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Awakening to Community, GA#257
10 lectures in Stuttgart & Dornach Jan-Mar, 1923

Rudolf Steiner

ARJ2 Chapter: Spiritual Science
Published by Anthroposophic Press/NY in 1974
A Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2016


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These lectures in Stuttgart and later Dornach followed only weeks after the disastrous fire which leveled the Goetheanum on New Year's Eve. Steiner had planned these meetings in Stuttgart for some time to work on the future of the Anthroposophical Society. These lectures, seen from our perspective almost a hundred years later, were the groundwork for the founding of the General Anthroposophical Society at the Christmas Conference at the end of 1923.

Several independent groups were threatening the Society as it existed in early 1923, namely the Waldorf School, the Christian Community (still called the Movement for Religious Renewal), the various threefold organizations, and the youth sections, all of which were feeling disenfranchised by the cataloging and paper-pushing Society. Steiner did not want to begin work on building the new Goetheanum until the Society had been reformed and strengthened. He felt terrible about the delay but felt that, unless the Society were first transformed, no rebuilding of the Goetheanum could proceed.

[page 25] But the work must progress; otherwise, we would obviously have to leave the situation of the Goetheanum as it is. Resuming work on it depends entirely on strengthening the Society and freeing it of misunderstandings that sap its very lifeblood.

People who make spiritual judgments using processes better suited to observation of the physical world and logical deductions from it will arrive at such misunderstandings. One cannot defend spiritual judgments using those physical world processes. Steiner explains how one arrives at a spiritual judgment.

[page 26] Now let me continue in the spirit of my previous comments and go on to consider how a spiritual-scientific judgment is arrived at. I am speaking now of judgments that express spiritual-scientific truths.

While one can form judgments of physical truths directly and express them to others, forming judgments of spiritual truths will require several stages of internalization before one can express them to others. One simple example brought this home to me. I was sharing about the importance of an internal spleen massage to a brain surgeon friend of mine and he imagined that I meant that one cut open the abdomen below the diaphragm to massage the spleen. The spleen is the spiritual center which regulates the body and the very act of breathing and digesting food creates a gentle internal massage of the spleen.

[page 26] It can give one a strange feeling to observe how little aware people are of the seriousness with which the communication of spiritual truths is weighted. All one has to do to form and express judgments about things of the everyday world of the senses is to practice observation or logic at a given moment. Observation and logic are perfectly adequate bases for forming judgments about sense-derived and historical data. In the realm of spiritual science, however, they are not adequate. There, it is not enough to deal just once with forming a particular judgment. What is required is something quite different, something I shall call here a twofold re-casting of a judgment. This re-casting usually takes more than a short period of time; indeed, the period tends to be quite a long one.

In 1996 the Internet arrived and my first question was "What Rudolf Steiner works should I be reading?" I had read about ten small books of lecture cycles, but gathered little useful information, only a lot of unanswered questions that I sought answers for. I was told to read An Outline of Occult Science which I bought, read, and reviewed. My typical review at that time was about half of a typed page, and that's how my review came out. I understood a lot about the spiritual realities of the formation of the cosmos and the human being, but I had no idea how to share that in any detail with others.

[page 27] At this point one is obligated to keep this conclusion to oneself and not to express it. Indeed, one is even obligated to regard it simply as a neutral fact which, for the time being, one neither accepts nor rejects. Then, perhaps even years later, one comes to the point of undertaking the first re-casting of this judgment in one's own soul life; one deepens and in many respects even transforms it. Even though the content of the judgment may remain the same after its re-casting, it will have taken on a different nuance, a nuance of inner participation, perhaps, or of the warmth one has spent on it.

Some seven years later in 2003, I had read many more Steiner books, and I was ready to re-read and re-review his classic work. This time my review of An Outline of Occult Science extended for over 120 pages, and still lacks the last few chapters. As I worked my way through the expanded review, I felt exactly as Steiner reports below, that the meanings had formed themselves in me and had become part of me in its seven years of gestation, all of it outside of my awareness.

[page 27] If it has taken a matter of years to accomplish the first re-casting, one cannot, of course, have been turning the judgment over in one's mind every minute of the time. The judgment naturally disappears into the unconscious, where it carries on a life of its own quite independently of the ego. It has to have this independent life. One must stay away from it and let it live all to itself. Thus the ego element is eliminated from the judgment, which is then turned over to an objective faculty in oneself. When one first makes an observation and draws a logical conclusion from it, the ego is invariably involved. But when — possibly after a lapse of several years — a judgment is re-cast for the first time, one has the distinct experience of its emerging from the soul's depths to confront one like any other fact of the surrounding world. All this time it was out of sight. Now one comes across it again, one re-discovers it, and it seems to be saying, "The first time you formed me imperfectly, or even incorrectly, but now I have corrected myself."

For someone to read this classic book and make immediate judgments on it would be a complete folly. It is that kind of person that Steiner wished to keep members of the Society from debating in forums of any kind. Not only would it be non-productive, but it is counter-productive because it would take time away from one's absorbing further spiritual truths. For the most part I have avoided secondary material explaining aspects of spiritual science until I have assimilated all of Steiner's works. Why should I strive to assimilate something that the person might be in first stage of developing a spiritual judgment about? Or perhaps the second stage? Because there is a third stage or form of the judgment. Sometime around 2010 I felt that new form or outlook arrive in me with a degree of objectivity that it earlier had lacked.

