Back in 2014, at the summer conference of the Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain (ASGB) I was heartened to hear the then recently appointed general secretary, Marjatta van Boeschoten, announce that the ASGB Council was seriously considering a name change for the society. I was even more encouraged that the members present seemed to be overwhelmingly in favour of such a change and wanted the society to play a much more active, outward-facing role in the world.
Four years on, it’s apparent that other counsels have prevailed and that changing the society’s name was felt to be more than the members (or perhaps Dornach) would stand for. But it still seems to me that, if our intention is to help other people to find out more about what it really means to be a human being, then the word “anthroposophy”, at least in the English-speaking world, is a hindrance rather than a help.
To the ear of an English speaker, “anthroposophy” and “anthroposophical” are not only difficult to pronounce but they also sound vaguely cult-like, perhaps causing the listener to bracket us alongside Scientology or the Jehovah’s Witnesses. “What’s in a name?” asked Juliet in the balcony scene of Romeo and Juliet: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. This may be true, but if the rose were called Sticky Willy, Knobweed or Nipplewort, then I doubt whether today it would be the national flower of England.
So names do matter in terms of shaping perceptions, and we should ask ourselves whether “anthroposophy” is doing us any favours. From where did Steiner get the name? According to Wikipedia:
The term began to appear with some frequency in philosophical works of the mid- and late-nineteenth century. In the early part of that century, Ignaz Troxler used the term anthroposophy to refer to philosophy deepened to self-knowledge, which he suggested allows deeper knowledge of nature as well. He spoke of human nature as a mystical unity of God and world. Immanuel Hermann Fichte used the term anthroposophy to refer to “rigorous human self-knowledge,” achievable through thorough comprehension of the human spirit and of the working of God in this spirit, in his 1856 work Anthropology: The Study of the Human Soul. In 1872, the philosopher of religion Gideon Spicker used the term anthroposophy to refer to self-knowledge that would unite God and world: “the true study of the human being is the human being, and philosophy’s highest aim is self-knowledge, or Anthroposophy.” In 1882, the philosopher Robert Zimmermann published the treatise, An Outline of Anthroposophy: Proposal for a System of Idealism on a Realistic Basis,proposing that idealistic philosophy should employ logical thinking to extend empirical experience.” Steiner attended lectures by Zimmermann at the University of Vienna in the early 1880s, and it is therefore possible that this is where he came across the term.
From this it is clear that Steiner didn’t invent the name, nor did he think it so special that it should be kept for all time. In a lecture given in Dornach on April 15th1923, Steiner made the following remark: “If I had my way, I would give anthroposophy a new name every day to prevent people from hanging on to its literal meaning, from translating it from the Greek, so they can form judgments accordingly. It is immaterial what name we attach to what is being done here. The only thing that matters is that everything we do here is focused on life’s realities and that we never lose sight of them. We must never be tempted to implement sectarian ideas.”
And yet the irony is that anthroposophy has often been accused by some misguided or malicious “skeptics” as promoting sectarian or even crackpot ideas. “Life’s realities”, according to these people, include their beliefs that we have just one lifetime; that our consciousness is extinguished with death; that there is no such thing as a spiritual world existing alongside the physical world and that the only real things are those which are material.
Yet surely it is these materialistic ways of regarding the world which have in large part brought humanity and our planet to its present parlous state. Materialistic civilisation has led to environmental degradation on such a scale that the entire biosphere of the earth is now under serious threat. Nationalism, religious and racial hatreds and political confrontation are making the world a much more dangerous place than at any time since the Second World War. The powerful, prosperous industrial nations keep the majority of the Earth’s inhabitants in the Third World in economic dependence and abject poverty. In many dictatorships, human rights are routinely violated. But, even in supposedly advanced democracies, the dignity of the free human being is assaulted in many ways by the media, by commerce, by schooling systems and materialistic science dominated by economic interests.
Insights gained from anthroposophy show us what each of us can and should do – politically, economically and spiritually – to work effectively against these challenges and all their associated problems. Yet since 1925, the year of Steiner’s death, what has the Anthroposophical Society done to help turn the tide? Why have there been no attempts by the Society to engage in the general development of society by way of contributing to public discourse?
I’m not suggesting that the Society should be putting its opinions into the world. One of the outstanding features of the Society is that members are not asked to sign up to any opinions or articles of faith, or pledge themselves to carry out any obligations. A member’s opinions are her or his own, and they cannot hold heterodox views as there is no anthroposophical orthodoxy. This of course means that neither the national societies nor the General Anthroposophical Society in Dornach can make any pronouncements in the name of the members. But I am suggesting that where anthroposophy has real knowledge and insights to contribute, then the Society should be bringing them forward into the public realm. Anthroposophy is here not only for its members but is also (and I would say, primarily) an approach to life created by Rudolf Steiner for the transformation of consciousness both of individuals and society, thus leading to the increasing wellbeing and development of the world and its inhabitants.
What then should be the role of anthroposophy in today’s society? Is anthroposophy just something that is for individuals to pursue in quest of their own spiritual development, or is it also meant to make a vital difference to the way in which society is organised and how human beings live their lives? If the latter aim is accepted as legitimate, does anyone experience the Anthroposophical Society as a community in which current world problems are discussed openly and freely, dealt with from a position of real knowledge and insight and then communicated to the interested public? I’m being very unfair, of course, in order to make my point that since Steiner’s death, anthroposophy hasn’t had the impact in the world that he had envisaged. Part of the reason for this, of course, is that without the leadership of a charismatic initiate such as Steiner, the Society no longer generates the same kind of intensity of response as it did when he was alive.
The history of the Society since 1925 has, on the whole, not been a happy one. The growing disagreements between members of the Vorstand after Steiner’s death, the mass expulsion of members in 1935, and a few disgraceful accommodations with Nazism in Germany and Fascism in Italy in the period leading up to the Second World War, were indicators of a movement that had lost its way. Perhaps, after all this, the spiritual world concluded that the Anthroposophical Society was no longer a suitable vehicle within which serious work could be done. The fact that the GAS has just spent part of its 2018 AGM in rescinding the expulsion of Ita Wegman and Elisabeth Vreede 83 years after the event points to a certain frivolity in their approach to what is needed today, however justified it may be to make a belated acknowledgement of that disastrous misstep.
So to whom is the Anthroposophical Society now speaking? It seems unlikely that it can now be a significant change-maker in the world, except inasmuch as individual anthroposophists can find common cause with people and organisations of goodwill throughout the world. It is the work of Rudolf Steiner that can still connect us to other people, because so much of what he brought through speaks powerfully to the dilemmas of today. Even the most dedicated materialists and skeptics are feeling the hugely pervasive disquiet seething in the collective consciousness of humanity at this time, as the true scale of environmental vandalism, economic disparity and social injustice reaches breaking point. At these times, the wounding power of ridicule from the skeptics towards the notion that humans are in reality spiritual beings currently in physical incarnation just loses its potency; to quote Susan Raven (author of the book Nature Spirits: the Remembrance): “If you hold another human being’s eye and speak your truth with the indefinable power that infuses a human voice when it sounds out from a point of profound and undeniable experience – there will be movement. And if the listener then goes on to hear the same, or similar, information from another two sources, the shell of denial might just begin to crack – be it ever so slightly!”
To people who are now open to treading a spiritual path, to come across the work of Rudolf Steiner, a very great initiate and master seer, can be life-changing. It is Rudolf Steiner whose extraordinary life and astonishing body of work can reach out to these people, not the society with its headquarters in Switzerland and a name that is difficult to pronounce. Is it not now time to acknowledge this reality? Is now the moment, in other words, to change the name of the Society, at least in English-speaking countries, to something like the “Rudolf Steiner Association”?
