for the Garden of Anthroposophy

A small flower box of seemingly pungent essays,

creatively preparing for the future evolution

of the Anthroposophical Society,

at the beginning of the Third Millennium

by Joel A. Wendt

*[The title here, Manure* for the Garden of Anthroposophy, is intended in part to honor a wonderful teacher of Buddhism, the Tibetan Lama Chogyam Trungpa (1939-1987), and to point to his remarkable little book Meditation in Action, particularly the title to the second chapter which reads: The Manure of Experience and the Field of Bodhi.   It was my privilege during my Berkeley years, to hear him lecture, to read his books and to know a number of his students. I still periodically reread this book, always finding it ever more enlightening.]

a cautionary note

The search for truth begins with good questions.  Not just good, in the sense a well made sword is good, but good in a moral sense.  A sword is useful, but a truly good question penetrates ambition, cuts through assumptions, parts and separates useless beliefs, and best of all it does this with a light heart, a skillful mind, and an absence of affection for thought that is already dead.  Good questions are far more important than quick answers, and the living truth flowers in the wake of such good questions.  However, don’t be surprised when one good question just leads to another good question.

Be warned, however, the material below, though born in many a truly good question (or nested sequence of questions), is not for the faint-hearted, and the undisciplined mind.  You will be challenged to think differently than you already do.  Otherwise what would be the point of reading something, if it was not going to take you places, however painful to your favorite thoughts, that you might very much need to go.


- these materials are mostly presented newest first -

Introduction: Who Speaks for Rudolf Steiner (May 2011) (page 2)

Shapes in the Fire (May 2011) (page 6)

West and East (May 2011) (page 18)

The Conscious Death, and the Conscious Resurrection, of the General Anthroposophical Society (Winter 2010) (page 30)

Bitter Medicine - Saving Anthroposophy from the Anthroposophical Society and Movement -  (Winter 2010) (page 57)

The Natural Transformation of the Anthroposophical Society in America (written during Michaelmas, 2007) (page 97)

Appendix One: A discussion of the Prokofieff/von Halle conflicts, in the light of Peter Tradowsky’s book: The Stigmata: destiny as a question of knowledge. (June 2011) (page 120)

Appendix Two: Concerning some confusion on the nature of spiritual research (Michaelmas 2009) (page 129)

Appendix Three: Ahrimanic Opposition to an Understanding of the American Soul as manifested in the American Anthroposophical Society (May 2011) (page 143)

Appendix Four: Some incidental results of imaginatively reading the biography of a social form (June 2011) (page 146)

Appendix Five: The Methodology Necessary for a New Social Science (Michaelmas 2007) (page 150)

Appendix Six: The Social-Spiritual Organism of a Waldorf School Community - an essay on micro-threefolding - (Michaelmas 1998) (page 168)

- first, a small point of order -

Without going into a great deal of elaboration, I believe it is quite justified to point out that in America the gesture to incarnate Anthroposophy reaches its most earthly dimensions.  This is discussed in considerable detail from multiple directions in my book: American Anthroposophy.  Only the American Soul, with its unique characteristics, can add to the impulse to incarnate Anthroposophy certain necessary touches required for Anthroposophy to live fully on the Earth.  That theme is central, as a background understanding - though mostly unspoken, in all the following materials.


This small paper was intended to be passed out at a local meeting where

Torin Finser was to speak about the recent AGM (Spring 2011) in Dornach, but at the last minute I was unable to attend.  It has be re-edited.

Who Speaks for Rudolf Steiner?


on the ongoing tragedy of the spiritual collapse

of the Anthroposophical Society

Steiner lamented in Awakening to Community (lecture three, Feb. 6th, 1923), on the consequences of failing (which has happened) to properly take up The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (or Freedom): “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....The trouble is that The Philosophy of Freedom has not been read in the different way I have been describing. That is the point, and a point that must be sharply stressed if the development of the Anthroposophical Society is not to fall far behind that of anthroposophy itself. If it does fall behind, anthroposophy’s conveyance through the Society will result in its being completely misunderstood, and its only fruit will be endless conflict!”

This is the state of the Society today - a condition of endless conflict as evidenced by the original split in the Society following Steiner’s death,  the Constitutional Crisis of the last decades, and now the recent effort by a few to dethrone for alleged incompetence the current leaders of the Vorstand and the School of Spiritual Science.  The additional stories, presently circulating about apparently shameless and egotistical conflicts and power struggles between those who seem attracted/attached to S.O. Prokofieff, and those who seem to feel similarly about  Judith von Halle, are not a sign of social health - in fact we ought to feel embarrassed by that whole scene (although this is precisely what happened after Steiner died - groups formed around individuals, and then fought over which group and which individual was to lead).  This latter theme, given its relationship to the above quote, requires its own discussion, which can be found in the Appendix One* to this little book.

*[A review of the book The Stigmata: destiny as a question of knowledge, by Peter Tradowsky.]

There is more that we need to acknowledge (matters far more important than the arguments of individual personalities noted above), and while the rest is in a way seeming details, these are very important, so I will recite a few of them next.

Humanity now lives in the time of the true Second Coming of Christ.  Steiner’s relationship to this Event is similar in nature to that of John the Baptist to the original Incarnation of Christ: Steiner is the voice crying in the wilderness of scientific materialism.  But instead of speaking with courage before the world of the true Second Coming, certain so-called leading personalities of the Society promote the illusion of the success of the Christmas Conference, as the central spiritual event in the 20th Century.  Or, they shamelessly promote their own capacity to do what they vainly call: further spiritual research; and, it should be noted that this is often at best scholarly or visionary/mystical research on the Past, and is not truly applicable for the Present or for the Future.

If Rudolf Steiner were alive today, how could he not forcefully speak of the true Second Coming of Christ?  He would of course, but such speaking, which would put the Society clearly at odds with major portions of contemporary Christian beliefs, is feared by many for its probable consequences.  Far better for the Society to be safe, the leaders protected in Dornach, and the wider world basically excluded and ignored (while we act as if we have great interest in serving that world).

The Christmas Conference did not succeed.  For details concerning Steiner’s own statements in this regard, there is the article on my website: General Renewal - or Illusion - of the Anthroposophical Society by Harald Giersch .  Yet, one does not even need this, for a common sense examination of the events among the members of the Vorstand and the School, in the decade (1925-1935) immediately following Rudolf Steiner’s death, reveals that they did not possess inwardly this present-day fantasy of the spirit of the Christmas Conference, fell quickly into conflict with each other that escalated soon to the struggle to exclude each other from membership, and then eventually they collectively dissolved the former relationships among the various National Societies.  In an entirely unwarranted and completely superficial euphemism, this is often called: the split in the Society.  Some, with a deeper appreciation of the true spiritual reality, saw the disputants among the Vorstand at that time as throwing dice for the garment (the authoritative mantel) of Steiner, just as the Roman Centurions are said to have done at the foot of Christ’s Cross.

This is not surprising, for Steiner had warned that karma would hold sway if the membership failed to rise to a certain degree of spiritual attainment.  As a consequence, the darkness about to envelope Central Europe, leading to World War Two, included the Anthroposophical Society - and widespread social chaos was unavoidable.

Following that War, when the National Societies reconfigured themselves into the present day world-wide General Anthroposophical Society, this was not done on the basis of renewed spiritual development and insight however, but purely on the basis of a kind of social-political peace accord.  Old wounds were seemingly forgotten, although perhaps not forgiven.

Steiner’s warnings, many given in the Awakening to Community lectures, which had followed shortly after the burning of the original Goetheanum - revealing thereby their special importance, continued to be ignored, and the one above on the failure to understand the significance of The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (The New Mystery of Thinking), was followed by another warning/prediction, which has since led to  a failure to recognize those clear statements of Steiner regarding the problem posed by the existence of the Christian Community.  In lecture six of Awakening to Community, Steiner reiterated Friedrich Rittelmeyer’s observation that the Christian Community represented the gravest possible risk to the Anthroposophical Society.

This was due, according to Steiner, to the social effect of the Rite of the Consecration of Man, in that this Rite would engender strong positive and warm social feelings among the participants, because of the descent into the participants of memories of the spiritual world as a consequence of that Rite.  If anthroposophists where to make the Christian Community their Church (which for many has come to pass), then the necessary warm social feelings that needed to develop in Society Branch and Group meetings would not arise, because they were being satisfied elsewhere.  As an antidote to this danger, Steiner gave out the counter-Rite - the Reverse Cultus (The New Mystery of Community), showing how by awake conversation the Society members could, as a group, rise up into the spiritual world (instead of the spiritual world descending into the community as in the Rite of Consecration of Man).

The lack of the practice of these two New Mysteries (of thinking and community), has led to all manner of unwanted consequences, such as: 

A practical understanding of the real nature of the Consciousness Soul has failed to appear, such that Tomberg was to conclude (at least as regards Europe), that the Consciousness Soul would not manifest in the Society.   The real significance of Goetheanism is also unknown to the general membership because the leading personalities do not appreciate it, and as a result do not teach it.  Anthroposophy itself has not been truly understood and has now been replaced by a kind of philosophy or religious-like belief system in the teachings of Steiner, and a cult-like worship of Steinerism has resulted.

People don’t even know what spiritual research* is anymore, and false teachings in that regard are perpetuated everywhere.  Critics of these problems, such as Irina Gordienko and myself, are vilified and/or ignored.  Cults of personality have appeared, such as the one surrounding von Halle, where the fact of her possession of the Stigmata is seen as further evidence of  an ability (which she had previously claimed) to engage in authentic spiritual research.   This in spite of the fact that in the lectures to priests and doctors, Pastoral Medicine, Steiner explained that a significant imbalanced alignment of the subtle bodies with each other leads on the one hand to insanity, and on the other to the phenomena we know as saints.   That we admire saint-like figures does not change the fundamental disharmony on which possibly rests their apparent gifts.  Again, for details, read my review in Appendix One of Tradowsky’s book: The Stigmata: destiny as a question of knowledge.

*[Also at Appendix Two - one will find there that portion of my review of Prokofieff’s book Anthroposophy and the Philosophy of Freedom, where I discuss the flaws with his views on spiritual research.]

The Society, having failed to appreciate the problem of knowledge (GA 2, 3 and 4), no longer is inspired by the Spirit of Science, and we see this in the stagnant growth of the membership.  The Angels of individuals do not steer them toward the Society for good and clear reasons - Steinerism is not Anthroposophy and not even Spiritual Science.   This relationship of mere belief in Steinerism has come to possess the Waldorf School movement to a high degree, and then produces all manner of social discord as a consequence.  The practitioners of anthroposophical medicine have failed to do research on the threefold double complex, which is particularly a problem for the American Society, due to the fact that the double is stronger in the Americas than anywhere else in the world.  The recent meeting, among those who style themselves as psychosophists, lacked not only the language of the double, and the language of the science of introspection, but also lacked the language of addiction (the Twelve  Steps), which latter language was born as an aspect of the true Second Coming (Bill W. had a meeting with Christ in the Ethereal in 1933).  I could go on and on and on.

The leading lights (in terms of talent) of the 20th Century, such as Barfield and Kuhlewind, were left to work from the periphery, not the center in Dornach, contrary to Steiner’s indication that leadership of the cultural life was to be naturally based on demonstrated spiritual talent.  Even Ben-Aharon remains outside Dornach (as one of the authors of the new Gospels of the true Second Coming, he is uniquely qualified to teach real Anthroposophy.  I am another - see my Living Thinking in Action, as well as my latest book The Art of God: an actual Theory of Everything ).  But most of our so-called leaders come from popularity contests, and the politics of in-groups more common to the academic world, and not on the basis of demonstrated spiritual capacities (which reveals that Dennis Klocek, given his demonstrated gifts, ought to have a much more significant role in the Society in America, instead of being relegated to the Periphery).

William Bento, in his review of my book American Anthroposophy, described it as bitter medicine.  In this he simply pointed out that its truths would be hard to swallow, just as is the content of this little paper.  The fact is that I am just the social-doctor that is needed by the Society, except for the problem that the patient (the Society) persists in sucumbing to the self-induced delusion that it is quite healthy.

Behind these facts, what lies - what influences, what realities?

Certainly karma, and just as certainly the work of the Opponents.  Can anything be done?*  Yes, but first we need to notice something else as well.   Something much more precious.   Circulation might be one way to describe it.

*[The rest of this little book is devoted to that problem, and is the result of over three decades of seeking, via Goetheanism (organic) and pure (sense free thinking) after knowledge and understanding of the relevant and necessary subjects.]

Anthroposophists from the beginning-time during Steiner’s life are reincarnating.  They encountered Anthroposophy, did what they could with it, and then crossed over.   Now many are back - back after being able to see things from the other-side - see them with more clarity.  Yet, when they come back, what do/did they find?   Something weaker than expected in a way - a ghost of its prior possibilities.

Rudolf Steiner, when entering the classrooms of the first Waldorf School is reported to have asked the students: Did they love their teacher?  That is probably the basic question we have to ask ourselves, as members and friends of the Society that Steiner attempted but was unable to re-found at the Christmas Conference.  Do we love Steiner, or do we more love our own status and our abilities to quote him endlessly?

A clairvoyant friend of mine reports that in the Ethereal World an image of Steiner can be seen in Imaginative conscious as a standing weeping figure wrapped in chains.  In the astral world matters are different - there his spirit is clearly free and unbound.   The path to freeing this image of him in the Ethereal is up to us, and we break links in that chain every time we think for ourselves, and do not let our thoughts be bound up in his thought.  It is not Steiner that is bound up in chains in the Ethereal World - it is our collective conceptions of his teachings - the ideas we vainly worship at the expense of our own thinking.  That is the meaning of this Imaginative Symbol.

Recall the last sentence of the original preface to The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity: “One must be able to confront an idea and experience it, otherwise one will fall into its bondage.”

You see, he couldn’t quite get the message across in the beginning because he was confined to the language of the Intellectual Soul and to an audience that too was faced with a task perhaps too difficult for them.  Did they or he fail?  I don’t believe so. 

What they did was create spiritual compost.   All that now lives as ideas and traditions developed over the course of the 20th Century has served to prepare the soul-soil of the members of the Michael School now incarnated for receiving and nurturing additional and perhaps even more potent seeds.  In their dying into Manure, these older ideas and traditions can become just that which is needed for even more dynamic spiritual growth - one belonging to the true tasks of the First Century of the Third Millennium.

And, Steiner’s own path awaits.  Few trod it in the  beginning.  Other matters interfered.  Now we start another century, with different people bearing different soul gifts.  What will members and friends  do when they finally hear once more the call to the New Mysteries of Thinking and the New Mysteries of Community?

*         *         *

This next essay may be sent (in a perhaps more evolved form)

to the coming conference on the Life of Rights

(in late June 2011), organized by the Social Science Section of

the School of Spiritual Science in America

Shapes in the Fire

Civilization burns.  War, hate, disease, mistrust, egotism, racism, greed, and just plain stupidity seem to be active everywhere, destroying social order and reducing our hopes and dreams to ashes.   Yet, strange patterns form in the  flames.  Weaving and dancing, human beings, and their communities, live and die, move and change, grow and become.  Meaning hovers over the seeming chaos, and with a careful attention to the most basic elements it becomes possible to discern the music that moves along side us - even the themes flowing out of the future.

*         *         *

The social-political world of humanity is the Art of God.  Nothing of the totality of the Creation lies outside this living Art.  This social-political world evolves, and has (to a degree) emancipated itself from what we ordinarily call: Nature.  The Womb of the Earth, as impregnated by the ongoing incarnations of the Beings of the Stars, is giving birth.  In the Age of Science our minds are tempted to see this Art as so many unrelated parts, for in its presently immature stage science is far too analytical, and insufficiently synthetic.  This includes the social sciences, and even to a degree the concepts we borrow from Rudolf Steiner’s presentations of the Threefold Social Organism.

Please do not leap to the conclusion that I am suggesting a wrongness with Threefolding.  Far from it.  Rather I am attempting to gather the threads of the Reality of the Social in a new way, and with that gathering find the most right place for threefolding thinking.

Shakespeare saw clearly when he said: All the world’s a stage.   History, as a science,  is itself still immature, and lacks a wise synthesis that would appreciate that our present understanding of the social is all inside out, upside down and backwards.   We, under the influence of the modern ideas of history, mistake the Scenery for the Play, and the Threefold Social Organism is, though apt, meant to be a description of the past, present and future potential living nature of that Scenery.

Events on the News, and the related language which describes them, do not see this Art of God.  Too much emphasis is placed on great this, or great that - as if the totality of the social-political world - the Art of God - could bow down to the human mighty, whether commanders and leaders of the sacred or of the profane.  But no President of the United States and no great initiate have real effects beyond their temporary and passing moments in the Play.  The Art of God, an almost incomprehensible act of Love, focuses fully on the individual spirit, and that fact is the most precious key to actually coming to knowledge of the social-political world of humanity.

Love is able to do this because it stands outside of Time and Space, and from this position of ultimate creative freedom can Touch all at will.  All else we see in the social-political is epiphenomena, whether it is the Anthroposophy and Spiritual Science of Rudolf Steiner, or the apparently endless Wars and cycles of destruction seemingly authored by madmen masquerading as dictators, heads of corporations or chiefs of state.

Even if we could bring it about, a Waldorf School in the hinterlands of China would be too starkly anomalous - too out of place.  The fact that it is not there is not a wrongness in the root organization of the world, but a rightness, which we need to learn to comprehend.  Existence already is perfection, when we learn to see it rightly, for no individual human spirit lies outside the most profound and Divine Love that is possible.  Even what anthroposophists call the Opposition have a necessary role in the Play, and in the Scenery.

Yes and yet, ... at the same time we do have all manner of human feelings, passions, and deep and profound concerns.

Nor are such acts being here excused.  We just have to remember that the Art of God includes the afterlife kamaloka experience, where what we do to others during incarnation is then experienced later by us - a process that lasts more or less as long as we slept during life.   We need to remember that the laws of karma make adjustments for whatever element of not-love was involved, and the kamaloka experience prepares us for our later part in the determination of that karma belonging to the next incarnation. 

Human justice will never be able to match this Divine Justice, and the fact that Life is Suffering was the first of Gautama Buddha’s Four Noble Truths.

That we become outraged is also part of the whole, for our outrage then becomes a creative force in the total world order.  Again, without that which causes us outrage we would sleep.  That we individually may experience pain at injustice and cruelty is an aspect of the Play that belongs to us as individuals.  If necessary, be outraged!  Just don’t think the Art of God stepped wrongly when human beings suffer.  The spirit cannot be made to cease to exist (except by its own choices), and the inward overcoming and forgiveness of that which harms us evolves us in a way no other experience can help us grow.  What is our relevant folk wisdom here?  What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

Recall these - the Seven Stages of the Christian-Rosicrucian Path of Development: the Washing of the Feet, the Scourging, the Crowning with Thorns, the Carrying the Cross, the Crucifixion, the Entombment, and the Resurrection.   Do those seem like pleasurable sleep-creating experiences?

With the current arrival of the first stages and leading edges of the full individualization of the ego forces of the human being (our present), the individual biography is now beginning to creatively restructure itself into completely individual paths of spiritual development.  No path of development (even those of a profound descent into darkness) in the coming future is to be better than any other, and all are and will be attended by the Divine Mystery (I will be with you until the ends of time).

Yet, we are right to wonder: What of Anthroposophy and Spiritual Science?  We who have devoted ourselves to these have to come to terms with the world and with such disciplines.   What do they mean to us, and what could and should they mean to others?  How do we consciously participate in helping to place what Rudolf Steiner began laying into the stream of history and into the ongoing changes in the Scenery and the individual Plays?

At first blush there ought to be only our individual answers to that question.   We ought to first determine by our own thinking, and for ourselves, what we individually want to do.  Having done that, part of our individual answer may call for some kind of collective or collegial and community action.  Even so, there are also dangers just there.  Too much tradition and unconscious habit in a social community can destroy the living nature of something.  Just in being part of a strong system of thought and its related tradition can cause us to go right back to sleep.  Instead of developing our own thinking, we might instead learn to bow down to the semi-conscious habitual thinking of the general culture of the Anthroposophical Society.  The danger then is where that semi-conscious culture leads, and if and who new members then may be blindly encouraged to follow.

Here is an instructive story from the traditions of the Plains Indians:

    A young boy and young girl woke up one morning to discover that their camp has moved on and left them behind.  They have their small tepee and a few individual items, but that is all.  The moving camp did leave a trail in the Prairie, which they then began to follow.  After a couple of days travel they woke up on another morning to discover an old man and and old woman, in their own tepee, camped next to them.  Some discussion follows and the old man and the old woman tell the young boy and the young girl that they know the best way to proceed and how to find their  camp.

    As the next days progress, the young boy and the young girl find themselves now doing most of the needed work for all four people - gathering wood, setting up camp, catching game, making food and so forth.  Soon after, on another morning, they come to a small river, which is not deep, but the old man and the old woman insist that the young boy and the young girl carry them across.

    One evening, after the old woman and old man have gone to sleep, the now frequently dead-tired young boy and young girl are visited by Coyote, the wise-trickster spirit.   Coyote explains that as long as the young boy and the young girl continue to carry the old man and the old woman on their backs, they will never catch up to the moving camp.   If they want to catch up, Coyote says: you will have to kill the old man and the old woman, for they impede your progress.  After much discussion and many more days of suffering from too much work, the young boy and the young girl finally kill the old man and the old woman.

