Site Map: MAIN / A Reader's Journal, Vol. 2 Webpage Printer Ready
A READER'S JOURNAL
Self-Consciousness, GA# 23
The Spiritual Human Being
Ten Lectures in Nov-Dec, 1921 in Oslo, Norway
Published by Anthroposophical Press, NY in 1986
A Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2003
Like Us? Subscribe to Receive a Monthly Email
Reminder of New Reviews & New DIGESTWORLD Issues — CLICK
This book came to me unbidden from Anthroposophical Press, from whom I have bought a lot of Steiner books. It had this message on the front cover, a temporary cover over eleven signatures that had been bound into a book using a plastic spiral binding.
[Cover Text] This material is provided by the publisher for study purposes. In lieu of reprinting this title we have produced bound copies for individuals seeking titles currently out of print.
However this book came to be shipped to me, I am thankful and took its presence in my mailbox as an indication that it deserved an immediate reading. I hope you will agree with me that it most certainly did so. For those of you who read my reviews on-line, if you will go to View, Page Source, in your Browser, you will be able to view more details in imbedded comments about where the book came from, among other things. In this review, I have also imbedded the exact titles, dates, and locations of the lectures that are included in this book and what kind of audience they were presented to: students, public lectures, Theological Society, and Anthroposophical Society. This list of lectures is located on page 317 of the book.
One of the problems people who are new to Steiner's writings have is that they imagine that because he talks of higher worlds, that he is a foolish, misguided, and amateur mystic. This is altogether appropriate since there are so many mystic, mediums, and channels in the New Age movement writing books, creating audio tapes, video tapes, meditation tapes, chanting tapes, that enough material exists to fill a large library. Here Steiner has his say about people who mistakenly cast aspersions on anthroposophy because it sounds a little like what other mystics say or do.
[page 4] It is the conviction of anthroposophical Spiritual Science that doubts cast from one side or another upon the scientific exactitude of its research are based entirely upon misunderstanding. Anthroposophy does not wish to be a matter of amateurish talk but a path of knowledge along which the higher, supersensible worlds are approached with the same scientific exactitude the same methodical and disciplined thought with which natural science has for so long approached the laws of nature.
This raises the interesting question of where is all the information from the New Age mystics is coming from if not from the spiritual world. Steiner, as one "possessed of real knowledge" of the higher worlds, says:
[page 6] Many a mystic unearths from the depths of the soul, things which he regards as revelations from higher worlds, whereas to one possessed of real knowledge they may be merely impressions made upon a long past childhood by the material world of sense. A genuine investigator knows that what is absorbed unconsciously in early childhood undergoes many metamorphoses and it can re-appear in later life in a different form. Many a man believes that in mystical experience he has discovered a spark of the Divine within him, whereas what he has drawn up from the depths of his soul is nothing else than stimuli received during childhood, appearing in a different form.
Steiner goes on to claim that these so-called mystics deal, not in higher states of consciousness or reality, but in lower states of consciousness that exist below sensory experience, that real knowledge "lies in a realm transcending sense-perception and is developed from objectivity, not from pathological inner conditions" as is the case for these mystics.
[page 15] Everything that leads to mediumship, to hallucinations or visions, proceeds, fundamentally, from diseased bodily organs which as it were breathe their psycho-spiritual content into the consciousness in a pathological way. All these things lie below the level of sense-experience.
Now that we've alienated all the New Age mystics, let's have a go at those who practice the breathing exercises and Yoga methods from the Far East. The methods they use are identical to those used by human beings whose bodies were constituted differently from our own today, and what was beneficial to those ancient humans is not beneficial to us today. What will be beneficial for humans constituted as we are today will be procedures carried out in full waking consciousness as Steiner suggests in his book Knowledge of Higher Worlds(KHW). (See page 21 for details.)
In this first lecture to university students in Oslo, he presents an excellent summary of the three phases of attaining knowledge of higher worlds, Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition, and this lecture will be most useful to someone otherwise unfamiliar with KHW.