Such a move would not be without its dangers. The late Rudi Lissau said that: “If we look at every statement Steiner made as a message of the spiritual world, we endow Steiner with greater authority than that assumed by the Roman Pope. It is essential to bear in mind that certain ideas of his have their root in the general climate of the time and sometimes stem from definite people. Like any other human being Steiner was, to a certain degree, shaped by his environment and, like any other human being, had certain prejudices. He had not studied everything and, as he repeatedly stated, made many of his statements to particular groups of people in unique situations never to be repeated. If we fail to remember this, we turn a real man into an idol. One can, if one is so inclined, worship an idol. A real man with all his faults and weaknesses can be loved and there are few people more worthy of love than Steiner.”
So we should remember that Steiner was a real man who also had initiate consciousness, someone who was able to bring forward huge amounts of information for us to seek to understand, to work with, to reject or accept according to our inner being, or to take forward into further research, or to apply in practical situations. Let us put no obstacle, name or otherwise, between Rudolf Steiner and those people who need to meet him.
61 responses to “What’s in a name?”
A fascinating post. Thank you! I’ve been a keen private student of Steiner’s writings for decades now, which have deeply influenced my work as a reader and scholar of medieval literature (with a little help from Owen Barfield’s). While I’ve occasionally felt the desire to declare my anthroposophical leanings in my own work (and do so in casual conversation all the time), on any larger stage something holds me back. I suspect the role of the kind of consciousness Steiner sought to foster must operate today in a fundamentally covert manner, the leaven that invisibly inspires the bread to rise while no one is looking. Formal organisations, in these Ahrimanic times, all seem to me at best like fabulous nautilus shells–beautiful, perhaps, something you’d take home and display on a shelf as a piece of found art, but fundamentally inert: the life that shaped them has passed elsewhere. But I reckon anyone engaged with the supersensible realms Steiner sought to alert us to must today act essentially as an epistemological and phenomenological guerrilla fighter or insurgent, committing what blessing she or he can below the radar of the current regime’s enforcers, who are legion.
So while I agree with your sense that a name-change for the English-speaking world might make good sense, I wonder too whether the whole question of a formal organisation’s name is just a red herring?
Your posts are always a delight. Please keep ’em coming!
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I think ‘anthroposophy’ is an excellent word and meaning ‘man’ and ‘wisdom’ what could be better… also, ‘anthroposophia’ is a spiritual being…
If Scientology changed their name to the ‘L Ron Hubbard Association’ I actually think it would disempower them…
I have to say, dear anthropopper, that I tend to agree with the sentiments expressed in the reply of ‘gc-photo-art’ – but can also share your feelings of frustrations when looking at the problems the world is facing… Eva
I can agree with Jeremy’s concerns about the name, Anthroposophy, as well as Spiritual “Science”. Criticism abounds with regard to the apparent lack of proofs asserted by Steiner’s own brand of spiritual research. And, I think this is what really gets to the crux of the matter. Yet, how do we account for the fact that some 400 volumes of this kind of spiritual research exists today as a documentation of the first quarter of the 20th century [1900-1925]?
Something important was obviously being striven for at that time. Now, over one hundred years later, it seems that it is the knowledge, intended to be gained, that is being judged obsolete, negligible, unproven, fringe-science, and any other useful term designed to discredit this knowledge, and its name.
The lack of scientific credibility of Anthroposophy is often foisted as the challenge to anthroposophers/anthroposophists to make good the claims of their founder, Rudolf Steiner. Here is an article that says that anthroposophy has failed to do this:
Yet, with a School of Spiritual Science, and its 11 sections, established with the Christmas Conference of 1923, was not Rudolf Steiner seeking to ensure the continued growth and development of this field of study in order to bring proofs to the scientific establishment of today?
Has this school been allowed and encouraged to do its job in the aftermath of Steiner’s death? I suggest, for reasons that have been abundantly gone over here in the recent past, that it has not been enabled to proceed in this direction. In other words, sabotage has occurred in order to undermine Steiner’s great effort, and thus, minimize the work of the school to appeal the science of the spirit to natural science.
Anthroposophy should not change its name, but incorporate up to date social and scholarly criticism (Zander, Clement, Asprem etc.) and explicitly respond to that critique, like the scientifically and scholarly trained Steiner in his time always did. Anthroposophy should start at the border of the senses (CW 26 and 45), otherwise it will be a Christian sectarian society or belief system.
Ton, I did not suggest that “anthroposophy” should change its name but that the society should consider changing its name. Steve Hale has also made the point that “spiritual science” is a problematic term…
Yes, of course Jeremy, that’s a shortcut. One could change ‘society’ into ‘movement’ or ‘academy’.
But it is a knowledge-movement or esotericsm, not a religious movement per se . First one has to acknowledge that Steiner used contemporary terminology and theories to express his ideas. From the point of view of the ordinary logical consciousness anthroposophy or spiritual science can be seen as an illusion, or an experience of reading old books.
The real problem here is the challenge of receiving new knowledge. In many conversations and interactions over the last thirty years, my consistent experience is that people do not want to concentrate on anything! The very idea of intensified thinking is really rather repellent to them. Now, maybe this is an American phenomenon, which I can attest to, but I don’t see Europe that far behind in making for a convenient, sense-logical materialistic structure, and whereby Anthroposophy can be considered obsolete.
Ton says, “one could change ‘society’ into ‘movement or academy’, and yet the whole idea of reforming the society from its origins in 1913 was to bring about a better organization of aims and focus for the future. And, above all, Steiner intended for the General Anthroposophical Society to be “the protective kernel for the anthroposophical movement”. He always saw this as the grass-roots for what was taking place in his midst.
Now, today, it would appear that the anthroposophical movement has been redefined as: Friends of Anthroposophy. This is to distinguish them from true dues-paying members.
Anthroposophy is centered in the Event of Golgotha, which does not make it sectarian, but it could appear that way to scholarly criticism. Another good article which challenges the ‘anthropops’ to meet the scholars is this one:
Yet, it has already been shown that the scholars, e.g., Staudenmaier, Clement, Zander, take the position that anthroposophy has not proven itself to the external standards that they adhere to. Thus, it is another example of the prevailing belief that anthroposophy lacks scientific credibility.
The solution to this dilemma has been proposed in that scholars need to study anthroposophy in order to consider its many merits for the broadening of knowledge, and how intellectually keen it really is. In other words, the scholars proclaim their external knowledge as if anthropops don’t know it! Yet, Rudolf Steiner always laid out what is known to the senses and its logic, and then proceeded inward. The scholars of today lack this inner dimension.
So, whereupon is the real onus in this challenge to us ‘Anthropops’?
Spiritual science, like all science, is twofold. First, anthroposophy is ‘a path of knowledge’; second, it ‘communicates knowledge’ (Leading Thoughts 1 and 2, CW 26). A quarter or so of Steiner’s works is about explaining method, not about observing and describing results.
Also, Steiner’s own phenomenological-scientific path (described in CW 28 and 322) is different (surer, more exact, more difficult, CW 13) from the epigonal (Schieren 2011) anthroposophical-rosicrucian path. And both paths (phenomenological and Rosicrucian) seem to be marginally scientific in method and results.
“The path is absolutely safe upon which the communications of spiritual science lead us to sense-free thinking. There is, however, still another path that is safer and above all more exact, but it is also more difficult for many human beings. Etc.” (Occult Science, GA013_ c05-03)
Could Michaelic Society of Britain be an alternative name?
Here is how Rudolf Steiner indicated his version of what the name ‘anthroposophy’ meant to him. In a lecture from 11 January 1916, in which his goal was to show just how much his opponents first create a false characterization, a caricature, of what they think anthroposophy is, he says:
‘Anthroposophy’ is by no means a new name. When some years ago there was a question of giving our cause a name, I thought of one that had become dear to me because a Professor of Philosophy, Robert Zimmermann, whose lectures I heard in my youth, called his chief work, “Anthroposophie im Umriss”. This was in the eighties of the nineteenth century. Moreover, the name ‘Anthroposophy’ takes us still further back in literary usage. It was already used in the eighteenth century, indeed, still earlier. The name, therefore, is an old one; we are applying it to something new. For us it does not mean ‘human knowledge’. That would be what those who coined the name have in mind. Our science itself leads us to the conviction that within the physical human being there lives a spiritual, inner one – as it were, a second man.