    The next morning when they awake they find themselves surrounded by the camp.

When this story is told, after the young men and women hearing it have gotten over their shock, the mystery teacher of the camp explains that the old man and the old woman are tradition, and if the camp wants to progress in wisdom it must constantly kill tradition, otherwise it becomes a dead weight and no further progress of the People is possible.

This is the basic condition of the Anthroposophical Society today.  The weight of tradition is killing nearly all potential future progress.  The worst old men and old women are our ideas of what the founders of our Society, including such as Rudolf Steiner, and Ita Wegman, have told us is the right thing to do.  The dead weight of their idealistic thoughts and works keeps us from progressing in the face of the authentic earthly necessities of the First Century of the Third Millennium, which demands our using our own moral instincts as the sole guide.

We don’t do enough thinking for ourselves, and will never do so while clinging to those old thoughts we use almost constantly to define what we need to do to live today.   Even our current Chiefs (leaders in Dornach and in the Councils in America) are too devoted to the traditional, such that few if any truly living forces (thinking which has life in it) enter into our work, except perhaps on the Periphery, but certainly not in the Centers: recall Yeats: the Second Coming: “... Things fall apart, the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world; ...”

One of our worst traditions is the devotion given to Steiner’s social ideology: the Threefold Social Organism.  It is a limit we very much need to let go of and move beyond.  We are not abandoning it, however, but rather merely creating the inner freedom* needed to fully make practical use of it.  Here are some newer thoughts:

*[One must be able to confront and idea and experience it, otherwise one will fall into its bondage. R.S., last sentence original preface, The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity.]

Human beings have a tendency to create ideologies about political and social existence.   The problem with an ideology is that it skips past the problem of knowing and goes right into a reactively created belief system about how the world should be organized (from our antipathy we seek to force change, believing we know better).   It doesn’t make any difference whether the ideology is Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Religious, Scientific, Artistic whatever - the essential defect of an ideology is that it seeks to impose on social reality our antipathy-based judgment regarding the world’s defects, thereby then creating ideal conceptions of how the world should be, without ever asking whether the semi-emancipated from Nature social-world itself wants to be that way.  Our danger is to not recognize the Being nature which inhabits the living organism of the social-political world of humanity.

Typical political ideologies gave us these complete social failures: the War on Poverty, the War on Drugs and lately the War on Terror.   All ideologies fail because they push at social reality something actually inconsistent with the true nature of that reality.  An atypical ideology is held by anthroposophists, who tend to devote themselves to Steiner’s economic ideals and his ideals on social threefolding, without questioning whether this is the best way to approach actual  knowledge of the social.   Steiner’s ideas are not the problem by the way - it is the approach to their application, that wants to skip past actually acquiring social knowledge first, that creates the difficulty.

As I pointed out decades ago, when I submitted Threshold Problems in Thinking the Threefold Social Order to the then young Threefold Review (where, unfortunately, it was ignored), Steiner was forced to present Threefolding as a kind of Utopian-looking ideology because of the fact that those listening to his social ideas were in their soul life serious “idealists”.  Central Europeans want to first find the right and pure conception of something, before they struggle to incarnate it into social existence.   The problem is that any ideology will fail when it is forced to confront the rocky shores of the real social world.   Anthroposophists have had now nearly a hundred years to “incarnate” threefolding idealism and that track record is pretty dim, precisely because social reality is far more complicated than any ideology manages to conceive.

We must first ask: What is the social world actually up to?  That is the spiritual-scientific question, and in a Society devoted to Spiritual Science, that is the question that our Society has yet to answer (although my latest book - The Art of God: an actual Theory of Everything - does begin to answer it).  Steiner didn’t do everything ... in fact he could not have done everything.   What he did do was give us a leg up, but when we idolize him and his teachings and turn him into an authority on nearly everything, we begin the ruin all of his work by making our organization appear to outsiders as a kind of Steiner-worship cult.  Most of the resistance to Anthroposophy in the world is created by anthroposophists themselves.

The higher truth is that the true living organism of the social and political world of humanity is a consequence of the Embodiment of the Word.  We live within the Word as it has come to Incarnate Itself in Earthly Existence (recall Steiner on the meaning of the fall of Christ’s blood to the Earth at Golgatha).  This world-Word has its own agenda, and knowledge of that needs to be our goal.  The issues and approaches within the Anthroposophical Society are mostly karmic and personal to us - they are not yet developed enough to properly serve the world-Word (we have to artistically cook them some more - that is we have to see that Threefolding and Steiner’s economic ideas have to be cut and diced and heated and melded and spiced and then presented with great gastronomical art to those who are eventually to dine on them.)

In order to begin this process we need to first appreciate the causal element behind social-political processes and events - that is: we need first to recognize that the focus point from the standpoint of Love is the individual, and if we want to understand events, we have to understand them working causally from the individual outward, rather then try to understand the individual from the outer events inward.   In From Symptom to Reality in Modern History, as a hint, Steiner spoke of currents coming from underneath events, and rising up into the historical patterns and then receding.


Let us see if we can put some details and flesh on such a dynamic social-political process.

A single human being has, as we know, an ego, an astral body, an ethereal body and a physical body.   What is the social significance of this structure?

The single individual is born into a culture and a language and a family and a community.   At the same time he carries with him his past (and even in some form his future) lives, and thus he carries into life the influence that karma has on his present biography.   In addition he has what Steiner called in The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity his characterlogical-disposition - the nature of his I, and in particular what we might call, in more poetic and religious terms, the effects of the Fall (without leaving aside their additional social-scientific significance).

We are working at this from the deepest inside outward, starting with the I or the spirit.  When we get to the astral or desire body other factors come into play.  There we find lodged right next to the I, at the edges or boundaries of the ego with the astral body, the double, which is threefold in nature (a luciferic double, an ahrimanic double, and a human double).  For the I to act in the world it must navigate the effects of these creatures, which cause: via the luciferic double temptation (egotism), via the ahrimanic double prosecution (lies and self-doubt or self-loathing), and via the human double that collection of psychic parasites called in the middle Ages: egregors, and which Steiner in the last lecture of Man as Symphony of the Creative Word called tumors or cancers of the soul (because they are becoming independent of the I).  A good example of this latter type of creature is what the heroin addict calls: the monkey on my back.  The important thing, however, is to realize we all have the human double - these bad habits, which are very difficult to control and/or eliminate.

These creatures lead us wisely to those biographical experiences needed to redeem past karma (if our I can’t be tempted to make mistakes, we never grow), and our I, to the degree it remains under their influence, may also create more karma for the future.  In addition in the astral or desire body exists the disposition toward pleasure and pain, as well as the instinctive feelings of sympathy and antipathy, all of which effect our psychological relationship to our personal biography.

The I, within itself, possesses the eons long effects of the so very slow Fall into Materialism, and must act now through the weight and the maze of a much more dense (earthly) astral or desire body.  In addition, in the ethereal body comes to exist the also fallen, hardened, and anti-spiritual conceptual world as acquired during the modern  education of the human being, first within the family and then further on as this I engages life in all its dimensions.  The I is clothed then in its personal characterlogical-disposition, its individual necessary encounters with the threefold-double complex and its habits of response to pain, pleasure, and that which it likes and dislikes, as well as an almost completely dead ahrimanic world view and set of concepts.  These ideas and concepts are among the culturally-given figuration* as anchored in the ethereal body, although our world view is still capable of growing and evolving should we learn to wake up there.

*[See Barfield’s Saving the Appearances: a study in Idolatry, for coming to understand our instinctive semi-conscious thinking (figuration), which through the acquisition of language learns to know the name and cultural meaning of most of the objects of experience - inner and outer.]

In addition, there is the determinative-to-form weight of the inherited physical body, whose own evolution has not only nearly halted, but even started to degenerate, and which over time the still potentially continuously evolving ego may achieve some mastery and ability to transform.

To live life, the I must act then through  its own charcter-logical disposition, its own desire body (which is both dark and light), its own world conceptions, and then finally its own inherited physical limits.  However great the true spirit of the individual is when freed of this complicated structure (the I is experienced quite differently in the pure world of spirit when free of all three bodies), during earthly incarnation this I is severely limited and constrained by the given nature of these three bodies.

All of this, when the astral body has not yet been purified, effects which of the many possible thoughts or conceptual constructs, residing in the ethereal body, are to rise before the I’s self-consciousness during thinking.   While the I is clothed in the astral or desire body, it yet perceives the world through the lens of the conceptions embedded via figuration in the ethereal body.

The more we individualize (leave behind the lingering and once controlling effects of what we call the group soul), the more these thought-forms appear to us in a fashion completely differentiated from all others.  In truth, the I desires to think its own thoughts above all else.

An immature I will, like a kind of two-year old, reactively form thoughts counter and oppositional to those of others.   Such an immature I wants/needs initially to distinguish its thinking from the surrounding thinking.   A spiritually maturing I will strive to learn to stand in freedom before its conceptual life, and in particular to become responsible for the full nature of its world conceptions (the rise of the conceptions of atheism in modern life is an example of both of these - first, simple opposition to no longer vital religious ideas, and then a still somewhat immature seeking to create ones’ own world view).

Based on our individual karmic needs/inclinations regarding such matters, people enter incarnation for the purpose of living in a specific culture, language, family and community in order to unfold their personal redemptive efforts at the healing of shared wounds of soul (karma), and over time perhaps rise to sufficient inner freedom to consciously contribute to the creation of their own destiny. 

Each culture, language, family and community is perfectly appropriate for each individual I.  The fit is exact and precise, for Love Makes it So.

It is a good exercise in the new spiritual social sciences to pick up a newspaper and read each article, consciously recognizing that what one is reading is stories of individual karma and free destiny choices being played out.

Now a particular culture will have habits of shared thought through which it categorizes these stories collectively.   These categories will also be in the “news” stories, and appear as labels of particular I’s, such as: democrat, criminal, crazy person, policeman etc.   All descriptive words concerning any given I are illusory - they are not the truth about that I, but rather simply the present cultural confusion which is part of the Scenery for our Plays.

Our collective cultural habits of categories then multiply, until we invent vast and highly abstract themes running through our societies, such as Christian, Muslim, militarist, lawyer, anthroposophist, and so forth.  We then can recognize that  these are disconnected from the real I, and therefore illusory.  Here  is a problem requiring deep practical wisdom, for which Christ’s remarks in the Sermon on the Mount are the essential beginning: Judge not, lest ye be judged.

Such categorical thinking even appears in the work being done for this conference, which have these names: Steiner’s Perspectives on Rights; Our Political Heritage; Our Current Political Climate; Future of Politics and Democracy; School Choice as a Civil Rights Issue; Money as a Right; etc.  Again, this is not a wrongness, but simply a natural incorporation of the general cultural language of America, coupled with the assumption that the best curative social ideas are to be found in the ideological idealism of threefolding

Here thinking has entered into our observations of social life, but has seen only the scenery, the stage setting, and the patterns displayed there.  There is in the organism of the Stage Setting, a Life of Rights, long in development and yet unfinished.  But this organism of the Stage Setting is only a backdrop against which the Play of the individual biography takes place.  We want to relieve suffering - this impulse is in our deep nature.  But is that even possible or desirable on a macro scale though the massive Threefolding of the Social Organism.

Threefolding is form.  Form follows function.  Could we not trust that were we to properly aid others in the discovery of their own thinking, feeling and willing, that this function will lead naturally to true macro threefolding?  In biology we discover that context is everything (in a certain sense - see The Nature Institute and the works of Craig Holdredge and Steve Talbott et. al.).  But the human being is more than mere biology - the plant does not do the Good and the animal does not Create Beauty or seek the Truth.  They are product, not cause.

Generally people join a kind of club or community of similar likes and dislikes, and which contains shared conceptual frames of reference.  This Rights Conference is one such club, centered to a large degree on Steiner’s Threefolding ideology.  Am I suggesting this conference is a waste of effort or any such thing?  No!

Under the influence of the Art of God everyone is, in their own biography, precisely where they need to be.  If we look at this from a vain determinism, it will seem paradoxical.   But, if instead, we look at this from Love’s point of view, - outside of Time and Space and in the Eternal - then every thought and conception worked over and then brought to the  Life of Rights conference needs to be there.  We may make mistakes in our biography, but not mis-steps.

We also need to clearly additionally see that wisdom (faith), creativity (hope), and love (charity) are now distributed - that is they are everywhere present.  The I is the true seed of the Father.  No one gets to the Father except by me (Christ).  I (Christ) and the Father are One.  Not I, but Christ  in me, is how the human being takes hold of self-ness and transforms that seed toward is full potential, following through Christ in me to the Father seed hidden in the deep will of the own I.

At the same time I do know that we need to step back and look objectively at the collective representations (Barfield), such as Threefolding, that draw us into the same club.   Let us sneak up on this from another direction.

As suggested above, from the point of view of Love the world is perfection already.  This includes the fact that human beings find the social world (out of their own likes and dislikes etc.) a place they want to change.  Each collective (club) of shared ideas of social change is different, however, from every other collective of shared ideas of what needs to be changed.   Each thus somewhat individualized  collective cannot help but disagree with the other somewhat individualized collectives, which resulting disagreement, about what to do to change the world for the better, itself becomes an aspect of the perfection.  As I wrote in my book The Art of God: an actual Theory of Everything: even conflict has meaning, for the I is thereby forced by conflict, and the ongoing tsunami of escalating social chaos, to respond to individualized moral dilemmas known only in and to the personal biography.   This response we have been taught by Steiner to collectively label with this abstraction: the Age of the Consciousness Soul.

Some may recall that Steiner encouraged teachers in Waldorf Schools to put cholerics sitting next to cholerics.   The Divine Mystery, in Its genius as the Lord or Artist of Karma, does that kind of sitting-next-to art on a scale we can hardly imagine, because it encompasses the whole world and all of time, carefully arranging just which biographies intersect with and when which other biographies.

The Wars, the economic troubles, the slavery, the woes of suffering all over the world, are epiphenomena in relationship to what goes on inwardly in the soul to the I, as its biography draws that I into action.  The essential matter, as I explained in my essay: The Meaning of Earth Existence in the Age of the Consciousness Soul, is what is happening in the inwardness of the soul as a consequence of the Play.  This happening is the invisible transformation and development of the I, through Christ’s Baptism by Fire and Holy Breath.

To imagine, that the outer social-political world can be perfect in the way we individually might want a perfect world to be, is to take away from countless other human beings their karma and their destiny, for which they have themselves hungered and incarnated.  Steiner told the medical doctors, for example, that just in seeking to heal a patient they need to appreciate that this was quite possibly an interference in karma.

Does this mean we should no longer want to relieve suffering?   Of course not.   The underlying problem is a bit simpler to state, but far more difficult to solve.

We have to first stop imposing an ideology on the world - even Threefolding.   We next have to step back and see the social-political world’s real-time processes.   Once we free ourself of all  traditional and cultural assumptions, we can then begin to see the underlying currents, which are presently rising into ongoing social-political processes.

Western Civilization is failing.  The signs are everywhere, and they reside precisely in the fact that individualization is such a strong ongoing process in our time (a huge rising undercurrent), that agreement among people on almost any subject along conventional lines of thought is no longer possible.  Long standing traditions no longer work, and the religious Right in America at the least superficially noticed this fact when they began to speak of the family values crisis and the culture wars.  Christ revealed this Mystery Rite when He said: I come not to bring peace but a sword - that is the I itself must go through phases where it cannot do otherwise then separate and divide and nearly socially destroy all community down to and including the family.

Hierarchical institutions are failing because individual human beings are losing the ability and the desire to follow something which organizes itself from the top down.   What can be called the impulse to dominion-over is losing its grip.  The paternalism that characterized Western Civilization (and to some degree other long-standing cultural institutions the world over) no longer meets the modern needs of the self-developing I.

It is the inherent conflict between the I’s present state of being, and the soul’s present state of consciousness, as well as the structural nature of civilization, that is bringing that civilization to its knees.  Civilizations age, while the spirit (the I) and the soul continue to evolve.  At a certain point in time, the latter has to destroy and consume the former, before it becomes possible to begin civilization’s re-creation.

Collectively the I’s ruin civilization (drive it into social chaos) in preparation for these same I’s to be later inspired to create the next civilization.

In a practical way this means that the common knee-jerk  urge (for whatever cause - conservative or liberal) to go to Washington D.C. and lobby for change is an impossible objective.  In part this is due to a failure to realize that the urge to reform the world through logical argument is a vanity.  The psychological drivers for people’s ideas about what to do come from places deeper in the soul than that region in which we might seek reason and logical argument.  Far more primal hungers, such as the egoism for power and dominance and wealth, coupled to the fear of death, give great force to the order of  the world, and reason alone cannot touch them.  The mind can always find apparently reasonable justifications for its baser desires, needs and wants (which is why Steiner’s The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity begins with the question: can we want what we want, or are we unfree before these primal hungers and needs).

Granted other and older entrenched interests do appear to successfully lobby, but they only seem to do this because they are already part of the real system of governance - a loose oligarchy of wealth and power.  That form of rule is fading, and the cleverest of the folks that work out of this realm - the Occult Brotherhoods - have known for centuries that Civilization would fail, and have thus already positioned themselves to survive this time of chaos and anarchy (when Nation States no longer function).  Read Steiner’s Oswald Spengler: Prophet of World Chaos, for some help with this.

This is why most of political discourse seems to be crazy.  We, in love with reason and wisdom, confront in  that political conversation others who are driven from deeper and more instinctive aspects of their souls.  Their thoughts, rising from within their character-logical disposition and then through the dark and light of the astral body, as well as the particular world conceptions of their own biography, - these thoughts cannot be anything other than they are, and we are not going to be able to reason them out of it.  We may learn personally to live more plastically (and livingly) in our thoughts, but need to heed what happens when the other thinker shows such arid and powerful rigidity of thought - thought that feels like concrete.

We do have a means, placed into our hands by Love and the service to that Love by Rudolf Steiner, and that is the New Mysteries of Thinking and the New Mysteries of Community.  When the members and friends learn to master and model those Mysteries, only then will we be ready to teach the world their blessings for us all.

Science fiction writers*, who think imaginatively on social themes, have seen for a long time that the next phase of macro social organization would be ruled by feudal-like corporate empires, not nation state democracies.   Or, see my Counter-Moves: surviving the war the rich are making upon the poor. 

*[Such as the Americans: William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, Frank Herbert and Ursula K. LeGuin - keep in mind that we can learn to perceive here great wisdom in this advanced form of imaginative Literature, because, as Steiner pointed out: Americans come to Anthroposophy naturally and English speakers are instinctively in the Consciousness Soul in their Life of Rights.]

Corporations have now acquired a state of existence that makes them essentially independent of the individuals that inhabit them as workers, and more importantly, their so-called leaders who think they run them.  Ahriman has created a mechanical-like, non-living (not biological), legally  structured social form: the Corporation, which will survive the end of Nation States.  These are the true cancers and tumors of the Body Social, that a new spiritual social science will be able to “cure” in the future.

With the eventual (perhaps taking centuries) loss of hierarchical organizations taking the form of dominion-over, a new maternalism wants to appear, taking the form of communion-with.  The former was pyramid-like and the latter will be circle-like.  The fall of Western Civilization is not its end.  The process is very much like metamorphosis.  One great form of civilization is dying and after a period of chaos (like the chrysalis stage of the caterpillar-butterfly transformation), another form of civilization will appear.

It was in preparation for this state of affairs that Steiner gave us Branches and Groups, which could survive the coming institutional failure of the Vorstand and the School in Dornach (the recent AGM in 2011 is just a foretaste of the growing disillusion of individuals with central authorities of a spiritual kind).  Steiner also gave us the Reverse Cultus in Awakening to Community as the means for the right conversation-Mystery to be discovered in the Branches and Groups.

We today ride seas of change that cannot be exactly predicted as to their details, because individuals are still making choices, some of which will have macro-scale effects on the social future.  Already with the economic crisis we have seen the massive influence certain narrowly associated individual actions can have.  Groups of individuals that share similar characterlogical-dispositions join the same clubs (investment houses, for example) and through their egotism spread wide their influence until certain aspects of the related and complicated social systems cannot but fall apart (see the HBO film: To Big to Fail).

We also fail to recognize the relationship between human collective moral life, and the temper of the living organism of the Earth.  We live inside a spiritual organism of invisible Beings (see the Class lessons for details), and this structure responds to our defects.   Just as Atlantis fell into the sea (from one point of view*), so great effects via Earth-being energies, have to respond to the mass of human moral excesses so predominant today.  Human culture is causally interdependent with Communities of Higher Beings, from which interdependent cooperation we get oil spills in the Gulf, intensification of tornadoes in the heartland, and massive earthquakes around the Ring of Fire in the Pacific (just as predicted by the Hopi Prophecy).

