul) and the ego (Self) from the physical body as they move closer towards death, means that part of their being is also surrounded by spiritual forces.

In a lecture given just over 100 years ago, Rudolf Steiner spelt out the importance of developing our inner life in old age:

“In future, human beings, the older they get, will need to take in spiritual impulses if they want to be able to grow younger and younger and really develop their inner life. If they do so, they may have grey hair and wrinkles and all kinds of infirmities, but they will get younger and younger, for their souls are taking in impulses which they will take with them through the gate of death. People who relate only to the body cannot grow younger, for their souls will share in everything the body experiences. Of course, it will not be possible to change the habit of going grey, but it is possible for a grey head to gain a young soul from the wellsprings of spiritual life.”

steiner 1917

Rudolf Steiner in 1917

One important question for us today is: how can we, both as individuals and as society, help to create the circumstances in which old people can flourish? In Part 1, I quoted from Dr Atul Gawande’s book Being Mortal, in which he deplores the emphasis on the medicalisation of old age, and calls for a recognition that old people need to live in situations in which there is an understanding for the aspects of soul and spirit as well as physical care.  He describes the uninspiring nature of many nursing and old people’s homes as being “the consequence of a society that faces the final phase of the human life cycle by trying not to think about it. We end up with institutions that address any number of societal goals – from freeing up hospital beds to taking burdens off families’ hands to coping with poverty among the elderly – but never the goal that matters to the people who reside in them: how to make life worth living when we’re weak and frail and can’t fend for ourselves any more.”

atul gawande via austinup.org

Dr. Atul Gawande (photo via austinup.org)

In the UK, it is clear that we would be unwise to look to national or local government for any measures that might improve the situation. According to the Kings Fund, since 2009/10, local authority spending in England on social care for older people fell in real terms by 17% but in the same period, the number of older people aged over 85 and over rose by almost 9%. It has also become much more difficult for people to get publicly funded social care; numbers have fallen by 25 per cent since 2009 (from 1.7 million to 1.3 million) and in 90 per cent of local authorities only those with ‘substantial’ or ‘critical’ needs will get publicly funded services.

The Local Government Association (LGA) “State of the Nation 2017” report on Adult Social Care Funding recorded that local authorities will have managed £16bn reductions in funding from national government between 2010 and 2020.  Further, the LGA estimates a funding gap of £5.8bn by 2020, of which £1bn is for adult social care. Consequences of underfunding include:

  • An ever more fragile market;
  • Growing unmet need;
  • Further strain on informal carers;
  • Less investment in prevention:
  • Continued pressure on an already overworked care workforce;
  • Decreased ability of social care to help mitigate pressures on the National Health Service (NHS).

In the continuing absence of believable, long-term proposals from national government, it is clear that the State is losing the ability to provide well for the care needs of its growing older population. A new impulse is needed, one that not only puts more control into the hands of individuals as they address the challenges of later life, but also extends autonomy as far as possible and reduces pressure on our NHS.

What kind of living arrangements would support older people and help them to make the most of the last phase of their physical lives? Many initiatives have demonstrated the power of civil society to make a difference. A recent article by George Monbiot in The Guardian has shown that a community of like-minded people with shared needs and aspirations can successfully create the conditions for an extended and fulfilling old age.  The article describes how, over three years, the town of Frome in Somerset has initiated a collective project to combat isolation and has seen a dramatic 17% fall in hospital admissions as a result, while Somerset as a whole by contrast saw a rise of 29% in the same period.

There are many examples from Europe and the USA of groups that have formally or informally come together for companionship and mutual support.  Atul Gawande, in the book mentioned above, cites instances of older people living with full control of their lives, not “being done to” – whether it be by the medicalisation of old age or well-intentioned strangers – but “doing” their lives for themselves. An example of such a facility is the Nikolaus Cusanus Haus in Stuttgart-Birkach, Germany, recently visited by a dear friend of mine, who was much impressed by it; and which describes itself as “a community in old-age that is based on freedom and independence and is inspired by the anthroposophical image of man.”

nikolaus cusanus haus.de

The Nikolaus Cusanus Haus in Stuttgart

Another idea which, with its emphasis on community, has the potential to make a real difference to the lives of older people, is co-housing. The concept originated in Denmark in the 1960s and quickly spread across Europe, the UK, US and Australasia. In co-housing schemes, people have their own fully self-contained house or flat but there are also shared facilities, usually in a Common House (a little like a community centre), which they can use 24/7 as much or as little as they wish.  Most co-housing communities will cook and eat together one day or more a week.  The typical Common House will thus contain a commercial style kitchen, a dining area, a large multi-purpose room (meetings, drama, film, parties, yoga, etc), a workshop for repairs, a laundry and a quiet room.  Co-housing is a cost-effective, fulfilling lifestyle for all ages but particularly suited to older people as it makes isolation virtually impossible.  Balancing this is the ability to participate as much or as little as people choose, allowing them to strike their own balance between community and privacy. UK examples of co-housing include Springhill in Stroud, Laughton Lodge in Lewes, Forgebank in Lancaster, LILAC in Leeds and the Threshold Centre in Gillingham, Dorset.

A good example of how co-housing can make a difference is OWCH (Older Women’s’ Co-Housing) in Barnet, North London. OWCH is a group of women over fifty who have struggled against the odds to create their own community in a new, purpose-built block of flats. As an alternative to living alone, they have created a senior co-housing community which is enriching the last years of many older women, and reducing pressures on local health and care services. What OWCH demonstrates is that a group from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, with ages ranging from early 50’s to late 80’s, who are all very different, with their own particular interests, family connections and work – (some of them are still working) – or health difficulties or disabilities, can nevertheless create the circumstances to keep themselves as self-dependent and active as possible as they get older.


OWCH (Older Women’s Co-Housing) in Barnet, North London

A similar aspiration is now seeking to come to expression at Emerson College, an independent adult education college in East Sussex, based on the principles of anthroposophy. Emerson College Trust, St Anthony’s Trust and the Anthroposophical Society in Sussex have joined forces to provide a co-housing scheme for older people at Pixton House in the heart of the Emerson College campus.  The examples mentioned above show the value that such a place could have in the quality of care, nutrition, social and cultural life provided to older people.


Pixton House at Emerson College

What we are calling the Pixton Third Age (P3A) Project will consist of the renovation, refurbishment and extension of Pixton House, a Grade 2 listed early 19th century mansion house, so as to create around 20 self-contained apartments for older people, together with some shared facilities.  The intention is that residents will be able to participate fully in their own Pixton community but also in the wider cultural life of the College, partially formalised into what is called the Emerson Living & Learning Community. Residents will be encouraged to contribute as much as possible to the wider community, sharing their skills and experience for the benefit of all ages. This project will give opportunities for inter-generational meetings and mutual support on the Emerson campus. The facility will be owned and run by an independent trust to include the residents, and in collaboration with Emerson College.

Even at this early stage, several people (individuals and couples) have expressed an interest in coming to live at Pixton. An architect, project manager, quantity surveyor and planning consultant are currently being appointed to take us to the point where a planning application can be submitted to Wealden District Council. We anticipate that apartments should be ready for occupation by late 2020, and over the coming months we will be bringing together prospective residents with the architect and project group in order to discuss the design and accommodation details that will best meet the needs of older people.

pixton third age

The Lily Pond on the South Lawn at Pixton.

It seems likely that the values for which co-housing stands – privacy combined with active community, resident control and autonomy –are sought after by a far wider group of the older population than is currently familiar with the term “co-housing.” The combination of community, looking out for one another and self-governance holds an appeal for what one might call the younger generation of older people, for whom outmoded models of social care no longer seem relevant or desirable. People like to be active in their own care whenever possible, and still wish to be able to contribute and feel needed, rather than to be the passive recipients of care that is “done” to them.

Of course, care from other people will be needed at times, although P3A will be a co-housing scheme rather than a registered care home. Many elderly people are no longer in situations where, for example, they regularly receive touch in a caring way. Their spouse and close friends or family may have already passed on or be in a depleted health situation. The warm, gentle, caring touch of a massage or other therapy can be a source of light and encouragement in an elderly person’s life. The provision of care as and when required, supplied by those experienced in anthroposophical therapies and medicines, will be an important component of the services available to P3A residents, and we are in the process of assembling a team of carers and anthroposophical nurses so that this can happen.

As an aside, I’ve recently read an interview between Emanuel Zeylmans (author of the 4-volume “Who Was Ita Wegman?”) and Wolfgang Weirauch, in which they discuss what Steiner would have done with the insurance money after the burning-down of the first Goetheanum, if he had been asked for his advice by the 15-member building association who controlled it:

“EZ: Of course there is no point in speculating what Steiner would have done with this money. But there is a problem connected with it, for insurance sums consist of money which does not derive from people who affirm anthroposophy. At today’s rate we are talking, after all, of a sum amounting to between seventy and one hundred million Swiss Francs. From all that I have read of Steiner’s views on the nature of money, I am fairly sure that he would not have used this sum for rebuilding the new Goetheanum. I think it is far more likely that he would have put it into other projects that would also have had real relevance for our present times.

WW: What kind of things do you mean?

EZ: In Dornach there was, for instance, no provision whatsoever for the elderly and I can easily imagine that he might, first, have set up a home for all those who needed it. He might also have been able to realise his dream of building a clinic behind the Goetheanum. In my documented research, I published proof that Steiner had planned a clinic on the orchard meadow behind the Goetheanum – a one hundred bed hospital in fact. In other words, he would have transformed the money by using it for another purpose. That is the important thing – to redeem money. This is only one example of how an intrinsically deeply creative person like Rudolf Steiner could have used the money. This would probably have led to quite a new sort of set-up in Dornach, through which he would then have received donations to rebuild the Goetheanum.”

To me, this exchange is deeply meaningful in the light of our own intentions for Pixton, both in terms of provision of accommodation for the elderly and also for provision of anthroposophical care. It indicates to me that our instincts are on the right lines and that by doing what we are doing, it will lead in ways we can’t yet identify to the unfolding of Emerson College’s future direction.  I hope it will also seem significant to you! If you would like to add your own support, one very tangible way would be to contribute to the funds currently being raised to support the preparatory work towards a planning application. You can do this online via the St. Anthony’s Trust website here. Thank you.



Filed under Co-Housing, Emerson College UK, Old Age, Ageing, Elderly People

67 responses to “Old Age & Anthroposophy – Part 2

  1. Dear Jeremy,

    I have been waiting for this second part to “Old Age and Anthroposophy”, and hoping that your own old age had not made you forget about it. Thankfully, you have proven again your expertise in conveying what is meaningful in this endeavor to help our elderly in maintaining a meaningful life right up to duration.

    Thanks again for writing a fine article. The hope is certainly with what we can do, and you have the moral conscience to extend your aims across the spectrum of anthroposophical initiative.

    In the first part to your essay, I could only offer that the problem of keeping and housing the elderly is only going to increase in time, and why such initiatives as yours is a welcome invitation to what stands to become a world epidemic in the next several years. This is the epidemic of Alzheimer’s Disease, which makes one infirm and senile many years before normally expected.

    So, to start with a project like this, with 20 beds to hold the elderly by the end of 2020 is important. It helps 20 people to live a more dignified life until duration.



  2. Howard

    Hi Jeremy and All,

    Money is the problem here. Not lack of it, but management thereof.

    (Preface: I am not knocking any of the facilities mentioned – I know first hand the difficulties of building an anthro-oriented medical clinic, getting it running, and keeping going for years.)