Whereas what man can learn about the world through his senses and through the intellect which relies on sense-observations may be called ‘anthropology’, what the spiritual man within us can know may be called ‘Anthroposophy’.
Anthroposophy is therefore the knowledge of spiritual man, and that knowledge is not confined to man but is a knowledge of everything which spiritual man can perceive in the spiritual world, just as physical man observes physical things in the world. Because this second, or inner, man is the spiritual man, the knowledge which he acquires may likewise be called ‘spiritual science’.
GA35, 11 January 1916
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Anthroposophy or Pipeepong?
Jeremy: To the ear of an English speaker, “anthroposophy” and “anthroposophical” are not only difficult to pronounce but they also sound vaguely cult-like, perhaps causing the listener to bracket us alongside Scientology or the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Anthroposophy for the simple minded, who cannot spell and pronounce ecology, anthropology, ethnography, lepidopterology or coprophilia?
Why not use a word of Greek origin that is understood all over the world, except it seems in the English speaking world, as it was proven by a judge in a Californian court? A special word for the English-speaking world, because the US and the UK cannot conform with the rest of the world (but the rest of the world has to or can conform to the US and UK)? (I m sorry that I let my resentment for the UK and US claims for supremacy shine through my words.)
Can there be a better word than anthroposophy, which consists of 2 Greek words with the highest connotation, association, reputation?
It’s clear from comments so far received that most anthroposophists like the term and do not want it replaced with anything else – fair enough, that is not what I was advocating. What I was saying is that, when it comes to presenting anthroposophy to those people who are new to it, then it might be more productive to talk about “Rudolf Steiner” than about “anthroposophy”. And here I think I can quote Steiner in part-support of my suggestion: in a lecture he gave to anthroposophists in Stuttgart on February 28th 1923, he said, referring to a series of lectures he had given the previous year in Oxford, how delighted he was that a journalist had commented that “a person who attended the lectures at the Oxford educational meetings without prior awareness of who Dr Steiner was and that he had some connection with anthroposophy would not have noticed that a representative of anthroposophy was speaking. Such a person would simply have thought him to be a man speaking about pedagogy from a different angle than the listener’s own.”
Steiner went on to say: “I was exceedingly delighted by this characterisation because it showed that there are people who notice something that is always my goal, namely, to speak in a way that is not instantly recognised as anthroposophical. Of course, the content is anthroposophical but it cannot be properly absorbed unless it is objective. The anthroposophical standpoint should lead, not to one-sidedness, but, on the contrary, to presenting things in such a way that each least detail can be judged on its own merits and its truth be freely recognised. (…) Now I am not making the philistine, pedantic recommendation that anthroposophists should always avoid using the word “anthroposophy”. That is far from my intention. But the spirit that must inspire us in establishing right relations with the rest of the world can be found by looking in that general direction.”
In that same lecture, Steiner went on to say: “I have often pointed out (…) that we must distinguish between the anthroposophical movement and the Anthroposophical Society. (…) Anthroposophy is not to be confused with the Anthroposophical Society.”
These were the points I was trying to make in this post, while adding the further thought that nowadays it might be more straightforward to call the society the Rudolf Steiner Association, which has the benefit of telling a newcomer more than they would ever guess from the name “anthroposophy”.
One of the things that will never be overcome, unless the renaming of Anthroposophy, or Anthroposophical, or Spiritual Science, with the name “Rudolf Steiner Association”, in order to create a kind of affiliation with a guru, who will take the neophyte in hand in order to lead them down the garden path, is the fact that anthroposophy represents new knowledge which has to be won by hard work and effort. My experience is that very few want to concentrate hard on the concepts afforded by spiritual science. They can hardly even read more than a paragraph before giving up. This is much like Alexander’s experience of being taught by Aristotle as a young boy, and wherein he recounts that it felt like his head was caught in a vice, and the bones of his head were being crushed together! Now, how is that for a perceived effect?
In today’s market, who really wants to think keenly on things? In my vicinity, attention-deficit, and hyperactive disorders abound, and this causes the inability to read with any depth, or concentrate in the manner necessary for a spiritual-scientific education. So, I think that regardless of what we might look to rename the works of Rudolf Steiner in order to make it more appealing, it really comes down to a faculty that is quickly eroding, and why concern has been shown recently for the increase of Alzheimer’s disease.
As such, the idea of a kind of plastic, mobile and fluid form of thinking, in which the past, present and future all partake in, seems to me to be the best presentation for the kind of spiritual science that Rudolf Steiner gave. Now, whatever name it takes to bring this forth with full effectivity is what we want. But, whatever the name, it still requires the full effort, i.e, the ‘full monty’.
You see, there are certain critics of anthroposophy who think that it is all about Steiner worship, and wherein Steiner’s admirers and fans merely accept everything their guru says, without one bit of critical thinking for themselves. So, with this in mind, would a Rudolf Steiner Association really be in the best interests of an anthroposophical movement which sees the knowledge as the real objective, i.e, the so-called “big kahuna”?
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I agree with Rudolf and Jeremy that there is no need to use the word anthroposophy when you explain the ways and methods of Waldorf education to newbees. The matter or method can speak for itself.
The name „anthroposophy“, as the term for what Rudolf Steiner gave to us, is more than 100 years old. The term is well established, it is known to hundreds of thousands or even many million people. Why should anyone create confusion and give it a new name? And I m absolutely sure that any attempt to do so would fail.
„Consumers“ of anthroposophical „products or services“ are in no need to know anything about anthroposophy; they can visit an anthroposophical doctor or send their kids to a Waldorf school or buy a good herb tea. When you are interested in anthroposophy itself, you should be able to read books above the level of pulp fiction. (Steve has already mentioned this point, I wrote this yesterday, so I m late, but mentioning it again isnt a fault either, I hope.)
A faithful Christian, a Catholic, Protestant or a member of the Christian Community neednt read books. As a student of anthroposophy you certainly have an interest in Rudolf Steiner s books and his books are demanding. There might be attempts to present anthroposophy in cartoon strips (that s done for the philosophy of Marx and others), but Rudolf Steiner was strictly against any trivialisation of anthroposophy and his books for understandable reasons.
Rudolf Steiner Association or Anthroposophical Society or Society for the promotion of Anthroposophy or?
The first name is 80 % correct, acceptable to me, but anthroposophy is more than what Rudolf Steiner gave us, there is much much more to come. (And I agree with Steve that there is the problem of the „guru“ and guru society.) Sure Rudolf Steiner gave most of what is known as anthroposophy today, it is the basis if you like to call it this way, but some of his students have added to this this vast territory of anthroposophy a few square inches or square feet and hopefully (and on this point I m optimistic) there will be an increasing number of new new discoveries, esoteric or occult details from a number of anthoposophists.
The name Anthroposohical Society is historically loaden with the founding of the Society on Christmas 1923 and the illusion of its continuity as a spiritual, esoteric society. But I must admit, that I dont know a better name for it.
The adjective „anthroposophical“ doesnt appear in the Waldorf or agricultural movement, we have the name eurythmy. In many other groups or initiatives you dont find this adjective either, although anthroposophy is (more or less) the basis.
“A special word for the English-speaking world, because the US and the UK cannot conform with the rest of the world (but the rest of the world has to or can conform to the US and UK)? (I m sorry that I let my resentment for the UK and US claims for supremacy shine through my words.)”