*[For wonderful details read: Patrick Dixon’s America: the Central Motif, reprinted in my essay: Searching for Christian Rosencreuz]


There are two main processes in these seas of change on the level of human societies (the Stage Setting).  One is a radiating process which works hierarchically from strong individuals outward (such as Ahriman’s incarnation inside our National Government and how that influence of lies in support of self-loathing* (we called this phenomena: divisive social issues) came to destroy much of the remaining fabric of the older - now dying - social contract, with its core element: consent to the rule of law).  In addition there is a resisting and sucking-sculpting process, which exists in and via large, mostly disorganized, groups of individuals that share the same fundamental needs.  Joblessness, for example, works as a kind of social inertia against what otherwise might foster anarchy, because people will feel comradeship with each other’s suffering (the precursors of the Sixth Epoch).  This latter renews the dying and new becoming of the social contract itself on another level - on the communion-with level - that can be enriched in such a way so as to replace the older and instinctive submission to the rule of law with consent to a threefold social order based on ethical individualism.

*[Recall, for example, that the most vicious anti-gay rhetoric came from conservative and religious still-in-the-closet gay men.  The ahrimanic double fosters lies of self-loathing of all kinds.]

Again, in order to actually present this to the world, we first have to master and then model the New Mysteries of Thinking and of Community.

Threefolding appears human societies over time, - in reality it is a kind of given process because the human being is threefold in both a vertical and a horizontal direction.  I wrote of this the first time in some detail in: Waking the Sleeping Giant: the mission of Anthroposophy in America.  Steiner’s ideas about this help us perceive the model - the human being, but the messy reality, by which the model slowly can come to inhabit the real social world, we have yet to appreciate that.

Once we get to this level of understanding of modern social conditions, we will find the right place and way to apply the wisdom of Steiner’s threefolding ideas.  But first we have to make them our own, and realize that on a macro-scale they don’t have much chance of being operationally valid given the still evolving world-wide descent into social chaos.  I give an example of the significance of threefolding on a micro-scale in my essay: The Social-Spiritual Organism of a Waldorf School Community*.

*[See Appendix Six, for a copy of this essay on micro threefolding.]

All the same, it is not enough to be cranky and suggest one knows better.   Authentic solutions must be offered.  Here are a few:

Six years ago, at the final plenum of the 2005 Ann Arbor conference, attended by many members of the Vorstand, after encouraging a deeper study of The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, I essentially begged for needed actions:  1) We needed from the Center (something in the mood of a confession, by the Vorstand?)  a true history of the Society in the 20th Century; 2) We needed from the Councils in America a serious effort to study America and come to know our own soul’s realities*; and 3) We have to stop saying Steiner-said.  We can individually practice what is meaningful for us personally, but our own intuitions are far more crucial than anything rooted in the the endless quoting of others - details to follow.

*[Opposition to this from Ahriman and his co-workers has been strong, and Americans very much need to wake up to this problem - see Appendix Three for a few details.]

From conversations afterwards I learned that lots of folks were confused, and didn’t even know that the path of Knowledge of Higher Worlds is not the same as the path of The Philosophy.  Or that Steiner’s own path was not the former but the latter.  No real history of the Society in the 20th Century has been forthcoming, as has no real effort on the part of the Councils in America to deepen our understanding of America and the American Soul.

After digesting this and other related experiences for several years, I finally declared myself one of many  real leaders of Real Anthroposophy in the 21st Century (this is simply a statement of fact).  See my YouTube work* in this regard.

*[the foolish philosopher:]

What is a leader?  Well, in a spiritual-cultural social form a leader is not democratically elected or generated by some kind of consensus of those presently holding the reins of social power in that social form.  A leader is one who knows and does, or as Steiner called it: a knowing doer.  A leader is also not known by their followers, given that freedom is the essential ingredient of a modern spiritual development (this eliminates Prokofieff and von Halle - being adored and worshiped is not a good sign). 

How do I lead?  By doing.  I’ve mastered the Living Thinking, and produced many books and essays and videos.  It doesn’t make any difference what members and friends in the Society want to believe, its all about who the relevant communities in the world of spirit want to support through direct participation in this leader’s intuitive inner life.


Even Steiner said that: Intuition is the conscious experience - in pure spirit - of a purely spiritual content.  Such intuitions are not memory pictures of what Steiner said by the way, but can only arise from our own authentic thinking.  Conferences celebrating Steiner are useless, for they mostly support tradition and the dead past.  And, especially in America, lectures too are useless.  Lectures are remnants still of the Intellectual Soul’s paternalistic  dominion-over the thinking of the other - not yet communion-with - which is the means for social intercourse during the time of the Consciousness Soul, for the essential idea of a lecture is that some people’s thoughts are more important than other people’s thoughts.  Conversation is the key, but it can’t be conversation where the thinking is focused on who can best quote  or explain Steiner.  We must encourage and cultivate everywhere the production of our own genius.

Writing (producing) work is useful, because each individual’s genius of spirit is related to its own interests.  But doing is not just Living Thinking, for those who work with their hands (artists) and those who work from out of their feelings (social workers, Camphill co-workers etc.) all play a part.  The reality of the Society is its collective accomplishments, and leaders of various parts of it are just clearly better at specific elements of the totality of a spiritual-cultural social form.  Leaders walk ahead, are fearless (as much as possible) and perhaps even dangerous (the materialists and secular humanists, and fundamentalist of the general social life of humanity will attack such spiritual-cultural leaders).  Christ was dangerous in this fashion, as was Rudolf Steiner.

Yet, at the same time, vast undercurrents of social forces oppose the continuation of hierarchical dominion-over institutions.  In the Anthroposophical Society these hierarchical structures need to dissolve themselves, if they wish to be actually awake and free and are to avoid continuing to cause grave social harm.  Vorstands and Councils and General Secretaries need to lead by voluntarily resigning their positions.  To not do this is to go against the true spiritual-social temper of the Age.   We do need central functions of a sort, but not dominating thinking (such as the Center giving us the Theme of the Year).  We need servants making our organization work in the  right way out of Branches and Groups - that is from the Periphery, not from Centers.   Michaelic wisdom is distributed wisdom - it comes from the whole, not from any part - not even me.

Steiner had to launch the 400-year effort to incarnate Anthroposophy when he did, and in the social circumstances that he did, because it was needed to bridge the coming metamorphosis of civilization, where the last remnants of the Intellectual Soul’s influences were to eventually give way to the newly being born capacities of the Consciousness Soul.  

Why didn’t he talk about this?  Well, actually he did but given what faced the members in the near term (the coming release of the Beast from the Abyss beginning in 1933), he had to try to first shore up their defenses in more subtle and circumspect ways.

This true New Age (the Age of the Consciousness Soul) is/was to be born in Fire.  There is no way around it, for without social chaos (and the resulting dismantling of tradition everywhere - in the mid-East we are calling a taste of this living social process: the Arab Spring), there is no challenge to the I to forge its own moral autonomy and its own relationship to the truth.  The Hopi Prophecy calls this time: the Day of Purification.  This is an alchemical purification rite being enacted on a world-wide scale, for every biography is to be eventually touched by Love in this way (baptized by fire and holy breath, as predicted by John the Baptist).  We must be able to choose, and we must also be able to fail - otherwise the I will not really discover how to be free.

In social chaos traditional social structures fall apart.  Their aged nature inhibits the development of the new forces of the I.  Recall once more Yeats’ The Second Coming: ... Things fall apart, the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world; ...  When traditional structures resist, the results will be painful for all (and the Anthroposophical Society is a very tradition-bound structure) . 

The Anthroposophical Society is presently ruled by an semi-conscious aristocracy of the intellect, which likes to pretend it does not dominate the conversation.  “The surest sign that an aristocracy exists is the discovery of barriers against change, curtains of iron or steel or stone or any substance which excludes the new, the different.” Frank Herbert, author of the Dune series of six novels.

If the Society wants to participate in the temper of the Age, all centrist and traditional impulses must be let go.  This is so even in the Branches and Groups.   There are to be no coordinating committees, no leading personalities, no social form that is not strictly circle-like.  We gather, we talk, we practice the New Mystery of Community - the Reverse Cultus - together (lecture six: Awakening to Community), and in our own individual way we study Steiner’s maps to the science of the mind and individual moral autonomy - the New Mystery of Thinking (GA 2, 3, and 4).  These are the Real Anthroposophy, the real New Mysteries - the New Mystery of Thinking and the New Mystery of Community.

That’s it.  That’s the essential Steiner-said.  The rest is up to us.  The social future is up to us, and we must, above all else, free our thinking from the worship of the social-idealistic thought of Rudolf Steiner.  Not because we want to abandon it, but rather because we very much need to make it truly our own.  Every conversation with a non-anthroposophist that requires we explain anthroposophy and who Rudolf Steiner was, wrong foots us.  Most people don’t care and don’t need to care.  Until we mature enough to really think our way into what others need, we will not learn how to actually serve them.  Steiner said (I love this!): Anthroposophy needs to die into the social - it needs to completely disappear when its true fruits are to appear in the social in the right way.  Talk about a paradox!!!


Joel A. Wendt, in the Season of St. John’s Tide, 2011,

from my current home at River House* on the Assabet River

in Concord, Massachusetts.


*         *         *

This next essay is being sent this June (2011) to the Southern Cross Review, in response to an article published there called: Ohso’s Critque of Rudolf Steiner.  I’ll be surprised if they publish it.

West and East

or Wendt’s “critique” of Osho’s critique of Rudolf Steiner

A lot of confusion exists in the Cultural West due to the penetration of that culture by the religions and spiritual teachings of the Cultural East.  Rudolf Steiner gave a whole lecture cycle on some of the related questions: West and East: contrasting worlds (Vienna, 1-12 June, 1922).  Near the front of that book we find this language (which I assume was meant to be attributed to Steiner, but does not clearly say so: “The will of the West must give power to the thought of the East; the thought of the West must release the will of the East.

In the material below a small step is hoped to be taken on such a journey.

A great deal depends upon the point of view we take, which point of view can and should vary.  So, for example, from a certain (and necessarily limited) point of view the incursion of Eastern thought into the stream of American Culture could be seen as a kind of pollution of that Culture.  American Culture, from this same point of view, could also be seen then as a battleground between the so-called Wisdom of the East and the Scientific Materialism of the Center.

Already just with this language I have confused two things that will be better understood as distinct on the one hand, yet part of a whole on the other.

A careful reading of Steiner reveals that he (from one point of view) divided the World into East and West (as in the lectures above), and from another point of view he divided the World into East, Center and West.   Why?

Humanity has a spiritual evolution, which can be differentiated from its soul evolution.   The spiritual evolution is more concerned with our understanding of the nature of the I or the ego, and the soul evolution is mostly concerned with those powers of the soul Steiner pointed to with the ideas of thinking, feeling and willing.  It is the spiritual evolution that seems to divide the spiritual and religious history of humanity into the Cultural East and the Cultural West.   It is the soul evolution (of consciousness) which divides the world into East, Center and true West (the Americas).

It will help to back up a bit.   In my book American Anthroposophy I bring together Steiner’s teachings on the Fall of Atlantis with some of the content from the Hopi Prophecy of the Coming of the True White Brother (Recollecting the True Roots of the American Soul - America’s aboriginal Peoples and the Hopi Prophecy).  The Hopi oral history remembers this time (the Fall of Atlantis), and discusses this in its ideas of the younger and the elder brothers, with the younger going to the West (from a land that was being destroyed), while the elder was to go to the East, there to wait until a call for help came from the younger brother, because the younger brother’s way of life was almost completely destroyed (this is essentially true now for all the aboriginal peoples of the Americas).  In this time of great crisis according to the Hopi  Prophecy (which coincides with the time period marked by the  end of a Great Cycle of the Mayan calender), the True White Brother may/will come from the geographic East to aid the younger brother, carrying with him the life plan for the future.

As Rudolf Steiner tells this same story he mostly emphasizes the journey East of certain communities from Atlantis to an area near the Gobi Desert, from which then all the civilizations of the East are generated, and which grow and develop over those periods Steiner describes, as the first four post-Atlantean epochs. Then 2000 years ago when the Creator God (or an aspect of the same, depending upon one’s theological point of view) Incarnates and, in the process of sacrificing its divinity to become human, goes through the gate of death.   This deed changes a great deal in the fundamental nature of reality, but we still need more back story before adventuring that understanding.

The mystery developments in the East were not all of a kind.   While the Seven Holy Rishis gave birth earlier to Vedanta and subsequently then to the Hindu religion, it was some millennia following that, around the year 3100 B.C., that a certain change occurs when (according to Steiner) Lucifer incarnates in China and then is brought into one of their mystery schools.   One later and slowly maturing effect of this incarnation (supposedly climaxing around 600 B.C.) is the appearance of the Confucian impulse as well as the inspiration for the work of Lau Tzu.

In Confucianism we find the tendency in the social to fix the  incarnation of the group soul through the ideals of the spiritual importance of filial and other relationships.  The still evolving ego’s moral choices are starkly and strictly delimited via Confucianism.  At more or less the same time, in the Way of the Tao (Lau Tzu), we find the idea of the superior man - the sage*.  For the Chinese this degenerates after a while into the Han religion and the role of the Mandarin (the superior man or sage as the social leader).  If we read current history, as being made in China today, these degenerate (aging and sclerotic) ideals of the Han religion and the Mandarin seem to be experiencing a resurgence.

*[The sage controls without authority, And teaches without words; He lets all things rise and fall, Nurtures, but does not interfere, Gives without demanding, And is content. From the Dao de Jing]

In Tibet, in the Bon religion as it developed there thousands of years ago, we have the remains of Atlantean magical knowledge, and the creation of a long lasting theocracy as the primary means of social order.  The Tibetan Lama was/is both a secular and a religious leader - a spiritual adept who rules society.  With the incarnation of Gautama Buddha, also around 600 B. C., we have the beginning of a modernization of all those impulses, radiating  out from India, as all of the East over time assimilates these profound Buddha teachings.  Then when the Chinese invade Tibet in 1949, this pushes out onto the World (and particularly into the spiritual West) some aspects of these very ancient magical teachings and traditions, which had been somewhat remodeled through the influence of Gautama Buddha.

Steiner had already noted the influence on the soul Center of the world in the arriving in Central Europe of the Bhagavad Gita in the late 18th Century.  While this is somewhat later in time, it is also a kind of parallel cross-infusion of East and West that began as far back as when Alexander the Great spread Hellenism to the East.   Even the Christian Gospels note some of this ongoing and complex intercourse between the two basic world Cultures when they describe at the Birth: wise men came from the East.

But spirit and soul evolution cannot be inhibited (although they can be missed out on by individuals), and with the Incarnation of Christ (as an aspect of the Creator Being), even Gautama Buddha was changed (though no longer incarnate).   As a consequence of the Incarnation of Christ, the Buddha subtly altered the nature of his spiritual influence so that there eventually came to be the Bodhisattva Vow, where instead of the modern Buddhist seeking to get off the Wheel of Life (seek Nirvana), this Buddhistic Impulse now pledges to not seek to leave the Wheel of Life until all sentient beings can be enlightened.


Obviously, in its details, this is all very complicated, and the above therefore a perhaps dangerous oversimplification ... the reader should do their own detailed research.

To turn to Osho ...

One of the religious ideas of the Cultural East is the teaching of self-development as a thing in itself.  In this we find a remnant of the idea of the superior man - the sage.  The guru - the spiritual teacher - has accomplished something we have not, and now we are to study under him (or her) in order to learn to develop our own spiritual perfection.  Thus we find the Zen Masters, the Tibetan Lamas, and the Yoga Masters and all the other similar spiritual teachers, including those Westerners (particularly Americans) who have anointed themselves as teachers of enlightenment or yoga or Buddhism after traveling for a time in the East (such as Andrew Cohen).

Now such as Osho have a very peculiar condition, which is that while they want to speak of their particular Way as overcoming the limits of mind (and of ego), they cannot teach without using language.  Just in this fact, mostly not noticed in their teachings, they reveal the presence of a kind of thinking-mind, for there is no speaking/thinking via modern consciousness without forming cognitive conceptualizations of that concerning which we desire to speak.  Not only that, most of these teachings are rooted in ancient systems, and thereby in ancient conceptions buried in the language by which the tradition is transmitted from one guru to the next.  Owen Barfield in his book Saving the Appearances: a study in idolatry, describes the core of this kind of thinking as figuration* and distinguishes it from the far more conscious kind of thinking we call theorizing and reflection.

*As regards figuration: By the time we leave the comforts of home for the school (and/or life) we possess language, and language exists in us most semi-consciously in figuration, which is our recognition of all the familiar objects in our lives (both internal and external), without our having to name them.   We just semi-consciously know what these objects are and what they mean.  In its details, figuration varies all over the world according to cultural and language differences, as well as individual biographical differences.

If we are of the Cultural East, and we at a certain point in time enter more deeply into one or another form of religious or spiritual life there, we find (and are taught) a way of seeing the world consistent with our early childhood figuration capacities, particularly those related to religion.  We fit into this matrix of language and meaning, which our cultural influences have already embedded in our consciousness through the very meaning of most of the words in our language, our developing religious or spiritual understanding as that is being transmitted to us by our guru.  Of special import are the words and concepts concerning our interior life.

At the level of this semi-conscious figuration what the words mind and ego mean in the Cultural East is completely different from what the words mind and ego mean in the Cultural West.  You could say that the conceptual-meaning baggage attached to each matrix of meanings in both West and East are entirely at odds with each other.  All languages are interdependent with their culture, and the complexities of these interdependencies are significant.  Moreover these complicated interdependences of meaning are seldom noticed in dialogs concerning the modern intercourse between Eastern and Western cultural thought.  Even the idea of differences of religious traditions hardly touches the underlying psychological reality.  East and West do not see the same sense world, nor do they see the same interior world, via the underlying differences in the processes of language acquisition resulting in a specific cultural figuration.

The reader may now understand why I described above (from this point of view) the incursion of Eastern thought into American Culture as a kind of pollution.  To accept the ideal of enlightenment (of the the superior man - the sage/guru) requires of the real ego-nature of a highly individualized human being in the Americas (the leading edge of the evolution of  individualization) that it deny its own spiritual heritage/meaning.  This means, for example, that a person raised in America religiously as a Christian or a Jew, will in adopting and adapting to Eastern thought mostly sleep through the aggression this does toward that aspect of their soul that is rooted deeply in our religious feelings, from when we are young.

If we discuss carefully with them the religious thinking of such individuals, we find that they have Christianized (for example) their Eastern religious conceptions because of the underly dynamic in the feeling life left over from their upbringing.    The soul does not tolerate disharmony easily, and will instinctive bring East and West together in how it views the world.

This same natural religious heritage from our upbringing is also placed in conflict, via education, within modern individuals in the Americas through the incursion of the concepts of scientific materialism, including the idea that the human being is only matter and never spirit.  In America (the USA), and the Americas to a slightly lesser degree, there is a battle going on between the spiritual ideas of the human being out of the East, the spiritual ideas of the latent aboriginal younger-brother spiritual life, and the underlying materialistic pollution* of Western languages with such concepts as there is no mind or self, but only a material physical brain, which conceptions mostly began their rise to dominance during the late 19th Century in the soul Center of the world.

*[See Barfields’s History in English Words.]

While some may find this next concept disagreeable, as an aside we have to consider to what degree the aboriginal spiritual life of the Americas is still vital (living) enough to confront either the sage-Wisdom of the East, or the materialism of the Center.  The Hopi Prophecy expected that there would have to come something from the outside - the True White Brother with the life plan for the future, otherwise the spiritual life of the younger brother peoples would succumb.  Does this mean there is no value to aboriginal (Earth- centered) spirituality?  No.

With the perception of this battle we can now perhaps perceive that from another point of view, the ideas of the Cultural East represent (at this moment in time) a kind of saving grace, for they are powerful in their opposition to scientific materialism (all is matter there is no spirit).  Here we see this then - Steiner’s view: The will of the West must give power to the thought of the East ...

However, like most central Europeans, Steiner overlooks the significance of the spiritual life of the savages* in the Americas.  *[His choice of words on at least one occasion.]

Americans, in consenting to embrace Eastern thought (while not noticing that what they mean by the same words - ego and mind - is not what is meant by the gurus) give power to something that inhibits scientific materialism  - our will takes the spiritual thoughts of the East as a sword and shield against the further incursions of materialism.  This is part of the reason Steiner used the language of Theosophy with its strong tendency to Eastern meanings.

At the same time, in the Americas aboriginal teachings also have a strong influence, and are not to be discounted.  These too serve to resist scientific materialism.

Osho didn’t understand  any of this, or the significance of Rudolf Steiner in leading us through the difficulties of this battle.  Osho, being imprisoned in the figuration (semi-conscious thinking) of his own psychology, is not able to realize that Steiner’s The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity is a solution to a problem most thinkers today don’t even recognize exists.  Mind and ego have evolved since the time of the Holy Rishis, and are full of potentials that most traditional mind sciences of the Cultural East do not even imagine lie latent within.  Not only that, most aboriginal teachings in the Americas are similarly limited.  Why?

The central matter is time.  Systems of wisdom have a birth, age, and then die.  No tradition is meant to last forever.  This the Hopi Prophecy recognized - their way of life would be on its last legs when the True White Brother came.  Most of the teachings of the East do not seem to have understood this about themselves - they act as if their truths are eternal (and this to shall pass is the real wise stance). 