    I’ll venture to speak for many of us: it’s sad and frustrating that many goals of the early Anthro.Society remain unfulfilled, or minimally implemented. For instance, contrast Dr. Steiner’s (conceivable) intention to have a 200-bed hospital behind the Goetheanum with the need for 20 new beds Steve Hale mentions. Ideally, we’d be discussing 20 new *clinics* the world over, with hundreds of beds and proper staffing each.

    Look into the Der Kommende Tag corporation (The Coming Day stock corporation) for a glimpse at the manifold plans that were basically nixed by post-WW1 inflation. Many (most) of the ventures we know today, e.g. Weleda, the Ita Wegman clinic, and Waldorf were directly or indirectly connected to that for-profit venture. What went wrong later? Why aren’t anthro-oriented facilities blossoming all over?

    Sure, we could blame the goofy and bull-headed “members” of the Society and their people politics, aka, wheel spinning in the name of little understood, but I-know-better-than-you esoteric principles. We could point fingers at those who hold the purse strings in the various “Steiner” foundations (who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty ;-P) Generally, they are not only more conservative than banks, they also frequently fail to recognize and support fully-qualified individuals applying for assistance, favoring instead risk aversion, or big-name (i.e. “safe”) borrowers. These ventures, by their nature are high risk … which comes full circle, and may give them good reason to be so conservative.

    It has been my experience than many people who wish to undertake a social initiative are enthusiastic, but proportionally naive, about how difficult such ventures are. Any “normal” business will get off to a bad start if the owners / principles have not done their homework. Good research might well show that the business will fail. Yet all too often the owners are enamoured with the idea – to the point of blinding themselves to the risk. Lots of money goes down the tubes. When the initiative is social / anthro-oriented, the enthusiasm is (and should be) high. But the degree of self-blinding also seems to exponentially increase. For instance, it makes little practical sense for a group of, say, five anthros who meet regularly in a study group to start a Waldorf school in an area (in America) where maybe only 20 or 30 people know what Waldorf is. I have witnessed several new schools flounder then fail under this naive-enthusiastic phenomenon. And – full circle – the funding foundations have experienced this phenomenon frequently enough over decades that they err on the side of (overly) conservative actuarial thinking.

    You see, it’s not the initiative itself – many seeds have blossomed; nor can the failures be blamed on pioneering ideals – many ventures succeed in the wilderness. It’s not even the lack of money, as there is much available. It’s the lack of money management skills or business acumen.

    Those five not-so hypothetical anthros should have asked: “are they enough people in the area to *consistently* support a school?” Not, “wow, Waldorf is so wonderful we need to do this here in our town with a population of 300 with 40 children.”

    Of course, someone has to pioneer. Someone has to take the chance. We have to counter the deadening streams of modernity. IMO, Europe and G.B. do much better at this than we do in America …

    So, my comment is fizzling out here – I’ve thrown my hands up in frustration (and prayer 🙂 many times … ah, what to do?

    – Howard in Florida


    • The Pixton House project is a “what to do” in the making. As such, it will take a great deal of effort, and hands-on application, to achieve its goal of making 20 livable apartments for the elderly that need a comfortable residence.

      Of course, money and help is needed throughout this project, and maybe Emerson College has received little care and consideration from the GAS. Recent events concerning the AGM in Dornach would make one wonder if certain members of the Vorstand are dedicated to anthroposophy, or their financial advisers. This concern touches on another important aspect in which the question of who owns the GAS has been discussed here in the recent past.

      For me, the larger issue is the growing problem of Alzheimer’s disease, which stands to increase the need to house and care for the infirm in the years to come. This makes the small effort at Pixton House all the more admirable, as an epidemic is coming into being.

      Rudolf Steiner spoke often about the time of transition, and how the fall of man into materialism would ultimately have no future. Yet, present-day materialism has even gone below the surface of its reasonable and practical accomplishments, and sunk into the sub-earthly, i.e, technology. Just look at his final leading thoughts for the fatal warning.

      Yet, even much earlier, he spoke of how the intellect, or brain-bound thinking, has no future unless it gravitates to the Consciousness Soul. Just look at these comments:

      “Whereas in the present fifth epoch, intellectuality can remain unimpaired even if no pleasure is taken in moral actions, in the sixth epoch, it will be quite different. In the sixth epoch, that is, from about the third millennium onwards, immorality will have a paralysing effect upon intellectuality. The mental powers of a man who is intellectual and at the same time immoral will definitely deteriorate and this condition will become more and more pronounced in the future evolution of humanity. A man who has no morals will therefore have no intellectual power for this will depend entirely upon moral actions; and in the seventh epoch, cleverness without morality will be non-existent.”
      GA130, 21 September 1911, Milan, Italy

      “In every human soul there are present faculties and powers which have been acquired through long periods of time and have been brought to a certain stage of perfection. One of these faculties is, of course, the intellect, but Spiritual Science knows that it has no future. Other faculties, however, such as the thinking of the heart, will evolve together with the transformation of man’s soul in times to come; new, as yet undreamed of faculties will develop. The intellect has reached a zenith and will be incorporated into the future development of the human soul as a fruit of the present stage of evolution, but intellect as such can reach no higher level.”
      GA119, 31 March 1910, Vienna, Austria


      • Thanks for your comments, Steve. In relation to people with dementia and Alzheimers (which the Pixton project as a co-housing scheme rather than a nursing home will not be designed to accommodate), there is an article here from Southern Cross Review which, whatever your view of Judith von Halle, is worth reading: http://southerncrossreview.org/100/dementia-book-review.htm


      • I think that Judith von Halle is referring to the larger global issue here in her book on Dementia. She accurately estimates the expected loss of memory associated with old-age, and wherein senility becomes a progressive event. It is interesting to note in the annals of important people with supposed keen intellectual skills that both Michael Faraday and Karl Julius Schroer died after becoming quite senile. Yet, how is it possible to understand such outcomes as these when we consider how much these two figures meant for the intellectual development of the 19th century?

        It is because intellectuality is on the way out, and must be replaced with the aims of the Consciousness Soul. Faraday was compelled to sacrifice his own personal creative efforts for the sake of the British Royal Society, who demanded that he prove materialistic explanations for his findings in the domain of electromagnetism. Thus, his original thesis of spiritual forces working in the world was subrated to the demands of those that had given him a laboratory and the means to conduct experiments that met their expectations. So, Faraday was forced to compromise to their dictates, and succumbed.

        In the same sense, Karl Julius Schroer, who was considered a Goethe scholar, chose the young Rudolf Steiner to organize and the edit the several volumes of Goethe’s scientific writings. This is because he himself did not possess the intellectual acumen to do so. And yet, as we hear, according to RS, he was the reincarnated Plato.

        Yet, these two both sunk into senility in old age, which begs the question: How could this happen? I think that in both cases it proves that there are forces looking to take the intelligence of man away and make them weak and dependent. Both Faraday and Schroer made compromises that proved their weakness to uphold their own. Thus, their intelligence was stolen [taken], and used for another purpose. Each died having their freedom taken from them.

        Now, in today’s world it is even worse; flagrant, if you will. Simple dementia, or senility, has become something that cannot yet be explained. I think that Judith von Halle touches upon it in her book, and yet leaves out all of the really salient indicators. The chief external indicator is the human brain, ravaged by something called “Alzheimer’s disease”. As such, it is a brain that has been excavated; sifted of its precious mineral substance, and a made a shell of tangles and plague. What does this mean?

        In one sense, it means that an epidemic of this sort is predicted by 2050, and that it will likely require the younger generation to care very personally for the older generation, who have lost their independence. Losing the Intellectual Soul is a definite loss of freedom. It forms the ground of the Consciousness Soul, but is liable to extinction because [in itself] it has no future; just as materialism has no future.

        Yet, there are certain forces working today that would have materialism go on until the end of time.


  3. Thanks for your very interesting comment, Howard. As you say, anthroposophists do not often seem to have the good business heads on their shoulders to match the good intentions in their hearts. I think that is why Steiner so valued people like Daniel Dunlop, who were successful in business and who could organise and lead large conferences. That is also one reason why so many anthroposophical organisations are in trouble today, although I suspect that a larger reason is that we are not on the whole evolving Steiner’s teachings to meet the changed conditions of the 21st century but tend to stick to the letter, rather than the essence, of his intentions.
    Best wishes,


  4. wooffles

    Do we know that dementia is spreading, as opposed to being more visible simply because a lot more people are living to an age where its effects are unmistakable. I ask because Steve and von Halle, along with other anthroposophists, write as if they take it as a given that it is becoming more common in proportional terms. I’ve always wondered about that, and some desultory googling did not provide an answer.


    • I write from the standpoint that Alzheimer’s Disease has been identified as an epidemic in the making. Now, this is not a half-baked anthroposophical conspiracy, but comes from the relevant authorities who have confronted this crisis. Here is a good article which assesses the prognosis of a disease with no explanation, and how it will become quite problematical by 2050.

      Click to access 2016-facts-and-figures.pdf


      • If we take our start from certain references made in this posting earlier, in which RS talks about the zenith of intellectualism, and how by the third millennium a kind of paralysis of thinking will begin, then these comments from April 1921 will give a further definition of what is happening right now. Ref,

        “Paradoxical as it may sound, it is nevertheless a fact that in regard to his inner structure, in regard to what the human organism can possibly attain, man had reached perfection at about the middle of the nineteenth century. Since then, a kind of decadence has set in. Since that time, the human organism has been involved in retrogression. Therefore, also in the middle of the nineteenth century, the organs that serve as the physical organs of human intellectual activity had reached perfection in their development.”

        “It is a fact of great significance that about the middle of the nineteenth century the human organism reached a culmination in respect of its physical form and that since that time it has been regressing; indeed, in regard to a rational comprehension of the world it is regressing rapidly in a certain sense. This fact is closely connected with the development of materialism in the middle of the nineteenth century. For what is the human organism? The human organism is a faithful copy of man’s soul-spiritual nature. It is not surprising that people who are incapable of insight into the soul and spirit of man see in the structure of the human organism an explanation of the whole human being. This is particularly the case when one takes into special consideration the organization of the head, and in the head in turn the organization of the nerves.”

        “It is not surprising that somebody who relies so much on his body acquires the feeling that this physical body is the only thing working in the human being. Human life had indeed taken such a turn that it worked its way completely into the physical body; people therefore arrived at the belief that the physical body is everything in the human organization. I do not think that any other age but ours, which has attached this high value on the physical body, could have come to such a grotesque invention — forgive the expression — as stenography. Obviously, when people did not rely as yet on stenography, they did not attach so great a value to preserving and accurately recording words and the sequence of words such as is the aim in stenography. After all, only the imprint in the physical body can make so fast and firm a record. It is therefore the predilection for imprinting something in the physical body that has brought about the other preference for preserving this imprinted word, but by no means for retaining anything that stands one level higher. For stenography could play no part if we wished to preserve those forms that express themselves in the etheric body. It takes the materialistic tendency to invent something as grotesque as shorthand.”