Ottmar, let’s take your little domain of Central Europe, i.e., Germany. What does it seek to achieve today under the auspices of Chancellor Merkel other than what Rudolf Steiner himself would have espoused. Is this a fair assessment? Whether she knows anything of RS, she is compelled to take the middle european position. Now, contrast this with UK-US, and we have what? Of course, the prevailing economic sphere, which UK is attempting to free itself from US domination. So, they are trying.
Now, with regard to US democracy over the whole earth, well, this is the whole issue, isn’t it? The US bears the Beast of the Apocalypse, based on earthly migration, and this should be easily seen by now, and maybe especially coming from the German brethren.
Many words have been spoken before on this, and it must be the task of the European leaders to oppose the US, and do so forthrightly. Europe can sustain itself without one iota of influence coming from the US and its strong-arm economic policies. Divest from the West; that should be the clarion call coming from Europe.
Well, I wasnt talking about politics or say politics was only a glance to the side: like the unwillingness to accept international laws, rights, treaties, conventions etc. that are applicable to other nations, but not the US or UK or international organizations that were more or less founded and in the political interest of the US like the WTO, the IMF etc. and later, when no more needed or when they lost control, the US (and the UK in tow) no longer gave a strong support to them, or look at the world map of the states that have signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child, that says it all! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convention_on_the_Rights_of_the_Child
This “political” side is, in my eyes, only the outside of a more general attitude, character: in many fields you see an extremely conservative attitude (which might be good or bad): the non-metric system, the love for pomp and glory, the slow development of the language like in Iceland, the feeling or conviction of being God s own country (US, which means a world mission of course) or being rightfully the masters of the world (in the British Empire, which doesnt exist anymore, of course, but this attitude has only sunk into unconsciousness).
I didnt feel comfortabe writing this. In Goethe s Faust you hear: Ein garstig Lied! Pfui! ein politisch Lied! A horrible song! Yuck! A political song!
Jeremy wrote: The history of the Society since 1925 has, on the whole, not been a happy one. The growing disagreements between members of the Vorstand after Steiner’s death, the mass expulsion of members in 1935, and a few disgraceful accommodations with Nazism in Germany and Fascism in Italy in the period leading up to the Second World War, were indicators of a movement that had lost its way.
I totally agree with you, Jeremy. For me, in my opinion the „esoteric“ Anthr. Soc. died on March 30, 1925. I would put the focus on the individuals after Rudolf Steiner s death and not on the society. How many students of anthroposophy had and have a flirt not only with fascism, but with communism, capitalism and materialistic scientific ideas in general? If we call this flirt with dark ideas ahrimanic, we can call the „inflation of the Ego“ luciferic: I know best, I have the answer, the solution to the problem or all problems, follow me, listen to me, I m the pioneer; among artists, scientists, „spiritual people“ and anthroposophists this luciferic danger is always very very present.
Or does anthroposophy ideally form a triad of invisible being, free society and outer movements?
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Rudolf Steiner gave a lecture-course in which he wanted to form a triad of the spiritual-scientific enterprise itself, and this came several years before his threefolding of the soul organism of man, which led rather quickly to the threefolding of the social organism, both of which occurred in sequence in late 1917, and into 1918.
So, as early as 1909, and continuing into 1910, and 1911, in three specific segments, Steiner gave a very unique lecture series in which he outlined the full compass of what spiritual science entails. As such, we are looking at three specific entailments: Anthroposophy, Psychosophy, Pneumatosophy.
Click to access 115.pdf
Steiner’s own specific task was to bring forth the anthroposophical dimension of this threefold enterprise, although he duly forecasted its further progression.
I feel that all the issues raised in this thread are valid.
Over 50 years rubbing along with whatever Steiner inspired I have often seen the consequences of a lack of sensitivity when trying to communicate Steiner’s inspiration to fellow human beings, whatever language is being used. I can’t remember where but I know he speaks somewhere of ‘Spiritual Tact’. It has always seemed to me to be a particularly useful but also difficult quality to develop, – knowing when and how to speak of spiritual matters so that the hearer is able to really connect in some way with what you are saying. I came to believe that an essential element of spiritual tact is the ability to listen, to really appreciate what lives in the other person’s soul. Then one will know when to speak and when to remain silent. Failing to remain silent can be very damaging. I.e., it can act as a roadblock to further communication and acceptance.
Remaining silent could be seen as avoidance but if one is an anthroposophist maybe one realises that the parts of a conversation which apparently did not take place in waking, carry on in sleep with the Angel’s help.
As Ton points out ‘Anthroposophy’ is an invisible Being with different members (in the sense of limbs & organs).
Maybe Anthroposophy cannot be codified, any more than any sentient living being can be codified. In Steiner’s life it was right to attempt that and try to make a public movement, to have a University of Spiritual Science, but maybe that time has passed.
For myself what matters now is to try and stay true to the inner path of development and remember the ever present spiritual beings who are engaged in this universe with us.
I feel I should point out that I have never been employed in an anthroposophically inspired initiative. I have only worked voluntarily in one as a Trustee. My professional and outer life and striving has always been in the ‘secular’ realm, and continues to be so. So maybe my perspective is limited by that.
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Well, Tom, I suppose that same caveat could be said for many others, including myself. You wrote:
“I feel I should point out that I have never been employed in an anthroposophically inspired initiative. I have only worked voluntarily in one as a Trustee. My professional and outer life and striving has always been in the ‘secular’ realm, and continues to be so. So maybe my perspective is limited by that.”
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No, I know that you were not talking politics directly, but rather, the world dominating position of the west, which after Horace Greeley’s famous words, “go west young man, go west”, and after making its notion of ‘manifest destiny’ realized coast-to-coast, even went out into the Pacific Ocean in order to wake up a nation that had gone into a kind of inner revolution, i.e, Japan, c. 1852.
So, the west gained an ally in Japan, and this would lead step by step into a program of eventual world domination, which the USA has over all the known world today. I am not an advocate of this policy, by any means, but can see in someone like Chancellor Merkel, a kind of FDR of Europe, i.e, 2005-2018.
This seems to be a good sign of how Europe might gain its own unity if its member constituents can truly begin to cooperate with each other. Steiner once pronounced in a lecture, that the people of modern Europe today are the rather quick reincarnation of the native Americans who were decimated by the European colonization program, which began in 1607, under the auspices of James I, King of England, and also Scotland; thus, the King of the United Kingdom.
Now, does that not sound wacky, and yet Steiner gave his usual sincere and solemn indications of this “supposed” fact in a lecture, entitled: The Past Lives of the Peoples of the Earth. He also tells of where the modern-day Americans came from, and this has a certain verification. But, when Steiner talks about the European karma that had to be sifted out with WWI, ref. GA177, maybe he was referring to this karma of the quick reincarnation of the American Indians as present-day Europeans. Personally, I have no clue other than how it appears that the various European countries maintain their territorial boundaries today in much the same way that the native Americans back in the 17th century had also drawn their once united nation into specific territories, and had made their once united people into enemies. There were warring factions going on even when the first colonial settlers arrived, c. John Smith, Virginia, 1607.
Something that I think is completely missed by observers from an American perspective is that there is no real analogy between the various states over there combined as the U.S. and the nations of Europe and the E.U. (And lost on a lot of anthroposophists too, I think, who look at the E.U. as an imperfect fulfilment of Steiner’s beliefs on the transcending of ‘nationalisms’.) A lot of American commentary, for instance, unbelievably decided that the ‘Russians-on-the-internet’ must have played a considerable part in Britain’s E.U. vote result.
So, as, for ‘how it appears,’ the vast majority of people don’t actually believe that the local, ground-up self determination and sovereignty which most of Europe’s countries possess should be trumped by technocratic governance by a committee of self-styled initiates of a cult, whose ideological ambitions for the destiny of Europe involve moulding the world and peoples’ free lives to conform with the internal edifice of their clandestine belief-system. (Which refers to the E.U. Commission, rather than anthroposophists).