Art is not created from other art, contrary to what many think. Kitsch is created from other art. Artists do not bring their intellect to bear in creating original art because the intellect requires something to exist before it can operate; to be rational is to create a ratio between two things that already exist. The term rational artist is an oxymoron, rightly understood. The job of a true artist is to manifest the hidden laws of nature, which without the artist would never come into external manifestation and fruition. Here's how Steiner said it:
[page 32] The element of intellect dragged down into art would produce nothing but barren, allegorical symbolism, Spiritual Science leads to actual perception, to concrete understanding of the spiritual world. The content of the spiritual world can then be woven into the material world. In the highest degree we strive to fulfil Goethe's demand, namely, that Art should be a manifestation of secret laws of Nature which, without her, could never bear fruit.
If the mystics of the New Age would have a problem with Steiner, think about the theologians of our time who would consider his views as leading to the death of religion. His answer to such views is direct and to the point, almost provoking a chuckle in the reader with his directness.
[page 34] This search for supersensible realities cannot betoken the death of religion -- at most it might betoken the end of something that is merely regarded as religion and is already dead.
Steiner was always getting his views misinterpreted and had much to say about the process by which people read his books and understood his lectures. He said that when people used words he defined in a specific way in ways that they were used ot applying those same words in everyday life, it often produced a "comical effect." It's as if you or I today were to send a letter to someone and they would send the letter out for a chromatographic analysis of the ink you used to write the letter. They would attempt to understand what you were saying on the basis of an analysis of the ink you used, instead of the content of your words. (page 84)
We have all gone to some event in the middle of the day when we were wide awake and refreshed only to suddenly get very sleepy as the speaker droned on. If tiredness and fatigue were the sole harbinger of sleep, this would be difficult to explain. To my knowledge, I have heard of no sleep experiments that investigated the case of this phenomenon of getting sleepy while completely refreshed. It's just something 'everybody knows' happens and it is otherwise ignored, up until now. Steiner offers with his book Knowledge of Higher Worlds a way to investigate such phenomena. To investigate such phenomena as sleep we need an instrument that can only be found in a human being, which instrument is our physical body. Our body is not only a covering, but an instrument that we carry around with us, one capable of producing organs specifically designed to reach into the spiritual world.
One way to develop our ability to perceive the supersensible worlds is to intensify our thinking by thinking backwards. In the natural flow of things we recall memories as time flows from past to the present. If we force ourselves to spend some time every day reviewing the day's events as they progressed from evening to morning, we intensify our thinking processes in ways that help us to see into the spiritual world. I first came across this process in an amazing book by Martin Amis called Time's Arrow, in which the events of a man's life is lived through backwards. There is a movie out currently called Memento in which a similar process occurs. Both book and movie are heartily recommended.
[page 126] In this living backwards through our past life, we develop the desire to experience in our next earthly life events or facts which counterbalance those which we have gone through in the past. And so this reversed course of development contains the seed of something which we unconsciously bring with us when we are born again . . ."
The word seed in the above quotation I have italicized for the following purpose. It is such a simple word and is often glossed over due to its familiarity. What is a seed? Its many definitions fill an entire column in a desk dictionary, and yet what really is a seed, what is its essence? Have we ever meditated on the idea of a seed? How does the tiny seed of a fig grow into a large tree that produces identical fruit to that which contained the original seed? Can you feel that there is a mystery contained in a seed that all our natural science and biology only offers an external semblance of an explanation of? What is the relationship of fruit to a seed? Of fruit to a flower? Of a flower to a leaf of a plant? Of the leaf of a plant to its stem? Of the visible above ground plant structure to its invisible mirror image structure that is hidden under the ground, its root structure? When you have completed meditating on all these things, then perhaps you will begin to have a flavor of what it's like to meditate on the greatest mysteries of life. Life is like a puzzle with an enigma on both ends, I wrote once. Life is puzzling, but what happened before I was born and what will happen after I die are two enigmas, enigmas that I despaired of plumbing until I delved deeply into Steiner's works. Seeds, leaves, roots, stems, flowers, fruit, and seeds. Meditate on those backward and forward and then move your attention to your own life. The results may surprise and enliven you. And whatever you do, never skip merrily over the word seed in Steiner's works again as if you know all about what it means, but rather stop awhile and consider the lowly seed in its place of the grand scheme of things. A grand scheme of thing that is repeated in the animal kingdom, in the human realm, in the microscopic and the macrocosmic - it is the grand scheme of things, rightly understood.