[page 28, 29] When one then arrives at the third form of the judgment, one knows that the judgment has been in the realm of the thing or process under study. In the period between its first forming and first re-casting it remained within one's own being, but in the second such interval it plunged into the realm of the objective spiritual fact or being. One sees that in its third shape the thing or being itself gives back the judgment in the form of a certain outlook one now has. Only now does one feel equal to communicating this view or judgment of a spiritual-scientific fact. The communication is made only after completing this twofold re-casting and thus arriving at the certainty that one's first view of the matter has pursued a path directly to the facts of the case and returned again. Indeed, a judgment of supersensible things that is to find valid expression must be sent to the realm where the relevant facts or beings dwell.

This material, which would have been puzzling to me before 2010, seems clear to me now. My working through the Agriculture Course and the Anthroposophical Medicine lectures helped me to utilize and confirm my maturing judgments about the reality of the spiritual realms which underlie and shape the physical world in which we live.

[page 29] Of course, a person who reads lecture cycles just as he would a modern novel will not notice from the way it is presented that the all-important thing, the real proof, lies in this twofold re-casting of a judgment. He will then call such a statement a mere assertion, not a proof at all. But the only proof of spiritual facts is experience, experience conscientiously come by and based on a twofold re-casting of judgments. Spiritual things can be proved only by experiencing them. This does not hold true of understanding them, however. Anyone with a healthy mind can understand any adequate presentation. But to be adequate, it has to have supplied that healthy mind with all the pertinent data, so pertinently arranged that the very manner of the presentation convinces of the truth of a given conclusion.

The more familiar I became with anthroposophy, the more certain I became of its inherent reality. Nothing about it can be discerned in a flash.

[page 29, 30] The truth of a mathematical statement can be discerned in a flash, but it is correspondingly lifeless. Anthroposophical truth is a living thing. Conviction cannot be arrived at in a single moment; it is alive, and goes on growing. Conviction about anthroposophy might be compared to a baby just starting out in life, uncertain at first, scarcely more than a belief. But the more he learns, the more certain one's conviction becomes. This growing-up of anthroposophical conviction is actually proof of its inner aliveness.

Around the first third of the fifteenth century, humans evolved from a picture-based intellectual capacity to an abstract logical intellectual capacity. This led a rapid development of sciences of how the sensory-perceptible world works and a rapid development in the abstract mathematical abilities which have grown in parallel with our scientific understanding. What has remained outside the ken of most scientists is how our pure thinking abilities have brought us freedom as individuals. Steiner's classic book, The Philosophy of Freedom, was written to bring notice to this important connection between abstract thinking and freedom.

[page 32] But these abstract concepts educate our souls to the pure thinking described in my Philosophy of Freedom. It is they that enable us to become free beings. Before people were able to think in abstractions they were not free, self-determined souls. One can develop into a free being only by keeping the inner man free of influences from outside, by developing a capacity to lay hold on moral impulses with the aid of pure thinking, as described in the Philosophy of Freedom. Pure thoughts are not reality, they are pictures, and pictures exercise no sort of compulsion on us. They leave us free to determine our own actions.

In his book, Steiner developed systematically the ideas which I first encountered as a youth of 18 in Ralph Waldo Emerson's great essay, "Self-Reliance". At age forty, I paid dearly to attended lectures by Andrew J. Galambos in which he produced an amazing operational definition of freedom. Then about ten years later, I found and studied Steiner's "Philosophy of Freedom" which brought the ideas of my earlier readings together in a great syzygy of freedom.

When I read each new Steiner book, I always encounter some new and mind-boggling concept. People near death are known to have seen their entire life "flash before their eyes", and Steiner has in many places referred to this phenomenon. We retain our etheric body for several days after we die and during that time we see our life, back to our earliest memory, spread out " in mighty pictures, in an undetailed, comprehensive and harmonious panorama." (Page 32) What surprised me is this next passage where he reveals this panorama was a recent event in historical times.

[page 32, 33] That is the way it is today, my dear friends. But in the time when people living on earth still possessed a picture consciousness their experience immediately after death was that of a rational logical view of the world such as human beings have today, but which those who lived in earlier times did not have in the period between birth and death.

The import of this is awesome. The abilities humans experienced during earlier lifetimes of a pictorial thinking was followed by their after-death experience of abstract, logical thinking of the type that forms our current life experiences. Since these earlier humans had no previous experience of such a consciousness, this ability must have been pressed into them by the spiritual world to prepare them for the upcoming change in a future lifetime, the one we are living in now. Steiner says, "This constant pressing through of supersensible experience into earthly experience is one of the great secrets of existence." He continues:

[page 33] The capacity for abstraction and freedom that presently extends into earthly life was something that came into an earlier humanity's possession only after death in the form of the looking back I have described; whereas nowadays, human beings living on the earth possess rationality, intellectuality and freedom, exchanging these after death for a mere picture consciousness in their reviewing of their lives. There is a constant passing over of this kind going on, with the concretely supersensible thrusting itself into sense experience.

What awaits us in the future? What might the next transition be? A rational, logical thinking combined with an active pictorial thinking ability, perhaps? I am thinking of the amazing abilities of exceptional people such as Nicola Tesla who had such an ability. He could form a novel electrical motor or generator with his logical rational thinking and then project an image of it in completed form in front of him on a table and watch it operating. He might, as he observed the bearings wear down, figure a way to redesign the bearings. Yes, we have computers that can do such visual projections today, but that kind of ability may be pressed into us as a human experience in some forthcoming future lifetime.