      • I note that Steve does not actually answer the point made by Wooffles. Viz, “Do we know that dementia is spreading, as opposed to being more visible simply because a lot more people are living to an age where its effects are unmistakable.”
        As regards Alzheimer’s specifically, an accurate diagnosis is only available by postmortem autopsy. Though MRI scanning can give a good indication. So we cannot really know anything about the incidence of Alzheimers before MRI scanning became easily accessible.
        There are many ‘modern’ diseases which actually are not accurately diagnosed without sophisticated scanning or biopsies. Crohn’s is a case in point. A patient may exhibit all the symptoms of Crohn’s but the gastroenterologist will not know for certain until several different kinds of scan have been made and also biopsies taken from inflamed areas of the bowel. This makes it difficult to determine the prevalence of Crohn’s disease before about the midpoint of the last century, and therefore difficult to know if it is increasing or just better diagnosed.


      • THS wrote:

        “I note that Steve does not actually answer the point made by Wooffles. Viz, “Do we know that dementia is spreading, as opposed to being more visible simply because a lot more people are living to an age where its effects are unmistakable.”

        I did answer it, Tom. The question was this: What makes an epidemic an epidemic, as opposed to natural causes due to old-age?



  5. Hmmm…Steiner not at his best here, I think, with his strange attitude to stenography. I wonder how these comments went down with his professional stenographer, Helene Finckh, who faithfully recorded so many of his lectures?


    • Jeremy, do you really think that Steiner is denigrating the efforts of his own stenographer in transcribing his spoken word into written German? No, what he is conveying is how it has become easily possible to write down the spoken word in a kind of shorthand format that merely takes in the accumulation of words. In doing so, a kind of dismembering of the original content takes place.

      Thus, what is meant, and intended as a shape-forming kind of thinking, which is imparted to the listening audience, along with many useful diagrams drawn on the blackboard, is seen as the written stenography, which strips the fully dimensional characteristic of its real content in favor of the simple word.

      And this is why a kind of shapeless form of thinking exists today. The stenographer writes down the letter of the law, so to speak, but misses the spirit of the law, which is a shape-forming kind of thinking that Steiner employed in his lectures, while duly noting that Helen Finck was sitting there and taking down his words. He wanted the shape-forming, or formative thinking, to remain and become the cultural incentive over the mere word. He wanted this, somehow, to remain as the focal point. This aspect has been difficult, but still possible to achieve, as demonstrated on this blog.

      In today’s world, it is easy to see what abstract thinking makes of mere words, and their accumulation into a shapeless mass of what was once healthy and thriving; a mix of tangles and plague where once stood a brain as the true ground of thinking.


    • In Yorkshire we would say about Steiner, ‘There’s nowt so queer as folk’.
      Every now and then his little personal rants appear, and this is one of them. After all shorthand is just another written form of language. What he says about shorthand is applicable to every written form of language.
      Its comparable to his dislike of French, and contempt for drinking chocolate ( ‘Bourgeois!’).
      It’s his personality creeping in.


      • Yeah, sure, but what about the nearly 400 volumes of spiritual science that have crept into the society clique which would rather have their Yorkshire puddling than even a shorthand account with acknowledged errors?

        Does that sound familiar, Tom? At least for you there is always the local Christian Community church. I would hope that you, at least, say your blessings. This is the important thing.


      • Robert Herold

        „Rudolf Steiner s personality creeping in“.
        No doubt, it is possible that Rudolf Steiner s personality creeped in on some occasions, he also quoted false reports from newspapers and I guess he erred on some things. Rudolf Steiner encouraged us to find out ourselves, to verify his statements if possible and I think today we are in a much better position to do so than 100 years ago: -Rudolf Steiner s authority among his followers was so undisputed that nobody dared to put any of his words into question and -today our ability to see, perceive, feel supernatural phenomena is much more advanced than 100 years ago due to a lighter or more open bodily composition (at least we can hope so for those who are not too much degenerated by electronic devices and lightless food).

        We all know chocolate, I personally love chocolate and eat it nearly on a daily basis. And we can try to perceive: what does chocolate do to us, how do we react in our mood, in what way does it make us happy? And yes, I must say that chocolate has an effect on me (and others who confirmed this) like: now I m happy, now I can lean back in my armchair, everything is fine now, no more fights or trouble. Chocolate certainly isnt a pill for soldiers before a fierce battle. You might express this effect of chocolate in different words, but the general direction is clear. So I d say, yes, Schokolade macht bürgerlich, chocolate makes you happy and consoles you with the present situation.
        Now test coffee, the beverage for journalists etc.

        What I want to say is: Let s try and find out ourselves within our limitations whether Rudolf Steiner s statements are right or not.
        This whole issue is not the main topic here, I know. Sorry. Just a little comment from a chocolate eater.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. wooffles

    Thanks for sending the link to that article. It says that the reason that Alzheimer’s is increasing today is that there are more people living to the age where they at are risk from it (p. 17).

    In other words, it isn’t the spiritual or unspiritual conditions of modern life or “the zenith of intellectualism,” as Steimer puts it in that excerpt you pass along, that make people susceptible to Alzheimer’s. It is the process of aging itself. There are a lot more people with Alzheimer’s today simply because there are a lot more old people.

    The article also says that the “age-specific risk” of getting dementia might have slightly declined in the last 25 years (p. 22).


    • Yes, indeed, old age is the key factor in dementia, and the prolific presence of the post WWII “baby boomers”, now reaching their 70’s, is an important statistic in evaluating the crisis. But do these factors make for an epidemic? In certain respects we are looking at ‘natural causes’ vs. a perceived and prognosticated epidemic by 2050. This is repeated over and over by alzheimer’s investigators.

      Thus, what we are looking at from an anthroposophical standpoint is the quite overt evidence of the demise of brain-bound thinking; thinking with the head, and the necessity for thinking with the heart to take over. This is what marks the Consciousness Soul age. Brains can be saved and kept healthy when flexible, fluid, and mobile concepts are encouraged in the process of attaining new knowledge. This has been proven by Alzheimer’s research already.


  7. To the three basic human capacities of walking, speaking and thinking Steiner added memory (GA0152/19140307). These capacities are all involved in dementia. Intergenerational programs bringing together older adults with dementia and preschool children in one-on-one interactions are proven to be beneficial to both groups.

    In a general sense, Steiner described dementia: “A human being can become what is called “demented” when the physical body is too ponderous, too unwieldy, so that the astral body is unable to master it.” (GA0055/19070131)

    He referred to dementia in the writers Kant (CW181), C.F. Meyer (CW 236) and Nietzsche (at that time considered syphilitic):
    “So that Kant, when he was an old man and “feeble-minded” was not weak minded as regards the spiritual world; there he had become glorious.” (GA0181/19180402)

    “Morbid conditions appear in Conrad Ferdinand Meyer, bordering very nearly on dementia. But these morbid conditions only express in a rather more extreme form what was always present in him in a nascent state. His soul-and-spirit tends to go out — holds to the physical and etheric only by a very loose thread. And in this condition — the soul-and-spirit holding to the physical and etheric by a very loose thread only — the most beautiful of his works originate; I mean the most beautiful of his longer works and of his shorter poems too. Conrad Ferdinand Meyer’s most beautiful poems may even be said to have originated half out of the body.” (GA0236/19240412)


    • Of course, this all lends itself to the previous descriptions of the demise of Michael Faraday and Karl Julius Schroer to dementia. Yet, the issue concerns why is this happening? By adding Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Meyer to the account only helps make it more evident that the approach to death in a physical body means losing one’s mind to the elements.

      And this is the state of affairs, unless we take upon ourselves spiritual-scientific training as indicated. As such, we can adduce why such mighty figures as Faraday, Kant, Schroer, Nietzsche, and Conrad Ferdinand Meyer died bereft of their true potential, as Rudolf Steiner indicates in the several places where these important references exist.

      Yet, Rudolf Steiner did give the fundamental reference point to where it could be supplanted as to why these great figures and so many others would succumb to senility. It concerns the parameters of earth evolution itself, and wherein mankind gets to be the biggest sacrifice of all; far beyond the Christ, and most certainly Michael, who made it his own in 1879.


    • Protein tangles and plaques in Alzheimer’s, the most common type of dementia, suggest a weakening or disorganisation of the ego-organisation, the form of the physical body (the Phantom as Steiner called it). A resulting diminished self-consciousness, memory and intellectualism could offer opportunities for imaginative development:

      “For the healthy digestion of the protein constituent of food, man must possess a sufficiently strong ego-organization to enable all the protein, which the human organism needs, to pass into the domain of the human etheric body. If this is not the case, the result is an excessive activity of this etheric body.” Etc. (GA027_c09)

      “… the Phantom, belongs to the physical body as a form-body which permeates, and at the same time holds together, the material parts that are woven into our physical body. If no Luciferic influence had intervened, then, at the beginning of his Earth-existence, man would have received this Phantom in full strength together with his physical body. But into the human organisation, in so far as it consists of physical body, etheric body, and astral body, the Luciferic influence penetrated, and the consequence was the disorganisation of the Phantom of the physical body. As we shall see, this is symbolically expressed in the Bible as the Fall, together with the fact, related in the Old Testament, that death followed the Fall. Death was indeed the result of the disorganisation of the Phantom of the physical body.” (GA0131/19111011)


      • wooffles

        Do you know of any people where dementia seemed or seems to be leading to “imaginative development”? That isn’t my experience of those I know with it, or their experience, to the extent that they can communicate it.

        I wondered with those very brief examples of Steiner’s use of the term that you found, if he was using it in the same exclusively restricted way we do now, which I’ve read was only taking shape among German psychologists during the last decades of his life.


      • I was thinking of opportunities for art therapy in dementia, with a still developing sentient and intellectual soul (ether forces). Dementia with Lewy bodies includes imaginations in the form of visual hallucinations.


      • wooffles

        Do you know if any anthroposophists have tried to work out the relationship of various forms of dementia systematically to Steiner’s model of the human being? In practical terms, I’m thinking of how this might intereact with the various forms of therapy that have been developed to alleviate some of the burdens of dementia, much as you touch upon.


  8. Robert Herold

    Alzheimer disease may spread less than previously thought, according so some latest studies. The latest version of The Rotterdam Study from Dec 2017 and other studies in Finland, Germany and Switzerland support this trend. The loss of memory comes at a later age today than 30 years ago. Brains of older people are much “younger” today than some decades ago, as Enikö Kövari from the university of Geneva found out, see also Carol A. Derby in „JAMA Neurology“, her „Einstein Aging Study“


    • Of course, this would be a very good prognosis if we could believe it amidst the clear evidence of an epidemic in the making. Please remember, Rudolf Steiner is the one drawing the lines of demarcation in which our present intellectual faculty has no future. Thus, having no future, it can be seen in increasing numbers that a merely materialistic apprehension of life is doomed to extinction.

      Now, I could take the “Pollyanna” viewpoint, and say: This is why spiritual science exists today! And it would be correct. And yet, people would still say that *that* is too easy and convenient of an explanation. They would argue with any point of evidence that a new knowledge exists to take in as a conceptual variation of what we already know. Yet, this is the matter at hand.