In order, in our time, to discover the real nature of mind and ego in its present evolved configuration in the modern human being, in whatever region of the Earth where we choose to explore our own psychological and spiritual biography, we must become a scientist of the own mind.   This is the path shown by Rudolf Steiner.   Science did not exist at the time of the Holy Rishis, or even at the time of Gautama Buddha, and certainly not when aboriginal teachings were first fostered.  Scientific objectivity is a brand new capacity of human nature in terms of the evolution of consciousness (the onlooker separation).  When Steiner placed the quest for individual freedom inside the scientific enterprise with his book (originally translated as The Philosophy of Freedom), he did not even mention spirit (although in the criticized 1918 revision he changed this).   The original (pre-1918 edition) is all about the practice of scientific introspection without any linkages to the later Spiritual Science - and through the inspiration of this book we can become scientists of our own inner nature, and have no need whatsoever for Guru’s (superior men/sages/gurus) of any kind (even such as Steiner).

The Cultural West in its most recent past and on into the  future is instinctively avoiding the teaching of self-development as a thing in itself (although the Anthroposophical Society seems confused on this question).  With the Creator’s modeling of the washing of the feet, the superior man disappears and the self-sacrificing servant of all arrives (the Christ Impulse).   The servant, while engaging in developing his capacities, does this for self-chosen moral reasons (see The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity).  His freedom is entirely creatively interdependent with his growing and developing conscious free moral autonomy (three steps in character development for each step in spiritual development).  A by-product of this freedom is the capacity to create new thought - concepts never before thought, and therefore there arises through this means not just the overcoming of all tradition, whether of East or of West, or even aboriginal, but also the specific overcoming of the limits of scientific materialism.

Let me elaborate this idea a little bit ...

While we can look at Steiner as a teacher of self-development, the primary reality of his work was educational - he added to human knowledge on a scale few individuals ever accomplish.  Teaching about self-development was secondary and necessary in the sense that people would need to know how  to do what Steiner did, should they wish to do this themselves.  In this he modeled for us the Western Way (we could say).

People follow this, so that Barfield adds greatly to human knowledge, as did George Adams Kaufmann, Dennis Klocek and many others inspired by Steiner.   Before Steiner, even the Romantics such as Coleridge, and the Transcendentalists such as Emerson, basically added to human knowledge.

This, the sage/superior man/guru does not do.  They fundamentally teach their religious ideas of individual self-development and liberation from the mind and the ego, but nowhere take up the task in this scientific age of adding to universal human knowledge.   As Tomberg points out in the last article in the book Early Articles: Indian Yoga and Christian Occultism: the choice [is] between ... “self-liberation” and “Washing the Feet”

The free man uses his own free* cognition to liberate all of us by adding to our universal (scientific) knowledge, without placing his own being (as a teacher) in the center of his life’s work.  Even the evolving News for Members of the Anthporosophical Society in America, called: Being Human, is noticing the importance of what it calls spiritual-scientific research.  Hopefully in the future certain needed precise distinctions will be added to that work, so that present confusions being pointed out by the little book (Manure etc.) can be overcome.

*[One must be able to confront and idea and experience it, otherwise one will fall into its bondage.  R.S. last sentence, original preface, The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity]

The free man dies into his creativity, and into his individuality, revealing thereby deep aspects of this Mystery from Christ’s teaching:

Don’t think I came to cause peace across the land. I didn’t come to cause peace, I came to wield a sword, because I came to divide a man against his father and a daughter against her mother and a bride against her mother-in-law, and to make a man’s servants his enemies. Whoever prefers father or mother over me is not worthy of me; and whoever prefers son or daughter over me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever found his life will lose it, and the one who lost his life because of me will find it. Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me, receives my Sender*. Matthew 10: 34-40 The Unvarnished Gospels, by Andy Gaus.

*[the meaning, hidden here in the last two sentences above, can be stated in another way: The I is the true seed of the Father.  No one gets to the Father except by me (Christ).  I (Christ) and the Father are One.  Not I, but Christ  in me, is how the human being takes hold of self-ness and transforms that seed toward is full potential, following through the Christ in me to the Father seed hidden in the deep will of the own I.]


At the same time a certain problem remains, and must be acknowledged.

The pollution via the Guru remains active in the true West, as well as elsewhere.  Even in the East this approach has begun to outlive its usefulness.  The evolution of consciousness is everywhere on its way to fostering individuality, as a necessary step for the coming into being of moral freedom (or ethical individualism).   The core problem is hidden in the figuration - the semi-conscious concepts of inner and outer reality born in our acclimation to our own languages.  Like scientific materialism in the Cultural West, the Cultural East carries in its figuration a whole set of “idols” buried in the meaning of most of its words (its collective representations - Barfield). 

As part of the longer term evolution of the spirit (of the ego or I) this conceptual prison in which the I finds itself exists precisely to be overcome.   Only through waking up to this prison born in language (One must be able to confront an idea ...) do we engage in the next steps necessary for our future development in freedom.  Christ’s Incarnation actually changed the nature of the ego, setting it on the course of its present development where even external spiritual paths will be lost, and the individual biography becomes a fully individual Way all in itself.  The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want ... anything: including particularly a priest, or sage or guru or initiate or shaman seeking to telling me how to be me - this sage/guru relationship is to die, so that only my own i-AM (the verb that lives) determines all.

Yet, the Guru remains seductive as a possible teacher.  Why?

Since the East has yet no true science of the soul* (only a very ancient tradition), it lacks an appreciation of certain aspects of the modern nature of this inner territory needed for the present-day journey toward being fully awake and free, and confusion is present everywhere, mostly because everything has evolved since these traditions first formed their teachings.  Mostly the East holds the view that the soul (the astral or desire body) is part of maya, and one overcomes it (becomes liberated from it) by ignoring or disregarding it on the way to disregarding even the I.  Even Gautama Buddha taught this.

*[That once ancient territory of the reality of the soul and spirit is no longer well mapped, except by Steiner via GA 2, 3, and 4.   After which, if we succeed at that task, we then graduate to Anthroposophy - a fragment*, where the newly born organic and pure thinking capacities of the I are turned to the study of the gateway to the macrocosm -  the microcosm: in the form of the Ten Senses - plus two boundary conditions, and the Seven Life Processes) - see]

Also present in the Eastern traditions is a strong memory picture from the farthest ancient times of human spiritual and soul evolution, which Steiner describes as a time when human beings were still united directly with the world of spirit, although more in a state of dreaming than the full intensity of modern I consciousness.  Barfield calls this: original participation.

This memory picture does not contain the idea that the ego evolves, nor does it contain the idea that the world of pure being (Steiner’s spiritual world) evolves either.  In writing about this and the next ideas I am giving examples of: the thought of the West must release the will of the East.

The East then lies in bondage to these no longer valid memory pictures.   As a consequence the superior man (the guru) teaches that self-development needs to take the course that the ego is to be abandoned, as well as the mind - the believed to be illusory soul forces of thinking, feeling and willing.  The tradition bound beliefs of the East hold that only through these ancient paths will the being-nature hidden in the human being find its way back to the original remembered source (seeking an atavistic return to original participation). 

Osho, like many other Gurus, in entering into the background semi-conscious being nature which Barfield has called figuration also finds there a connection to Lucifer.   In the West, Steiner tried to bring us awake to the double - to the influence of Lucifer and Ahriman in the own soul.  Unfortunately, the Anthroposophical Society in the present has so far failed to seriously take up Steiner’s indications here, with potentially grave consequences for the next phase of spiritual history for the whole world.

For teachers of Eastern wisdom, when they let go their ego and seek to rise into the pure essence Being of all Existence, they have to travel through what in the West is called the Realm of the False Holy Spirit, or Lucifer’s Realm.   Lacking a scientifically clear map of this territory, and bound up with all kinds of ancient and atavistic traditional ideas of these realms, teachers of the East often find themselves caught up in the unearthly wisdom world of their luciferic double via an identification with this aspect of the lessor Guardian of the Threshold.   The Guru, believing still in the ideal of a higher knowing (the superior man), stands as regards his or her students in the same prideful place as does Lucifer.  As a result they give the appearance of a teacher of wisdom, when in fact they are basically selling the luciferic point of view, which was already laid deeply into the Eastern cultural part of the world following Lucifer’s incarnation.

Clearly this is not true of all guru-like teachers - this identification with the luciferic double.  Yet, the fact remains that in the thought-world, the guru-like teacher has a strong tendency to draw forth concepts that are themselves atavistic - old and no longer valid for modern conditions of the ego (spirit) or the mind (the soul’s thinking, feeling and willing).  Chogyam Trungpa, a very popular Tibetan Lama in America (who fathered the Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado), speaks in the lectures collected under the title Meditation in Action: “There is no I, there is no am.

A similar event is taking place in the Cultural West (and flowing all over the world), although in this case it involves Ahriman’s incarnation and the seeming triumph of scientific materialism.  The ahrimanic double influences our Culture in the West very strongly (and through us the entire culture of the planet).  Ahriman wants to bind us eternally to matter and the earth (such as by making us believe we will be able in the future to move our consciousness into a computer in a robot and live forever).   Lucifer wants to bind us in the opposite way - prematurely to a purely unearthly spiritual existence (the atavistic memory of original participation labeled by the Buddha: Nirvana).

Both would have us sleep through the influence of Rudolf Steiner’s teachings as the John the Baptist figure of the true Second Coming - the voice crying in the wilderness of scientific materialism, pointing toward this truth: and the Word became thought and dwelt within* us.

*[Luke 17: 20-21 “Asked by the Pharisees when the the kingdom of God was coming he answered: “The kingdom of God doesn’t come with the watching like a hawk, and they don’t say, Here it is, or There it is, because, you know what? the kingdom of God is inside you.” [emphasis added]

If we appreciate the underlying aspects of the ongoing evolution of the spirit (the ego or  I), and the ongoing aspects of the evolution of the soul (thinking, feeling and willing), we can come to an appreciation of what a few students of Steiner call: the onlooker separation.  With the birth of natural philosophy (science) in the Cultural West (and soul Center) in Europe, the I transformed fully its original connection to the spirit.   We stepped out of the atavism of  original participation, and entered into an intermediary state.  This rite of soul passage is available to be experienced all over the world as we go into the future. 

It can be the world-destiny of Anthroposophy to model and provide (over the next 300 years) that understanding which lets all religious and spiritual views find their way to this truth, without abandoning the richest elements of their own traditions.  But this cannot be done by telling this story and relating it to Rudolf Steiner as an authority.   We must live it and demonstrate it through processes that advance universal knowledge, without making self-development or religious intolerance* the center of the work.  We serve (communion-with).   We do not determine (dominion-over).

*[It is subtle and dangerous religious intolerance that lives among anthroposophists whenever any kind of exclusionary or exclusive thought or impulse is but forward, as Prokofieff does, for example, when he suggests that only we have the true path to Michael - see Appendix Two below.]

The next phase, on whose threshold we now stand, is what Barfield called; Final Participation, which is the conscious reunification of the I with the world of spirit, and without a surrender of individuality.  What was earlier characterized as a battlefield in America is also an encounter, which carries the possibility of healing.  To appreciate this we need to keep in mind Steiner’s observation that in many instances the cure for an excess of the ahrimanic is the luciferic, and the cure for an excess of the luciferic is the ahrimanic.  In the collision of the atavistic somewhat luciferic wisdoms of the Cultural East, as well as the too earthly aboriginal wisdoms of the Americas,  and the ahrimanic scientific materialism of the Cultural West in America, even though all are tending to onesidedness, their meeting can bear great fruit, although this process may take many centuries to accomplish.

The accomplishment manifests if the individual finds their way to Anthroposophy, in the sense of Anthroposophy being a path of cognition (a method of spiritualized thinking, and not a content  such as the teachings of Spiritual Science).  Factually, as individualism proceeds on its course, all human beings can become natural anthroposophists, for Anthroposophy is not a doctrine but a human potential.  When we are on our Path, and recognize our Way, we can then take hold of the underlying spiritual power now latent in the ego or I.  But we could use the help provided if some kind of idea or concept of this Path can become present in newly being created world-wide cultural figuration (the end of one civilization and the founding of another).

Further, we can realize that since the Path and Way are individually ours, we are always right where we need to be.   There is no something (such as the superior man etc.) that we have to become.  We, in our own biography, are just fine.  Whether we ourselves want to change something, that is up to us. Life, in fact, does change us.  Life is the great teacher, and being of and from Christ the Creator (... in it (the Word) was life and the life was the light of the world ...), we (as pointed out above) need never want.

Much is at stake, much is at risk, and as is said: fortune favors the bold.  The I itself must understand and then act.   No one will do this to us from our outside, although perhaps in the future the figuration of yet to be created cultures and languages will contain just what is needed to support the eventual possible full spiritual maturation of all individuality (what the bodhisattva vow presently calls the enlightenment of all sentient beings).

The ongoing tragedy of the Anthroposophical Society is, however, that it does not yet fully understand and appreciate this task and may as a result fail to bring to light the real significance of Anthroposophy for the Third Millennium.  Steiner’s true legacy - the awakening to our true cognitive potential - may disappear into a kind of cultural formless and uncreated state and thus be lost for a thousand years or more.  If this happens then scientific materialism will dominate the Third Millennium, retarding general human spiritual progress on all levels.

Its not just Osho that doesn’t understand Steiner, but far too many of the members of the Anthroposophical Society don’t understand Steiner either.

Joel A. Wendt*

in the Season on the cusp of Easter and St. John’s Tide, 2011

*author of The Art of God: an actual Theory of Everything

*         *         *

The Conscious Death, and the Conscious Resurrection, of the General Anthroposophical Society

- a working draft -

By Joel A. Wendt

As a member of the community of anthroposophists living on the Earth and having been involved in anthroposophy for nearly four decades, the current financial woes of the Society are of no little concern to me. Whether or not the following essay will in the end be useful, it still needs to be written, for it is all that I presently have to give to the situation. I could do a great deal more, by the way, for my connection to the needs of humanity is far different from that which was true for Rudolf Steiner (see my Biographical Necessity for details). I could give talks, mostly in America, that would be quite well attended and bring not only considerable capital into the Anthroposophical Society in America, but worldwide as well. 

If I were asked.

*   *   *

Ordinary people in this time of increasing social chaos have a deep hunger for spiritual knowledge, but the spiritual knowledge that they need cannot be found in what comes out of Dornach and the Councils in America in the present. People don’t need an endless deification of Rudolf Steiner. They need knowledge of the logos order of the world (see part three below) and intimate knowledge of the true nature of the I-am, but this has to be expressed now in the language of the Consciousness Soul, which is a far different language than Steiner offered, for his listeners were still too deeply connected to the Intellectual Soul (in my other writings will be various details on this question).

Where a lot Steiner-said lives, a kind of social barrier is created, given that non-anthroposophists have no need to love Rudolf Steiner.   What they need is the truth, far more than they need Steiner, and that then is the question: how well do we live the truth?

Granted this little paper is written without an intimate understanding of the inner workings of the GAS in Dornach and even in the Councils in America - all the same the fact that a financial crisis exists is not only general knowledge, it was just confessed by Cornelius Pietzner in a recent Anthroposophy Worldwide. As will be seen below, the social Periphery is just as important as the Center when such kinds of crises occur. Anyone, who wants to consider the research basis behind what I write, is invited to visit my website: Shapes in the Fire, at

* * *

part one

First Some General Considerations

- based on a spiritually developed new social science -

The General Anthroposophical Society is a social form, that is it is an expression in formal social arrangements of a number of human impulses and concerns. In this particular time (the Dawn of the Third Millennium), social forms are meant to have grave difficulty maintaining coherence (Western Civilization is dying, and all hierarchical or top down - Third Epoch - social form is weakened as the Fifth Cultural Epoch moves forward in order to create and develop more viable forms out of the social commons). A number of spiritual realities bring about this condition, not the least of which are the following essential facts, the knowledge of which is based upon more than 30 years of Goethean observation of the social:

1) Modern individuality, as it develops in its first stages, constantly asserts its egotism against the needs of the group in which it finds itself. At the same time, the group itself tends to assert its collective but unconscious egotism in a counter-gesture, seeking to homogenize individual thought and behavior into a semi-conscious group standard.

2) This same individuality has yet to unfold within itself the necessary new capacities, as a social being, that will enable social form to properly live in a harmonious balance between these individual and group needs. This development - to discover how to manage the natural tension between group-think and individual insight - is something that can only  be learned from practical experience.

3) Social form is also a type of life, for all its constituent parts are living human beings. It experiences death and birth, undergoes metamorphic transformations, reproduces itself, and lives in dynamic tension in the in-between psychological interplay among individuals. This means that while the social form (as life) is being more and more borne within Christ, the fullness of its potential Christ relationship remains dependent upon our slowly dawning and developing consciousness of these dynamics. We can no longer sleep as regards them, but must awake.

4) The principle skills of awakening are both outer and inner. The outer one involves skill in conversation, and the inner one is connected to our capacities to discipline our life of thought. These skills are interwoven and interdependent. Rudolf Steiner pointed most strongly in the direction of this need with his discussion of the Reverse Cultus* in the lectures known as Awakening to Community, and with his book The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity.

*[see part two for an Imagination of a 21st Century version of the Reverse Cultus]

5) When the slowly emerging life of a social form is in crisis, this is always a symptom of an opportunity for micro-threefolding** to arise. Micro-threefolding itself is something quite different from macro-threefolding, albeit still similar in kind at a functional level. There is a natural structure to the in-between Christ logos-order, and we need to be awake to it in order to support its presence.

**[This is discussed in detail in Appendix Six in my essay The Social-Spiritual Organism of a Waldorf School Community.]

Let me elaborate a bit on this last fact. Steiner gives us certain ideas about social life in his works on the social organism, wherein he describes three Spheres: a Cultural Sphere, a Rights Sphere and an Economic Sphere. This is macro-threefolding, or what can happen at the level of large societies. Micro-threefolding can be better understood, in my experience, by using the equally true but more modest conceptual relationship of: head, heart and hands (at the same time this reality is a bit more complicated, but I didn’t want to overburden this already too long paper). I should also mention that head, heart and hands in their social functional relationship are a horizontal threefolding aspect of micro-social form - which imaginatively can be seen as a Chalice, while the functional relationship of spirit, soul and body are apt metaphors for the vertical threefold aspect of micro-social form - or what has to be seen as the Radiant Sun that can be borne within the Chalice.

When we observe objectively (and phenomenologically) small social forms, we need to set aside the abstract Ideas of Cultural, Rights and Economic Spheres, in order for thinking to form a more exact appreciation of the functional relationships of the different organs of small social forms. In these struggling-to-appear functional relationships we will come to the emerging logos order of small social forms, which will each have a quite individual expression. While micro-social forms have tendencies to elements of order similar in kind to the human form and its inhabiting individual spirit, it is also true that micro-social forms are essentially a living body for the collective ego presence of a community. Just as each individual is unique, so is each community and this includes the General Anthroposophical Society in its whole functional presence in the World Social Organism, and as well in its micro-culture as exists in specific localities such as Dornach.

If we were to stand outside of human social life and view it with the picture forming capacity of the mind, we would come to see how it is dotted everywhere with various kinds of micro-social forms, some large (such as the Catholic Church) and some small such as a neighborhood Latino gang in South Los Angeles. Within the larger social forms are multiple smaller social forms, such as each individual spiritual community (parish) within the the large whole that is called the Church*.   The same is true of each Branch and Study Group within the GAS - each is an individual micro social form (Branch and Study Group), yet all are also structurally related to a larger micro social form (the GAS).

*[See my essay:
Saving the Catholic Religion from the Roman Church: through deepening our understanding of the Third Fatima Prophecy.]


A right understanding* of the biography of the GAS would help reveal the nature of the future micro-threefolding potential currently present and latent, which includes the biographies of individual Branches and Study Groups. Just as the human biography reveals characteristics of its spiritual reality indicative of the future, so does the biography of a social form reveal details of the spiritual potential - we just need to keep in mind that this is a fluctuating and changing community, not a single individual, because the individuals move through the form as their own personal biography unfolds**. At the same time, a comprehensive biography of the GAS would be quite long, so here we need to focus on just one often overlooked fact that has special significance. By the way, nothing said below is meant to be critical of any personalities, for the truth is that the overriding principles of karma (properly understood) have more to do with the matter to be discussed below than any other factor.

*[For complementary details, see: General Renewal - or illusion - of the Anthroposophical Society, by Harald Giersch.]

**[See in the Appendix Five, my discussion of how one uses the picture making faculty of the mind (Goetheanism) in order to arrive at an experience of an Imagination Symbol, which can reveal hidden aspects of the spiritual meaning latent in the biography of a social form.]


As a preliminary idea we know, for example, that an arrow directed at a far away target needs only to be fractionally misdirected at launch in order to completely miss that target. If the misdirection involves an under appreciation of fundamental spiritual realities, the eventual consequences can be considerable.

A core fact of the biography of the GAS is the death of Rudolf Steiner and the immediate aftermath. Things fell apart, and the center did not hold as Yeats predicted. The actors in that play in Dornach at that time are only partially at fault, for the times (pre and post Steiner’s death) were already inexorably dragging them all into the social chaos that was soon to engulf the world.