[page 33, 34] You can see from this example how anthroposophy obtains the facts it speaks of from observation of the spiritual/and how subjectivity has no chance to color its treatment of a fact. But once we arrive at these facts, do they not affect our feelings and work on our will impulses? Could it ever be said of anthroposophy that it is merely theory? How theoretical it would sound to say merely that modern man is ruled by freedom and abstraction! But how richly saturated with artistic feeling and religious content such a statement becomes when we realize that what gives us modern human beings freedom in our earthly experience and a capacity for abstraction is something that comes to us here on earth from the heavenly worlds we enter after death, but that makes its way to us in a direction exactly counter to the one we take to enter them! We go out through the gates of death into spiritual realms. Our freedom and capacity for abstraction come to us as a divine gift, given to the earth world by the spiritual. This imbues us with a feeling for what we are as human beings, making us warmly aware not only of the fact that we are bearers of a spiritual element, but of the source whence that element derives. We look on death with the realization that what lies beyond it was experienced by people of an earlier time in a way that has now been carried over into the modern experiencing of people here on earth.

How can we as humans learn to accept these gifts from the supersensible world and use them wisely? To do this we needed to receive the greatest gift of all, the Christ impulse, the Gift, the Deed, the Mystery of Golgotha.

[page 34] The fact that Christ came to live on earth enables him to hallow elements of heavenly origin that might otherwise tempt man to arrogance and similar attitudes. We are living in a period that calls on us to recognize that our loftiest modern capacities, the capacity for freedom and pure concepts, must be permeated by the Christ impulse. Christianity has not reached its ultimate perfection. It is great just because the various evolutionary impulses of the human race must gradually be saturated by the Christ impulse. Man must learn to think pure thoughts with Christ, to achieve freedom with Christ, because he will otherwise not have that relationship to the supersensible world that enables him to perceive correctly what it gives him.

This is like a roller coaster ride. Can you feel the rumbling underneath your reality? Get ready for another great swoop downward and upward.

[page 34, 35] Studying ourselves as modern human beings, we realize that the supersensible penetrates into earthly life through the gates of death in a direction directly counter to that that we take on dying. We go one way as human beings. The world goes the opposite way. With the descent of Christ, the spiritual sun enters from spiritual heights into the earth realm, in order that the human element that has made its way from the supersensible to the sense world come together with the cosmic element that has taken the same path, in order that man find his way to the spirit of the cosmos. He can orient himself rightly in the world only if the spirit within him finds the spirit outside him. The spirit that an older humanity found living in the world beyond death can be rightly laid hold upon by people living on the earth today only if they are irradiated by the Christ, who descended to earth from that same world whence rationality and intellectuality and freedom made their way into the experience of incarnated human beings.

How can we find warmth in abstract, logical thought? By going through it, by following the path that Rudolf Steiner lays out for us in his anthroposophy.

[page 35] So we may say that anthroposophy begins in every case at the scientific level, calls art to the enlivening of its concepts, and ends in a religious deepening. It begins with what the head can grasp, takes on all the life and color of which words are capable, and ends in warmth that suffuses and reassures the heart, so that man's soul can at all times feel itself in the spirit, its true home. We must learn, on the anthroposophical path, to start with knowledge, then to lift ourselves to the level of artistry, and to end in the warmth of religious feeling.

When we think with passive thoughts there is no warmth in our thoughts; such weak thinking leaves a corpse of dead thoughts in our soul.

[page 41] When one suffuses one's thinking with active soul life, one realizes for the first time that thought is just a left-over and recognizes it as the remains of something that has died. Ordinary thinking is dead, a mere corpse of the soul, and one has to become aware of it as such through suffusing it with one's own soul life and getting to know this corpse of abstract thinking in its new aliveness.

What is the answer? How does one create living thoughts? One way is to read Steiner's Philosophy of Freedom differently from the way one reads other works.

[page 45] The essential thing would be to change the habit of reading books like my Philosophy of Freedom with the mental attitude one has toward other philosophical treatises. The way it should be read is with attention to the fact that it brings one to a wholly different way of thinking and willing and looking at things. If this were done, one would realize that such an approach lifts one's consciousness out of the earth into another world, and that one derives from it the kind of inner assurance that makes it possible to speak with conviction about the results of spiritual research. Those who read The Philosophy of Freedom as it should be read speak with inner conviction and assurance about the findings of researchers who have gone beyond the state one has oneself reached as a beginner. But the right way of reading The Philosophy of Freedom makes everyone who adopts it the kind of beginner I am describing. Beginners like these can report the more detailed findings of advanced research in exactly the same way in which a person at home in chemistry would talk of research in that field. Although he may not actually have seen it done, it is familiar to him from what he has learned and heard and knows as part of reality. The vital thing in discussing anthroposophy is always to develop a certain soul attitude, not just to project a picture of the world different from the generally accepted one.

The key to discussing anthroposophy is the process one uses, not the content that one chooses to focus upon. It is not some out-there world view to be projected upon others that is important, but the very process of one's soul attitude that communicates to others.

Steiner reveals the three phases of the Anthroposophical Society. It began in the womb of the Theosophical Society. It was a western idea growing inside the mother of eastern traditions, a move that began with the Tao and ended with the MoG. Its gestation phase lasted about seven years. The birth of the new Western Society came about when the old Eastern-oriented Society announced the reincarnation of Christ in a young man, which was unacceptable especially to Rudolf Steiner who had come to a realization of the Mystery of Golgotha and a detailed interpretation of the four Gospels "that reconciled tradition with what modern man can grasp with the help of the Christ who lives and is active in the present." (Page 48)

[page 48] The second phase, which lasted to 1916 or 1917 [RJM: another seven year period], was spent in a great survey of the accepted science and practical concerns of contemporary civilization. We had to show how anthroposophy can be related to and harmonized with modern science and art and practical life at their deeper levels.