      Rudolf Steiner makes a point here, in that last lecture from GA187, in which a kind of bridge can be built to what represents the underlying cause of why a spectral world has formed for sense perception and logical thinking. He says:

      “We must gain a clear idea concerning this intellectuality [of today]. You know that I have spoken about it from the most varied points of view. Even in the public lectures I have not hesitated to say what was necessary about the intellectual element in our present age. I have shown, for instance, how the present scientific world conception makes particular use of it. This world conception has fastened its hold on people in all walks of life; everyone thinks in conformity with it even when he knows nothing at all about science. When someone experiments, even when someone simply observes, he works out the experiments and the results of the experiments, even his observations, with his intellect. Intellectuality is actively weaving and holding complete sway in the scientific world outlook to which at present mankind is so wedded. From such a standpoint, for instance, people even want to study social problems. But how does intellectuality really work into things? In my public lectures I have often raised the question: what sort of world picture is actually obtained from this scientific world conception? One finally realizes that a conception of the world acquired by the ordinary scientific way of thinking is not reality at all, but a specter, or a number of specters. This is true even of our atoms and of all ideas of the atomic world. Even those who take a more positivist stand and do not entirely subscribe to the atomic theory, persons like Poincare, Avenarius or Mach, conceive of nature in such a way that they never arrive at reality, where nature is actually at work: they only reach a specter of nature. This relates to what I said here a few days ago, that actually the world of concepts in which we are living today in this age of the consciousness soul does not contain realities but merely pictures, reflected images. And we already accomplish very much when we abandon the superstition that when we read a scientific book or hear a scientific talk, we are learning the truth. If we are really aware of what is being imparted, we know that it is only an image, a kind of specter of reality.”

      In German translation for those that read this blog, I recently found a very excellent translator program that might prove useful. Yet, in any language, these are the parameters we are dealing with, i.e., spectre vs. reality.

      “Wir müssen eine klare Vorstellung von dieser Intellektualität[von heute] gewinnen. Sie wissen, dass ich darüber aus den verschiedensten Blickwinkeln gesprochen habe. Auch in den öffentlichen Vorträgen habe ich nicht gezögert zu sagen, was über das intellektuelle Element in unserer heutigen Zeit notwendig war. Ich habe zum Beispiel gezeigt, wie die gegenwärtige wissenschaftliche Weltkonzeption sie besonders nutzt. Dieses Weltbild hat die Menschen in allen Lebensbereichen erfasst; jeder denkt in Übereinstimmung mit ihm, auch wenn er überhaupt nichts über Wissenschaft weiß. Wenn jemand experimentiert, selbst wenn jemand einfach nur beobachtet, arbeitet er die Experimente und die Ergebnisse der Experimente, sogar seine Beobachtungen, mit seinem Verstand aus. Intellektualität ist das aktive Weben und Halten des kompletten Einflusses in der wissenschaftlichen Weltanschauung, zu der derzeit die Menschheit so verheiratet ist. Von einem solchen Standpunkt aus wollen die Menschen zum Beispiel sogar soziale Probleme untersuchen. Aber wie funktioniert Intellektualität wirklich in den Dingen? In meinen öffentlichen Vorträgen habe ich oft die Frage aufgeworfen: Was für ein Weltbild ergibt sich eigentlich aus dieser wissenschaftlichen Weltkonzeption? Man erkennt schließlich, dass ein Weltbild, das sich die gewöhnliche wissenschaftliche Denkweise angeeignet hat, überhaupt keine Realität ist, sondern ein Gespenst oder eine Reihe von Gespenstern. Das gilt auch für unsere Atome und alle Ideen der atomaren Welt. Selbst diejenigen, die eine positivistischere Haltung einnehmen und sich der Atomtheorie nicht ganz anschließen, Menschen wie Poincare, Avenarius oder Mach, begreifen die Natur so, dass sie nie zur Realität gelangen, wo die Natur tatsächlich am Werk ist: Sie erreichen nur ein Gespenst der Natur. Das bezieht sich auf das, was ich hier vor einigen Tagen gesagt habe, dass die Welt der Konzepte, in der wir heute in diesem Zeitalter der Bewusstseinsseele leben, keine Realitäten, sondern nur Bilder, reflektierte Bilder enthält. Und wir erreichen schon sehr viel, wenn wir den Aberglauben aufgeben, dass wir, wenn wir ein wissenschaftliches Buch lesen oder einen wissenschaftlichen Vortrag hören, die Wahrheit lernen. Wenn wir wirklich wissen, was vermittelt wird, wissen wir, dass es nur ein Bild ist, eine Art Gespenst der Realität.”


  9. When dementia has reduced a human being to the point where a definite loss of the quality of living freely and independently is seen, then art therapy or simple curative eurythmy is a hopeless gesture; well-meaning, of course, but hopeless in terms of renewal.

    Steiner states the matter here in terms of two forms of thinking; the first is the typical shapless and abstract thinking that leads to death of brain cells and the inevitable consequences. The second form of thinking is an active creative shapemaking form of thinking, in which the concepts of spiritual science constitute the therapy that saves the Intellectual Soul for the Consciousness Soul:

    “Spiritual science should not be regarded as mere theory. If you are going to consider it mere theory, you would be better off reading a cookbook; for it is not just the content of spiritual science that is essential. The gist of the matter is how one has to think in order to do justice to spiritual science. It is a different kind of thinking from the thinking employed in the natural-scientific world of today. You see, there are definitely two ways to form thoughts. One is the dismembering, differentiating way that today plays so great a role in science, where differences are looked for, where careful distinctions are made. This is the prevailing scientific method. In science all that is said or written or done is under the influence of thinking that is dismembering, thinking that is differentiating. Exact definitions are demanded. Today when you so much as make a statement, you are nailed down to sharp definitions. But sharp, rigid definitions are simply distinguishing the things defined from the things not defined. This manner of thinking is a mask used with particular pleasure by the Spirits who are joined in this battle and who would like to tear us apart. [..] This first way of thinking is the thinking that is accessible to the various forces, various powers that are tearing man asunder. It must be clearly distinguished from the second way of thinking, which alone is employed in spiritual science.

    The second way of thinking is a totally different kind of mental process, a completely other way of thinking. In contrast to the dismembering kind, it is a shape-forming manner of thinking. If you look more closely, if you follow what I have tried to indicate in my various books on spiritual science, you will realize that the difference does not lie so much in the content that is imparted — this can be judged from various other viewpoints; but the way of seeing the whole world and of coordinating that knowledge, the entire mode of thought representation, is a different one. This is shape-producing; it gives separate pictures, rounded totalities; it gives contours, and through contours, color. Throughout the entire presentation in the printed books you will be able to see that it has none of the dismembering character that you find in all modern science. This difference of the “how” (the mode of thinking) must be brought out just as emphatically as the difference of the “what” (the content of subject matter). Thus there exists a formative (gestaltende) way of thinking that has been developed with the especial purpose of leading to the supersensible worlds. If you take the book, Knowledge of the Higher Worlds, where such a path is marked out, you will find that every thought, every idea in it is based on this formative thinking.


    • I find this long quote from Steiner very interesting. He gives a very apt characterisation of scientific thinking. What interests me is that having tried to say what is different about the thinking involved in Spiritual Science, he still wants to use the word ‘Science’ in characterising that too. I am interested in why he chose to do this. I believe that he called his method of investigation Spiritual SCIENCE because he wanted to establish the objective nature of his inner visions. I.e. Objective in that they are not just idiosyncratic imaginations, that they are an objectively true picture of the realities he was trying to describe.
      However I am not sure that he made the right decision. My own experience of life has led me to the observation that a human being must have a feeling/moral relationship to any revelation of the spiritual realm. Steiner himself intimates this by his statement, “Spiritual science should not be regarded as mere theory. If you are going to consider it mere theory, you would be better off reading a cookbook; for it is not just the content of spiritual science that is essential.”
      It is not just the content, it is our own conscious, loving relationship to it.
      Steiner often says in different ways that when dealing with the Spiritual Realm, we are dealing with a living being/relationship. What is learnt cannot be laid down as a set of dogmas, or immutable theories. It is something that needs to constantly be rediscovered, in the same way one constantly rediscovers/renews ones living relationships to those people and things we love.

      I have worked briefly in two secure units for people with Dementia/Alzheimers. It is a sobering experience, but not without hope and love. What I carried away from those units was the memory of the small kindnesses, the loving caring of many of the workers. (who are amongst the lowest paid of our workforce)


  10. Indeed, art and religion can have a curative as well as a preventive aspect:
    “Through the work of art he divines something higher and more noble than is offered by the ordinary environment of his senses, and in this process he is forming and transforming his life-body. Religion is a powerful means for the purification and ennobling of the etheric body.”

    As to Steiner’s use of the term: he described dementia senilis (Kant, CW 181) and also a condition he assumed to be dementia paralytica or neurosyphilis (Nietzsche was diagnosed as an “atypical case of paralysis”, CW 322)

    “Dementia in the elderly was called senile dementia or senility, and viewed as a normal and somewhat inevitable aspect of growing old, rather than as being caused by any specific diseases. At the same time, in 1907, a specific organic dementing process of early onset, called Alzheimer’s disease, had been described. This was associated with particular microscopic changes in the brain, but was seen as a rare disease of middle age because the first patient diagnosed with it was a 50-year-old woman.
    During the 19th century, doctors generally came to believe that dementia in the elderly was the result of cerebral atherosclerosis, although opinions fluctuated between the idea that it was due to blockage of the major arteries supplying the brain or small strokes within the vessels of the cerebral cortex.” Wiki/dementia


  11. Jeremy, I would be very interested if one of your contributors would provide an example of ‘Thinking with the heart’, in contrast to ‘thinking with the head’.


    • Sure, I can do that for you Tom, since I am the particular figure you have in mind. My quest has always been from the heart, but only appears so from the head, which looks like abstract words to you. So, what makes your particular contribution seem so important? My own concerns serving time as a rehabilitation counselor in which I helped in the counseling and rehab of patients over a six year period of time.

      Are you really as desperate as others to think that alzheimer’s is a disease that is being overcome by the mere recognition of its fact? If so, then I am happy for you, Tom. I know you have a CC church to worship in, even with suspicions as to their motives; but no matter. I am here for you, as with all the others.


  12. wooffles

    Good heavens, Steve, do you really think that anyone here or elsewhere believes that “alzheimer’s is a disease that is being overcome by the mere recognition of its fact”?

    I hadn’t really realized before this thread that Alzheimer’s isn’t an epidemic in the usual sense of that word– something that is spreading through a population at an unusually rapid speed.

    Which means that it is important not to write or draw conclusions as if it is, which you still appear to do and von Halle certainly does. That route doesn’t lead to understanding. But to make that observation isn’t to minimize dementia.

    The unprecedented “epidemic,” such as it is, is the rapidly graying population.


    • Please let me remind you that it is not I that is calling Alzheimer’s Disease an epidemic in the making, but the various research associations that are actively investigating this disease, and as such, declaring it to be so by the midpoint of this century.

      My interest concerns why is it happening, and that is why I have been providing possible clues about the nature and content of thinking itself. Consider it a moral responsibility on my part to do so. Information and active discussion can only help the cause here, and I have only hinted at what appears to be its underlying causal factor, which takes into consideration another domain.


  13. Robert Herold

    I d like to add (blame my poor memory or laziness to read it all again if it has been said before) some aspects:

    -What does it mean, not only for the individual, but for mankind and the earth as a whole, that never before so many have reached an age of 60, 70, 80 or more? I see one of many answers in the hint of Rudolf Steiner, that people at a higher age bring something into the world that is a kind of antidote to ahrimanic influences. I think this is due to the loosening of the finer bodies.

    -At a certain age, say after 60, a new kind of memory grows in man, the intellectual memory loses its hegenomy, becomes less important (I dont mean a complete loss of the “normal” memory) and a sort of „moral memory“ develops. Mere facts become less important, the „moral side“ of things becomes more important and this is what is remembered now.