This tragedy was also part of a general mistaken approach, among members and friends, to the spiritual life in the rest of the Threefold World. We overlook the extent to which the soul characteristics of the Center, are not the same as the soul characteristics of the East or of the true West (the Americas). The split that arose in between Dornach and the National Societies, in the years following Steiner’s passage into the afterlife, could not be avoided, in large part because of the acute nature of theses unrecognized differences in the inner life of the many representatives of various nations and cultures. That many shared a love of anthroposophy (as they understood it), and of Rudolf Steiner, was not sufficient cause to hold the whole together, unless they developed the ability to see better into the inner life of each other.

This falling apart of  the GAS reveals that it has been for some time, and is now, essentially dead as a social form; and, it has to be a serious question whether the existing operational personalities (by themselves) have the capacities needed to create a viable future. To give a broader picture, we could legitimately say that the death of the GAS as a living social form arose before 1940 (probably earlier). Following the end of WWII, efforts to heal the split did not succeed in creating a spiritually viable social form, but rather only a kind of shadow play, in which the parties due to their mutual yearnings wanted a certain quality of spiritual life to be present, but this desire could not factually produce what was lacking.

In order for a social form, especially one that is esoteric in its fundamental being, to regain a conscious condition of life it has to reforge that connection to the spiritual world that had at one time been rooted in the activity of Rudolf Steiner. The structure of the GAS and of the School of Spiritual Science, presupposes the presence of initiate consciousness. While such was present in the wider or peripheral GAS post the war (Valentin Tomberg, then Owen Barfield and later Georg Kuhlewind, for example), those drawn to the centers of anthroposophical activity (we can’t allow ourselves to say life) shared more in common with the old guard that had caused so much trouble before Steiner died. Their love of form over substance doomed the reconstitution of the GAS following WWII.

All the same there is a kind of dying into new becoming latent in the background. This means that latent in the seeming chaos of the present crisis at the GAS will be the seeds of a new living form. At the same time, this cannot be brought out of its latent condition, without first a conscious participation in the death process. As long as the shadow play is something to which members and friends are still emotionally attached, no new life can be engendered.  Thus there is a process of consciously psychologically and spiritually dissolving into chaos that is necessary to and proceeds any true metamorphosis of something into once more becoming living. These facts call for renewed spiritual activity.

It has been my experience, as an observer of such social transformations, that personalities clinging to the form undergoing the dying have to let it go, or be let go. There is no discovery of the latent substance as long as those who cling to form without substance continue to dominate. The entanglement, of any inflexible egotism in a dead or near lifeless social form, will only inhibit, if not make impossible, the yet latent metamorphosis.

If, however, we expand our conception of the life element of the social form that is the GAS to include its
environment (see Graig Holdrege’s works on the relationship between individual plant forms and their environments at, we can see that such an individual social form is also interdependent in its functional health with the social context in which it exists. Yet, not enough thought is given to the living dynamics of the relationships between the life possibilities of the GAS in the Center - in Dornach - and the life giving power of potentialities of the GAS at the Periphery - at the edges.   Keep in mind that on the Earth, the Life (as in ethereal formative forces) flows toward the Earth from the Cosmic Periphery.   In a like fashion, living social forces are connected to Periphery and Center as they appear on the Earth itself in the organism of social forms.   The Periphery ought to pull/suck and shape the thinking (ethereal) activity of the Center.


As an added qualitative aspect of all this - that social form is of the ethereal - the sculpting of social form from the outside is a bit different from the way a plant is sculpted by the cosmic ethereal formative forces. A human social form is sculpted in a way from the inside - through the thinking, feeling and willing activity of the individual members of a particular community.  It is just that the nature of the thinking, feeling and willing activity at the Periphery of the GAS is different from the thinking etc. activity in the Center*.  Given also that this time is marked by the return of Christ in the Ethereal, much help is available from that quarter as well if we have the will to seek it (ask, seek and knock).

*[Readers of my book American Anthroposophy will find there an additional and somewhat richer discussion of these matters, using the Archetypes of Mary and Martha in my essay there: The Natural Transformation of the Anthroposophical Society in America (written in the season of Michaelmas 2007, and reproduced here below as the last essay before the appendices.]

Yes, there is an instinctive recognition of these dynamics, but something is missing and this is the development of a true history (the story) of the biography of the GAS and its relationship to the National Societies (including their biographies). It is only when thinking lives into such details can the underlying dynamics be perceived in their specific spiritual reality. We need to become careful phenomenologists of the social - that is to practice Goetheanism concerning the living element of our social forms if we want to understand what is involved. If the I consciousnesses seeking the rebirth of the GAS refuse to know the GAS’s own history (biography), no new development will be possible.

A social form that has no truly living spiritual community in support of it, will become over time more and more rigid and eventually die.  In effect it becomes inhabited and possessed by its own double.  The Christmas Conference, which failed, was the last gasp effort by Steiner to save the GAS from this fall from Grace, that would have to come about when karma held sway.

To get more deeply into the relevance of the above understanding of social processes it is crucial to begin with first understanding
needs. Human beings have needs, and in seeking to satisfy these needs they engender purpose into social forms. This transition from needs to purposes then calls forth, from the form, functions. It is then the needs and purposes living in the social form that creates the functions required, so that when a micro-threefolding arises, it does so in accord with the principle of all biological life: form follows function. Eventually, we will find that the metaphorical use of the terms head, heart and hands will be quite useful in understanding these needed and purposeful functions. Here is a small symbol set:

human needs > human purposes > functions created to satisfy needs and purposes > social form

The needs and purposes that have to be taken account of, in considering the future of the GAS, go far beyond the present day physical or psychological boundaries of Dornach or any other social form that wants to be rooted in Anthroposophy. Anthroposophical Institutions belong to the future, and the personalities that manage them in the present are to be the stewards of those institutions, not their in-effect owners. The natural egotism has to re-orient itself, out of its own forces of renunciation, in order for the social form to acquire the right balance and harmony among individuals.

Because the GAS is loved and attended to by higher impulses out of the world of spiritual inspiration, part of the needs, purposes and functions reflect these understandable spiritual realities. When an individual member of a community learns to renounce some of her/his natural egotism, this human based supra-sensible insight becomes available to the emerging community. For example, a Michaelic Stream (along with other Streams, such as a Discipleship Stream, and a Sophianic Stream) need incarnate individuals willing to be of service to these Ideas; and, the Anthroposophical Movement is a place where these different Streams seek to meet.

Streams are discarnate communities of beings who exist in the Eternal, far beyond our narrow time of incarnate existence. Yet, they work with and for incarnate communities, following our choices (needs and purposes) and inner gestures. Among much else, this means that the present semi-conscious intercourse, within the Anthroposophical Society and Movement between the Aristotelians and the Platonists, is also capable of playing a significant role in this potential transformation and resurrection of the General Anthroposophical Society. Multiple Streams (communities of discarnate beings) are focused on crucial decisions being made in the present within Anthroposophical Institutions.  These discarnate Streams or Communities Steiner called: the Anthroposophical Movement.

This is not the only factor involved at this level of spiritual interest, for one would have to include the fact that our present time also corresponds to a 1000 year rhythm connected to the separation of the Shepherds and Kings at Jesus’ Birth, and the forming of the School of Chartres around the year 1006. Something of this 1000 year rhythm is connected to the current potential metamorphosis ongoing at the GAS.

Understanding this allows us to ask larger questions in regard to the future of the GAS, for we will find that in this time is forming a potential nexus of remarkable personalities from both the Aristotelian and the Platonic karmic communities, and the Shepherds and Kings karmic communities. Much more is at stake in the present decisions than the mere future of the GAS as presently conceived.

We need to realize that unusual spiritual talents have been and are attracted to the work at the GAS, and if we proceed in the right way through this crisis, nothing of these talents has to be set aside.  In a certain sense, Periphery (Mary impulses*) and Center (Martha impulses) fold into and out of each other (the projective geometry process is: involution), when such a social metamorphosis arises. It is likely that some personalities in the Center may go into semi-retirement (already happening) - that is go into the Periphery, while some on the Periphery will go into the Center, becoming active in Dornach and the Councils in America.

*[It is at the Periphery where the Society interacts with the wider world culture, that true (Mary) service to humanity arises.  In the Center, we hold ourselves together and nurture (Martha) our viable traditions.]

Without making too much (or too little) of this matter in details, let me now jump ahead to the potential latent within the GAS in terms of needs and purposes, leaving aside for another time how needs and purposes will eventually produce functions and then new social form.

The root of the anthroposophical impulse, in that it is connected to the Christ, is moral in nature. It is about knowing and acting upon our understanding of what is the Good. In that this impulse is connected to Michael, it is also about applying this Moral Grace (knowledge of the Good) to the apprehension of the True. The Cosmic Intelligence connected to Michael can only be brought in through moral acts (the Good), such as the mystery practice of the Reverse Cultus (see part two), where individuals meet together in conversation to seek the True.

This is the essence of the New Mysteries of Community, behind which stands the New Mysteries of Thinking. It is this which seeks a home in the dying and becoming of the GAS. In point of fact, it is only in such dynamic present conditions of near chaos that new impulses can truly enter.

At the same time, such an impulse is
not driven by requirements out of the world of spiritual inspiration that seeks for human beings to conform to the wishes of higher beings. Instead such higher world impulses are far more interested in what the individual human beings themselves want to become and to do. Michael waits for us to choose, and Christ offers His very own Being to our need to know the Good (see my essay: The Meaning of Earth Existence in the Age of the Consciousness Soul, in my book American Anthroposophy.

In this light, if we ask ourselves (such questions as) what are the needs of humanity (not the needs of the members and friends of the GAS), that the (Mary) forces of the Souls on the periphery can supply out of the anthroposophical impulse, it will eventually come to our thinking that these needs are strongly connected to the future direction of the World Economy. We can also observe that the economic life of mankind is seemingly driven today by a great deal of amorality, or as Thomas Aquinas wrote: “evil is the Absence of the Good”.

The needs and purposes that then lie potential in the GAS, if it can awake to the true nature of the New Mysteries of Thinking and the New Mysteries of Community, is to provide a service to human individuals whose task in their biographies requires their participation in the future developments of the World Economy. This development is a part of macro-threefolding - i.e. it involves a maturation of macro-threefolding, and a conscious incarnation of the Threefold Social Organism.

Instead of the narrow (and perhaps now doubtful) task of just providing teachers and farmers and doctors so as to continue to fuel what might well be a far too slow set of changes at the level of World Culture.  The GAS could be providing remarkable and unique adult education to future and current business, political and community leaders.

We have come to understand through Rudolf Steiner the tragedy that results when education fails to develop capacities in the human being. The point being made here is that we do not need to just seed the world with such as Waldorf Schools, waiting decades for the necessary human capacities to mature and enter into the stream of macro-leadership of the world. What the world hungers for
presently is for the GAS to undertake part of the adult education of world leaders and potential world leaders in all fields of inquiry.

We wash the feet of those who have responsibility in the world, instead of putting forward our own narrow agenda of more Waldorf and so forth. We stop serving ourselves, and instead serve others.  At the same time, we need to step boldly into this situation in the world - to stand for something.


It is well understood that modern Business Schools (and other institutions of higher learning) have failed in providing the necessary moral education to their students that would then infuse the ongoing corporate and wider culture with the moral strength required to stand within the Belly of the Beast with Michaelic Courage. This failure of traditional academic institutions is understandable, for it is a task that cannot be done through formal education. The new moral life available to humanity is only supported by freely participated self-education. The individual must hunger to become awake and transform their own soul forces.

Such possibilities are latent in the New Mystery of Thinking and the New Mysteries of Community, but at present the leading personalities of the Society and Movement* are often far too parochial in their thinking to be able to offer such a Schooling. Much of that which is old and no longer useful will have to be discarded, as a necessary first step for the appearance of the new - the true cultural foundations of the Third Millennium and the Age of the Consciousness Soul.

*[Spiritual communities wait on us to provide the new cognitions needed for these changes.  We are not to passively wait for them to inspire us - that is not their responsibility.]

At the same time individuals desiring to bring new forces of soul and spirit into the realm of creative entrepreneurship (and other community needs) will welcome finding an institution that will offer a four or five week course, which introduces the individual into the arts of true self-education. Instead of creating “anthroposophists” via the School of Spiritual Science, we strive to create new human beings, who are seeking true freedom and need offer no allegiance to the GAS, to Steiner, or the anthroposophy we fantasize we understand. We support real freedom via the School - not membership in
our thing.

The GAS also itself needs this infusion of new personalities, as well as new sources of income and capital. It is the former, the new personalities, that will enable new sources of income and capital to be attracted. Steiner gave us the model for this with the first Waldorf School. Capital came there from an existing and vital financial enterprise, and this capital then was spent (died into) education for the creation of new capacities among free individuals. This is the model for a reborn GAS - a school for the World, not a school to make more lovers of things Steinerian.

In addition, these same (potential and existing) individual members of the pragmatic entrepreneurial business community as well as other kinds of community leaders, that would hunger for a deeper connection to the world and their own true nature, will tend to have a much higher capacity to pay fees than many of those drawn idealistic from only the already overtaxed anthroposophical community. This will meet not only the ongoing income needs of a fully functional faculty, but also be able to retire the apparently rising amounts of debt. Individuals currently at the GAS center in Dornach, who have labored for little pay for many years, also should be able to at least semi-retire if this new infusion of income and capital can be brought into play.

Caveat: Moments that involve crisis and dramatic change and development often appear for a only a short time, and then are gone. Without the letting go of the control over the situation by present old guard GAS personalities, and the infusion of new personalities into the situation, the GAS will be unable to transform into its latent potential.

This general picture then takes us to two fundamental kinds of questions, both requiring more detail. The first type of question is what would a structure supporting such self-education look like? What would be the courses, who would teach, what can be charged, how do we determine satisfaction, and are credentials necessary?

And the second, is what kind of advertising presentation is needed in order to find those interested in such work? How do we offer to human beings something that matches their true hunger? What is the practical (American and Earthly) Idea, after all?

To answer these questions in general we need once more to turn to the question of need. Not the need of the GAS, but the need of those who may hunger for a meeting with that which Anthroposophy can offer to this time. Recall that Steiner said that when anthroposophy properly enters the social world, it would disappear. If we assume, as unfortunately has been done far too much, that what we are about when we teach Anthroposophy is the teaching of Rudolf Steiner’s works, we guarantee failure. Here in this regard is a long quote from Emerson, but one quite worthy of deep attention:

Books are the best of things, well used; abused, among the worst. What is the right use? What is the one end which all means go to effect? They are for nothing but to inspire. I had better never see a book than to be warped by its attraction clean out of my own orbit, and made a satellite instead of a system. The one thing in the world, of value, is the active soul. This every man is entitled to; this every man contains within him, although in almost all men obstructed and as yet unborn. The soul active sees absolute truth and utters truth, or creates. In this action it is genius; not the privilege of here and there a favorite, but the sound estate of every man. In its essence it is progressive. The book, the college, the school of art, the institution of any kind, stop with some past utterance of genius. This is good, say they - let us hold by this. They pin me down. They look backward and not forward. But genius looks forward: the eyes of man are set in his forehead, not in his hindhead: man hopes: genius creates. Whatever talents may be, if the man create not, the pure efflux of the Deity is not his; cinders and smoke there may be, but not yet flame. There are creative manners, there are creative actions, and creative words; manners, actions, words, that is, indicative of no custom or authority, but springing spontaneous from the mind’s own sense of good and fair.

Anthroposophy is not taught by teaching Rudolf Steiner! Anthroposophy is taught by inspiring others into a lifetime of mature self-education. Anthroposophy is the active soul (...the path of cognition...), not the content of Steiner lecture cycles (for details see American Anthroposophy).

I am not suggesting, by the way, that all anthroposophical institutions take on such a task, for certainly we still need to provide for those who want to teach Waldorf, or learn biodynamics and so forth. Rather I am just suggesting that the Center must recognize the needs of the world for this Center to mature and be far less Steiner-centered in what it offers. The world can gain a great deal if what is really a very subtle transformation takes place. We stop being an institution revering Steiner, and instead become a School supporting true human* spiritual freedom (the fundamental goal of Steiner’s
The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity). The School of Spiritual Science is something in communion with the various communities of spiritual beings, but it is also meant to serve humanity. Recall Steiner again: the Religion of the Gods is mankind.

*[The spirit behind the choice to rename the Newsletter in America: Being Human?]

Let us now return to our questions...

First, what is the proper form of instruction? In this age of freedom, it is essential that the adult student have the greatest latitude in making choices. Only the individual
i-AM (the verb that lives) knows itself well enough to determine what it should take up on its own path to true self-education. The GAS must stop offering courses in Steinerism* and the material supportive of the daughter movements. As we instead wash the feet of the need for true leaders of the next phase of world civilization, it will happen quite naturally that the daughter movement needs will be met.

*[Such as by providing yearly themes from the so-called Center, as well as defining certain Steiner books as: Basic.  Why isn’t Lehrs’ Man or Matter basic, or Klocek’s new: Climate: Soul of the Earth, or Adam’s Physical and Ethereal Spaces, or just Steiner’s first book on thinking: A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe’s World Conception.  Who decides what is Basic?  Who actually knows what is Basic?]

This means that in the main center of the GAS - Dornach, as well as other institutions such as Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, California - offerings should most resemble a menu. Moreover, once the adult student comes, they need to be able to more or less immediately correct their course as they discover that this item or that item is not to their taste. The faculty does not tell the adult student what to do, but most carefully respects and encourages their freedom. Further, we can not just teach what we think of as Anthroposophy. We are seeking to add to world culture something it very much needs, and our teachers and teachings must stop being so parochial.

Rudolf Steiner hoped the Society would be a meeting place of different streams. One of the signs of its death is that this has not come about.

When we broaden what we teach beyond that of Steiner Steiner all the time Steiner, we will experience an infusion of genius from all kinds of other sources of wisdom. In accord with the times, which evoke a need for once more that there should be a conversation between the Kings stream and the Shepherds stream and between Platonists and Aristotelians, we should not expect that leaders of those streams are all going to be members of the GAS. The excessive worship of things Steiner in the Center has pushed people away, and now is the time for those barriers to be dissolved.

We can, for example, offer the usual artistic elements, but not require them. Like a good restaurant, we might find that
samples are the best means in the first week of a course (at least three courses of this kind can be presented in each of the Seasons: the Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer). The adult student gets to meet with several different instructors, teaching a variety of matters, and then designs their own next few weeks course of study in accord with this initial experience.

To make this more concrete, I would believe that the normal course should be five weeks, with the first being the sampling activity, and then the rest the immersion phase. This process also allows someone, who cannot satisfy all their hungers, to return for a later courses at another time. Keep in mind we are waking them up to their own capacity for self-education, and that capacity will then foster all later efforts. This is a far different, and far more important task, then turning out little anthroposophists.

In the beginning, such a course of action will seem a bit strange, but it will over time prove itself out in the satisfaction of the adult student, who will be in the end the best
advertisement. Some may find my use of the term advertisement not to their taste, but we should consider that in order for the GAS to offer services to the World Soul, it must wash the feet of that Soul. We cannot stand in a superior relationship, speaking endlessly out of Steiner-said as if we knew something others did not. Nothing will kill the living hunger of the adult student more, regardless of how enthusiastically we present such material.

It is the adult students’ minds and souls that are to be developed, and only they can do that act out of themselves. Nor does that act depend upon the reading of texts. No text can teach what a true introspective life can teach. No text can teach the wisdom real reflection on the life so far lived can teach. We serve the student, and by our
washing the feet, we best model such moral and spiritual developmental behavior.

At the same time, it is no small problem to consider what the public face should be in such a situation (the reformed nature of brochures etc.), and what it means to keep and retain what of the past that should be kept and retained. Fundamentally this aspect best comes from what the title of this paper referred to:
The Conscious Death, and the Conscious Resurrection, of the General Anthroposophical Society.

The GAS no doubt has some kind of mission statement. To engage in the true death gesture (the dying into becoming) that a real metamorphosis requires, would mean to sacrifice (renounce) this mission idea, the whole past form of the GAS (all its structures) and the nature and makeup of the faculty and the classes. However, by this I only mean the ideas we have about these matters. Nothing in the ongoing relationships, who is doing what and so forth that already exists is to be let go. All this remains. What is allowed to die is the Ideal Conception in which all this takes place.

This is not easy, and becomes a kind of intimate and difficult soul-work. The individuals involved have to do this work, have to be willing to sacrifice the old thoughts. Only through this
intentional death of the Old Idea of the GAS, can the birth of the New Idea find a suitable home in our souls. 

Once the
New Idea has revealed itself (been created by our conversations out of the discipline of the Reverse Cultus), we will then find more easily the nature of the new form and the exact means by which we move from the old to the new.

Nor does this
New Idea need to take the shape as suggested - a school in support of adult self-education for community and business leaders. That offering above, was in part urged as a way of showing that new ideas are possible, if we but let go of the past, so that the future can speak into our shared present. All the same, it would be dishonest of me to suggest that I have not been working with this idea, of an institution dedicated to promoting self-education among business and community leaders, now for many years.

Next it ought to be asked, what is my personal agenda in offering this paper? Do I see myself as one of the new personalities that is to operate or work in the GAS in the future? Since we so easily assume individuals have personal agendas when they offer an initiative, let me now speak to that question.

This question, in my view, breaks down into three sub-questions:
Could I participate? Would I participate? And, Should I participate?