A fetus is a seed of a human being to be. Like the seed of a plant. The seed of a plant cannot create a new plant unless it is infused by the astral energy of a higher kingdom than itself. All the plant can do is manufacture plant material and store it in itself in its seeds. What the plant cannot do is to see itself at the height of its maturation, when it is in its fruit and seed forming stage. The plant absolutely requires a being from the animal kingdom, human kingdom or higher to view itself in its fruiting stage and to attach that image of the plant as holographic design for a future plant to the seed. The external, sensory data portion of this process biologists call "pollination", which, while it is a crucial part of preparing the seed, it is a part that is useless without the storage of the mature plant design, which only beings from realms higher than the plant can do. The wind can pollinate the plant, but the wind cannot see the plant at maturation. Why all this folderol about seeds and plants? Because the processes at work in plants are at work in animals at one step higher level and in us human beings at two steps higher, and so on in the grand scheme of things. Understand the birds and bees of the life of plants and you will understand the processes of human life. Parents used to use the metaphor of the birds and bees to teach lessons about life to their children, but so many parents used it only to illustrate sexual reproduction that the whole process became the brunt of crude jokes with the result that it has faded into an unworthy disuse, up until now.
A fetus is a seed of a human being to be. Let's visit that concept, having laid some essential groundwork in order to do that. If we have meditated on the birds and bees, how they are essential to the development of the plant, how the plant receives something essential from a higher world that it has no knowledge or experience of, except that it cannot reproduce but for that higher world's complicity in its life, then we are ready to comprehend how a similar process occurs in human beings. We, like plants, can only create the seed of a future human being, but the quintessential part of that growing fetus, its immortal spirit, the "I" of the child-to-be, must descend from a higher realm than we exist within at our current level of development.
[page 114] A true conception of the way in which man develops here on earth as a physical being can only be gained if we can grasp the fact that what develops in the mother's body is only something which receives from a higher world the real being of man.
If the fetus is a seed that receives the essence of the human being from the spiritual world then it is not true that the blastocyst that precedes the fetus contains a human spirit or soul during those early stages of cell division prior to cell differentiation.
I mentioned that the physical body of the human being is like our instrument and has the ability to develop organs. Our eyes developed out of the external stimuli of the sun's rays triggering the creation of an organ to perceive them. Goethe said something like, "The eye was the body's response to the presence of light." It is not easy to verify that eyes appear in the presence of light, but easy to confirm that fish in deep underwater caverns without light lose their eyes. To be able to perceive the spiritual world in full consciousness, we need provide the stimulus that our body needs to develop new organs of our soul, soul-organs of perception where none presently exist. This can be done in each person's life by thought- and will-exercises that Steiner suggests.
[page 143] Ordinary consciousness is therefore based upon the fact that we use the instruments of our physical body, and that we make use, so to speak, of the etheric body's web of formative forces. In ordinary life, man's true inner being, woven out of feeling and will, is not in a position to attain consciousness, because it has no organs. By making the thought- and will-exercises of which I have spoken, we endow the soul itself with organs. This soul-element, which is at first indistinct in our ordinary consciousness, acquires plastic form, even as our physical body and our etheric body acquire plastic form in the senses and in the organs of thought. Man's real soul-spiritual being therefore contains a plastic form.
This is by no means easy to understand or explain, but it is doable by human beings. And once we do it, we will experience life, not in the cold theoretical fashion of natural science, but more deeply and intensely than ever before.
[page 146] Our inner life acquires greater intensity through supersensible knowledge. We penetrate more intensively into the life of the external world. When we try to gain knowledge, we are then no longer able to submit coldly to inner ideas. No doubt one is then exposed to the reproach that the objectivity may suffer through a certain inner warmth, through the awakening of feeling and of a subjective sense. But this objection is only raised by those who are not acquainted with the circumstances.