Did Steiner believe that the indigeneous people of America were once one nation that splintered ? Assuming it’s true, whether from an esoteric or ‘conventional’ sense, is not the diverseness, the manifold new languages and culture sprung from generations of individual and group drawing inspiration from intimate participation with the spirit of place a richer, better thing than the supposed antecedent unity ? Seperateness does not of a necessity lead to attrition, though, nor impermeable division, and the same goes for Europe and the rest of the world. But if you blanket one culture with another, if you cause people to migrate to the extant that the unique qualities and distinctness of local cultures are lost (from both host & home), if you try to get rid of regional cultural ecologies by the accrued layering of policies designed to dessicate and kill them, then you are inherently, fundamentally in the wrong.
Negative ‘nationalism’ is not overcome by taking the ‘national’ out, inflating the same structure and calling it ‘supranational’. Being further removed, it is less representative, less an expression of the governed. It is more a ‘thing’, but now a Collossus.
Most people are not going to accept things like Steiner’s beliefs about the reincarnation of peoples. Like the E.U., it flies in the face of not only taught beliefs but individual intuition. We inherit an awareness of relation with and understanding of our forebears, the lands where we live speak with an ancient familiarity to us. I think here, and not uniquely, Steiner got it wrong. But surely right when warning that this kind of inheritance can be a danger when it is the first consideration, when it forms prejudices, when it locks in or locks out, when what is free and individual ossofies within it. It’s the balance that’s important – transcendence involves integrating and growing from rather than amputating.
If anthroposophy is to become understood and valued more widely I think it can only happen by clear, open explanation – and here, allowing for claims that the lectures and so forth can’t be simplified into a kind of guidebook, and that the effort to understand the difficult nature of the material is itself part of a necessary process, I think it must be admitted that the idiosyncracies of Rudolf Steiner’s teaching and writing is often unneccessarily obscure and obliquely structured: if someone wants to take it up for personal study and development then by all means direct the person to the source material, but for general purposes a concise if still inevitably lengthy elucidiation designed for non-esoteric students will be necessary. Otherwise, someone initially drawn to an aspect of it will drop it when he comes across a bit about ‘Buddha on Mars,’ etc. And areas where there are actual or apparent contradictions between anthroposophical and contemporary understanding should be drawn up parallel to each other, ie, draw attention to it & let an acknowledged contrast stand – an inquisitive person will hold the differing viewpoints in abeyance rather than be pushed away, as I think happens when someone initially attracted by biodynamics or whatever does when they then encounter an jarring element isolated from the contextual environment of what is (after all) a very different worldview. A rough understanding of, say, Buddhism, is culturally integrated into its non-adherents in a way that doesn’t exist for anthroposophy.
All of the above from an outsider’s perspective. Rudolf Steiner claimed clairvoyant faculties. By some means he was aware of the dying of the biomass of agricultural soils before anyone else. He predicted the current problem with the collapse of bee populations, even the rough date it would happen. He predicted that people in the future would be enmeshed in ‘weblike’ technolgies to which they would become enslaved. He spoke of the dangers of western materialist ideology for eastern world cultures, and of the danger for the west of this taking a specific form there and then in turn taking hold in the west, (which certainly seems appropriate to the history of the dystopian tendency which has informed modern manufacture, urbanisation and ‘agri-engineering’ – he seemed to hold this to be potentially globally calamitous). He seemed to describe something very like recent discoveries concerning mycorrhizal symbioses (but in terms of elemental beings). The emphasis he placed on the need for creativity in children’s education is appearing less a truism than deeply insightful and increasingly pertinent.
”Nothing can be more telling about Rudolf Steiner’s depth of insight into widely disparate subjects, than the number of trouvailles or “hits” he achieves” – Adam Makkai, Phd. Well, there’s certainly enough there of value, even for those who will always prefer to remain outside of anthroposophy per se. It would be a shame if what is (apparently) incredible in anthroposophy acted as a barrier.
It might at first seem an approach is needed to be found to present it all honestly in such a way as to allow an ‘agnostic’ approach to some areas, but while certain people can play-believe in crystals or the quasi-supernatural, anthroposophy posits a hierarchy of intelligences that lie behind manifest reality, in a more-or-less Christian context, and requires that this be approached intelligently. There’s no getting around this.
But the prevailing milieu sees anything with a spiritual bent as a form of either stupidity or madness, which pushes the matter of which name anthroposophy uses down in importance somewhat.
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Cadwalladr is a British journalist writing in the Guardian on the ‘Russians-on-the-internet’, e.g.
For those who aren’t up to speed on the politics behind this, the implication of the story is that Russia is seeking to undermine the European Union. To help them achieve this, the implication continues, they have been funding Nigel Farage (the British MEP who was credited with forcing David Cameron to promise a referendum on Brexit), as well as Farage’s millionaire backer Arron Banks. There also seem to be murky links with the Donald Trump campaign and information used by that campaign to undermine Hillary Clinton, supplied by the Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange. Interesting if true.
“Did Steiner believe that the indigeneous people of America were once one nation that splintered ? Assuming it’s true, whether from an esoteric or ‘conventional’ sense, is not the diverseness, the manifold new languages and culture sprung from generations of individual and group drawing inspiration from intimate participation with the spirit of place a richer, better thing than the supposed antecedent unity?”
Well, not exactly, or even closely, when it came to the indigenous Americans, whose ancestors had come to the west from Atlantis before its demise, ref. GA114, lecture 4. In lectures 2 & 3 of GA171, “Inner Impulses of Evolution”, you will be able to read about how the “Great Spirit” passed over from Atlantis
with this westward migration, and then how these people eventually began to divide and sub-divide, which is characteristic of primitive tribes who remain isolated without other cultural contacts. This is an important field of study by research science in physical anthropology, i.e, the extinction of primitive cultures due to lack of modern cultural influences.
Thus, the native Americans, whose ancestors were the Toltecs, or third sub-race of Atlantis, had begun to disintegrate over some ten thousand years of isolation, and this situation is what the early European colonists found when some 600 individual tribes of the once united “Great Spirit” existed by the 17th century.
“Most people are not going to accept things like Steiner’s beliefs about the reincarnation of peoples. Like the E.U., it flies in the face of not only taught beliefs but individual intuition.”
Yes, ‘taught beliefs’; exactly! And, I doubt that individual intuition has anything to do with it because intuition is a developed faculty that most people don’t bother to cultivate. Yet, more to the point, reincarnation is largely rejected today because we only know the present incarnation, and this is because the temporal lobes were installed in the brain in order to limit self-remembering to the present incarnation for the purpose of establishing individual ego-consciousness. This has occurred in this lifetime, as an evolutionary attainment. No one can deny that they experience the “I AM”, and this requires the belief that this life has achieved it without any reference to past lives. Once attained, and it has, this restriction, which has required the installing of the temporal lobes, can begin to be effectively overcome. And, this is where the Michael faculty for self-remembering comes in. Having attained to the experience of the “I AM” for the first time in this life, we can now expect to begin to remember our past lives. This is the Michael faculty, which is developing right now, and can be accelerated through the keen study of spiritual science.
Now, let’s consider what “keen study” means to someone maybe like you who wants it all to be presented rather easily and conveniently in a booklet; a guidebook. Do you think that is really possible? Of course, it could all be displayed rather systematically in an abstract fashion, and owing to the Gabriel faculty, which increased the size of the frontal lobe of the brain, but would that be effective enough for people?
My experience is that it is not enough, and yet I still don’t know what is, other than the Gemut, which I try to express. So, thank you for writing about your concerns. This Anthropopper blog serves a really important function, doesn’t it?