This second phase ended with the Great War which filled Europe and became known as World War I as it concerned civilization across the world. Steiner used a beautiful metaphor to characterize this period of hardship for him, "It was especially hard to bring the tiny ship of anthroposophy through the storms of this period." (Page 49) The construction of the Goetheanum went on by virtue of it being in a neutral country, Switzerland, and the workers which came together from many countries cooperated with each other even though their own countries were warring with each other. This was truly a time of war and peace.

[page 49, 50] Then came the third phase of the Movement, the phase in which a number individuals started all kinds of activities. As I have stressed here as well as elsewhere, these undertakings were good things in themselves. But they had to be started with an iron will and appropriately followed through.

Most important among these initiatives, using their recent names, were the Waldorf Schools, the Christian Community, and the Threefold Society, the first two covering the areas of education and religion and the last the appropriate interaction between the State, Economy, and Religion areas of life.

As a physicist I began to be puzzled by life. I saw life as a puzzle with an enigma on each end. How can the three be reconciled? What happened before we were born? What happens during our life. What happens after death? My search for answers led me productively to find answers to the questions of life in psychotherapy, neurophysiology, biology, archaeology, quantum mechanics, and astrophysics, but nowhere could I find answers to the first and third questions. Until I found Rudolf Steiner's writings. The eastern mysticism jargon with its polysyllabic bafflegab about metaphysics was unreadable and incomprehensible to me. I needed someone who knew how to explain to me in words and concepts I could understand, and Steiner does that admirably. He understood how to bring physicists to anthroposophy, and showed me how. He answered the two remaining questions.

[page 50] I was always calling attention, for example, to the way modern physicists come to their particular mode of thinking. I did not reject their thinking; I accepted it and took it for my own point of departure, as when I said that if we start where the physicists leave off, we will get from physics to anthroposophy.

This respect for physics and all the other sciences was one of the amazing aspects of Steiner's work which endeared him to me. Apparently the journal Die Dre I developed a different approach, one which attacked science, and this disturbed Steiner greatly.

[page 51] I was horrified at the way science and anthroposophy were treated there; it was harmful to both. Anthroposophy is put in an unfavorable light when anthroposophists engage in unfruitful polemics.

Steiner's approach to the sciences and all other fields of work was to respect their work and to show how anthroposophy, rightly understood, does best to avoid degrading their works by instead building upon their work in the various fields of human endeavor. His charge to anthroposophists was: 'Don't argue, Study". Such attacks by anthroposophists was a huge problem in Steiner's last years, and his efforts have borne fruit today. In my experience, I have found few anthroposophists belittling any other fields of human endeavor.

Here's a clear statement of the charge he gave to anthroposophists in Lecture 3, February 6, 1923.

[page 52] . . . always keep in mind that anthroposophy may not be neglected in favor of science, but rather made the crowning peak of science's most recent developments. Our scientists should take care not to expose anthroposophy to scientific attack with their fruitless polemics. . . . I am therefore concerned, on this grave occasion, to find words that can serve as guides to positive work, to get us beyond fruitless talk of the sort that take us back two decades and makes it seem as though no anthroposophical work had been accomplished.

What is anthroposophy? Steiner's preferred definition is "the consciousness of one's humanity." (Page 61) How do we arrive at anthroposophy? The easy answer is that we seek to tear ourselves away from the strictures of the past.

[page 58] The kind of life and practice that civilized man has developed in recent centuries is just exactly the kind from which an anthroposophist longs to free his moral, ethical and religious nature. Even if he makes compromises with the life about him, as indeed he must, his real desire is to escape from what the civilization of recent centuries has produced, leading as it has directly to the catastrophic present. It may be that this desire exists only as an instinct in many of those who seek out the Anthroposophical Movement, but it is definitely present.

To escape from the strictures of the past requires one to reverse the direction of will forces from externally driven to internally driven. This is not an easy concept, but it is one of the key things which leads people to anthroposophy. The reversing of external will forces needs to be understood and acknowledged.

[page 58, 59, italics added] The real truth is that what we have had drummed into us from about our sixth year onward is the product of externally influenced will and religious impulses that have evolved during recent centuries. But when a person seeking anthroposophy wants to escape from these will impulses and from the religious forms in which man's moral life finds its highest expression, he cannot help asking at the same time for a way of knowledge in keeping not with the world he wants to leave behind but with the new world of his seeking. Since he has turned his will impulses inward, he must, in other words, strive for the kind of knowledge that corresponds to his in-turned will, that takes him ever further away from the externalized science that has been an outgrowth of the externalizing of all life in the civilized world in the past few centuries. An anthroposophist feels that he would have to be inconsequential and reverse the direction of his will again if he were not to change the direction of his knowledge. He would have to be a quite unthinking person to say, " I feel my humanity alien to the kind of life and practice that past centuries have brought us, but I feel quite at home with the knowledge they produced." The kind of learning, that the world he wants to escape from has acquired, can never satisfy a person with an in-turned will.

Here are the three aspects of the path which leads people to the Anthroposophical Society: reversing will from external to internal, experiencing supersensible knowledge, and finding one's own destiny in the present time.