A human being at the leaf stage of growth cannot understand the workings of a human being at the fruit or seed stage of growth. One example that one can check readily is that humans tend to become more mystical as they advance into old age. One need look no further than the life of Isaac Newton, who developed the celestial mechanics, the equations for the operation of the materialistic world, before he was thirty. In his old age, he became Director of the Mint and studied esoteric knowledge, leading him to write a book entitled Observations on the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John. Materialistic scientists such as Dr. Andrew J. Galambos thought it was a horrible waste of Newton's time to be studying and writing about such stuff. Galambos remained at the leaf or stem stage of his growth, maybe grew as far as the flower stage, but he was never able to comprehend Newton's fruit stage or seed stage thinking. As Steiner said in the passage just above, such objections can only be raised by those who, because of their stage of growth, "are not acquainted with the circumstances" upon which they pass judgment.
Many people who near the end of their lives wonder if the people that they met in the flesh in this life, they will meet in the spirit after this life. I have read various hypotheses and guesses about this proposition, but nowhere have I encountered anyone who has stated it as a fact that this does happen. And yet, in the next quote, Steiner, who does not speak loosely about facts, states it directly to be a fact. [italics added to the word fact in the passage below]
[page 149, 150] To supersensible knowledge, the fact that people who belonged together here in the physical world find each other again in the soul-spiritual world, after having passed through the portal of death, is not a belief to be accepted as a vague premonition, but it is a certainty, a fact just as certain as the results of physics or chemistry.
In this lecture Steiner states as a fact also the idea that thoughts dissolve the mineral substances in our physical body and that this thinking is left behind when we view our physical body from the outside, and it continues "to glimmer and shine within" it. A man's thoughts require mineral substances to be dissolved in the process of his thought. (page 152)
[page 153] For otherwise his thoughts could not exist -- this is the condition for their existence -- his thoughts could not exist if they did not dissolve mineral, earthly substances, a fact also revealed by the spiritual sciences of earlier times, based more on intuitive feeling. This dissolution, this destruction of physical substances constitutes the physical instrumentality of thinking.
The curious thing is that when the forces of growth are at work inside of us, our consciousness is dimmed - we lose consciousness when those growth forces work in us, and we gain consciousness when we wake up and our thinking once more begins to dissolve the physical substances in our body. The mineral substance in our physical body is dead substance and yet it is this dead substance that is required in order for our thoughts to exist. Thinking is the process of destruction of mineral substance.
The next concept of Steiner's requires a bit of imaginative work on the part of the reader. Simply stated it says, "Our human head alone descends from the whole animal kingdom." (page 165) To convince yourself of this important fact of evolution, draw a crude outline of a human on a piece of paper and draw a straight line in front of it touching the nose and chin. Now rotate the page until the head is facing down. Look at the head and notice that it resembles an animal facing the ground with upper jaw becoming the front legs and the lower jaw the back legs of the animal. The Earth supports the animal. The body of the human carries the head about and supports it like the Earth supports the animal.
[page 166] This remaining organism is related to the human head in the same way in which the whole earth with its force of gravity is related to the animal. In regard to the head, the human being is "membered" into his whole remaining body in the same way in which the whole animal is "membered" into the earth.
The concept is essential to one's being able to understand Steiner's view that man is not descended from apes, but rather that the apes and higher primates, far from being our ancestors, developed from stunted human beings of the time. These higher primates followed us humans in our development and as such did not have the early development of their head as humans did.
[page 167, 168] The animals which followed man in their development could only develop as much as man had developed in his limbs and thorax . . . the head remained stunted, because a longer time of development should have preceded it, such as that of man, in order that the real head might develop.
Now we come to the essential difference between the human race and every other animal, no matter how advanced it is: animals face the Earth and humans face into the ether which fills the sensory world.
[page 168] Everything which constituted our head with its sense-organs, is raised above the force of gravity, so that it does not turn towards heavy ponderable matter, but towards the ether, which fills the sensory world.