    I think both aspects can fairly easily be observed with many people of a higher age.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is absolutely essential for those of us within the older generation to bring something of this moral memory, which really can, and does lead us back to our own birth, to bring forth what is called, “spirit recollection”. Personally, I remember an event when I was 10 years old, and a kind of tableau of my life was presented to me as the result of a near-death experience. I would call it a very moral experience, and yet, not specific as to the details, which have only come forth over the years, and especially since retirement, which has allowed a kind of memory-review to take place over these past several years.

      So, I strongly believe that the elderly hold sway over this so-called, “younger generation”, and yet can’t quite put my finger on it as to “how”.

      I do know that RS gives another insightful passage from that 2nd lecture of GA204 here, where he talks about memory:

      “What makes memories possible. I have often explained to you that the first result of an ascent to Imaginative thinking is to have before your soul, as a mighty life-tableau, all your experiences since birth. The stream of experience normally flows along in the unconscious, and the single representations, which emerge in memory, rise up from this unconscious or subconscious stream through a half-dreamy activity. Those who have developed Imaginative perception are offered the opportunity to survey the stream of experiences as in one picture. You could say that the time that has elapsed since birth then takes on the appearance of space. What is normally within the subconscious is then beheld in the form of interconnected pictures. When the experiences that otherwise escape into the subconscious are thus raised to direct vision, we are able to observe this continuation of present, immediate perceptual and thought experiences all the way into conceptions that can be remembered. It is possible to trace what happens in us to any sort of experience we have in our mind, from the point in time when we first lose sight of it until the moment we recall it again. After all, between experiencing something and remembering it again something is taking place continuously in the human organism, something that becomes visible to imaginative perception. It is possible to view it in Imaginations, but it is now revealed in a quite special way.”
      “Was Erinnerungen möglich macht. Ich habe euch oft erklärt, dass das erste Ergebnis eines Aufstiegs zum phantasievollen Denken darin besteht, vor eurer Seele, als ein mächtiges Lebenstableau, all eure Erfahrungen seit eurer Geburt zu haben. Der Strom der Erfahrung fließt normalerweise im Unbewussten mit, und die einzelnen Darstellungen, die im Gedächtnis entstehen, erheben sich aus diesem unbewussten oder unterbewussten Strom durch eine halb verträumte Aktivität. Denjenigen, die eine phantasievolle Wahrnehmung entwickelt haben, wird die Möglichkeit geboten, den Strom der Erfahrungen wie in einem Bild zu überblicken. Man könnte sagen, dass die Zeit, die seit der Geburt verstrichen ist, dann das Aussehen von Raum annimmt. Was sich normalerweise im Unterbewusstsein befindet, wird dann in Form von zusammenhängenden Bildern betrachtet. Wenn die Erfahrungen, die sonst ins Unterbewusstsein entweichen, so zur direkten Vision erhoben werden, können wir diese Fortsetzung gegenwärtiger, unmittelbarer Wahrnehmungs- und Gedankenerfahrungen bis hin zu erinnerbaren Vorstellungen beobachten. Man kann das, was in uns geschieht, auf jede Art von Erfahrung zurückführen, die wir im Kopf haben, von dem Zeitpunkt an, an dem wir sie zum ersten Mal aus den Augen verlieren, bis zu dem Moment, an dem wir sie wieder in Erinnerung haben. Denn zwischen Erleben und Wiedererinnern findet im menschlichen Organismus ständig etwas statt, das für die imaginäre Wahrnehmung sichtbar wird. Es ist möglich, es in Imaginationen zu sehen, aber es wird jetzt auf eine ganz besondere Weise enthüllt.”


  14. It seems important to consider that in the case of Alzheimer’s Disease, the issue is one involving a hardening of the brain, and the actual loss of essential substances in the various configurations of the brain. This is what confounds researchers in this field. They are even looking for a kind of “alzheimer’s gene”, which might help in identifying those susceptible to the disease.

    Yet, it can be shown that the larger issue involves the cultivation of a new kind of thinking; one that is shape-making and leads to imaginative pictures that reside within the soul, as opposed to the dry, arid, abstract and prosaically vacant thought-forms that constitute the present. Rudolf Steiner gives some pertinent words here, in a lecture worth studying closely:

    “The fact is that in its plastic configuration the human brain is indeed an extraordinarily faithful replica of what we know as the life of thought. In the plastic configuration of the human brain, the life of thought really does express itself, we might almost say, in an adequate manner. In order to follow this thought to its conclusion, however, something else is needed. What ordinary psychology and also Herbart’s psychology designate as chains of thoughts, as thought associations in the form of judgments, logical conclusions and so on, should not remain a mere idea. At least in our imagination — even if we cannot rise to clairvoyant Imaginations — we should allow it to culminate in a picture; the tapestry of logic, the tapestry presented to us by psychology of the life of thought, the teaching of the soul life, should be allowed to culminate in a picture. If we are in fact able to transform logic and psychology in a picture-like, plastic way into an image, then the human configuration of the brain will emerge. Then we shall have traced a picture, the realization of which is the human brain.

    On what is this based? It is based on the fact that the human brain, indeed the whole system of nerves and senses, is a replica of an Imaginative element. We completely grasp the wonderful structure of the human brain only when we learn to investigate Imaginatively. Then, the human brain appears as a realized human Imagination. Imaginative perception teaches us to become familiar with the external brain, the brain we come to know through psychology and anatomy, as a realized Imagination. This is significant.

    Another fact is no less important. Let us bear in mind that the human brain is an actual human Imagination. We are indeed born with a brain, if not a fully developed one, at least with a brain containing the tendencies of growth. It tries to develop to the point of being a realized Imaginative world, to be the impression of an Imaginative world. This is, as it were, the ready-made aspect of our brain, namely, that it is the replica of an Imaginative world. Into this impression of the Imaginative world we then build the conceptual experiences attained during the time between birth and death. During this period we have conceptual experiences; we conceive, we transform the sense perceptions into thoughts; we judge, we conclude, and so on. We fit this into our brain.”



    • wooffles

      Steve, I know a first class member who for decades has seriously cultivated a “new kind of thinking” etc. They have come down with Alzheimer’s no differently than anyone else. Dementia was around long before “the thought forms of the present.” As various people here have noted, individuals are no more susceptible to it than they were in the past, and there is some evidence that they might be slightly less susceptible.

      That info is in the article that uses the word you stress so much, “epidemic.” It is obvious from its context that they are using it in a very loose sense—by the year 2050, there will be a lot of old people needing care for a lot of reasons, including dementia, in proportion to the numbers of young people needed to look after them. That isn’t an epidemic in the way that flu or sars can be an epidemic. I can’t find any sign in what you have written that you have given any thought to the distinction, and it would help immensely if you did.


      • As I said, the indications of an epidemic comes from those who are actively investigating this phenomenon. My concern involves how much the kind of thinking that Rudolf Steiner describes seems to be associated with the evidence of lack of susceptibility, as you suggest. This is certainly the case in controlled studies wherein the kind of thinking that is plastic, mobile, and fluid has proven that the elderly can & do live in complete independent freedom as long as creative thinking exists.

        Now, contrast this with the evidence of susceptibility to early-onset of alzheimer’s symptoms, and we get the reverse condition. In other words, due to the prevailing materialism which demands so much of a human being in today’s setting, and wherein Steiner even warned of the consequences in his final “Leading Thoughts”, we have the situation of ‘going under’, which refers to the sub-earthly powers: Lucifer, Ahriman, and Asuras.

        That is why it is important to assess the history of materialism, which has three gradations; theoretical, practical, and technological. The first two follow the normal path of evolution as a necessary condition of life, and without the third, would have resolved materialism in a normal and healthy way. It is the technological aspect of materialism that drives humanity below the threshold, and this is how simple old-age senility, which is actually a memory quest, has become the ravages to the brain itself. This is what we have today.

        Wooffles, I thank you for staying up with me on this. If it weren’t for you, and Jeremy, and Tom, and Ottmar, this could easily become another dead subject, going nowhere.



      • wooffles


        I still don’t think we are on the same page about epidemics, but I’ll let that be.

        I am puzzled, though, about your close identification of “the kind of thinking that Rudolf Steiner describes” with the kind of thinking activity that researchers are recommending to postpone memory loss and, perhaps, dementia.

        Grappling with the contents of Steiner books is certainly a vigorous mental activity, and, as such, it would be the kind of activity they recommend. Whether it is any better specifically for warding off dementia than doing crossword puzzles or learning a language, to mention the kinds of activities that they do recommend, remains to be shown. I mentioned that long-term first class member who was hit with Alzheimer’s.


      • Well, the issue of what constitutes an epidemic is contained in this recent book, “The Pursuit of Memory”, and I would hope for you to read what this book offers by a brain scientist on the subject. It really matters nothing whether we disagree on what constitutes an epidemic, but I tend to defer to the experts herein.

        Now, with regard to the Steiner method of “intensified thinking”, which is the recognized corollary to the meditative praxis contained in the book, Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment, we have something which refers exactly to the conceptual shape-making powers contained in the relevant literature on the subjects of spiritual science. This would be the focus of a specific section of Alzheimer’s research, and as indicated, earlier studies have shown that people live well into old-age and maintain firm memories and powers of concentration because they live freely and creatively.

        I guess the notion of an ahrimanically-controlled materialistic thinking pattern is involved in what anthroposophists see as the rising epidemic of a doomed society, and this could appear rather ‘kooky’ to the experts if they heard of it, but some source exists to deprive human beings of their potential to live freely and independently right up to the time of earthly death.

        I was looking back at Part I of “Old Age and Anthroposophy”, and these were my two comments to Jeremy’s article:



        I also noticed that you, Wooffles, were familiar with the Fellowship Community at Chestnut Ridge, New York, and also knew a first-class student who succumbed to Alzheimer’s Disease. Of course, none of this undermines in any way what it means to care for the elderly and disabled, nor does it detract from what the gaining of anthroposophical concepts means for living happily and harmoniously well into the extreme years of life.

        Personally, my goal is to live 12 cycles of 7 years duration. That is 84 years old. Currently, I am approaching 68 years, ref. August 15 ,1950. Mentally, I am as sharp as a tack and this is only increasing. I often think of Rudolf Steiner as the model of Arthur, who drew the sword from the stone, which in Steiner’s case was the warning against living within the limits of the Kantian epistemology which was the theme of his introduction to PoF, written early in his idyllic Weimar period, c. 1890-1897.