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Indeed, Putin’s Russia is waging a worldwide hybrid war (violence combined with disinformation), not only dividing Britain and Europe (and even the GAS).
The ‘belief-system’ of the E.U. Commission clandestine? Anyway, Britain is still a member of the Council of Europe (Churchill was the first to suggest the creation of “a Council of Europe”).
Opposing belief-systems (or ‘Steiner’s beliefs’) and an ‘agnostic approach’ (or ‘an outsider’s perspective’) will lead to nothing but scholasticism (or to a Scholastic Society), separating belief and science.
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No, I don’t think the contents of anthroposophy can be compressed effectively – the suggestion was rather for the provision of something like a broad introduction laying out as much as is possible to prevent misundertandings based on ‘bits and pieces’ or misrepresentation. Not as an alternative to the primary material.
Yes, laying it (ie, some sort of prolegomenon for people encountering anthroposophy for the first time) out with allowances or sort of semi-apologies in contentious or difficult areas would probably lead to something a bit like when Jesus or Buddha are taken just as ethical or social teachers, it wouldn’t be Anthroposphy.
It seems to me that while there are visible shoots of initiatives in education & farming and so on, anthroposophy itself is almost unknown, just a suffixed ‘based on the teachings of Austrian polymath/seer/etc, Rudolf Steiner’.
But Jeremy mentioned Anthroposophy ”contribut[ing] to public discourse ”, or
”individual anthroposophists … find[ing] common cause with people and organisations of goodwill throughout the world.”
Most of these people will not become ‘anthropsophists’, but there’s a need for a general understanding of what anthroposophy is that just isn’t there if common cause isn’t to be hampered.
Just an outsider’s view, again (& thanks.)
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Hi Jeremy, I thought you d react to my attempt to dig deeply into the British soul 😉 or you would give us Europeans and folks from overseas some private tuition on the sentiment when you and your people sing to Edward Elgar s „Pomp and Circumstance March No 1“ .
Excuse me, but where do we have any indication that the friction between Britain and the rest of Europe has anything to do with the GAS? You wrote:
“Indeed, Putin’s Russia is waging a worldwide hybrid war (violence combined with disinformation), not only dividing Britain and Europe (and even the GAS).”
Now, Jeremy offered his assessment that Farage somehow forced Cameron to concede in calling for the referendum vote concerning leaving the EU, i.e., Brexit, and yet, Cameron had just won re-election for another four-year term as Prime Minister in 2015. So, he really had no compunction to call for any vote to leave the EU. His interests had everything to do with leading the Conservative Party for another four years, and this would have taken us to 2019, which is still a year away. So, what really took place in the pressure to call for a general vote referendum of the public concerning EU participation? Cameron resigned the very next day after the referendum vote, and yet, why did he allow it in the first place? Did he just want out for some reason? His successor certainly had no affiliation for Brexit, and yet, in seeing her way to the PM position, and even calling for a new election in order to certify her deal, seems to want to continue the initiative of Britain to leave the EU. Why? All she has to do is call it off, or call for another referendum vote. Remember, it was just 52% for leaving the EU, and 48% for remaining. As well, a stormy day caused many voters to decide not to vote at all. So, Theresa May must have her own agenda here in advocating something that she does not really want at all.
I remember Jeremy saying that she was a “greasy pole climber”, which I suspect has to do with being Home Secretary for some years, and then suddenly gaining the pole position in order to make her own legacy in British parliamentary history. Well, why not. I might have done it myself if I were in the kind of servitude position that could have made me king, or PM. But, I would have certainly overthrown the referendum vote on Brexit by simply having the people vote again. Yet, May uses it in order to make herself into a kind of martyr for the cause, as if she can’t get out of it. What disingenuity!
It is about dividing Europe (and the GAS as well) along liberal and conservative lines (Remain and Leave in Britain), see e.g. Dempsey (Carnegie Europe):
“More worrying, is that what is taking place in Europe today is, unwittingly, a collusion of interests between the Trump administration and the Kremlin.
These interests are about dividing the EU. In the case of the United States, these policies undermine the transatlantic alliance and weaken the West’s projection of its values.”
A great deal of anthroposophy can actually be found compressed in Steiner’s seminal course on the Gospel of Saint John. https://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA103/English/AP1962/GosJhn_index.html
I had occasion to offer this course to someone interested in learning what Spiritual Science was all about, and this course is quite accessible because it continually compares the fundamentals of the science of the spirit to the Gospel of John. It proved to be a much better, easier introduction than, say, “Outline of Occult Science”, which can be formidable.
It also begins with the Doctrine of the Logos, which can be considered the foundation of the world, and the basis for the edifice of Anthroposophy, which has grown very tall. With an understanding of the Logos, much that appears difficult without this foundational concept, becomes very reasonable and understandable. The first lecture covers this Doctrine of the Logos, and guides the rest of the instruction. If the aptitude and interest is there, this lecture can begin a process of knowledge acquisition.
“Most of these people [individuals of common cause in goodwill endeavors] will not become ‘anthropsophists’, but there’s a need for a general understanding of what anthroposophy is that just isn’t there if common cause isn’t to be hampered. Just an outsider’s view, again (& thanks.)”
I found a nice anecdote to this which comes from the second lecture to GA146, and makes one wonder just what and how this common cause could be hampered in any way by any explanation coming from the Science of the Spirit. Steiner wanted to overcome all obstacles, but, of course, he produced an edifice in the attempt.
“It is easy to speak of what is often called dogma in occultism — something that is accepted in blind faith and given out as gospel truth. Let me suggest to you that it would be quite simple for someone to come forward and say, “This fellow has published a book on Occult Science, speaking in it about Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions, and there is no way of controlling these statements. They can only be accepted as dogma.” I could understand such a thing being said, because it corresponds to the superficial nature of our age; and there is no getting away from it, our age is superficial. Indeed, under certain conditions this objection would not be without foundation. It would be justified, for example, if you were to tear out of the book all the pages that precede the chapter on the Saturn evolution. If anyone were to begin reading the book at this chapter it would be nothing but dogma. If, however, the author prefaces it with the other chapters, he is by no means a dogmatist because he shows what paths the soul has to go through in order to reach such conceptions. That is the point, that it has been shown in the book how every individual man, if he reaches into the depths of his soul, is bound to come to such conceptions. Herein all dogmatism ceases.”
The Occult Significance of the Bhagavad Gita, 29 May 1913
I know that what you are probably thinking by now, as an outsider, is “thanks but no thanks”. And yet, Rudolf Steiner again demonstrates here what his sincere motivation is:
“The re-fashioning of the astral body indirectly through Meditation and Concentration, is called by an ancient name, “katharsis,” or purification. Katharsis or purification has as its purpose the discarding from the astral body all that hinders it from becoming harmoniously and regularly organized, thus enabling it to acquire higher organs. It is endowed with the germ of these higher organs; it is only necessary to bring forth the forces which are present in it. We have said that the most varied methods can be employed for bringing about this katharsis. A person can go very far in this matter of katharsis if, for example, he has gone through and inwardly experienced all that is in my book, The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, and feels that this book was for him a stimulation and that now he has reached the point where he can himself actually reproduce the thoughts just as they are there presented. If a person holds the same relationship to this book that a virtuoso, in playing a selection on the piano, holds to the composer of the piece, that is, he reproduces the whole thing within himself — naturally according to his ability to do so — then through the strictly built up sequence of thought of this book — for it is written in this manner — katharsis will be developed to a high degree. For the important point in such things as this book is that the thoughts are all placed in such a way that they become active. In many other books of the present, just by changing the system a little, what has been said earlier in the book can just as well be said later. In the The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity this is not possible. Page 150 can as little be placed fifty pages earlier in the subject matter as the hind legs of a dog can be exchanged with the forelegs, for the book is a logically arranged organism and the working out of the thoughts in it has an effect similar to an inner schooling. Hence there are various methods of bringing about katharsis. If a person has not been successful in doing this after having gone through this book, he should not think that what has been said is untrue, but rather that he has not studied it properly or with sufficient energy or thoroughness.” ref. GA103, 31 May 1908.