Could aspect of the question refers to capacities - am I capable of participating. The answer to this question is no, if the idea of participation takes the form of lead. I am not a leader in this sense, not having the right temperament (I am phlegmatic, not choleric) nor the right experience. I am capable of being a part of something. I do know a lot about how to work in groups and be a part of groups and I am also very familiar with the inner processes connected to the Reverse Cultus - an essential aspect of the New Mysteries of Community.

As to
Would I participate - this is first a question of my freedom, and second a question of what would I be participating in. The second aspect is very important to me, for it would determine the answer to the first. I would not participate in something that was not courageous enough to really undertake the death process needed a for true conscious metamorphosis of social form.

As to
Should I participate - that is for others to determine. In point of fact, it is the most important of the three. Without an honest invitation, coupled with a recognition of my capacity to contribute, nothing I could offer would have any meaning.


As a member of the social environment (the Periphery) in which the GAS exists, it has been my pleasure to offer this paper as a contribution to that work.  Whatever happens next, it is my hope and wish that the GAS finds its way to weather its current struggles, such that that which is
in between - the Christ, can be just that help that is needed.

This means that not only is this
Idea valid from the point of view of the Good, it is also economically and socially viable, because it will be based on recognizing with the New Mysteries of Thinking how to wash the feet of the real needs of humanity in this age.

*         *         *

part two

the Reverse Cultus: an imagination

The Circle gathers, with one shared intention - to consciously work with the spirit. No member of the Circle is more important than any other member. First in silence they recall what Steiner taught about why Judas had to kiss Christ. The truth at that time in Palestine was that when crowds gathered to hear teaching, the teaching came from all those in the circle around Christ. The Christ spirit spoke through all, first one and then another. For this reason Judas had to kiss the One who was the center, otherwise the Centurions would not know whom to arrest.

After this mood is engendered, in which each recognizes in the other a true source of spirit presence, the members of the group begin to speak. What they offer is not a pre-thought theme, about which one may be more expert than another, but rather the simple feelings of their hearts in the moment. These heart-felt concerns are the sharing to each other that opens the hearts to each other. The Circle meets each other in this art of coming to know each others deepest concerns, which can (and often will) be entirely personal. This knowing of each other is a great gift to give and to receive.

In this brief sharing will begin to emerge the spirit music latent in the coming conversation, for the co-participating spirit presence knows the truth of our hearts, and is drawn to these concerns out of the darkness represented by the Threshold and into the light and warmth of the sharing. Thus, in acknowledging each other in silence as also true speakers of the spirit, and then in sharing the true matters of the heart as exists for each at that moment in time, the Chalice is born in the Ethereal - in the mutually shared world of thought.

Now comes the Art of Conversation, the Royal Art.

Here too no one is better than another for as Christ is quoted in the John Gospel: “What’s born of the flesh is flesh, and what’s born of the breath is breath. Don’t be amazed because I told you you have to be born again. The wind blows where it will and you hear the sound of it, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it goes; it’s the same with everyone born of the breath”.

The breath of spirit blows where It wills, not where we will It.

The Royal Art is deep indeed and begins (as Tomberg expressed it) by learning to think on our knees. At the same time, these inner skills of thinking and listening will have little effect on where the wind blows, and while the study of The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity may make us individually more awake inwardly, the will of the spirit presence in the conversation belongs to that spirit presence, not to us.

So the conversation proceeds in the heart-warmed Chalice of the shared experience of the world of thoughts. Each contributes what is thought in them. Together a weaving of a whole is sought, but no one can judge whether anyone else’s contribution is a needed thread or not. Often, for example, something, which on the surface seems antagonistic or oppositional, is precisely what is needed in the moment to stimulate another in the offering of their part of the whole.

It is possible then for this circling weaving conversation to rise, in the nature and the substance of its overall meaning, nearer and nearer to spiritual other-presence. It will not do, however, to believe that as the conversation of the members of the group draws near this other-presence, that It will tell us what is true and good. That would violate our freedom. The true touch of the wind in the soul is otherwise in its nature.

In each soul lie latent embers of spirit recollection, spirit mindfulness and spirit vision. We are already as thinking spirits, in the spiritual worlds. What is fostered in the Chalice is something rooted in the teaching of Christ: Wherever two or more are gathered in my name, there I am.

He is with us.

Moreover, He is very interested in what we choose to think, not in our obedience to Him. Our obedience we owe to our higher self, not to Him - that is to the Not I, but Christ in me. He loves everyone in the Circle equally, and observing the latent embers of recollection, mindfulness and vision within each separate soul, He aids our communion by breathing on these embers. He gives to each, according to that individual need, that aspect of His Life which is His Breath - what John the Baptist in Matthew 3:11 called holy breath. [“Now I bathe you in the water to change hearts, but the one coming after me is stronger than me: I’m not big enough to carry his shoes. He will bathe you in holy breath and fire.”]

With His Breath, during the communion that is the conversation in the Chalice, the latent embers of our own soul are given Life. Within the thoughts of each arise that which belongs to each, but which is also seen by the Love of Christ, and enthused with His Life. We rise on the moral quality of our will in recognizing the spirit presence in each other, and in the sharing of the concerns of our hearts; and, as we do this, the weaving of the thoughts into a whole - still resting on our own insight and will - is given Eternal Life, in the form of the good and the true.

Thus revealing the truth that: “I am with you every day, until the culmination of time.” Matthew 28:20

*         *         *

part three

Events in Dornach - and their relationship to the

logos order of the world -

In order to understand social life, and see the place of individual social forms in the totality of this social  world, it is necessary now to raise our sights so as to appreciate the logos order of the world itself - that is to see the organism of the social world that has arisen through the Creation, and then the Incarnation, and now the true Second Coming.

The first obstacle to such seeing lies in a common error, shared by large portions of humanity, that sees history and events as central, when in fact these matters are merely the stage setting or backdrop against which the individual biography finds its own drama unfolding. From the standpoint of the Creator, the individual human spirit is the meaning-moment of the Creation, and all order (in its higher sense) comes into existence so that individual biographies can gain what they need.

To understand this requires only that we think about the universal characteristics of a biography carefully from the point of view of any individual as a center. This can be done as follows.

Each is born into a physical body in a specific place and time. This organization of birth actually has four bodies: warmth or ego body, astral or desire body, ethereal of life body, and material or physical body. These bodies are the home and temple for the spirit. From another point of view we also can see this structure: spirit, soul and body. Both are simultaneously true, it is just the different questions we can ask that brings out the different details.

Already at birth the substances of these bodies are determined by various rules, although the substance nature of the different bodies varies (spirit and matter for example are highly different in a qualitative way).

When we are born we are also born into a social context. This includes a specific family constellation, a particular (local) community and certain features such as language, culture and geographical location. The incarnating spirit also brings a kind of past, which we can call karma, but even that term hardly gives us the dynamic nature of these features. Each I-am is different and unique from every other I-am. While we can look at the universal features of all human beings as sharing many similarities, the most profound and powerful aspects of any incarnation are individual and unique.

There is only one of each kind of human being - in fact that is an essential feature of being a human being - we are truly and profoundly individual - we are like no other.

The ways we are the same determines much of the details of how our lives are lived. The ways we differ determines our deep past (prior incarnations) and our ultimate destiny. 

As we live out our biography we encounter many different kinds of communities, in the broadest sense, in which that term can have meaning. Family and village and town are only one such characteristic. If we have a certain limit due to a physical or mental lack (such as deafness), we will also be a member of that community - the community of the deaf. 


These sources will bring about a specific world view - a set of ideas that is carried by the language and culture which we are born into. That we can overcome this birth-given necessary characteristic is also a fact of no little importance. The world view can be too parochial, and thus a prison for our I.

Because of who we are as a unique kind of being (being human is only one of several possible universal shared characteristics), the biography is organized in order to give us various types of experience. This meeting of the I-am during incarnation, with its particular and unique experiences, is what life is for.  Thus we can say that a unique and individual kind of spirit incarnates in order to have a unique and individual experience. Granted there are many superficial types of experience, but the reality is that the totality is not the same for anyone.

With language we also get ideas. The spoken word and the conceptual world bear particular connections, whose details are worth appreciating. One of these is that meaning itself is individual and unique. When I use the word love, for example, I mean it in a way that is completely different from the meaning given to this word by any other being. The differences may on occasion be slight, but they are inescapably there.

One of the many consequences of seeing this logos order is the realization that to be on the Vorstand of the GAS, or in one of the Sections of the School of Spiritual Science located in Dornach, is to have an individual meaning in the eyes of Christ that is no more important or no less important than a criminal on death row, or someone dying of AIDS in Africa.

In a similar vein, the idea of anthroposophy is not any more or any less significant than the ideology of a terrorist in Pakistan. It is not that meaning is relative or not relative - it is that meaning, along with all that is, just is. Members of the GAS do a work that they have incarnated to do, and it is no more and no less important than what a brothel owner in Thailand is doing. Christ loves each kind equally, and has made a world which accommodates each kind equally.

No doubt some members of the Vorstand were in previous lives more like the criminal on death row, than like the priest leaders of a modern mystery school they might today believe themselves to be.

Properly understood, the appreciation of this aspect of reality gives us a great deal of freedom. This is because when we consider our work more important than it really is, we make a prison for our own I - we dig a kind of rut in which our biography will have to run, because we have conceived our work in a way far out of proportion to what it actually is.

When Rudolf Steiner encourages us to do something out of the love of the deed he is pointing us in this direction. We only gain problems by raising the deed up in relationship to the deeds of others, which is why Christ modeled for us the washing of the feet.

Dornach is not a special place. It is just a place. Anthroposophists are not special people, they are just people. Now it is possible that if anthroposophists conduct themselves in certain ways in Dornach, that other people will find what is done there for the love of the deed useful to them. At the same time there is nothing to compel them to find what we do useful. And we can’t act in such a way that they do find it useful - that is we can’t force their interest. That interest belongs to their freedom.

At the same time there is what we might call human nature. So human nature could not help but make evaluations of Steiner, and of what he taught, as regards this specific  quality:
more important than other deeds. Then because his students had egos, they then attached themselves to this more important thing they thought really existed, and which allowed them to feel more important by teaching Rudolf Steiner to the world.

This is not a new attitude. The Creation in fact takes account of this possibility, which is one reason why we get to have many lives in order that eventually we will get over ourselves. This is also one of the reasons Christ said that unless we become again like little children, we cannot get into the kingdom of heaven. A child is a being that is so completely egotistical that it passes beyond egotism. To be spontaneously child-like is to risk social censure, yet that is precisely what saves us from the excesses of gravitas (the ahrimanic) and the excesses of selfishness (the luciferic). The more true we are to self, the less we are self, for the real nature of the I-am is selfless.

Here is Christ again - pay attention particularly to the last lines:

"Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.  

Dornach needs to get over itself. Dornach is just a social collection of individual human beings that have shared karma. At the same time, we all live in a cultural frame in which comparison is so common, most our words have such a quality. There is no up without down. There is no better without worse. If one can be more moral, one can be less moral. If we have a region of the Earth where people gather to celebrate the work of a particular human being, in this case Rudolf Steiner, then there are also places where he is not celebrated.

If one has learned of him, one can teach about him. The problem comes when we form the idea that others should have the same affections toward him and his work that we do; or, if we form the thought that because we can imagine the world as a better place if everyone was just like us, then clearly the world should go in that direction - that is people ought to learn of Rudolf Steiner, as they will be better for it. Though common, such thoughts are not quite right. Why?

Because they violate the very freedom which was the core of Steiner’s own work, and which is at the core of Christ’s Love. Anthroposophy not only cannot be imposed upon the world - to seek to impose it would destroy it. A lot of people get this, however, and realize it is by example that we must live. Then our life demonstrates, and others are free to take from that demonstration, or not.

Yet, what does Dornach demonstrate? It demonstrates an infatuation with all things Steiner, and makes itself into a Center of Steiner thought. Is that really what Steiner himself hoped from Dornach?

Obviously, I don’t think so, or it would not have been possible to write about: 
The Conscious Death, and Conscious Resurrection, of the General Anthroposophical Society.

Joel A. Wendt

in the Season of St. John’s Tide, 2010

*         *         *

This next  essay was published on my website some months ago,

and is included in the book, Dangerous Anthroposophy, a collection

of essays on the Society and on fundamental new social science work.


Bitter Medicine*

Saving Anthroposophy from the Anthroposophical

Society and Movement

by Joel A. Wendt

*this title is borrowed from a comment by William Bento

in his review of my book American Anthroposophy.

Words are tools of communication. One person’s experience of Anthroposophy will naturally be different from another’s. Each needs to be part of the larger conversation.  Will some perceptions be better? Perhaps, and perhaps not. Perhaps the best will always be our own. This is my part ... and once again :-) ...

from the interior of this article:

“...even Steiner lamented in Awakening to Community (lecture three, Feb. 6th, 1923), on the consequences of failing (which has happened) to properly take up The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (or Freedom): “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....The trouble is that The Philosophy of Freedom has not been read in the different way I have been describing. That is the point, and a point that must be sharply stressed if the development of the Anthroposophical Society is not to fall far behind that of anthroposophy itself. If it does fall behind, anthroposophy’s conveyance through the Society will result in its being completely misunderstood, and its only fruit will be endless conflict!"”

* * *

This essay may
seem to contain the idea that something is wrong with the work being done in the Anthroposophical Society and Movement. This is not really the way I see the situation. Rather we are involved in an effort to incarnate something - let us call this something Anthroposophy. This Anthroposophy is something new in human evolution. It is opposed by those Beings whose work is meant to give opposition - that is to resist something. This resistance is crucial, for only with this resistance does the I of the human being, during its earthly existence, find something to push against so as to become awake to itself. The resistance is necessary in order that the I exercise its essential being - to have to struggle to manifest its ultimate core, which Rudolf Steiner called: the Christ Impulse.

This Opposition to the incarnation of
Anthroposophy is/has been more successful from within the Society and Movement, than from without. Our weaknesses (the beam in our own eye) are more dangerous to the incarnation of Anthroposphy than are the weaknesses of the world (the splinter in theirs). We, as a community of anthroposophists, tend to act is if we know something when we do not, and we ignore knowledge we have. To oversimplify: we know there exists what might be called an awake and free mind (one that achieves what Steiner sought for us to achieve through his book The Philosophy of Freedom); and, at the same time we ignore those influences that come to us from our yet semi-conscious mind - the mind before it awakes from its unfree state.

Our natural unfree state has consequences in just how accurately we believe we understand what Steiner taught, or how well we appreciate the errors of thought we introduce into our view of the world because of our natural unfree condition. Our unfree state is an intended condition. It is connected to karma, and to the rules and nature of the underlying problems we recognize as the evolution of consciousness. The very idea of the
evolution of conscious presupposes progress from one state of mind to a more developed state. Steiner spoke of these when he described certain future states of consciousness as being dependent upon our willing them into existence.

This Anthroposophy (the free state of mind, as will be developed in detail later) is then a new human capacity (and not the only coming capacity), that is to be born via the Christ Impulse. In the First Leading Thought Steiner described it as “a path of knowledge”. The I has to strive to incarnate this new capacity into human civilization. This essay is about that striving and that struggle to incarnate Anthroposophy, into human beings and thus into human civilization. Such a process, as it unfolds in human history, does not arrive at its full development immediately, or all at once. Steiner’s work, and the work of anthroposophists in the 20th Century, was not any ultimate result (which would then continue for all time as any kind of tradition or established Way, or even a particular point of view), but rather a difficult, yet essential, foundational beginning.

We then (in the 21st Century) are in the first part of the middle of this multi-Century process. Moreover, within the slow continuous passage of the torch of this task to younger generations, consciousness itself continues to evolve. Steiner, by necessity, had to speak and write mostly in the language of the Intellectual Soul and to people who were themselves mostly unable yet to manifest the Consciousness Soul. Our phase (in the 21st Century) is to move from Intellectual Soul language, to Consciousness Soul language - to build a bridge as it were.

The Intellectual Soul language is more ideal/conceptual, and by its nature has to borrow some of its imagery from the world of the senses. The Consciousness Soul language is more experiential and concrete, and tries to make direct reference to inner states of consciousness. For Steiner, the sublime experiences he endured in order to create for us the ideal/conceptual language of Spiritual Science, bear little relationship to the terms he gave us for our understanding. Our Consciousness Soul language too must be generated from experiences, but at the same time will be less ideal/conceptual and more experiential and concrete. The following paragraphs will hopefully provide some examples. This trans-formative passage from the ideal/conceptual to the experiential/concrete is part of the incarnation process of Anthroposophy - a movement from the more heavenly toward the more earthly and fully incarnate.

It is a simple fact that most individuals consider themselves good. If they have a degree of spiritual maturity, they will recognize that they are also flawed. St. Paul is said to have written something like this: That good which I would do, I often can not do; and, that evil I would not do, I often yet still do. The future maturation of the Anthroposophical Society and Movement (in the sense of the so-called daughter organizations), as a truly spiritual organism, requires the confession that this applies to us. We try hard to do good, and we often fail. This essay is about understanding some of these failures in a way that enables us to find the next steps in our shared striving to bring forward this particular good - the incarnation of Anthroposophy, as a free* state of mind.

*[This free state of mind is quite different from the idea of liberation - or enlightenment - which comes to us from the cultural East. This idea of liberation from the East has its roots in a spirit recollection of the primordial state of consciousness, prior to the full incarnation of the ego, or the I - this perception of the nature of the I being a central concept in Steiner’s experiences. The Eastern view compares our present ego state with their ancient and traditional recollection of the previous nature of the ego, prior to the full impact of Christ’s Incarnation on the underlying nature of the ego itself. The ego we possess today is not that ancient ego, which difference results in most systems of enlightenment being atavistic in nature - that is their tendency is to move the soul toward its prior conditions or states of being and not toward its essential and true potential future as an expression of the Christ Impulse. There are many additional nuances that can’t be discussed here for reasons of time and space, regarding which the present paragraph should be considered inadequate.]

* * *

Recently the Evolving News for Members contained a review of my book American Anthroposophy. While I was quite happy to have that book reviewed by my long time friend William Bento (at his own initiative), I confess I was not completely satisfied with how William represented that work. He clearly put his own stamp on its meaning, but for me this resulted in the absence of the mention of material that I had considered the most important in the writing of that book. In part to rectify that situation - that is to represent the book in a more adequate or whole fashion - I have written this essay. But that is secondary, for the primary matter to be discussed here concerns the future of Anthroposophy, which will depend upon the material below being given a serious hearing among the members and friends.

The book
American Anthroposophy was the culmination of over three decades of inner work and reflection on the nature of Anthroposophy, and on the current state of its practice among members and friends of the Society. The first anthroposophist to whom I shared aspects of my biography (Mary Rubach, in 1981), remarked that in her view I was born an anthroposophist. In point of fact, I had been moving in the direction of fully conscious introspective work for almost seven years before even meeting Steiner through his books in 1978.

As an eventual consequence of this work of introspection, one of the tragic elements of my encounter with the Society and Movement was to discover the absence of actual evidence of living and true introspective practice (in the mood of Steiner’s The Philosophy of Freedom - or Spiritual Activity, and A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe’s World Conception). Regardless of how carefully I looked for it, I could not find it in the circles of anthroposophical practice. In study groups, and in lectures, in conferences and in publications, there was an almost complete lack of understanding of the implications of the problem of knowledge*, or how it was that Anthroposophy was itself distinct from the content of Spiritual Science. Nor could I find an adequate appreciation of how it was that Anthroposophy, as an idea or concept, or as a practice, needed to be understood. In a room of ten so-called anthroposophists, one could easily get ten different definitions.

*[As early as 1972 my biography confronted me with the need to understand and appreciate the relationship between my thought and my experiences, especially in the light of my conscience. It was Life itself that asked the question - one need not always come to
Anthroposophy via Steiner.]

One could ask how such a judgment (concerning the absence in anthroposophical circles of introspective practices) might be made, which is a quite legitimate question. The simple fact is that both above books contain very specific kinds of ideas and vocabulary, and the absence, of those concepts and terms in the conversations and the writings of anthroposophists, reveals that this material has not been adequately studied. Moreover, those who actually work deeply with those books, as suggested above by Steiner in the quote from Awakening to Community, no longer think and will in the same way as before. The general absence of these ideas and terms, as rooted in an actual new experience of willing and thinking, was then (beginning for me as far back as 1980) observed in all my encounters with the Society’s conversations and writings, and still can be observed even today.

Yes, there were tiny places where I would eventually discover individuals (Barfield, Kuhlewind, Ben-Aharon, Gordienko etc.) that had made the journey to follow in Steiner’s own path of development, as set out in the above books, but the central problem he resolved - the problem of knowledge - was not only still a mystery to ordinary anthroposophists, but it is hardly spoken of from out of the circles of leadership in Dornach or in the Councils in America. Let me now review that problem -
the problem of knowledge - so that the reader of this might better grasp my meaning here. For Anthroposophy is the answer to that problem, and upon understanding this the whole future ability, of the Society and Movement* to actually properly represent Anthroposophy to the world, depends.