So hold your head up, it's your heritage as a human being to walk erect and proud, looking off into the distance, into the air, into the realm of the stars at night. When you walk erect, your "I" shines from your body like the immortal spirit it is. Be kind to animals. They look up to you with longing to become like you in some future epoch, to have an individual "I" of their own, to walk fully erect and look into the air as naturally as you do, and with your help and love they will. As a human being your feet are set on the infinite Cosmos, not on the finite Earth. As your eyes look to the stars today so also your feet will take you one day to the stars.
[page 172,173] When the whole earth falls away from all the human soul-spiritual beings, this eternal part will continue to live and it will pass over to new planetary phases of world evolution.
Now Christ's words in the Gospels resound to us in a new and wonderful way: Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away, and connected with these words are those of St. Paul: Not I, but Christ in me. . . we hear them resounding from that region where the Mystery of Golgotha took place, that event through which the whole development of the earth first acquires its true meaning.
"Not I, but Christ in me." This phrase becomes the theme of the next lecture titled "Jesus or Christ" which Steiner gave to the Theological Association. First, he tells us that we must reach the stage where "we must recognize absolutely, that what is ethical, moral and religious is condensed to reality, and that whatever lives in the external world of matter dissolves into a mere sequence of phenomena." The concepts of "healthy" and "ill", when we deal with them in the organic world, we recognize "healthy" as the "principle of growth and development" and "ill" as "an impediment to normal development." When we progress to the stage to which spiritual science leads us, we begin to speak of healthy and ill not as concepts anymore, but as experiences.
[page 191] What we designate in the sense-world with the mere abstraction "true", must be replaced by "healthy" in the supersensible world. And what we designate in the sense-world as "untrue", "wrong", must be replaced by "ill", when experienced in the supersensible world.
Steiner tells us in effect that "true" is experienced as "healthy" and "untrue" as "ill" when we enter the supersensible world. From that Steiner proceeds to span the chasm that separates modern theology from understanding the relationship of the Old and New Testaments. First we must understand that what takes place out of our skin in Nature as a constructive force takes place inside our skin as a destructive force, or bearers of evil if you will. (paraphrased from page 193)
[page 194] Nature, outside of us, is neutral toward good and evil; in us, its activity is destructive -- conducive to illness and evil, even from the bodily aspect.
How in the world do we manage to live if inside of us we are filled with destructive forces of Nature? If an evil crime took place in a room that had a full length mirror on one end of it, would the crime penetrate through the mirror into the next room? No, obviously not. As humans our bodies are like that room behind the mirror; Nature's evil in the one room is reflected within our bodies and is thus not able to poison us because it is reflected back. From this amazing life-saving process, we are able to receive sensory data from Nature, but reflect them back before they are able to cause us harm. Amazingly, in this reflection of sensory data, we find the root of our ability for memory.
[page 194] The conscious processes do not reach beyond this boundary line, but are instead reflected back, and form our memory or power of reflection. What lives in our memory, is reflected external Nature, which does not penetrate into us any more deeply than a ray of light into a mirror.
Atheism is an illness because it expresses an untruth. At the level of the natural scientist the concept of atheism may be logically correct or incorrect. At the level of a spiritual scientist, the concept of atheism is pathological. A man with sound and healthy nature can say, "There is a God." But that statement is incomplete in an interesting and important way which brings in the Old and New Testaments and the Mystery of Golgotha.
[page 196] We can do no more by submerging ourselves in Nature, by experiencing Nature within us, than to attain to the consciousness of the Father.
Reaching the consciousness of the Father is a first and important step, but anyone "who remains rooted in modern science can attain only to the consciousness of the Father; and he will more less lose the Son, the consciousness of the Christ, from out of the ranks of Divine Beings, even though he will not admit this." He may experience a most healthy life, but his awakening to a full consciousness of his Ego, his "I", puts him in jeopardy of the forces of evil in Nature.
[page 197] If we do not wish that it should become a prey to evil, then this awakening of the Ego must attain, during the course of our life on earth, to where it becomes permeated with the divine spiritual content. The words, "Not I, but Christ in me," must become truth.
The concepts of this lecture "Jesus or Christ" are so interlinked together that it's hard to summarize without leaving out important links. A full reading of this lecture is heartily recommended to any readers of this review who find these concepts compelling.