So, again, we come to the same conclusion. One thought, idea, and concept has to develop naturally from all that comes before. And this is the real nature of the common cause; at least, in the endeavor of Spiritual Science this is so.
I think there’s too wide a gulf to cross in order to get to ‘Outline of Occult Science’ in the first place, and that a prior ‘katharsis or purification’ is necessary before they can get to it; something that can bridge that gap.
There was some kind of guide in book form to guide ‘Outline…’ wasn’t there ? That tried to deal with areas where there’d be cognitive collisions, in such things as differences in chronology, ideas of evolution, etc. Something like that but much more far reaching. But helpful extracts, thanks.
As for EU issues, which probably shouldn’t have been brought up, the problem is a placing a self-appointed legislative body effectivley outside democratic control whose edicts over-rule national, democratically mandated law, which often if not always are better than EU ones, and when in error can grow and be corrected by the living realities they’re connected to in ways E.U. abstractions cannot.
What was the quote from the commission a few years back ? To the effect of ‘We will lead the people by stages to accept that which we would never dare to present to them openly.’ This kind of thinking is total evil, no hyperbole.
A pan-european legislative structure should only have the power to oversee relations and interactions between european states, and mediate common standards (agreement to which still decided by local democracy), not determine their laws. Sovereignty isn’t the same as nationalism/’populism’ (a cowardly appellation if ever there was one) as it’s portrayed, it’s the devolution of responsibilty and freedom from the macrocosm to the individual. Don’t believe everything you hear about the reasons for the the decisions for the British vote. (From a non-Brit.)
“There was some kind of guide in book form to guide ‘Outline…’ wasn’t there ? That tried to deal with areas where there’d be cognitive collisions, in such things as differences in chronology, ideas of evolution, etc. Something like that but much more far reaching.”
George Adams wrote a useful study guide that helps in dealing with the difficult material contained in Steiner’s course, “Mission of the Folk Souls”. Maybe that is what you are referring to. But, yet, again it is the sheer difficulty and demand for concentrated effort that makes Steiner’s work largely unappealing to today’s audience. I’ve had people tell me that they can’t get past the first paragraph of a single lecture. And, I can see why. It is very much a personal struggle.
At the turn of the year 1925 Steiner has summarised what anthroposophy meant to him:
“The physical body is made up of the physical and chemical processes in man. These processes take place in the present human being within the human form. But this form itself is something that is altogether spiritual. It ought to fill us with solemn [festive] feelings when, on looking at the human form, we realise that with physical senses we are perceiving in the physical world something that is spiritual. For one who is able to see spiritually it is really the case that in the human form he sees a true Imagination which has descended into the physical world. If we wish to see Imaginations we must pass from the physical world to the neighbouring spiritual world, and then we realise how the human form is related to these Imaginations.”
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Jeremy, after a long period of silence, I decided to come in touch with you thanks to your late post that is Logos, Truth. Thank You! By the way, I’d like to inform you and those with a heart that understands, those that don’t stand living their “pretty” lives on the expenses of their innocent victims, about three recent articles on the Greek and World Crisis written by three dear friends of mine:
The Valdai Club is a Russian discussion club; Geopolitics contains a 2018 interview with Putin’s ideologue Dugin; the Word-document comprises a lecture by Koulias (2018)
Peculiarly, Koulias (2018) describes the apocalyptic dragon (Rev. 12 and 20) as Sorath and the apocalyptic two horned beast (Rev. 13 and 20) as Ahriman, opposite to Steiner (1924): “The sun demon has this sign: The Apocalypticer describes him as the two horned beast.” GA0346/19240912
Thank you, my dear Steinerian Friend, for publishing my pain and anguish about the present and future of Greece and the whole World! Thank You!
Last night I was informed from my British Friends that Theresa May is betraying the fair Brexit vote as Tsipras (the Greek prime minister) has already done in tune with the Big Business. I need your wise comment. This is not a compliment at all. I’d like also to tell you that what you say about the GAS speaks directly to my soul as although it may sound strange your article is expressing accurately my own concerns and sufferings. God bless you! Dimitris
As far as I can tell, what Theresa May has persuaded her Cabinet to agree to is the worst of all worlds – Brexit in name only. We would actually be better off to stay in the EU than to go along with her softest of soft Brexits. The consequences of this for the Conservative Party, many of whose members apparently regard what has happened as betrayal of the referendum result, are yet to be seen. The effect on voters is very likely to be an increase in cynicism about democracy and a growing belief that to vote is useless. So yes, I think there is some comparison between what has just happened in the UK and what happened in Greece. What we don’t yet know is how the EU will respond to May’s proposals. If they reject some of them, there is sure to be a call in the UK for us to leave the EU with no deal at all. Part of the difficulty with this course is that David Cameron when he was prime minister forbade the civil service to make any preparations for what would need to happen if there was a ‘No’ vote; and then Philip Hammond as chancellor of the exchequer refused to allow any money to be spent on preparing for a ‘No Deal’ scenario; and so the EU knew that the UK government wanted to Remain in all but name. This has been a dirty, depressing business and very bad for democracy in the UK.
May’s Brexit proposal seems to convey the message of UK commitment to the EU after Europe’s explicit solidarity with Britain against Putin’s Russia in the MH17 (10 deaths) and Novichok (4 victims) cases.
Cadwalladr (Guardian) now: Leave.EU campaign met Russian officials as many as 11 times.
Ton, you seem to be implying that one part of the Brexit campaign was funded by the Russians in order to help break up the EU. I have no idea whether there is any truth in that suspicion, but I hope that investigative journalists will look into it seriously.
As Journalist Cadwalladr described, last year she has been violently attacked by the official Leave.EU site with a photoshopped video:
“What I hadn’t contemplated, until now, was that this may have been co-ordinated with the Russian government. That Banks and Wigmore may have been communicating with the embassy when they were launching these attacks. … What we know now is that this relationship is deeper and more complex than we could have imagined. And that Banks and Wigmore lied about it: to the public, to parliament. And we don’t know why.”
I’m coming to this discussion late. I can certainly relate to the difficulty in describing Anthroposophy to others. It was much easier when I lived in a more cosmopolitan area, but now I live in rural Ohio. We have hundreds of protestant Christian denominations here and one Catholic church. I read there are at least 35,000 Christian denominations, all based on the same book and each with the true interpretation of that book. (Can that be true? 34,000?) When I’m asked what church I go to (not infrequently) – I say I study a form of Christian wisdom called Anthroposophy, but we are too few to have a building. No one has ever asked for more information. It’s lonely in rural Ohio.
Well, you’re very welcome to this online community, Kathy! Thanks for your message, Jeremy
But who has appointed leave.eu and Farage as the spokespeople of those opposed to the EU ? The opposition, which is pan-european, grew in tandem with the extension of powers ceded to the e.u. power-body, and has always been very largely left-leaning (while the current far-right anti e.u. groups are very much a dog on a leash held by the e.u. itself). The media (and the semi-concealed political currents from which they get their impetus) ignored the real sentiment behind anti-eu feeling, and it was they, not the people, who appointed Farage.
The best way to undermine your enemy is by absorbing him into a pseudo-autonomy under your own control. A form, in other words, which is part of yourself.
(& is an unworkable situation being deliberately created in Britain as a deterrent to others ?)
Tony Benn : ”When I saw how the European Union was developing, it was very obvious that what they had in mind was not democratic. I mean, in Britain you vote for the government and therefore the government has to listen to you, and if you don’t like it you can change it. But in Europe all the key positions are appointed, not elected – the Commission, for example. All appointed, not one of them elected.