  15. Midnight Rambler

    Drawing on the various very informative posts, a key question seems to be “Does the quality and nature of our thinking play a role in the development and curing of Alzheimers disease”. Various arguments have been put forward and here are some further ideas.
    The first “official” diagnosis of the disease took place in around 1901 just after Kali Yuga ended. Auguste Deter, was brought by her husband to the Institution for the Mentally Ill and Epileptics in Frankfurt, Germany where Dr. Aloysius Alzheimer, a German psychiatrist and neuropathologist treated her. What was very unusual about the case was that she was in her 50s and the brain symptoms she displayed (plaques and tangles in the brain) following her death in 1906 and the changes in memory and mental confusion she displayed in life were normally seen in much older people in their 70s and 80s.
    The response she would continually give when asked questions she could no longer answer was:
    “I have lost myself, so to say.” This seems to be a mood of soul which many sufferers today would echo, and it is a riddle that over a century into the new Michael Age, we have reached the stage where nearly 6 million people in the US alone are living with the disease and in varying degrees have “lost themselves, so to say”. Why particular individuals get it is still not known with any certainty although clues are emerging.
    A revealing initiative which throws some light on this question is the longitudinal “Nuns Study” which followed 678 Sisters of the School Sisters of Notre Dame living in Mankato, Minnesota. The goal of the study was to identify the risk factors for Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases. It examined and logged the mental and physical development of the nuns (many from as early as the age of 20 when they joined the order) and also looked for signs of degeneration in their brains after they died.
    Some of the results of the study appear to confirm the commonsense notion that healthy lifestyle and active and stimulating intellectual life can help us stay healthy and independent later in life. But the most surprising finding to me was that certain traits noticed in the early 20s of the nuns could help predict whether they would have Alzheimer’s disease 60 years later
    Sister Mary was the “ gold standard” for this study. She was a remarkable woman who had high cognitive test scores before her death at 101 years of age. What is more remarkable is that she maintained this high status despite having abundant neurofibrillary tangles and senile plaques, the classic lesions of Alzheimer’s disease. What was her secret ? Here is an extract from Sister Mary’s memorial service:
    “I remember her telling me that one day she had wondered out loud to her doctor if perhaps he was giving her medicine to keep her alive, and after all, her desire was to be with Jesus. Her doctor replied, “Sister, it’s not my medicine that’s keeping you alive. It’s your attitude!” And it was that wonderful attitude that we all loved………… We all know how much Sister Mary longed for heaven, but we all saw how alert and involved she was in what was going on around her. She was there in the present moment with all her heart and soul.
    Another significant finding of the study was that when the researchers studied the autobiographical essays written by the sisters when they entered into the order (many in their 20s), it was discovered that the participants who showed signs of Alzheimer’s later in life had consistently authored essays that were lacking in language complexity, measured by the discrete ideas per 10 written words, and the grammatical complexity that had been used. The correlation was striking! The more sophisticated the language skills among these nuns in their 20s, the less likely they were to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease several decades later.
    One of the hypotheses as to why someone like Sister Mary can have a brain which displays the plaques and tangles found in people affected by the disease, but not display the symptoms, is that being emotionally present and interested in life and learning new things develops new neural pathways and networks in the brain which can compensate for loss of the old ones where the synapses become blocked and diseased.
    So key lessons from this sketchy analysis are perhaps that being present in life with all one’s heart and soul and being able to communicate one’s thoughts and ideas clearly and articulately may help stave off or avoid Alzheimer’s. Perhaps these characteristics are essential for expressing the self actively in the world.
    Now turning to Rudolf Steiner’s indications about thinking, these add an additional level of insight.
    At the beginning of Leading Thought 79,there is an introductory section called “AT THE DAWN OF THE MICHAEL AGE”
    “One who understands how to observe such things knows what a great change took place in the last third of the nineteenth century with respect to the life of human thought. Before that time man could only feel how thoughts formed themselves in his own being; from the time indicated he is able to raise himself above his own being; he can turn his mind to the Spiritual; he there meets Michael, who proves his ancient kinship with everything connected with thought. He liberates thought from the sphere of the head; he clears the way for it to the heart; he enkindles enthusiasm in the feelings, so that the human mind can be filled with devotion for all that can be experienced in the light of thought.
    The Age of Michael has dawned. Hearts are beginning to have thoughts; spiritual fervour is now proceeding, not merely from mystical obscurity, but from souls clarified by thought. To understand this means to receive Michael into the heart. Thoughts which at the present time strive to grasp the Spiritual must originate in hearts which beat for Michael as the fiery Prince of Thought in the Universe”.
    How can we understand what this means in practice ? What answers can we give to Tomhartshea’s plea for examples of thinking with the heart ?.
    There is an informative article in the magazine “New View” –issue 80 September 2016 by Harrie Salman entitled “the Intelligence of the Heart” which provides some valuable insights. It includes relevant indications by Rudolf Steiner about the role played by the heart, but also features recent research which shows that one of the main roles of the heart is to act as a kind of balancing nervous system which harmonises the rhythms in different parts of the body. It flags up the work of the HeartMath Institute in California and its research on the heart aimed at helping people to bring their physical, mental and emotional systems into balanced alignment with their heart’s intuitive guidance. A number of the recommended exercises for achieving this remind me of several of the supplementary exercises in Knowledge of the Higher Worlds. This may be in a lower league than Steiner’s indications on developing Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition, but it would appear to point in the right direction.
    A further event which has, I believe, already started to influence the quality of thinking and our resulting deeds is one which Steiner prophesied would happen in the second half of the 20th century when Christ would take over the role of the Lord of Karma. He indicated that this would lead to a re-balancing of karma in the next life so that it could best serve the spiritual needs of the times. He indicated that this event will have as fundamental a significance for the evolution of humanity as the event of Palestine had at the beginning of our era. One of the consequences would be that more and more people would have the experience in life that directly after they have committed a deed, they would have a premonition, a feeling, perhaps even a significant picture, of how this deed will be balanced by karma in the future. This seems to add a further moral dimension to the steadily growing emergence of ethical thinking and moral logic that one can see on a daily basis. It is not uncommon for people to forgive those who have committed serious crimes against them or their loved-ones. Is this an example of heart thinking ? What do others think ?.
    To return to the original issue, and whether this new thinking with the heart has a beneficial effect on the brain, and might mitigate against Alzheimer’s disease, it is hard to say with certainty, but I think it definitely enables a more morally awakened and conscious expression of the Self to work into the world. “I have found a bit more of my true self, so to say”.
    And bearing in mind Jeremy’s primary post about the initiative at Pixton House, to provide accommodation for elderly anthroposophist-oriented folk, this would seem to have potential to provide a wonderful setting where heart-thinking could be cultivated and flourish, particularly if there is a clear intention to encourage exposure to new ideas and art through the young people at Emmerson College and being open and contributing to what is positive in the world outside. I wish it well !

    Liked by 1 person

    • wooffles

      Midnight Rambler, I’d forgotten (!?) that account of the nuns. Thanks for putting it back in the conversation, along with the other sources and the connections you’ve made.


    • As to (the protective effect of) ‘thinking of the heart’, the expression originally used by Steiner in CW 119 (see above): it is connected to the future development of the twelve-petalled lotus-flower, the intuition organ (see CW 115):

      “An activity now begins of which it is important to take account in connection with distinguishing between true and false pictures. It can only be called thinking of the heart. This is something that comes about in the course of the development of which we spoke yesterday. In ordinary life we have the feeling that we think with the head. That of course is a pictorial expression, for we actually think with the spiritual organs underlying the brain; but it is generally accepted that we think with the head. We have a quite different feeling about the thinking that becomes possible when we have made a little progress. The feeling then is as if what had hitherto been localised in the head were now localised in the heart. This does not mean the physical heart but the spiritual organ that develops in the neighbourhood of the heart, the twelve-petalled lotus-flower. This organ becomes a kind of organ of thinking in one who achieves inner development and this thinking of the heart is very different from ordinary thinking.” GA0119/19100329

      (Already Aristotle, On the motion of animals 7, briefly pointed to this intuitive organ:
      “And further, when by reason of heat or cold or some kindred affection a change is set up in the region of the heart, even in an imperceptibly small part of the heart, it produces a vast difference in the periphery of the body — blushing, let us say, or turning white, goose-skin and shivers and their opposites.”)


  16. Our memories constitute a web or body in itself, called the ‘ego-body’:
    “The web woven of recollections and representing what we in the physical world consider as our own being, has a greater degree of independence than the image in the mirror. It has in a certain way a being of its own. And yet to the real being of the soul it is only like a picture of our real self. The real being of the soul feels that this picture is needed for the manifestation of its real self. This real being knows that it is something different, but also that it would never have attained to any real knowledge of itself if it had not at first realised itself as its own image within that world, which, after its ascent into the spiritual world, becomes an outer world.
    The web of recollection which we now regard as our former ego may be called the “ego-body” or “thought-body.” The word “body” must in this connection be taken in a wider sense than that which is usually called a “body.” By “body” is here meant all that we experience as belonging to us and of which we do not say, “We are it,” but, “We possess it.” ” CW 16 (1912)

    Steiner (1921) located this mirror and web of recollection on the surface of the inner organs:
    “What exactly is this surface of the organs? It is nothing less than a reflecting apparatus for the soul life. Our perceptions, and also what we elaborate in thought are reflected upon the surface of all our inner organs; and this reflection makes known our recollections, our memory during life. Thus, after we have perceived and digested something in thought, it is mirrored upon the surface of our heart, liver, spleen, and so forth, and what is thus thrown back constitutes our memories. And with a not very extensive training you may notice how certain thoughts shine back in memory from the whole organism. Very different organs take part in this. If it is a question of remembering, let us say, very abstract conceptions, then the lung surface participates strongly. If it is a question of thoughts colored by feeling, of thoughts which have a nuance of feeling, then the surface of the liver is concerned. Thus we can describe very well, and in detail, how the various organs take part in this reflection which makes its appearance as recollection, as the power of memory.” GA0205/19210702


  17. Dementia from an anthroposophical point of view is described in the free web book ‘Dementia and I’, (2015) from the series Bolks’ Companions, Louis Bolk Instituut, Driebergen, 172 p. :

    “The Dutch psychologist Rien Verdult (Verdult 2003) developed a scheme with four stages of changing I-experience in demented patients that correspond to publications in the United States by Naomi Feil, summarized in her book, The Validation Breakthrough (Feil, 2010). The term ‘stages of shifting I-experience’ refers to the fact that varying forms of communication are required depending on the course of dementia and not on a list of symptoms.”


  18. MarkMcd

    Hi, re alzheimer’s, JVH seems close recognising the overly stuffed head, and the tangled web of proteins. Like a library where one cannot , (or cannot bother to) get in through the accretions of ages to access the documents.
    Its interesting that poor peasants, shepherds since childhood are actually more prone to early onset alzheimers than those who had a primary education! This calls to mind Mikaela Gloeklers healing power of education and RS’s advice that primary education was actually all the content of what once was mystery school learnings ,…
    To me, RS advice,”Where ideation becomes the ideal life forces are engendered. Where ideation does not become the ideal, death forces ensue.” seems the eternal touchstone. (which again leads to fruitfulness and the lord of karma)


    • Of course, Rudolf Steiner was addressing the consequences we face today when he talked rather repeatedly of the need for new concepts, which hold the power of an imaginative formation out of the lifeless abstractions owing to a frontal lobe that had gained a certain prominence by the entry into the nineteenth century. He would call this apparatus, “The Gabriel faculty”, owing to the Archangel that held sway from about 1550 to 1879; Gabriel, the Archangel of the Moon. Thus, abstract thinking rather quickly replaced the last measure of the instinctive knowledge which Goethe epitomized right up until his death in 1832. By 1850, theoretical materialism was upon us. And this would assure its variance into the practical applications of such a beast.

      Today, the entire world is ensconced in materialism due to the rather profound prioritization of the physical body and the kind of picture-consciousness that only ascertains the surface conditions of an outer-external world. This is the world we invest with our sense perception, and inductive reasoning. Yet, it is possible to engage in efforts of sense-free thinking, which brings the original deductions right back into the foreground. This is the important point. These deductions hold the secrets to causality. But, we must go inward in order to achieve this state of consciousness.

      The Key to the work of Rudolf Steiner is that he would carefully draw his listening audience into this inner world of recognition by a process of proceeding from effect to cause in his descriptions, which always began with outermost anchor-points, and then proceeded in a step-wise fashion to the progressive deeper revelations, which were always causal, and therefore, deductive in nature. Yet, the process has to be described as one in which Reductive reasoning is applied in order to acquaint with the original deductions.