[page 60] The path that leads into the Society consists firstly, then, in changing the direction of one's will; secondly, in experiencing supersensible knowledge; lastly, in participating in the destiny of one's time to a point where it becomes one's personal destiny. One feels oneself sharing mankind's evolution in the act of reversing one's will and experiencing the supersensible nature of all truth. Sharing the experience of the time's true significance is what gives us our first real feeling for the fact of our humanness.

Often Steiner has us remember how the ancients perceived the world so that we may appreciate how we have arrived at our present consciousness. In Lecture V he tells us of a typical man of the ancient Orient who perceived divine-spiritual beings as clearly as he saw his fellow humans. For him religion was not a belief, but a certainty, and we do ourselves ill if we pretend this ancient man was a dabbler in animism and mystical fantasies.

[page 72] This was the source of his inner religious certainty, which differed in no way from his certainty concerning things in nature round about him. He saw his god, and could therefore believe in his existence just as firmly as he believed in the existence of a stone, a plant, clouds or rivers. What modern science dubs animism, picturing the ancients relying on poetic fantasy to endow nature with a living spiritual element, is an invention of childish dilettantism. The fact is that people beheld spiritual beings in the same way they beheld the world of nature and the senses.

We can only understand the artworks of ancient Orientals rightly if we accept them as accurate portrayals of the reality they experienced as much Canaletto experienced the Venetian canals he painted so well.

[page 72] The reverence they felt in inner soul relationships to their gods was the content of their religious life. When they imprinted on matter what they had beheld in the spirit, that was felt to be their art. But the techniques and the physical materials at their disposal for expressing what they thus beheld fell far short of their actual visions.

Their relationship with their visions was immediate, and they made artworks for others who could not behold it for themselves. You might say that they were painting for you and me today, so it would be disrespectful of us to call their visions flights of fancy.

[page 73] This relationship to the divine-spiritual was so immediate, so real, so concrete that people felt that the thoughts they had were a gift of the gods, who were as present to them as their fellow men. They expressed it thus, "When 1 talk with human beings, we speak words that sound on the air. When I talk with the gods, they tell me thoughts that I hear only inside me. Words expressed in sounds are human words. Words expressed in thoughts are communications from the gods."

This above passage inspired me to write this poem.

Modern Wisdom

Ancients would say —
Humans speak words
       as sounds in the air

Gods speak words
       as thoughts in our heads

Moderns would say —
Humans speak words
       as sounds in the air

And create words
       as thoughts in our heads

When did we moderns replace
       the gods' words with our own?

Did we do so?

Or did we join the chorus
       of gods' voices
And with our voices
       drown them out?

Keep quiet . . .

Let the gods' voices
       form thoughts in our mind.

The ancients lived the three ideals of religion, art, and science in parallel as if it were one ideal. We moderns separate these three and suffer from the separation.

{page 73, 74] We can say, then, that men's beholding of the gods became the inner life of the religious ideal. Their symbolical-allegorical expression of divine forms through the various media was the life underlying the ideal of art. In their re-telling of what the gods had told them lived the ideal of science. These three ideals merged into one in ancient Oriental times, for they were at bottom one and the same.

Steiner reminds us what Goethe said, "What you call the spirit of the times is just your own spirit with times reflected in it."

As humans evolved from the ancient Orientals to the ancient Greeks, they went from seeing the past cosmos in man to seeing the present cosmos in man. We moderns are beginning to see the future cosmos in man, rightly understood.

[page 76] The Greeks' feeling that man was evidence of divine creation was matched by their feeling that works of art, like temples and statues, also had to bear witness to divine governance, though that was now conceived as acting through the agency of human fantasy. Looking at a temple, one could see that its builder had so mastered all the laws of his medium that every least details of their application reflected what he had experienced in this intercourse with the gods.

To understand why we might be seeing the future cosmos in man, we need only look at how the Greeks saw plants as completed, perfect entities, where we moderns see plants as evolving structures at many levels. Even the proteins created inside plants have been proven to change in response to stimulants in the air, water, and soil left by human presence. (See my thesis Plant As Doctor.)

[page 80] We have learned to look much more precisely at nature. The Greek saw the bird where we see the egg. He saw the finished stage of things; we, their beginnings. The person who feels his whole heart and soul thrill to the seed aspects, the seed possibilities in nature, is the man who has the right outlook on it.
       That is the other side of modern natural science. Anyone who starts looking through microscopes and telescopes with a religious attitude will find seed stages everywhere. The exactness characteristic of the modern way of studying nature allows us to see it as everywhere creative, everywhere hastening toward the future. That creates the new religious idea.
       Of course, only a person with a feeling for the seed potentialities that each individual will live out in other, quite different earthly and cosmic lives to come can develop the religious ideal I am describing.
       The Greeks saw in man the composite of everything there was in the cosmos of his own period. The ancient Orientals saw in man the composite of the whole cosmic past. Today, we sense seeds of the future in human beings. That gives the new religious ideal its modern coloring.

Community building for the anthroposophical movement was Steiner's primary concern as he entered Lecture VI.

[page 90] Community building! It is particularly noteworthy that the community building ideal should be making its appearance in our day. It is the product of a deep, elemental feeling found in many human souls today, the product of a sense of definite relationship between person and person that includes an impulse to joint activity.

It was not surprising in retrospect that the Movement for Religious Renewal would result in the formation of the Christian Community which thrives to this day as an anthroposophical-based religious service with rites appropriate to a consciousness soul age. Steiner did not want abstract sermons which had so filled Protestant churches of his time.