If we do not experience being born out of the Father, we are subject to illness; if we do not experience the presence of Christ in our lives, we are subject to illness and misfortune. The Father provides us with health, but with the appearance of our "I" that healthiness would soon disappear but for the Son, the eternally present Christ, who can set our "I" free from the fall into illness. Christ is the seed sown in the Earth that brings us forward as Paul said in the New Testament, "Not I, but Christ in me, makes me healthy, redeems me from death, giving me life again." (page 205 Steiner's rendition of Paul's words.)
[page 204] Anyone who does not feel that the old Testament, and also the other ancient religions, point throughout to the fact that man's course of evolution is a gradual sickening process through sin - who does not see that humanity becomes ill through sin -- cannot feel, on the other hand a certain something that radiates forth, and brings to the earth from outside, from outside the telluric sphere, a new influence in the same way that a new force enters the soil, when seeds are sown there. We learn to understand that a fructifying seed has been sown from supersensible worlds as a seed that brings healing; for humanity was indeed about to become ill.
When the great Christ Being came to Earth it was in the person of a simple carpenter of Nazareth, Jesus. In Kevin Dann's upcoming book, "Talking to Strangers", he describes how difficult it is for a linguistic fieldworker dressed in city folk outfits to hold an honest dialogue with country folk.
[private communication] Over a century of dictionaries and schoolmarms had induced generations of New England folk to temper their native wit with the linguistic proscriptions of invisible cosmopolitans who had no appreciation for the savory sounds of the strictly local. Even the most hard-bitten hill farmer, sitting in his kitchen with this bespectacled, tight-lipped, clean-shaven, professorially-attired young fellow, was prone to gloss over homely terms in favor of bookish or pedantic variants.
Steiner tells us how a new testament, a new way of speaking was required, one infused with living water to quench the parched bodies of those who were dying of thirst from the dry abstract Roman words of the time in which Christ came to Earth. As the woman from Samaria sang out in joy, "Jesus gave me water, and it was not from the well."
[page 206] Christ united with Jesus . . . could not be otherwise than simple and gentle and . . . was able to speak to the poorest of the poor, . . . could also address his words to sinners, that is, to the diseased, . . . spoke to them words of everlasting life, which appealed not only to their understanding, but also to their feelings, to that which is irrational.
Steiner’s use of the word “irrational” can be easily misunderstood today as meaning “out of control” which meaning gives us insight to the highest value of our era, which is to be “rational.” From my reading of the works of Carl Jung, a native German speaker like Steiner, I’ve encountered “irrational” commonly used in the same sense that Steiner means here as “not controlled by one’s thinking function.” Jung goes further than Steiner and includes as rational two functions, thinking and feeling. To Jung the irrational domain comprised perceptions that came directly, not mediated by thinking or feeling, either from the sensory world (sensation) or the spiritual world (intuition). In Jung’s words, if I may hazard to guess how he would have stated it, “Jesus spoke to them words of everlasting life, which appealed not only to their rational thinking and feeling functions, but also to their irrational sensation and intuition."
In the movie, "E. T.", an extra-terrestrial came to Earth and during his stay at a house, a young boy in the house cut his hand. E. T. reached out with a glowing red fingertip and touched the young boy’s bleeding hand and the bleeding stopped and the hand healed instantly. E. T. became sick and Elliott became sick along with him. To keep Elliott from dying, E. T. took all the illness into himself. Elliott got well, and E. T. was pronounced dead by the scientists and laid out in a frozen corpse-like state of death. Then a ship arrives to take him home and he is resurrected. Before E. T. leaves, he touched Elliott on the head with his glowing finger and said, “Remember.” Here we see clearly how the unconscious of the movie makers, touched by the spiritual aspects of the Mystery of Golgotha, incorporated it into the plot of their movie, which was very popular at the theaters.
[page 207] We learn to consider the personality of Jesus as the outward sheath of the extra-terrestrial Being of the Christ. And we learn to realize that the earth would have lost its meaning, that it would have perished through illness, had the great healing process through the Mystery of Golgotha not taken place.