      Then, he would take this process of reduction, which proceeds from outermost effect to underlying cause, and make it into a ray of light. And, he would do this over a course of maybe eight or ten lectures, and wherein this process would begin to circulate around a central theme, which would finally attain its full focus and conception as the central Sun of its whole point in coming into being. And, this constitutes Adductive reasoning.

      So, we have within the body of knowledge that encompasses anthroposophical spiritual science, the means to cultivate two new forms of reasoning, entirely inwardly directed, and meant for the Consciousness Soul in exactly the same way that the Intellectual Soul developed deduction and induction.

      It is present-day powers of inductive reasoning that cannot hold up to the onslaught of materialistic thinking and its incessant prioritization over everything else. The originating deductions get shoved into the background when the outer-external world holds sway, and only by going inward can the balance of both deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning (of the Intellectual Soul) be achieved again. This can also be replicated when we study the work of Rudolf Steiner, in which he sought to achieve this semblance, but also extended it into the further acquisition of knowledge.

      Personally, I think this is the only possible cure for Alzheimer’s Disease. Obviously, it is a preventative measure that requires taking up a new cultural imperative, and one based on education.


      • I realize that we can quote all the Rudolf Steiner we want, and champion the notion of a new and imaginative, shape-making form of thinking, wherein concepts have to be taken into the thought apparatus for a better understanding of what constitutes reality, and I also realize just how much this kind of cognition takes into account the workings of the threefold operation of the human soul, and wherein the central “rhythmic section ” comprising heart and lungs, respiration and circulation is given a certain prominence for what makes for “memories”, and their retention for a healthy human being into old age. This is very important because thoughts need the active integer of what we call, “the feeling soul”, for a certain security in perception.

        Yet, and I want to quote a passage from this book, “In Pursuit of Memory”, which indicates just how much a typical and natural scientific thinking still holds sway in the attempt to identify the constituent features of Alzheimer’s causation. Billions of dollars are allocated for just this type of seeking on an atomistic/molecular level.

        “The brain works by constantly transmitting chemical messages across synapses. When such a message is delivered, the neuron is said to have ‘fired’, resulting in countless different processes – from making sure you continue to breathe to ensuring your fingers do what you tell them to do. We call these messages neurotransmitters and most come in the form of chemical compounds. Glutamate, for instance, is a major neurotransmitter. Acetylcholine is another.

        The signals these molecules convey form the roots of many aspects of normal brain function: emotions, learning, memory. While pinpointing a thought’s origin in the brain is like deciding where a forest begins, thoughts are essentially generated by neurons triggering the release of neurotransmitters. It comes as no surprise, then, that scientists in the 1970s turned their heads when a striking loss of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine was seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.”
        In Pursuit of Memory, chapter 3, A Medicine for Memory, Joseph Jebelli.


  19. As indicated by Steiner, the development of the consciousness soul in our present epoch has an inner (intellectual) and an outer (sensory) side:

    “As indicated before, observation of sense reality is one task incumbent upon the human soul in our fifth post-Atlantean age. The other task is to unfold free imaginations side by side with the clear view of reality … It means imaginations in which man moves as freely as he does only in his intellect. That, then, is the other task of the fifth post-Atlantean age. The unfoldment of these two faculties will lead to a right development of the consciousness soul in our present epoch.” GA0171/19160917

    “For in ordinary life, also, we can say that when a man endeavours to grasp with his thinking some external reality not yet known to him, he will be approaching it with love and devotion. Never will the consciousness soul gain a knowledge of external objects unless love [feeling] and devotion [will] inspire its quest; otherwise the objects will not be truly observed. ….
    A childhood and youth during which devotion and love were not fostered under the right guidance will lead to a weak and powerless old age. Reverence must take hold of every soul that is to make progress in its development.” GA0058/19091028

    See e.g. Naomi Feil (2009) trying to communicate with a woman with Alzheimer in a famous video:

    Liked by 1 person

  20. wooffles

    In regard to “thinking with the heart,” as mentioned above, Naomi Feil is exemplifying it in that video, isn’t she?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Steve Hale

      Yes, you have to understand that there is “thinking with the heart” as the grand gesture of empathy, and what might be termed, ‘unconditional validation’. This is the method demonstrated here with Naomi Feil. In her setting as a therapist, the patient is in a non-curable condition. Yet, one can also be involved with “thinking with the heart” in a setting wherein cure is very possible, and yet it requires definite standards conveyed by the therapist, whose task is to represent a kind of model of behaviour. This model involves the importance of being absolutely transparent as a means to get to the truth of underlying psychological conditions. The patient’s tendency is to conceal, hide, and lie because of its conditioning tendencies seen in years of abuse and its reactive behaviour. By being transparent, the counselor encourages the same from his client, and even demands it as a necessary condition. This is often difficult, but the goal is to achieve trust. It is incumbent upon the therapist to gain this trust by the means involved in “thinking with the heart”, in which the same kind of empathic love is shown as a demonstration of what it means to be transparent, or “seen through”.

      Steiner gave an important series of lectures in which this kind of social force is needed. Caring for one-another is the cure for the present anti-socialism seen in the world today, and this is conveyed as the central theme throughout GA186, which concerns the fundamental social demands of our time. A really good therapist already knows this, like Naomi Feil.


    • Yes, I believe Naomi is ‘thinking with the heart’, and she is moved to find a way to encounter Gladys.
      The impulse arising in Naomi’s heart, her sensitivity to what is needed, comes to expression in clear concepts and thoughts.

      Here is a wonderful Ted Talk where Naomi is explaining her ‘Validation Therapy’ to an audience,

      Thinking with the heart involves sensitivity to other’s and ones own feelings, courage to risk real encounter with another soul, and the patience to attempt to see in the moment of encounter how one’s thoughts, actions and words are working upon the people/person one is communicating with. For example, Naomi modifies her own actions and words in response to Gladys’s tear and the rhythm of Gladys’s hand movements and breathing.

      It has been my experience that Thinking with the Heart can lead to understandings, and insights and imaginations which have potential for development and healing.
      I am not sure that it produces theories

      Thinking with the Heart does not negate or undermine thinking with the Head. One can see this clearly in the Ted Talk where Naomi explains with great clarity what she does and why.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Steve Hale

        Tom, you wrote:

        “It has been my experience that Thinking with the Heart can lead to understandings, and insights and imaginations which have potential for development and healing. I am not sure that it produces theories.”

        You will find that the only theory that I have espoused concerns the kind of thinking that Rudolf Steiner advocated, which is a kind of conceptual and shape-making arrangement which allows creativity and imagination to take hold. This has proven, and will continue to prove to be the preventative guard against Alzheimer’s disease. Proactive studies have already shown that people live well into old-age with an active intellect because their whole range of thoughts are plastic, mobile, and fluid, and this is simply because of the inherent need in some people to wonder, inquire, seek answers, investigate, and otherwise advocate the principle of: Know Thou Thyself.

        So, while admitting to the same kind of empathy in relationships that Naomi Feils also feels and displays, it is important to note the difference between conveying validation to the non-curable, and doing the same for those that can be cured. The latter is especially challenging because it can prove to be effective when real change is possible, and even achieved. Again, it involves a paradigm shift in consciousness.


      • Steve Hale

        Thus, as a final statement on this subject, although the cure is one wherein potential in thinking needs to be actualized, let’s review Steiner’s first three leading thoughts. These carry the intent of what some people truly feel in their heart as a cultural imperative:

        Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts given out as suggestions from the Goetheanum

        1. Anthroposophy is a path of knowledge, to guide the Spiritual in the human being to the Spiritual in the universe. It arises in man as a need of the heart, of the life of feeling; and it can be justified only inasmuch as it can satisfy this inner need. He alone can acknowledge Anthroposophy, who finds in it what he himself in his own inner life feels impelled to seek. Hence only they can be anthroposophists who feel certain questions on the nature of man and the universe as an elemental need of life, just as one feels hunger and thirst.

        2. Anthroposophy communicates knowledge that is gained in a spiritual way. Yet it only does so because everyday life, and the science founded on sense-perception and intellectual activity, lead to a barrier along life’s way — a limit where the life of the soul in man would die if it could go no farther. Everyday life and science do not lead to this limit in such a way as to compel man to stop short at it. For at the very frontier where the knowledge derived from sense perception ceases, there is opened through the human soul itself the further outlook into the spiritual world.

        3. There are those who believe that with the limits of knowledge derived from sense perception the limits of all insight are given. Yet if they would carefully observe how they become conscious of these limits, they would find in the very consciousness of the limits the faculties to transcend them. The fish swims up to the limits of the water; it must return because it lacks the physical organs to live outside this element. Man reaches the limits of knowledge attainable by sense perception; but he can recognise that on the way to this point powers of soul have arisen in him — powers whereby the soul can live in an element that goes beyond the horizon of the senses.


      • wooffles

        Steve, I don’t see how you are engaging with what Tom actually said about thinking with the heart.


  21. Steve Hale

    What will prove to be important concerning Alzheimer’s disease is that the only cure is the one of prevention, which entails a new form of thinking. This has been expressed here in relation to the Microcosm of Humanity, which entails so much of the suffering, disease and death, involving the human species on earth.
    Yet, the clarion call of why spiritual science exists as a new cultural imperative has also been given as the fundamental solution of a rather grievous condition that still has no known cause.

    Yet, if we look to the Macrocosm, as previously indicated, we can find this cause. It concerns the very unique situation in which the Eighth Sphere formed as the special operation in which the outer external world was created in order to begin human life on earth as we know it in the Lemurian epoch.

    Of course, the liability is that the human brain becomes the recipient of mineral rich substance that Lucifer and Ahriman continually fight to extract and send into the Eighth Sphere. This is how we have the situation that exists today.

    Now, I wonder if anyone knows about this? I appeal to those who actually study spiritual science. Ton Majoor would know that a great deal of this comes from GA254, and Midnight Rambler has made some very encouraging comments that indicate an enthusiastic spirit.

    What the difficulty remains is that so few people know anything and even care less. Now, if this meager offering could engage a discussion that would take this subject to a new level, that would be nice. It could also prove to be meaningful.


    • On dementia and breaking down in the head due to Asuric, Ahrimanic and Luciferic forces:
      The essence of the eighth sphere (Vulcan) is explained by Steiner in Michaelic thinking (GA0194/19191123), indeed in combination with breaking down and vitalizing processes in the head, due to two streams of Ahrimanic and Luciferic forces (GA0194/19191122):

      “We have to deal here with the great and mighty mystery that man’s head has developed through long stages of evolution and that gradually the rest of his organism was added; that the head has already started on a retrogressive evolution and that man can only experience the Divine through the rest of his organism, not through the head.”
      One can add: the Exusiai (Spirits of Form) form the Phantom (Form, ‘I’-bearer) of the human body in the fourth sphere (Earth), as pointed out in GA0131/19111010.

      According to an older esoteric Steiner text: the eighth sphere (Vulcan) and the retarded Saturn spirits (Asuras, Egoism) develop ‘a moon’ (GA0266/19070129). This Moon is indicated as ’(Jupiter)’ in the German text, and is not identical with the Earth moon (Blavatsky, Harrison), like Sinnett assumed (GA0254/19151018).