*[I am using the term Movement here to mean the gesture of Spiritual Science as it moves through the social world of humanity, as fostered by the Society. There is another way to use the term Movement, and that is to mean or make reference to the supersensible School of Michael. These two, the supersensible school and the social gesture, are related at the level of inspiration between the Spiritual World and the Social World of humanity, but they are not identical.]

First some history:

Steiner’s biography intersected the culmination in the 19th Century of the impulses of natural science, and the materialism that had been infecting humanity for centuries, which materialism Steiner was later to characterize as: the Ahrimanic Deception*. The spiritual destiny of Western Civilization, and its influence on the whole world, was in large part meant to carry humanity to a moment of crisis, where direct personal
knowledge of the spirit was to be so completely lost, that individual human beings were to feel, as Time Magazine was to ask in 1966: Is God Dead? Steiner described these facts with references to the end of the Age of the Kali Yuga in 1899, and the beginning of the Age of Michael in 1879. The End of the Kali Yuga is the culmination of an eons long descent into matter that resulted in completely severing our original relationship to the Divine. The latest regency of Michael as Time Spirit marks the beginning of a certain phase of the counter-gesture - the movement toward reintegration with the Divine out of human freedom.

*[I would prefer the term
enchantment to deception, but that is more of an artistic choice than a purely factual or scientific choice.]

This was a crucial stage in the Evolution of Consciousness, for only in that arid inner desert of
The End of Faith (as the writer Sam Harris was to put it from his point of view) could the I of the human being discover the forces within itself, out of which an authentic hunger for knowledge via direct experience of the Spirit could be reborn. The Gods meant to set us free, and free we had become (under the influence of the Ahrimanic - Deception - Enchantment - materialism in all its forms). Steiner, in fact, came to characterize the impulse to Anthroposophy, in the First Leading Thought, as a hunger. “Anthroposophy is a path of knowledge, to guide the Spiritual in the human being to the Spiritual in the universe. ... Hence only they can be anthroposophists who feel certain questions on the nature of man and the universe as an elemental need of life, just as one feels hunger and thirst.

Only in the stark aloneness of the spiritually isolated individual self, could the
want be freely formed by the I to once more have knowledge - as direct experience - of the Spirit.

Unfortunately, what I had come to observe among anthroposophists was that they were trying to satisfy this hunger, not in the sense of knowledge as direct experience, but mostly in a secondary and derivative fashion through the reading of Steiner’s works. Let us not, by the way, consider it any kind of grievous flaw that such an approach became common. Rudolf Steiner had stated that if certain tasks were not accomplished by the membership during his lifetime, karma would hold sway - that is, after his death the karma of the members would be the dominate influence, rather than be overcome by the profound and free spiritual activity which he taught and urged. Keep in mind that true
Anthroposophy - as the inner solution to the problem of knowledge - can only be incarnated socially in stages over a few centuries (a few individuals can advance ahead of this wave front in the evolution of consciousness, but a wider general evocation of the capacity of Anthroposophy will take considerable time).

After Steiner’s crossing over into the spiritual world in 1925, the Vorstand fell into inner conflict (karma held sway), and ultimately the National Societies split from the General Anthroposophical Society as Europe itself succumbed to the forces of Opposition, which sought thereby to crucify and entomb the Central European (mostly German) Spirit. With this fall from Grace, the Society and Movement then lost the ability to grasp, with the proper consciousness, the Michaelic Cosmic Intelligence Steiner had known and shared, such that following World War Two only isolated individuals could become
true anthroposophists.

At the beginning of his life’s work, as Steiner was maturing as a thinker, the underlying
Spirit of Natural Science itself represented an emerging aspect of the Christ Impulse. Steiner even remarked, in The Philosophy of Freedom, that Darwinian evolution, if followed out to its ultimate observable human conclusion, would lead to ethical individualism: “Ethical individualism, then, is the crowning feature of the edifice that Darwin and Haeckel have striven to build for natural science. It is [a] spiritualized theory of evolution carried over into moral life.” [Chapter 12, The Philosophy of Freedom] Yet, among anthroposophists, this remark itself has not been fully understood and appreciated. We need to discover why.

When Steiner began this work, he started in a very specific place, because he could see through his own direct experience, and his understanding of the time, that this place was the place at which the central spiritual/ethical problem for the I could begin to be tackled. This was the place and the time the modern existential problem of knowledge was most profoundly present - at the end of the 19th Century, and so Steiner’s earliest three books, except for GA 1,  (the two above as well as Truth and Knowledge - his slightly reworked dissertation) concerned what in the field of philosophy was the problem of epistemology or knowledge (i.e. GA 2, GA 3, and GA 4). He was later to remark that all that he did subsequently as a spiritual researcher was grounded in those works, and further that all* of Anthroposophy was (in a way) contained in his book The Philosophy of Freedom.

*[from a conversation between Steiner and Walter Johannes Stein in 1922: “
I asked Rudolf Steiner: ‘What will remain of your work thousands of years from now?’ He replied:'Nothing but The Philosophy of Freedom. But in it everything else is contained. If one realizes the act of freedom described there, one can discover the whole content of anthroposophy.’ “.

Part of the reason he said “nothing”, is because he knew that his terminology, as presented as the content of Spiritual Science, would not last, because it did not actually accord with true spiritual experience. This language was a created artifact, produced in order to help people understand basic structural relationships within the organism of the spiritual world (e.g. the organization of spiritual hierarchies, the relationships of folk spirits to spirits of personality and form and so forth). We could make an analogy with an x-ray of a human being, that only grasps the most rigid and dense elements, and leaves out the more living parts; and, more crucially, it leaves aside the completely non-physical experienced nature of the consciousness of the human being. In a like way the teachings of Spiritual Science, conveyed through specific choices as to terms, mostly presented the fixed structure of the relationships of the Beings of the spiritual world. Steiner could tell us the bare outline of what Michael or Ahriman intended, but not provide for us what it felt like to experience via Inspiration and/or Intuition, the true nature of these Beings and the qualitative sublime nature and/or power of these intentions. Please recall how often he actually said that most of spiritual experience could not be conveyed by language.]

What is
the problem of knowledge?

As Steiner has pointed out to us, human consciousness is so inserted into the world, between birth and death, that its (the world as a totality, including ourselves) fundamental reality is split* into two pieces: thought and experience, or concept and percept, are separated from each other. Even our naive consciousness can become aware of this, for clearly the world (especially of the senses) and our thoughts about that world, come toward our I from two different directions. For many people, the sense world experiences overwhelm the interiority of the I, and the inmost thoughts are reduced to (or believed to be) of little import (we have this saying:
it was only a thought).

*[This “split” or division is the intended result of the descent into materialism - the separation of the developing ego out of, or away from, the Divine.]

To solve the problem of knowledge is to heal this split while incarnate, and to consciously (as an act of inner will) bring thought and experience once more into their natural - meant to be reintegrated - connection. This
meaning of Earth Existence, as we noted above, requires the density of incarnation in order for the I to have something which resists its efforts. No longer then should we experience: it is only a thought, for thought is Spirit. Steiner even wrote of this in Occult Science in reference to the above two basic books on thinking activity, as follows: One who wholeheartedly pursues the train of thought indicated in these books is already in the spiritual world; only it makes itself known to him as a thought-world.

The retired Christian Community priest and author of the book The Other America: the West in the Light of Spiritual Science, Carl Stegmann, characterized this new (living) thinking (that results from achieving the goal of The Philosophy of Freedom) as clair-thinking. Stegmann also said in his last lecture to his American students before returning to Germany in 1985, that the split in the Society was the result of people not knowing what to do now that Steiner had died. Instead, spoke Stegmann, of looking for him where he presently was, across the threshold, most looked for him in the residue of his past - his lectures and writings. 

Unfortunately, for the Society and Movement, few have followed this path of clair-thinking or direct knowledge, which was Steiner’s own path. The scientific introspection (soul-observation) is not practiced, and most in the Society and Movement spend a great deal of their time reading the works of Rudolf Steiner to the exclusion of true introspective investigations. As a consequence it is not even known to the members and friends what the significance is of the act of reading, as distinct from an act of
original thinking. Without a practical grounding in the arts of introspection (soul-observation), much true self-knowledge will escape our perception.

To repeat and reemphasize: The whole language in which anthroposophists tend to frame their work is painfully empty of an appreciation of the problem of knowledge, as well as the role of reading about the Spirit as against direct personal experience of the Spirit. In addition, we don’t appreciate the confusion that comes when we sit in circles and draw from memory our favorite Steiner quotes, instead of engaging each other from the place of the own original thinking out of our I. It is only true thinking (as understood via Steiner’s teachings in the books he wrote at the beginning of his life’s work) that heals the split between thought and experience. We can believe we understand all kinds of things spiritual through reading Steiner, yet never realize in practice our own spiritual perception in thinking at all. 

In a sense, the members and friends of the Society and Movement (in their present stage of interior development) have a strong tendency to drown the true thinking of the own I in a profusion of Steiner-thought to the exclusion of our own natural wonder about the Spirit and the thought-content that wonder would produce were we not to over-shackle it to concepts rooted in the past and entombed in a text. This is not to say that the study of the content of Spiritual Science is of no moment, just that we need to not mistake the product of thinking about something we read, from what thinking can perceive if it strives for original thought about its own spiritual experiences. The first of these experiences are related to thinking itself, and for this reason the objective observation of the own soul is the place this learning must begin.
Anthroposophy can not be found in a book - it only exists within our own souls as a potential activity.

Buried within Steiner’s work is an even more subtle problem connected to the relationship between perception and thinking. Ultimately (according to Steiner) the I needs to reach some practical experience of the thinking in perception and the perception in thinking. This set of terms (
thinking in perception and the perception in thinking), however, is a ideal way of representing the solution to the problem of knowledge in concepts - a kind of end-set intellectual soul terminology. It can confuse the seeker it they expect to immediately arrive there, without discovering or noticing the details of the journey.

This true thinking, and its related problems, is unknown to our institutional leadership, otherwise they would have a great deal to say that they do not say. I recently (August 2009) wrote a review of Prokofieff’s book:  
Anthroposophy and The Philosophy of Freedom, which book is so badly thought out, and so full of errors and failures to even begin to appreciate what was in Steiner’s book (The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity), that (whether knowingly or not) one of the most popular leaders of our Society and Movement ends up serving the Opposition, not the Christ.

Now I discussed with Prokofieff the underlying problem of knowledge, briefly (for about 15 minutes), at the Ann Arbor Conference in 2005, particularly in the light of the Gordienko book that was critical of his work (
Sergei O. Prokofieff: Myth and Reality). I explained to him that I concurred with her observation that he did not know the Consciousness Soul as an experience, or Goetheanism, or the Philosophy of Freedom as an experience. His reply, which had some instinctive wisdom, was an oblique assent to my comment there - he said: “None of us are perfect”.

My comments
here are not personal to him and we need to see that Prokofieff, in this flaw, is really only acting according to the standard of behavior he was taught as he joined the Society, and is thus simply an archetype or characteristic-like representative of something that is in general practice throughout the anthroposophical world-culture. Far too much of what happens in the Society and Movement tends to oppose the incarnation of true Anthroposophy, because of the simple fact that the three-fold double complex is able to derail our best intentions from within our own souls. You can read details about this three-fold double complex in my book: American Anthroposophy (see the essay: The Mystery of Macro and Micro Evil: the relationship of the Shadow - the three-fold double complex - to the American Soul), but this needs to be clear here: Out of our subconscious (where resides not only the three-fold double complex, but the embryonic super-consciousness as well) come forces which we cannot awake to or master, unless we travel the rite of passage that leads toward the healing of the split between thought and experience. Our karma, as part of the descent into materialism, is to live in an unfree state, and we can remain asleep to that condition, or learn to awake to it.

It is because we are human and flawed that errors of thought enter our work, and due to the way social life itself operates we easily go into a kind of collective sleep with regard to these shared natural weaknesses. The process of the incarnation of
Anthroposophy requires time, and resting as it does on human action it will not happen automatically, or without mistakes. We must eventually learn to do it consciously - we must intend this incarnation process with full understanding and knowledge of what we are about.

These problems are everywhere in the Society and Movement precisely because we don’t even adequately discuss the problem of knowledge, must less strive to heal it. This fact is why it is necessary to write the title to this essay:
 Bitter Medicine: Saving Anthroposophy from the Anthroposophical Society and Movement. This fact is why (as pointed out at the very beginning of this essay) even Steiner lamented in Awakening to Community (lecture three), on the consequences of failing (which has happened) to properly take up The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (or Freedom) - to repeat: “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....The trouble is that The Philosophy of Freedom has not been read in the different way I have been describing. That is the point, and a point that must be sharply stressed if the development of the Anthroposophical Society is not to fall far behind that of anthroposophy itself. If it does fall behind, anthroposophy’s conveyance through the Society will result in its being completely misunderstood, and its only fruit will be endless conflict!

William Bento’s review called the kind of critical* thinking about the state of the Society and Movement, that is part of my book:
bitter medicine; and, I suppose it is not something many will want to willingly taste. At the same time, living thinking, as discovered on the path of Steiner’s books on introspective science, is absolutely necessary if Steiner’s great achievement in solving the problem of knowledge is not to be lost to humanity for more than a thousand years, just as Aristotle’s works were lost in the formative days of Western Civilization. If anthroposophists do not wake up to the fact that many current leading personalities (as well as most of the members and friends) do not understand** the problem of knowledge, then the Society and Movement will become the gravest opponent to true Anthroposophy possible.

*[Steiner often reminded his listeners, that certain remarks he was about to make might appear to be critical, but that they were instead intended only to represent the truth. Criticism is not the same as critical thinking, which is a rigorous examination of the validity of certain propositions or points of view. To test certain typical thought-forms, common to anthroposophists, for their logical coherence or factual basis, is to critically examine their work, not to criticize the personality of the thinkers.]

**[A giant step forward is made if we just truly understand the fundamental questions presented by the problem of knowledge. It is not necessary to leap immediately to solve it. To know it exists helps us orient ourselves with greater precision for the next needed tasks.]

At the same time, wherever Goetheanism flourishes, a necessary preliminary advancement is made. This organic thinking, introduced in Steiner’s A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe’s World Conception, is the bedrock for that which we call Goethean Science (Goetheanism, as the discipline of organic thinking, can also do more than advance natural science, but that is a whole other subject). Yet, more people still read Steiner texts than take up making an adequate acquaintance with the Goethean Science work. In fact, our publishing houses have tragically let a variety of incredible works* become out of print, because too many of the leading personalities in our Society and Movement do not appreciate them, or encourage their study. Over and over again Steiner texts are reprinted (often with just new covers and titles, confusing many), while many remarkable achievements, including Goethean Science, a boon to the thinking of all anthroposophists, remain invisible (buried in libraries - what Steiner called Ahriman’s preserving jars). In my book American Anthroposophy, this problem is discussed in the essay: a letter to a young anthroposophist, which includes a beginning list of Goethean Science books which all anthroposophists ought to come to know and appreciate.

*[Such as
Understanding Our Fellow Man: the judgment of character through trained observation, by Knud Asbjorn Lund, a remarkable discussion of how to be more effective in our social relationships based on deeper knowledge of the temperaments.]

From organic thinking, then we go on to
The Philosophy of Freedom (or Spiritual Activity), which can also be called pure thinking. This living thinking (or clair-thinking, which is what Anthroposophy is - “Anthroposophy is a path of knowledge...”) comes to knowledge of the world of Spirit, when traveling the path* of The Philosophy of Freedom, although this experience is of the thought-world. What is this “thought-world”?

*[I will write further on in this essay more about the other path - the
easier one which is most often pursued, in apparent avoidance of the more difficult one - the path of The Philosophy of Freedom.]

The thought-world, as a world of pure concepts*, is an aspect** of the ethereal world, the world of formative forces, and the world wherein the true Second Coming is available to be experienced. The thought-world is where most of humanity, as it instinctively crosses the threshold in the Age of the Consciousness Soul, begins the journey of the I toward reunification with the Spirit. It is the first truly spiritual world that thinking, in that thinking wakes up within itself, can fully and freely experience. Many people, in various anthroposophical disciplines, have an opportunity to come to a deeper understanding, and in some cases even knowledge, of the world of ethereal formative forces, when working in Anthroposophical Medicine, Biodynamic Agriculture and so forth, because that work provides concrete examples of the phenomena of the organic world (the world shaped by the formative forces). Yet the members of the General Anthroposophical Society do not study the relevant texts, such as The Plant Between Sun and Earth, by Adams and Whicher, because the leadership mostly models for us the primary and mistaken example of the study of Steiner texts (which leads to their peppering their lectures mostly with quotes from Rudolf Steiner).

*[A pure concept can be distinguished from a
mental picture (such as a mental image or representation of a particular book), and distinguished from a generalized concept (the concept which enables us to recognize books as a general class of sense objects). The pure concept (bookness) allows us to use the term metaphorically, as in: Goethe studied the Book of Nature. Ideas were to Steiner, a complex of (pure) concepts, which in the platonic sense means a spiritual Being. Especially keep in mind Steiner’s admonition, at the end of the original preface to The Philosophy of Freedom: One must be able to confront an idea and experience it; otherwise one will fall into its bondage.]

**[The ethereal world is complicated, and depends in part, as regards its
perception, on what we bring to our initial encounters within it (true thinking or anthroposophy is an ethereal act). We have an interest, as it were, a want or a hunger, and this world of mobile flowing forces (our embryonic conscious will forces encounter the will forces of Beings there) reacts to our intentions or questions. The ethereal world being composed of primordial Life in a constant state of becoming something fresh and new, its fluidic (water-like) nature mirrors and adapts to what touches it. Christ’s presence there makes for a particular quality as well.]

In awakening the will-in-thinking, through the efforts at practice of
The Philosophy of Freedom (pure thinking) and A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe’s World Conception (organic thinking), the I builds for itself capacities that enable it to perceive (clair-thinking) with this true thinking the spiritual organization of existence as it is reflected in the world of pure concepts. All experience, whether of the senses, or of the world of thought, receives this light of knowledge which the I learns to shine upon its objects of thought.

In my book
American Anthroposophy, I come at this problem from multiple directions in terms of indications regarding introspective practice, and as well I demonstrated what this light can see when I took up certain themes of import for all of us (such as the essay there: The Natural Transformation of the Anthroposophical Society in America - see next below). What William Bento needed to characterize, in his review, as opinion, was not mere opinion. Introspection enables the I to make all kinds of inner distinctions, including whether a view we hold is a mere belief (opinion), is true understanding, or is real knowledge. In true living thinking, there is co-participation, which is clearly experienced, yet never overrides our freedom. Instead our thinking is given wings in the soul to soar to heights and dive to depths never before reached without this mutual communion.

Because of Christ’s Presence in the Ethereal (as an aspect of the true Second Coming), this thought-world is illuminated as well by this very Presence, but this light (as it were) comes from
behind us. Through the sacrifice of Its own potential centrality, It shines through us onto the objects of thought. What we would choose to think is more important to Christ than His Own Being. Our thinking (directed by our own I) then is joined/met by His Being, just as He told us (I will be with you until the ends of time). This subtle and delicate presence of Fullness and fullness of Presence is equally available to ordinary thinking, whenever ordinary thinking takes up authentic questions regarding individual moral dilemmas. I describe this meeting in my essay The Meaning of Earth Existence in the Age of the Consciousness Soul (which is in American Anthroposophy, as well as my books on Christianity) as follows:

...Christ as holy breath breathes upon the slumbering burning embers of our own good nature, just as we breathe upon a tiny fire in order to increase its power. He sacrifices His Being into this breath, which gives Life to the tiny ember-like fire of our moral heart. The holy breath becomes within the soul of each human being who asks, seeks and knocks a gift of Living Warmth that enlivens our own free fire of moral will...

...The outer world is but a seeming, and what is brought by the Culture of Media mere pictures of the Stage Setting for the World Temple that is home to our biographies. When we think away this outer seeming - this logos formed and maya based sense world, and concentrate only on the Idea of the moral grace (Life filled holy breath) we receive and then enact out of the wind warmed fire of individual moral will - as individual law givers, as the fulfillment of the law and the prophets - we create this Meaning of Earth Existence. Every act of moral grace, given greater Life within in the deepest intimacy of our life of soul, is an ethereal communion with Christ, even though we may only experience it as what to us is a mere thought of what is the Good at some moment of need in the biography.

Christ gives us this Gift, by Grace, freely out of Love, and with no need that we see Him as its Author. We hunger inwardly to know what the right thing to do is, and when this hungering is authentic, we receive Christ’s Holy Breath. This does not come so much as a thought-picture of the Good in response to our questing spirit, but rather as the contentless breathing substance of Christ’s Being. We are touched (inspired) by Love, and at this touch we shape that Breath into the thought that we then know. The nature of its application, and the form in which we incarnate this thought, is entirely our own. We shape the thought completely out of our own freedom - our own moral fire of will - for only we can apply it accurately in the individual circumstances of our lives.

As the Age of the Consciousness Soul unfolds accompanied by this Second Eucharist, the Social World of human relationships begins to light and warm from within. For each free act of moral grace rests upon this Gift of Christ’s Being to us - an ethereal substance received in the communion within the Temple of the own Soul, freely given in Love whenever we genuinely: ask, seek and knock during our search for the Good. Our participation in this Rite, this trial by Fire leavened by Holy Breath, leads us to the co-creation of new light and new warmth - the delicate budding and growing point of co-participated moral deeds out of which the New Jerusalem is slowly being born.