[..] And my view about the European Union has always been not that I am hostile to foreigners, but that I am in favour of democracy. And I think out of this story we have to find an answer, because I certainly don’t want to live in hostility to the European Union but I think they are building an empire there and they want us to be a part of that empire, and I don’t want that.”
Well, today’s story tells of how May’s version of Brexit is a ‘soft-sell’ version of how one can remain the conservative party PM and still want some kind of leave and take, and maybe that is actually possible. Here it is:
Now, in an earlier post, I kind of reiterated Jeremy’s own version of the so-called ‘greasy pole climber’, who had nothing to lose after the pathetic resignation of David Cameron, who resigned one day after the failure of his own referendum vote, which never even had to take place. Why did he do it? Did it really have anything to do with Nigel Farage?
I suspect it only has to do with what tomorrow brings 🙂
So much of the communications among us are about what I regard as creep shows (politics) and swimming in quicksand (reiterating history). I recall Steiner saying this stage – this 3D reality – is not going to be “recapitulated”, though Ahrimanic forces want it to continue eternally. I think for the most part politics and history are about serving the continuance of 3D. For me, Anthroposophy is an antidote to both. One of these communications talks about regarding the physical body and its chemical processes in light of its spiritual form and quotes Steiner: “…we must pass from the physical world to the neighboring spiritual world.” Another talks about the practice of Katharsis which cleanses the astral body so we can develop higher organs. I think that’s what we are here to do. And until we do, how can we adequately describe Anthroposophy to ourselves or others?
Aren’t the critical discussions in the GAS part of what you call 3D reality, so isn’t Brexit or Russia relevant to them? Katharsis (developing higher organs, e.g. studying Occult Science or Philosophy of Freedom) and Imagination (using these higher organs, enlightenment, e.g. observing the physical-spiritual human form) are indeed two aspects of germinal anthroposophical life.
Cf. Study of Man, CW 293.
Indeed, this is true. I would hope that Kathy might see that Katharsis is an ongoing function, and why some of us take the time and pains to express our dismay at what can only be the work of an agent which seeks to impose an immoral world order over the moral one. This is the difference between freedom, which is of God, and slavery, which is of Sorath. And, we know that Sorath has had three iterations in order to make his own case for what a 3D reality could mean. The current one, since 1998, is doing its best to tear the world apart.
So, I see Katharsis as very much related to living in today’s world and telling the truth, which has political implications because it goes with the territory. Steiner had the opportunity to protect the anthroposophical movement from the consequences of WWI by simply having nothing to do with it. Yet, he did. He could not resist weighing in on what was taking place, and how the movement could continue to exist in spite of it. This is what constitutes the third phase of the history of the Anthroposophical Movement, ref. GA258.
Today’s world is much the same. Do we seek a kind of internal katharsis, which is really rather easy to achieve, or do we speak out in a manner befitting what Steiner would have wanted in trying to transform the world in terms of a conscious spirit recognition?
Ton and Steve: Thank you for your responses. I think the social and political dramas in this age distract us from our work. Yes, Ton, awareness of Brexit and Russia, etc. are important to recognize – but as self-made pitfalls on the path. What does knowledge of them have to do with where we are going? I find people to be more often distracted by them than enlightened. Political theorizing is addictive. We let preoccupation with it to derail us. Will critical discussion help us understand how better to keep from falling? For some. But most people don’t change/grow with appeals to their analytical mind. We experience genuine development when we cleanse what Jung called, our Shadow. And Steve, I really have to disagree that catharsis is “really rather easy to achieve”. Is facing the Lesser Guardian easy? I think facing our Shadow is critically important and the hardest thing for a human being to do. Persistently expressing our dismay at the work of Ahriman, etc. can be regarded as the psychological defense mechanism of projection. He is, after all, MY double. Poor thing!
What I meant was that real work on oneself can be a joy when conducted with specific intent and discipline, and even while doing the daily chores. Steiner gave a nice analogy of this when he said that “work on the etheric body is to the hour hand of the clock as work on the astral body is to the minute hand”, ref. “Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy”.
Thus, work in achieving katharsis concerns the etheric body, and why paying attention to every detail with conscious intent is important. This is the hour-hand work, and where repetitions come in. When I was working in the outer external world for Ahriman, this process was much more difficult to do, but now it is quite easy and enjoyable when the discipline is applied. The astral body is the direct receiver of all that pertains to this special work in the etheric body, and leads to what can be called, “objective simultaneity”. Hour hand and minute hand mesh in such a way that time becomes seamless, and is even overcome as a 3D illusion.
So, because of this overcoming of the personal self in favor of the larger objectivity of the present world situation, Katharsis is sought on a larger scale. Speak out or stay silent. These choices are not the same. The former takes more care and courage. And we grow, in terms of the objective Self.
On the outward path, besides the lesser guardian on the inward path, another subconscious shadow appears:
’… something in addition to what appeared to him in the first instance as the “guardian of the threshold.” … It is the power that prevents the human being during physical sense-existence from perceiving the soul-spirit beings of the outer world lying behind the veil of the sensory.’ Etc.
GA013_c05-09 (cf. CW 113, 119, 124)
Ton, does S. name the “something in addition – the power that prevents”? I’m shaky on how to differentiate the Double, from the Shadow from the Lesser Guardian I wish I could research it for myself, but I don’t know where to start. What I have are hundreds of books accumulated over years, each with a set of lectures – each with different titles, etc. Is there a non-cumbersome way to steer me to how to convert what I have to the GA system?…Kathy
Yes, there is a kind of encyclopedic glossary which serves as a very useful guide in tracing Steiner’s remarks on various subjects, e.g., “guardian of the threshold”. Yet, it can also be shown that Steiner’s own remarks concerning what prevents us humans from perceiving directly the divine spiritual powers behind the outer-external world is due to the intervention of the luciferic spirits, and then the ahrimanic spirits, and even the asuric spirits, which invade the present-day ego.
These two lectures from 1909, which precede GA13, “Outline of Occult Science”, will adequately describe the situation of the spiritual beings that obscure the ability of human beings to perceive the divine spiritual powers. As such, they further the aims of individual human freedom and independence, which is their task. And, by now, it has largely been achieved due to their efforts.
Let me cite two lectures from 1909, which will serve to give the scope of what Steiner said in chapter 5 of his book, Outline of Occult Science, and then the place where the encyclopedia exists. Thanks.
There are many on line Anthroposophy tools, even more in German. You could number your books. Also, one could distinguish books and chapters on results (e.g. CW 9) an on method (e.g. CW 10).
I quoted Steiner from Occult Science:
On line CW-listing at:
https://www.rsarchive.org/Books/, also https://www.rsarchive.org/Articles/
Steiner Handbook (useful summaries of CW) in a searchable free PDF at:
Thank you! I have a monumental job ahead – I’ve never cataloged what I have. Maybe a Winter task!
I don’t see cataloging as the important issue here, but rather, understanding what we have before us as the collective works of Rudolf Steiner. As such, it is truly possible to delve into this material, or more officially known as “primary anthroposophical literature”. Thus, the key approach to it involves simply thinking in a concentrated and intensified way. This effaces the soul to the subject matter, and begins the process of gaining understanding.
Much of what Rudolf Steiner wrote and said in books and lectures can become a part of our own soul development, and then it can be renewed and refreshed in our own words for the further edification of the whole process of human evolution. I think Carl Unger advocated this in his book, “Principles of Spiritual Science”, in which he said that we should start with the findings of the spiritual investigator, and then proceed to find it out for ourselves. Thus, it also becomes a psychology of the spirit, as the individual soul works into it. I have personally found it to be true. Many commentaries on this blog over the years can attest to the fact that the science of the spirit is real, and very close to the student who applies the necessary attention. Then, it can be expressed in a way that is useful and forthcoming, and wherein we all can gain from its value for now and the future.