[page 91] What I had in mind was to develop a religious and pastoral element capable of really uniting people. I told these friends who had come to me that religious community could not be effectively built with abstract words, the usual kind of sermon, and the meager remnants of a divine service, which are all that most contemporary churches have to offer. The prevailing intellectualistic trend that is increasingly taking over the religious field has had the effect of saturating a great many present day sermons with a rationalistic, intellectualistic element. This does not give people anything that could unite them. On the contrary, it divides and isolates them, and the social community is reduced to atoms. This must be easy to see for anyone who realizes that the single individual can develop rationalistic and intellectualistic values all by himself. Simply attaining a certain cultural level enables an individual to acquire increasingly perfect intellectual equipment without depending on anyone else. One can think alone and develop logic alone; in fact, one can do it all the better for being by oneself. When one engages in purely logical thinking, one feels a need to withdraw from the world to the greatest possible extent, to withdraw from people. But the tendency to want to get off by oneself is not the only one man has. My effort today to throw light on what it is in the heart's depths that searches for community is called for by the fact that we are living in a time when human nature must go on to develop the consciousness soul, must become ever more conscious. . . . Becoming more conscious is not the same thing as becoming more intellectualistic.

Reading this brought to my mind a note in Ralph Waldo Emerson's Journal written on August 27, 1836: "A great licentiousness seems to have followed directly on the heels of the Reformation. Luther even had to lament the decay of piety in his own household. 'Doctor,' said his wife to him one day, 'how is it that while subject to papacy, we prayed so often & with such fervor, while now we pray with the utmost coldness & very seldom?' Remember Luther's wife!" Steiner was remembering Luther's wife. Perhaps it wasn't the papacy so much as the rites and the community participating in them instead of listening to intellectualistic sermons.

At the basis of community, Steiner saw a community of speech.

[page 92] In a child's early years it is introduced into a human community that is absolutely real, concrete and human, a community without which one could not exist. I am referring to the community of human speech. Speech is the form of community that we might say nature presents to our contemplation. Speech — and especially our mother tongue — is built into our whole being at a time when the child's etheric body is not yet born, and it is our first experience of the community building element.

When my mother was nearing 80, my wife and I went with her to Donner Reunions. These annual reunions were for a town in which she grew up as a child, a sawmill community which disappeared shortly after the old growth cypress it clear-cut from the swamp surrounding it had disappeared. I was amazed to watch my aging mother morph into a six-year-old school girl again she scooted around the floor of the reunion building talking animatedly with her old school chums from 70 years ago. In more recent times, I have attended monthly luncheons with friends from Westwego I knew as a schoolboy that I haven't seen in over 60 years, and I experienced the stirring of deep memories filling our communal experience. Alumn I reunions provide a similar experience, and often attendees cannot express the feelings they experience. When I encountered this next passage by Steiner, it spoke directly to my own experiences of these various reunion activities.

[page 93] At certain moments of our life on earth we can become aware of another community building element that transcends that of language. A person feels it when his destiny brings him together again with others whom he knew as children. Let us take an ideal example. Someone finds himself in later life — in his forties or fifties, say — in the company of several companions of his youth or childhood whom he has not seen for decades but with whom he spent the period between his tenth and twentieth years. Let us assume that good relationships prevailed among them, fruitful, loving relationships. Now imagine what it means for these individuals to share the experience of having their souls stirred by common memories of their youthful life together. Memories lie deeper than experiences on the language level. Souls sound more intimately in unison when they are linked by the pure soul language of memories, even though the community experience they thus share may be quite brief. As everyone knows from such experiences, it is certainly not just the single memories that are summoned up to reverberate in the souls of those present that stir such intimate soul-depths in them; it is something quite else. It is not the concrete content of the particular memories recalled. An absolutely indefinite yet at the same time very definite communal experiencing is going on in these human souls. A resurrection is taking place, with the countless details of what these companions experienced together now melting into a single totality, and what each contributes as he enters into the others' recollections with them is the element that awakens the capacity to experience that totality.

Sermons, rationalistic talks, make us forget the spiritual world, Steiner tells us, even in our subconscious soul depths. But in a cultus, a community engaged in a rite, there is a real presence of the spirit which is shared by those present.

[page 95] In the cultus he has it right there before him in a living, power-pervaded picture that is more than a mere symbol. Nor is this picture a dead image; it carries real power, because it places before man scenes that were part of his spiritual environment before he was incarnated in an earthly body. The community creating power of the cultus derives from the fact that it is a shared, comprehensive memory of spiritual experiences.

On page 97, he adds, "Yes, it is indeed necessary to base our understanding of anthroposophy on what can be called a waking up in the encounter with the soul and spirit of another person."

In February, 2013 I attended a Mi-cha-el Conference at the Goetheanum, in a large hall abutting the Carpentry Shop where Steiner held his lectures (four of the lectures in this book), after the first Goetheanum had burnt down. Some forty-plus people from as far away as California, Moscow, South Africa were gathered there. Together we made sculptures of clay, performed eurythmy, acted in plays, sang and danced, listened to lectures, engaged in speech lessons, and prepared food and ate together for almost a week. We felt the presence of the supersensible in this wonderful celebration of community, in our cultus.

[page 99] Divine powers are present in sense perceptible form in the cultus celebrated on the physical plane. Our hearts and souls and attitudes must learn similarly to invoke the presence of a real spiritual being in a room where anthroposophy is being talked of. We must so attune our speaking, our feeling, our thinking, our impulses of will to a spiritual purpose avoiding the pitfall of the abstract, that we can feel a real spiritual being hovering there above us, looking on and listening. We should divine a supersensible presence, invoked by our pursuit of anthroposophy. Then each single anthroposophical activity can begin to be a realizing of the supersensible.