      • Steve Hale

        It will prove to be important to say that the Eighth Sphere is not Vulcan. Steiner’s references in GA194, regarding the Spirits of Form, concern the fact that they have moved on from the Vulcan (seventh) stage to an eighth stage in which they now work within the human organism in support of the emancipation of thinking. Yes, it is thinking that has gained independence from the rest of the body, and really only has a future when it directs its attention to the extra-terrestrial dimensions, i.e, the world of the stars. So, the Spirits of Form now want to work from within the systems of Heart and Limbs in order to bring the best possible impetus to the Head, which is truly now sitting at rest, and able to contemplate all of the supersensible variables that Spiritual Science offers as the new paradigm for our age.

        Thus, we must differentiate from this to what Steiner rigorously spoke about in GA254, in which his subject was the Eighth Sphere. He begins with the misrepresentation of A.P. Sinnett, who had authored a popular book entitled, “Esoteric Buddhism”, in 1883.

        “The first essential is to discern how far Sinnett’s teaching about the Eighth Sphere is a fallacy. Here you must keep firmly in mind the teaching regarding the whole process of the evolution of the Earth, namely, the teaching that the planet Earth passed through the Old Saturn, Old Sun and Old Moon periods of evolution before entering its present stage. You must remind yourselves that the composition of the Old Moon was essentially different from that of the Earth. The mineral kingdom was added for the first time during the Earth period, and what constitutes the material world of the physical plane is entirely impregnated with the mineral element. All that you perceive in the plant, animal and human kingdoms is the mineral element that has been impregnated into them. Your body is “mineralised” through and through. That which is not mineral — the Moon-nature, the Sun-nature — is only occultly present there. We see only the mineral, the earthly. This must be firmly borne in mind if starting from what man now actually is on the Earth, we are to find the answer to the question: What is it in man that is the heritage of the Old Moon?”


      • Correct, Steve, according to Steiner the famous eighth sphere (crystal sphere) is post-Vulcan (consciousness of the Spirits of Form today, CW194, cf. CW11), where the retarded Asuric (Vulcanic) spirits ‘are striving for’ (CW266). Therefore, we do not only see the mineral substance, but also the human physical form (the Phantom, the ‘I’-body).


      • Steve Hale

        The Eighth Sphere described in GA254 is entirely different than the Eighth Stage that the Spirits of Form have passed on to, as indicated in GA194. This diagram from lecture five of GA254 shows the unique positioning of the Eighth Sphere as it relates to Earth as the Fourth Sphere. As such, the Eighth Sphere is both, 1) centered in the moon, and 2) surrounds the earth. Quite a riddle to figure out.


      • It is a riddle, but I don’t see why the descriptions should be entirely different. In one account the good Spirits of Form are described from the ‘mineral’ point of view (fourth sphere, CW254, 1915), in the other from the consciousness perspective (eighth sphere, CW194, 1919). In the former the eighth sphere is a changed (old) moon sphere, in the latter a surrounding crystal sphere.

        “If we now hold this eighth sphere in view, we find living there not only our Divine Creator Spirits, but also the Ahrimanic beings. Thus by living in the surroundings of the eighth sphere we live together with the Ahrimanic beings. In the fourth sphere, the Luciferic beings live together with us. Etc.” GA0194/19191123

        Tentatively, in dementia Luciferic substances are involved in the revitalized head (deposits of proteins in Alzheimer’s and in dementia with Lewy bodies), but Ahrimanic forces of death in the rest of the organism (atherosclerosis in vascular dementia).


  22. Steve Hale

    It would be really good for this discussion on Alzheimer’s from an anthroposophical perspective to continue, and I have decided to proceed in relation to these most recent comments:

    Ton write:

    “Tentatively, in dementia Luciferic substances are involved in the revitalized head (deposits of proteins in Alzheimer’s and in dementia with Lewy bodies), but Ahrimanic forces of death in the rest of the organism (atherosclerosis in vascular dementia).”

    Yes, these are both very insightful indications of how Lucifer and Ahriman seem to be working against the true destiny of humanity in the Fourth Sphere; Lucifer from out of the 4th sphere itself, and Ahriman from the 8th sphere. Yet, we as human beings evolving on earth have reached the point where the head, and the thinking associated with the head, is free and emancipated from the rest of the body. This means that we are free to think entirely supersensible thoughts, and spiritual science helps us to do just that. The rest of the body is a living enterprise which has a future for the next life on earth, but the head itself either thinks its way into the divine life now, or suffers the consequences of materialistic thinking which is past, since the midpoint of the 19th century, and has become a regressive trend as seen with Alzhemier’s and the vanquishing of the Intellectual Soul into the Eighth Sphere.

    This is what we have before us. Either we think our way into the realization of the divine life with the human comprehension made possible because spiritual science has come into the world, or we suffer the loss of the very faculty that makes this possible because of the clinging to materialism, which refuses to know anything of a spiritual-scientific worldview.

    Rudolf Steiner would go on to describe a kind of “new yoga of will” in the sixth lecture of GA194, and this is where we can find the Spirits of Form working in the rest of the human organism that has a future. I have experimented with this new kind of yoga, and I know it works in its way by uniting the upper loop of the lemniscate, which relates to the objective self (thinking), with the lower loop, which concerns the subjective self (willing), and whereby the feeling soul courses very dynamically and rhythmically between these two entities.

    In other words, when the head, or objective self, which is the most conscious entity of the threefold being of man, meets the limbs, or subjective self, which is the most unconscious member of our being, then only the middle system between these two can help resolve the issue. Thus, the heart, or feeling self, comes into this dynamic exchange which is called, “the new yoga of will”.

    As such, the perfect lemniscate becomes a kind of Rosicrucian symbol in which the cross between the two loops can be likened in the same way to the black cross surrounded by red roses. Both visions are very effective.


  23. Midnight Rambler

    Interesting Article in the London Sunday Times yesterday about a study which brought 6 children (aged around 4) to spend a week talking to, eating alongside and playing with 8 old people in a dementia care centre in North Wales.
    All the adults showed significant improvements in speech and mood after interacting with children in organised activities ranging from singing to cake-making.
    One of the specialists organising said ” it was “astonishing to see such a difference in such a short space of time”.
    The adults were not afraid of making a mistake in front of the children and there was no stigma attached to dementia for the toddlers, who saw the grown-ups as playmates.

    Makes one wonder what Christ meant when he said – unless you change and become as a little child, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18.3).

    I recall that R.S. addresses this but can’t find the reference.


    • Steve Hale

      This study would seem to prove that dementia patients have reverted to early childhood inclinations when interacting with young children. Yet, it solves nothing. It only demonstrates a kind of mutual interaction and communication which is very similar to what Naomi Feils’s conducted in her validation with the Alzheimer’s patient, Gladys Wilson.

      What is happening with the elderly that are losing their minds and falling into ever greater degrees of dependency is the loss of the Intellectual Soul. And this proves how much we need our soul faculties in order to remain as free and individual human beings. The Intellectual Soul is particularly susceptible in today’s world to being vanquished and made the victim of the Eighth Sphere.

      So, when Christ spoke about, “Lest ye become as little children, ye cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven”, He meant that we would need to regain the spirit knowledge we once had as naive little children, but would become the adults that Paul knew would renounce such “childish things”.

      Rudolf Steiner addressed this fact in about everything he ever wrote or said. As little children, we live in the so-called, Kingdoms of Childhood, wherein we interact with the elementary spirits of the three kingdoms of nature, mineral-plant-animal, and here is where we discern something very important. As little children born into this world, we find out to our utter amazement and security that these three kingdoms, mineral plant-animal, are the earthly representatives of the higher worlds that we lived in before our birth, which are:
      Upper Devachan = Mineral Kingdom
      Lower Devachan = Plant Kingdom
      Astral World = Animal Kingdom.

      So, we live in blissful splenditude with complete correspondence until the time we are taken to the public school system for our education, which occurs around the age of five or six. After this, it all becomes what Paul says about leaving these childish things.

      Yet, Christ said we must becomes as little children in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Maybe He meant on the far side, when we enter the diminishing years of our life on earth. If so, then the Anthroposophy of Rudolf Steiner seems to have had that in mind as its purpose for existing in today’s world.


    • Steve Hale

      Midnight Rambler wrote:

      “Makes one wonder what Christ meant when he said – unless you change and become as a little child, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18.3). I recall that R.S. addresses this but can’t find the reference.”

      Here is one place that RS spoke about it, and coming at Christmas in 1918, he appears, by his voice, to wonder if it will possibly have a meaningful effect.

      “The new revelation of the Christ now moves us to contemplate the course of human life — allow me to express it in the following way — as Christ wishes us to contemplate it in the twentieth century. As we try today to grasp the meaning of Christmas, let us recall a saying attributed to Christ Jesus that points truly to the Christmas event: “Except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” “Except ye become as little children”: this is certainly not encouraging us to strip away all the mystery of the Christmas conception, and to drag it down to the banality of “dear little Jesus,” as many folk songs and other songs have done — the folk songs less than the art songs — during the materialistic development of Christianity. This very saying — “Except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven” — impels us to look up to mighty impulses flowing through human evolution. And in our own time, all that is happening in the world can surely be no reason for lapsing into trivial ideas of Christmas, when the human heart is filled with pain, when it must look back upon millions of human beings who have met their death in these last years, must think of countless human beings hungering for food. At this time surely nothing is fitting but to contemplate the mighty thoughts in world history that have impelled and inspired humanity. One can be brought to such thoughts by the saying, “Except ye become as little children.” And one can supplement it by these words: “Unless you live your life in the light of this thought, you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

      When a human being enters this world as a child, he has come directly from the spiritual world. What happens in physical life, the procreation and growth of his physical body, is only a covering for the event that cannot be described otherwise than by saying: man’s central being leaves the spiritual world. He is born out of the spirit into the body. When the Rosicrucian says “Ex Deo Nascimur,” he is speaking of the human being entering the physical world. What first en-sheathes him, what makes him a complete physical being here on earth: this is what is referred to by the words “Ex Deo Nascimur.” If one would speak of the kernel of the human being, his innermost core of being, one must say: he comes down from the spirit into this physical world. Through what takes place in the physical world — which he is able to observe from spiritual regions before his conception and birth — he is clothed with a physical body, in order that he may have experiences that are only possible in such a body. But he has come, in his central core of being, out of the spiritual world. And he reveals — to one who wants to see things as they really are in this world, who is not blinded by materialistic illusions — he reveals in his very first years by his very nature that he has come out of the spirit. One’s experiences with a child, if one has insight, are of such a character that one feels in him the after-effects of his recent life in the spiritual world.”
      —The Birth of Christ in the Human Soul, GA187, 22 December 1918


  24. Steve Hale

    Wooffles made a comment back on May 9th which seemed to indicate that I did not understand something about what thinking with the heart means.

    “Steve, I don’t see how you are engaging with what Tom actually said about thinking with the heart.”

    Really; why not? If a cause for Alzheimer’s can be determined and made a preventative measure, then why would this be considered heartless? This measure has been spoken about. Now, in today’s market, the cure for Alzheimer’s is a multi-billion dollar medical research project, much like cancer, in which a gene has been found which carries the alzheimer’s edict amongst the ancestral heritage, and therefore, certain familial links are simply destined to contract Alzheimer’s disease. So, researchers are fast-burning the creation of an antidote, in pill form, which will serve to reduce the plaques and tangles long before actual symptoms of Alzheimer’s actually occurs. Present study groups are experiencing symptoms of brain swelling, which is not a good sign of any conceivable success, and yet, a remedy is expected by 2020.

    Would you take it if it was offered? Many would, even if they were not identified as carrying the gene signifying susceptibility. They will simply see it as a useful preventative measure, like the daily vitamin.


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