This next excerpt from the book is rather long, but it represents Steiner's closing remarks to the Theological Association in Oslo and could just as well be addressed to each of you, dear readers, who would want to know why anthroposophy is important to you today.
[page 213] Now, my dear friends, if we know a person, not merely through descriptions--if we do not simply believe in his existence, but are led before his countenance--we can then see him, we have a vision of the person. Yet, such a vision does not therefore have to be rationalistic. The irrational element in the person standing before us does not thereby cease to exist. He remains a mystery to us; for he possesses within him something that is intensively, profoundly infinite. No sort of "ratio" would be able to exhaust the wealth of his being.
In the same way, Anthroposophical knowledge cannot possibly exhaust the wealth of Christ--even though it may strive with the greatest longing, and with all the means of knowledge at its disposal, to reach the goal of seeing the Christ, not only of believing in Him. He does not cease to stand before us as a Being that cannot be grasped by "ratio" alone, even when we are able to see Him. And, in the same way that a human being does not necessarily lose any of the reverence which we may feel for him, as we feel it for every human being, just because he remains a mystery, even when we are led before his countenance--so the Mystery of Golgotha remains a Mystery, and is not drawn down by Anthroposophy into dry abstractions and logical rationalism. Anthroposophy does not in the least strive to eliminate the "irrational" and the "paradoxical", in Christianity, through the Christ-Jesus it reveals to us; it strives rather, to see this irrational and paradoxical element. What we are able to see may fill us with just as great a measure of deep and childlike reverence as what we are merely expected to believe--perhaps, indeed, with an even deeper and an even more childlike reverence.
[page 214] For this reason, Anthroposophy does not kill faith, but fills it with life. This may be seen, especially in the way in which it seeks to unravel the Mystery of Golgotha--the union of the Christ, with the personality of Jesus.
At the same time, all of this, my dear friends, is of course, the object of an extensive research, carried on over a number of years--indeed, a research which has only just begun. And I must ask your pardon, if I have pointed out only a few fundamental truths in this lecture--which has already been far too long. Yet, perhaps these fundamental lines or thoughts may at least make clear to you that Anthroposophy does not in the least strive to draw us down into the rationalism of ordinary knowledge; nor does it wish to make of the Mystery of Golgotha a mystery that has been irreverently unveiled. It seeks, rather, to lead us to the Mystery of Golgotha, with the greatest possible reverence, with the deepest religious feelings--indeed, with a deepened religious feeling, which becomes more profound when, for the first time, we are seized with a feeling of true awe in the presence of the Cross on Golgotha.
Thus Anthroposophy does not wish to contribute toward a deadening of Christianity, but seeks, on the contrary, to fill it with new life--with a new soul-content; for it appears to be suffering painfully under the influence of rationalism, which is fully justified only in the sphere of external science.
The final three lectures were given to the Anthroposophical Society of Norway and directed primarily to them, but there were a few points worthy of consideration even today. The first one has to do with those Christians who might claim that Steiner's spiritual science is not Christian, but paganistic because it talks of a Sun-Being come down to Earth entering the body of Jesus. How do we address that claim?
[page 245, 246] The tendency of anthroposophical spiritual science to consider what transcends the earthly sphere has led people to retort that Anthroposophy is not Christian, that it cannot be Christianity because it sets a super-earthly, cosmic Being in Christ Jesus in place of the purely human being. They even think that it is an offence to say that Christ came down from cosmic spaces and penetrated into Jesus. Why do they think this? Because people only see the mathematical-mechanical cosmos, only the great machinery, as it were , when they look out into the heavenly spheres . . . Yet spiritual science does not mechanize religion, nor does it deprive Christianity of its Christian element; instead it fills external life with Christianity by showing: out there in the cosmos is not mere mechanism, not merely phenomena and laws which can be grasped through mathematics and natural science, -- there, is spirituality.
As I pointed out earlier, even the inventor of the laws of the mechanical universe, Sir Isaac Newton, looked out into the universe and saw spirituality in his later years. As Steiner tells us on page 259, "When man loses the heavens, he loses himself."