By the age of fifty, I was yet to have met a single person who knew who Rudolf Steiner was. I had been reading small books of lecture cycles he gave to people who were already familiar with his work, and though I found them interesting, I felt I was missing something. When the Internet began to provide direct connection with the rest of the world, I searched for Rudolf Steiner and found a group of people who told me which books to begin studying in order to learn about anthroposophy. Within a decade, all the various studies of my life began to make sense: I had been preparing to meet Rudolf Steiner and his works, he was here to answer the many unanswered questions that I had been holding onto for most of my life. And most importantly I had found a community of like souls and spirits independent of the Anthroposophical Society.

[page 101] But anthroposophy is independent of anthroposophical societies and can be found independently of them. It can be found in a special way when one human being learns to wake up in the encounter with another and out of such awakening the forming of communities occurs. For one undergoes ever fresh awakenings through those with whom one finds oneself foregathered, and that is what holds such groups together. Inner, spiritual realities are at work here.

Two people can sleep next to each other and each will dream separate dreams. When some noise from outside, a rooster crows, say, they are awakened to the presence of the natural world. As they sit down to eat together for breakfast, they become awakened to the presence of others, to the presence of community. This are natural occurrences. They can become skewed if one person takes a dream and begins to create the dream in the waking world.

[page 108] At the moment when the state of mind prevailing at this lower level of consciousness is carried over to a higher level, a person becomes a crass egotist in his relations to his fellow men. You need only think this over to see that a person of this kind goes entirely by his imaginings. He comes to blows with the others because they cannot follow his reasoning. He can commit the wildest excesses because he does not share a common soul world with other human beings.

How are people who come versed in supersensible based-science to meet with those who come versed only in ordinary sensory-based science? It is a problem which can cause physical confrontations between them.

[page 110] That is the root of the problem of reaching any understanding and agreement between the everyday consciousness, which is also that of ordinary science, and the consciousness anthroposophy makes possible. When people come together and talk back and forth, one with the ordinary consciousness exemplified in the usual scientific approach and the other with a consciousness equal to forming judgments that accord with spiritual reality, then it is exactly as though a person recounting his dreams were trying to reach an understanding with someone telling him about external facts. When a number of people meet in an ordinary state of consciousness and fail to lift themselves and their full life of feeling to the supersensible level, when they meet to listen in a merely ordinary state of mind to what the spiritual world is saying, there is a great — an immeasurably great — chance of their coming to blows, because all such people become egotists as a natural consequence.

In Steiner's day as well as ours people hardly pay attention to what others are saying. The worse ones are those who begin talking before the other person can finish a sentence, giving the impression that their opinion is the only one worth talking or hearing about. An old saying goes, "We were given two ears and one mouth because we were meant to listen twice as much as we talk." My motto is: One can only learn when one is listening. This ability to listen is difficult to acquire, and few people overcome that difficulty. But good listeners are indeed a treasure. How can one best deal with such a one-sided conversation?

[page 110 - 111, italics added] It has become a habit nowadays to give only scant attention to somebody else's words. When a person is part way through a sentence, someone else starts talking, because he is not the least interested in what is being said. He is interested only in his own opinion. One may be able, after a fashion, to get by with this in the physical world, but it simply cannot be done in the spiritual realm. There, the soul must be imbued with the most perfect tolerance; one must educate oneself to listen with profound inner calm even to things one cannot in the least agree with, listen not in a spirit of supercilious endurance, but with the most positive inner tolerance as one would to well-founded utterances on the other person's part. In the higher worlds there is little sense in making objections to anything. A person with experience in that realm knows that the most opposite views about the same fact can be expressed there by, let us say, oneself and someone else. When he has made himself capable of listening to the other's opposite view with exactly the same tolerance he feels toward his own — and please notice this! — then and only then does he have the social attitude required for experiencing what was formerly merely theoretical knowledge of the higher worlds.

Steiner mentions two sets of lectures he gave in which he felt no need to mention the word anthroposophy. The first set was in Oxford, 1922, and can be found in the book, The Spiritual Ground of Education, GA#305. The second set of lectures was in Vienna1922, and can be found in the book, The Tension Between East and West, GA#83. After his Oxford lectures, some wrote that Steiner gave the impression of simply talking about pedagogy from a different direction, not as someone speaking about anthroposophy. In the Vienna lectures, Steiner spoke without mentioning the word anthroposophy at all. In my copy of the book, the index show only one reference to the word. It was by Owen Barfield in his Introduction. But Steiner says, "Of course, what I presented was pure anthroposophy." (Page 116) He did these things to stress that anthroposophy is a process one uses in understanding the world and one's understanding best shown not by talking about anthroposophy as a content, but by using your understanding as a way of helping others to find the insights into world of the supersensible from which the everyday world of the physical senses originates. Newcomers are often eager to spring content upon others because all they understand is pieces of superficial content.

What is the relationship of the soul of man to truth? Steiner says that people who insist on proof are requiring a "special way of using thought as a mediator".

[page 122, 123] Something in the physical world can seem just as right as a dream content does to the dreaming person. But the carrying over of things of one's dream life into situations of everyday waking consciousness nevertheless remains an abnormal and harmful phenomenon. It is similarly harmful to carry over into the consciousness needed for understanding the spiritual world convictions and attitudes quite properly adopted in ordinary waking consciousness.