We are in the middle of the first war of the new century and the Americans and Europeans are fighting the Asians on their own soil in Afghanistan. Like the Desert Storm war in Iraq, it involves the economic dealings between the two foes. If we examine the causes of the terrorism that led to the latest war, we find it has its roots in economic issues. Can we be at the beginning of the "great war" that Steiner claims is inevitable? The next few years will tell us if we are able to shine our spirituality of the West into Asia as well as we are able to shine our lasers to guide bombs onto the combatants. Steiner's words speak to us in 2001 as we watch the news reports from the war front in Asia.
[page 256] Let there be no mistake about it - as long as the dealings of Europeans and Americans with Asia are confined to purely economic and industrial interests, so long will there be distrust in the hearts of Asiatics. People may talk as much as they like about . . . the desirability of ending wars . . . a great war will break out between the East and the West, in spite of all disarmament conferences, if the people of Asia cannot perceive something that flows over to them from the Spirit of the West. Western spirituality can shine over to Asia and if it does, Asia will be able to trust it, because with their own inherent, though somewhat decadent spirituality, the Asiatic peoples will be able to understand what it means.
Everyone would agree that it is better to be selfless than egotistical, even fiery fundamentalist preachers in Christian churches, I suspect, would agree to this. But what if they read the next passage from Steiner? He claims that when one focuses on man's life after death, one is placating the egotism of the congregation.
[page 260] They speculate strongly upon the egotism of human beings, upon the fact that man longs for immortality because his egotism makes the idea of annihilation at death distasteful to him. Think about all that is said along these lines and you will realise that the sermons are directed to the egotism in the members of orthodox congregations. When it comes to the question of pre-existence, of the life before birth, it is not possible to reckon with human egotism. . . one has to appeal to selflessness, to the quality that is the reverse of egotism.
There in an attitude among those who believe in life after death, that whatever will happen to them after death will happen regardless of what they think of during their life. The facts are quite the opposite as Steiner tells us.
[page 281] And now comes an important point in the life between death and a new birth. In a man who has brought through death no idealistic thoughts or feelings, no human love or true piety, something of the soul-and-spirit has perished as a result of the antipathy and chilling reception meted out by the higher world.
When such a man returns to his next life on Earth, he will lack a "deep and inward love for what will become his mother-tongue" and instead will "arrive on Earth loving his language merely out of instinct and lower impulses." How can we recognize in our fellowmen those who came to Earth in this incarnation in just that way?
[page 282] Lacking the true, inward love for his language and his people, he will be prone to an aggressive patriotism connected with his bodily existence.
During the time between death and a new birth, we are led by an Angel. If that Angel is not able to lead us to a deep and inward love for our language and our race, we will be united automatically and our life will become unfree.
[page 285] This lack of freedom shows itself in the following way. Instead of forming concepts, such a man merely thinks words. He becomes unfree because all his thinking is absorbed in words. This is a fundamental characteristic of modern man.
Like Mary Wollstonecraft's Dr. Frankenstein had to do, we must each build our own Frankenstein's monster by pouring life into the corpse of the soul-and-spirit that is our abstract and rationalistic thinking.
[page 289] If he is to pass from a decline into a real ascent, man must overcome the abstraction which, like a corpse of the soul is present in the intellectualistic and rationalistic thinking of today.
~^~List of Steiner Reviews: Click Here!
Any questions about this review, Contact: Bobby Matherne
Click Left Photo for List of All ARJ2 Reviews Click Right Bookcover for Next Review in ListDid you Enjoy this Webpage?
Subscribe to the Good Mountain Press Digest: Click Here!
CLICK ON FLAGS TO OPEN OUR FIRST-AID KIT.
Do you feel like you're swimming against a strong current in your life? Are you fearful? Are you seeing red? Very angry? Anxious? Feel down or upset by everyday occurrences? Plagued by chronic discomforts like migraine headaches? Have seasickness on cruises? Have butterflies when you get up to speak? Learn to use this simple 21st Century memory technique. Remove these unwanted physical body states, and even more, without surgery, drugs, or psychotherapy, and best of all: without charge to you.
Simply CLICK AND OPEN the FIRST-AID KIT.