When a mathematician completes a proof, the answer is laid out logically on paper for all to see and understand. When an anthroposophist come to a spiritual understanding, the result can be seen and understood in the person. No proof is necessary because the understanding exists in the person; it can only be personally understood by others who work towards and arrive at an equivalent understanding.

[page 123] I can give you an instructive example. As a result of the way modern man has become so terribly caught up in intellectuality and a wholly external empiricism, even those people who are not especially at home in the sciences have taken up the slogan: Prove what you are saying! What they are stressing is a certain special way of using thought as a mediator. They know nothing of the immediate relationship the soul of man can have to truth, wherein truth is immediately apprehended in just the way the eye perceives the color red, that is, seeing it, not proving it. But in the realm of reason and intellect, each further conceptual step is developed out of the preceding one.

When I read page 123, I remembered a book by Nicholas Humphrey called Seeing Red. In my study of his book, I came to the conclusion that it is impossible to prove that a color is red, if you mean by color the experience of color one has in one's soul. Why? Because you cannot see into another's soul; you can only correspond what you see in your soul with what they say they experience in their soul. The following poem was inspired by Steiner saying what intellectually strait-jacketed thinkers require of others, namely, "Prove what you are saying!".

Prove What You're Saying

       "Okay, this color is red."
Do you mean you see this color as red?
Well, I cannot perceive nor measure the color you see.
Can you prove the color you see is red?
Can you share with me
       what your soul experiences as red?
Can you share with me
       what you dreamed as red?
What is the spectral wavelength of red, Mr. Physicist?
       " I can measure it."
Well said, but can you measure the spectral wavelength
       of the red you see in a dream?


If you can't prove
this color is red,

How can you prove
that God is dead?

Your very existence,
Your very ability to prove,
Proves God is alive.

Steiner goes into detail below showing how it is good for spiritual investigators to prove things to investigators of the physical world, but it is dumb for materialistic investigators to demand proof from spiritual investigators.

[page 123] Where the physical plane is concerned, one is well advised to become a bright fellow who can prove everything, and to develop such a good technique in this that it works like greased lightning. That is a good thing where the physical plane is concerned, and a good thing for the sciences that deal with it. It is good for the spiritual investigator to have developed a certain facility in proving matters of the physical world. Those who acquaint themselves closely with the intentions underlying the work of our Research Institute will see that wherever this technique is applicable, we, too, apply it. But if you will permit me the grotesque expression, one becomes stupid in relation to the spiritual world if one approaches it in a proof-oriented state of mind, just as one becomes stupid when he projects a dreamer's orientation into ordinary waking consciousness. For the proving method is as out of place in the spiritual world as is an intrusion of the dream state into the reality of waking consciousness. But in modern times things have reached the point where proving everything is taken as a matter of course. The paralyzing effect this trend has had in some areas is really terrifying.

The need for proof for materialists have grown so great that now atheists are claiming to have proved the non-existence of God. Theology has become an applied science which hobbles itself when it attempts to become a proof-based discipline. Religion, which originally was direct knowledge of the spiritual world, has now become proof-oriented, and proofs can be disputed. Steiner said famously, "When knowledge ceases, discussion begins." That is the current situation of religion, up until now.

[page 123, 124] Religion, which grew out of direct vision, and in neither its modern nor its older forms was founded on anything susceptible of intellectual-rational proof, has now become proof-addicted rationalistic theory, and it is proving, in the persons of its extremer exponents, that everything about it is false. For just as it is inevitable that a person become abnormal when he introduces dream concerns into his waking consciousness, so does a person necessarily become abnormal in his relationship to higher worlds if he approaches them in a way suited to the physical plane. Theology has become either an applied science that just deals practically with whatever confronts it or a proof-minded discipline, better adapted to destroying religion than to establishing it.

Materialists who wish to have proofs need only copy out Steiner's writings where he shows how proof stands when it is applied to supersensible facts. He says clearly on page 125, that an Apop (student of higher worlds) need "not wander about like a dreamer in the physical world; one will relate to it as a person with both feet set firmly on the ground." (Page 125) In my diagram at right, I show the Materialist with one foot on physical reality and the other foot dangling on the void, and I show the Apop with one foot on physical reality and one foot on spiritual reality. The only real choice for the full human being is to be fully grounded on both worlds.


At the end of 1923, Rudolf Steiner called a conference for organizing the Anthroposophical Society to align it with the community forming principles he laid out in this series of lectures. This Christmas Conference adopted the name General Anthroposophical Society in a set of statutes "tuned to the human being" which contained nothing administrative, nothing of principles or dogmas, nothing that could be turned into bureaucracy. Someone objected to stating in the statutes that "anthroposophical spiritual science will be cultivated at the Goetheanum in Dornach as the center of its activities" because there was no such building present. Steiner responded, "We are not of the opinion that we have no Goetheanum. . . . we are of the opinion that we have no building, but that as soon as possible we shall have one. We are of the opinion that Goetheanum continues to exist. For this very reason, and also out of the deep needs of our heart, it was necessary last year, while the flames were still burning, to continue with the work here on the very next day, without . . . having slept. For we had to prove to the world that we stand here as a Goetheanum in the soul, as a Goetheanum of the soul, which of course must receive an external building as soon as possible. . . . what we see with our physical eyes therefore does not prevent us from saying 'at the Goetheanum' . . . The Goetheanum does stand before our spiritual eyes!" And four short years later the new Goetheanum stood before our physical eyes, bigger, better, and stronger, built upon the spot sanctified by the original one, and stands today as a testament to Rudolf Steiner's vision and hard work.

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