This co-creation is entirely inward, a slowly dawning Sun within the macro Invisible World of Spirit. Moreover, we do it collectively (as humanity). While each of us contributes our part, it is our collective conscious celebration of the Second Ethereal Eucharist (creating the Good) that begins the transubstantiation of the collective (presently materialized and fallen) thought-world of humanity into the New Jerusalem.

To return to the Bitter Medicine:

Anthroposophy is not the
content of Spiritual Science, but a method by which spiritual (or any) experience is united with its thought - that is: by which knowledge is created* through the union of percept and concept (or experience and thought). If we study passively only the content of Spiritual Science, via the reading of Steiner texts, we are not being anthroposophical, but are rather only involved in creating mere beliefs (opinions) about the spirit, that become in the soul a kind religion (dogmatic belief system) that needs to be called: Steinerism. Again, this is not so much a flaw, as it is karma that this tragedy exists for so many members and friends. It is moreover a special kind of karma - a karma that is to lead us into those errors to which we can awaken and then overcome. The Opposition, via the doubles, brings us to the pain of error, just so we can strive and struggle (and thus exercise the I).

The object of knowledge is not to repeat in conceptual form something which already exists, but rather to create a completely new sphere, which when combined with the world given to our senses constitutes complete reality. Thus man’s highest activity, his spiritual creativeness, is an organic part of the universal world-process. The world-process should not be considered a complete, enclosed totality without this activity. Man is not a passive onlooker in relation to evolution, merely repeating in mental pictures cosmic events taking place without his participation; he is the active co-creator of the world-process, and cognition is the most perfect link in the organism of the universe. [Emphasis added] Steiner’s Preface in Truth and Knowledge]

Were we to be less passive and more
active as readers (read one book, as Steiner admonished - such as Theosophy - 50 times, instead of 50 books once), we can achieve true understanding of the spirit, but which understanding yet does not rise to the level of knowledge itself (reading only generates concepts or thoughts, not percepts or experiences). This understanding becomes a kind of genuine and testable theory of the Spirit (based upon the research of the spiritual scientist), the same way students of natural science learn to understand and later seek to test theories based upon the research of the natural scientist.

knowledge of the Spirit comes only from either the development of the living (clair-) thinking on the path of Steiner’s books on objective introspection (soul-observation), or through full initiate clairvoyant perception in the form described in Theosophy, Occult Science and then Knowledge of Higher Worlds. The key matter in almost all cases is whether the questing I arrives at some form of encounter with the ethereal return of Christ (gradually, through more and more consciousness of the Second Eucharist via life trials of moral or character development, or after traversing the encounter with the Lesser and Greater Guardians of the Threshold, through intense long term exercises -inner labor - beginning with developing more consciously the picture-thinking capacity). The path leading to living thinking, through The Philosophy of Freedom (Spiritual Activity), does not exclude full clairvoyance and the encounter with the Lesser and Greater Guardians, but that arises subsequent in time, from other additional striving and has its own unique character.

To repeat: The so-called
easier path leading indirectly through the sense world, and described in detail in Theosophy, Occult Science and Knowledge of Higher Worlds, results in living thinking as well, but as Steiner pointed out near the end of the 5th Chapter of Occult Science, the other more difficult path - the one directly through the thinking (as outlined in The Philosophy of Freedom and A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe’s World Conception), while more difficult for some, is in fact more exact and more sure.

A main reason for the qualitative difference between the two paths is the fact that the moral problem (three steps in character development for each step in spiritual development) is faced
indirectly in Knowledge of Higher Worlds through a series of admonitions (suggestions for moral behavior). In The Philosophy of Freedom the moral problem is faced directly, through the instructions concerning these three processes or tasks: moral imagination, moral intuition and moral technique. Through practicing these three, the I then learns precisely and exactly the relationship between the moral nature of the human being and all (including spiritual) experience.

Even ordinary thinking can have some degree of Christ consciousness, when it authentically takes responsibility for its own moral actions (outside of rules or traditions), and thereby comes to experience Moral Grace in the form of an instinctive sacrament of the Second Eucharist. This is widely present now as a fundamental potential experience of this Age of the Consciousness Soul.

Through events that mostly took place in the 20th Century, the Society and Movement fell away from the possibility of true
Anthroposophy (direct knowledge of the Spirit) and came to substitute for that potential knowledge mostly mere beliefs (opinions) about the Spirit, coupled on occasion with decent understandings (theories) of the Spirit (both being variations of thoughts and concepts uncoupled from experiences and percepts - a concept about Christ obtained from reading a Steiner text is dramatically different from a direct experience of Christ).

This is why I urged in my book, and at the final plenum at the 2005 Ann Arbor Conference, the need for a true history of the Society and Movement in the 20th Century. And, this is why I assert that most current leading personalities of our institutional social forms, for the most part, lack what is needed to guide us into the 21st Century. Without an
experience of the problem of knowledge, as addressed by Steiner from the very beginning of his life’s work, there is no Anthroposophy. Without deep and disciplined introspective practice (objective soul-observation) there is also no real understanding of how Anthroposophy is scientific.

To remind us, here again is Steiner about his book: from a conversation between Steiner and Walter Johannes Stein in 1922: “
I asked Rudolf Steiner: ‘What will remain of your work thousands of years from now?’ He replied:'Nothing but The Philosophy of Freedom. But in it everything else is contained. If one realizes the act of freedom described there, one can discover the whole content of anthroposophy.’ “ [emphasis added]

A couple of years ago, I was at a Faust Branch meeting in Fair Oaks, California, where a mature and experienced woman anthroposophist wondered aloud what it would really be like to “control” her thoughts, something Steiner often urged as basic anthroposophical practice. No one spoke, and I, who had been learning to control my thoughts before even meeting Steiner through his books, knew of no way to bring forward such a claim in a circle where everyone seemed to agree that such was too difficult a task. Just consider the unfree state to which she admits, without even appreciating the nature and meaning of this normal, to almost all human beings, condition of consciousness.

I understood then, as I came to understand my friend William Bento when he put forward his view that great aspects of my book were
opinions, what a great difficulty it is to know how to truly think in a world where not even the idea of what that might mean is understood. In the absence of an appreciation of the problem of knowledge there is no appreciation, or recognition in others, of the real nature of true Anthroposophy.

Anthroposophy as the free act of the union of experience and thought, we cannot find our way to creating (as did Ben-Aharon with his The Spiritual Event of the Twentieth Century) the modern Gospels of the true Second Coming of Christ; or know how to take this beautiful phrase from the Prologue to the John Gospel: And the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us... and update it to our present relationship to the true Second Coming, where we can now justly say, from experience:

And the Word became Thought and dwelt within* us.

*Luke 17: 20-21 “Asked by the Pharisees when the the kingdom of God was coming he answered: “The kingdom of God doesn’t come with the watching like a hawk, and they don’t say, Here it is, or There it is, because, you know what? the kingdom of God is inside you.” [emphasis added]

Healing the split between experience and thought, as an act of freedom based on understanding in practice Steiner’s The Philosophy of Freedom, is possible for a great many people, and those who shy away from this work do not really appreciate the consequences. It is not for ourselves we undertake such work.

In Steiner’s
A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe’s World Conception, he points out that there is only one (pure) concept of triangle. This observation needs to be carefully thought through. What it means, ultimately, is that there is only one thought-content to the world - an incredibly rich thought-content to be sure, but only one. Each thinker then apprehends/creates at least parts of the same content, albeit with a slightly different and individual emphasis. This is why Steiner, in Occult Science, describes the experience of the successful practitioner of the science of soul-observation as an experience of the thought-world.

Obviously thinkers can entertain
illusions (under the influence of the realm of what Tomberg called: the False Holy Spirit), or mental pictures and concepts that have no real world (sense world or spiritual world) referent. Which is why part of the goal of the Age of the Consciousness Soul is the apprehension of the true as well as the good (the moral). Here is what I wrote in my essay Concerning the Renewal of Anthroposophy, copies of which I handed out for free at the 2004 Annual General Meaning in Detroit:

The Philosophy of Freedom leads us to a careful and scientific introspective life. We learn through this activity to distinguish certain inner processes and activities one from the other. Over time, we come to an understanding, in practice, of the Consciousness Soul, which, according to Theosophy, lives in the soul when she attains the capacity to unite herself with the True and the Good - that is with the Eternal.

The processes by which this uniting occurs is different for the True from what it is for the Good. In a certain sense they are the opposite of each other.

The Good arrives in our consciousness as an individualized intuition. How we do this is described in the Philosophy, so I won’t elaborate that here, except to say that one must, in any case, actually practice moral imagination (consciously framing the moral dilemma), moral intuition (perceiving the answer with the thinking), and moral technique (applying the answer to the actual situation of life) in order to truly know, through experience, what this is about. Merely reading about it is only of the most minimal practical use.

The True, on the other hand, arrives in our consciousness as a universalized intuition. To achieve universal intuitions is not something we do on our own however, but rather requires that we work together, or as Tomberg describes it: take council together. The True and the universal is found through uniting - through community, while the Good, in its particular and real form, is only found alone, via our individuality. Those who might wonder then about the spiritual experience of the initiate here, need only to recognize that the community in which the True is sought need not in all instances be incarnate.

In general, the implications of these facts is that there is, in addition to the New (living) Mysteries of Thinking, also what needs to be called: The New Mysteries of Community. We can, if we try, practice these new mysteries in our group work, and the culmination of this group work - the New Mysteries of Community - is described in Awakening To Community, in lecture 6, as the reverse cultus.

One of the possible difficulties for most readers of my book, and perhaps of this essay, is that they cannot yet actually imagine some of the implications of a real appreciation of the facts of inner experience that will come to an I that practices true scientific introspection (soul-observation). The amount of detail that our I can eventually perceive inwardly is quite considerable, for the inner world, in which thinking is its center, is rich, perhaps even more rich than the outer world perceived by the senses.

Yet, for all the rich detail, the real treasures of true
Anthroposophy - of the path of knowledge (or cognition), concern the training of the will-in-thinking. It ultimately becomes what we can do inwardly that is the most significant accomplishment. The phrase of Steiner’s: it thinks in me, hardly begins to describe the actual experience. Tomberg’s phrase: learn to think on your knees reveals another aspect.

At the same time some people shy away from Steiner’s The Philosophy of Freedom for healthy instinctive reasons. It is not the only way to learn to practice scientific introspection (soul-observation). What will surprise those who actually try, especially if they are Americans, is just how much they already actually know. There are reasons Steiner described Americans as coming to Anthroposophy naturally, and English speakers as instinctively in the Consciousness Soul in their Life of Rights.

The New (living) Mystery of Thinking needs
tasks in order to develop, because the basic moral gesture underlying living thinking’s expression has to be selflessness. We don’t develop the new thinking by thinking for ourselves, but rather only through thinking for others (three steps in character or moral development, for each step in spiritual development). These needs of others (other-need) means that what is willing to think in us is related to the needs of someone else. The mother of a child knows this experience instinctively, when she thinks with more concern about the child than about her own self.

Another part of this is whether thinking is modest (
thinking on our knees) - that is humble. Those who sit around our study groups (or write long books and give lofty lectures) believing they can make great statements about deep spiritual truths, have lost the connection with this humility (or modesty). To seek to have grandiose spiritual thoughts is to fail to understand the point of spirit-oriented thinking entirely (c.f. Prokofieff’s Anthroposophy and The Philosophy of Freedom).

America is the center of a great battle with the forces of Opposition, most of which aspects of this battle manifest in the
center of earthly social life, or what we might otherwise call: the political-legal sphere. This is why Steiner pointed to the instinct for the Consciousness Soul in English speakers with respect to the Life of Rights. These great public issues (as opposed to our own wishes to have more Waldorf Schools or our desire to bring the world to our doors to share our adoration of things Steiner) are a call to service for the New Thinking.

The one thought-content of the world is an unread open book to a thinking which, from its knees, seeks to find/create new conceptions for dealing with modern social issues. In the battle with the results of Ahriman’s incarnation,
true anthroposophists are uniquely in a position to make certain particular contributions, as long as they forgo the present day infatuation with Steiner. There is more to the world, that can be thought, than that which the Centers of the Institutional Society and Movement yet imagine. We can also see around us, in the periphery of the Society and Movement, individuals struggling to manifest instinctively this new thinking as applied to the great social issues of our time. For example, the international newsletter, Anthroposophy World-Wide, perceives small parts of this work, but does not yet fully understand the underlying spiritual context.

demonstrations of this potential of true living thinking, I offer my books on Christianity: the Way of the Fool: the conscious development of our human character and the future of Christianity, both to be born out of the natural union of Faith and Gnosis; and, New Wine: foundational essays out of a Science of the Spirit, in support of a coming living metamorphosis of Christianity. As well my books on the political-legal sphere: Uncommon Sense: the degeneration, and the redemption, of political life in America; and, On the Nature of Public Life: the Soul of a People, the Spirit of a Nation and the Sacrifices of its Leaders.

As an introduction to the
how of living thinking, there are my two essays: The Meaning of Earth Existence in the Age of the Consciousness Soul; and, In Joyous Celebration of the of the Soul Art and Music of Discipleship. These two essays are in American Anthroposophy, the Way of the Fool and New Wine. All this material can be read for free on my website: Shapes in the Fire, or if you want a book to hold in your hand, these can be purchased at my bookstore: Joel Wendt’s Theory of Everything Emporium.

Keep in mind that these works are a demonstration, and not meant to replace what one does as they develop their own thinking. Above all, it is our original thought that needs to flow into the world, for it is that original thought which has the most life in it. To quote me, or Steiner, or anyone else, is to offer only dead thought from the dusty library of memory* into a conversation. Original thought, even though often filled (as is natural in the beginning) with missteps and confusion, still has more character and more meaning than any quote ever could. That is the first principle of the reverse cultus - the New Mysteries of Community to be born in the social: the offering of our-self into the community of the conversation. In us is being born the Christ Impulse, and that, even though young and immature in the beginning, is what each of us needs from each other. A healthy social life is found only, when in the mirror of each soul the whole community finds its reflection, and when in the whole community the virtue of each one is living.

*[Memory, of actual direct experiences, is a quite different type of memory than that which we acquire when we read the thoughts of others.  The former is very alive, while the latter is quite dead.]

* * *

Under what circumstances is it fruitful to quote Rudolf Steiner, or any other person?

Obviously people will quote Steiner as much as they want. The underlying problem (or danger) is actually simple, for it begins with what basic soul-observation (introspection) has to say about the inner actions of mind (or spirit) which are related to the act of quoting another thinker.


The crucial matter is whether we are actually thinking, truly thinking, in the moment. At the threshold of true thinking we are confronted by an experience. Perhaps the experience is just what happens in a discussion in a group. People speak, and in our souls a variety of thoughts arise and then fade away as we experience their speaking.

If we are new to anthroposophical circles, as social beings we will naturally try to imitate what others, who seem more experienced, do. Of the many thoughts that arise and fade away, we will tend to only pick and choose those that help us “fit in”. If the group spends a lot of time speaking of its beliefs and theories of the Spirit, obtained from reading Steiner, the neophyte will tend to silence, for the language is mostly unfamiliar, and their own reading of Steiner just beginning. What this teaches, tragically, is the false idea that being
anthroposophical is about learning to speak Steiner-speak (the terms he created, for the Intellectual Soul, in order to give us an x-ray-like picture of the densest structural relationships of the spiritual world).

At this point,
Anthroposophy, in its actuality as a gesture of living (or lively) thinking, is not present at all. Remember, it is the act of freedom* in the thinking that makes something anthroposophical, not the content.

 If one realizes the act of freedom described there, one can discover the whole content of anthroposophy.]

The conversation may actually have been somewhat predetermined by the in-advance choosing of the theme (study of a Steiner text, for example). To really appreciate what is at issue, we can learn to observe under what circumstances a conversation, among those who consider themselves students of Rudolf Steiner, becomes
lively. When are people the most animated?

What makes people animated (and lively, because their thoughts are lively) is when they speak of something about which they care deeply. This is the secret of what Steiner tried to teach when he spoke of heart-thinking, which is not abstract, but which is informed with depth of feeling. It is when we speak out of deep feelings, that the heart plays its role in relationship to the head. The head still thinks - the difference is just that when we care deeply about the subject which our original thinking wants to illuminate, there is more warmth and fire present in the soul, than when our thinking is so abstract and disconnected from what we are speaking about, that the abstract and disconnected thought is itself cold.

This does not mean we should never refer to Steiner’s thought in conversation. In fact, conversation can be an excellent place to work at
understanding Steiner (at appreciating more deeply our theory of the world of spirit). The problems come with: a) the presumption that we actually appreciate what Steiner meant by his choice of terms; b) the correlative assumption that his thought is more significant than our own, or another’s; and c) the belief he is always right. This elevation of Steiner-thought, coupled with a kind of deification of his human personality, murders the possibility of true thinking in whatever conversation such attitudes appear.

Most thoughts, born in another’s thinking and then drawn from memory and quoted, tend to be cold. We do get animated when we want to tell a story, or share an event from life, which is why at the beginning of meetings people are more animated. A Steiner-thought that has meant something to us, will be presented in a lively way, but the life element in that conversational gesture that quotes Steiner comes from its personal meaning for us, not from its biblical-like authority. Yet, in our conversations this liveliness comes and goes, and one can observe that the most frequent way in which this animation is killed, is when someone quotes Rudolf Steiner without this personal meaning context. Perhaps some new person has just told a story from their own experience, and they were excited to share it, and to put that aspect of the thinking of their own I into the conversation. Then some supposed anthroposophist quotes Steiner in a disconnected and abstract way, and the animation in the conversation fades. The new person deflates (one can see this actually happen - they sigh, their head droops, and the shoulders slump and fold over), for what was important to them, and animated their whole being, has just been trumped by the fake spiritual authority of the quoter of the great guru - the superior man, Rudolf Steiner.

In writing, quoting Steiner is different. There is no animation possible (unless one wants to make the writing very florid). In writing the theme itself has to be elevated, so that the thinking of the reader can share in that elevation when they struggle to reproduce in their own minds the thought-content of the writing. For example, above it was useful in many places to quote Rudolf Steiner because that would be familiar territory to the reader, and also keep us to a shared vocabulary - a vocabulary that would be unnecessary when writing to a non-anthroposophical audience (see my books on Christianity and Politics for examples of this).

Here, to begin to end this writing - this essay, is what my own thinking produced about the reverse cultus - the New Mysteries (something rendered above in a different essay, but worth repeating once more because by now the reader will have a more rounded view of the subjects under discussion):


The Circle gathers, with one shared intention - to consciously work with the spirit. No member of the Circle is more important than any other member. First in silence they recall what Steiner taught about why Judas had to kiss Christ. The truth at that time in Palestine was that when crowds gathered to hear teaching, the teaching came from all those in the circle around Christ. The Christ spirit spoke through all, first one and then another. For this reason Judas had to kiss the One who was the center, otherwise the Centurions would not know whom to arrest.

After this mood is engendered, in which each recognizes in the other a true source of spirit presence, the members of the group begin to speak. What they offer is not a pre-thought theme, about which one may be more expert than another, but rather the simple feelings of their hearts in the moment. These heart-felt concerns are the sharing to each other that opens the hearts to each other. The Circle meets each other in this art of coming to know each others deepest concerns, which can (and often will) be entirely personal. This knowing of each other is a great gift to give and to receive.

In this brief sharing will begin to emerge the spirit music latent in the coming conversation, for the co-participating spirit presence knows the truth of our hearts, and is drawn to these concerns out of the darkness represented by the Threshold and into the light and warmth of the sharing. Thus, in acknowledging each other in silence as also true speakers of the spirit, and then in sharing the true matters of the heart as exists for each at that moment in time, the Chalice is born in the Ethereal - in the mutually shared world of thought.

Now comes the Art of Conversation, the Royal Art.

Here too no one is better than another for as Christ is quoted in the John Gospel: “What’s born of the flesh is flesh, and what’s born of the breath is breath. Don’t be amazed because I told you you have to be born again. The wind blows where it will and you hear the sound of it, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it goes; it’s the same with everyone born of the breath”.

The breath of spirit blows where It wills, not where we will It.

The Royal Art is deep indeed and begins (as Tomberg expressed it) by learning to think on our knees. At the same time, these inner skills of thinking and listening will have little effect on where the wind blows, and while the study of The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity may make us individually more awake inwardly, the will of the spirit presence in the conversation belongs to that spirit presence, not to us.

So the conversation proceeds in the heart-warmed Chalice of the shared experience of the world of thoughts. Each contributes what is thought in them. Together a weaving of a whole is sought, but no one can judge whether anyone else’s contribution is a needed thread or not. Often, for example, something, which on the surface seems antagonistic or oppositional, is precisely what is needed in the moment to stimulate another in the offering of their part of the whole.

It is possible then for this circling weaving conversation to rise, in the nature and the substance of its overall meaning, nearer and nearer to spiritual other-presence. It will not do, however, to believe that as the conversation of the members of the group draws near this other-presence, that It will tell us what is true and good. That would violate our freedom. The true touch of the wind in the soul is otherwise in its nature.

In each soul lie latent embers of spirit recollection, spirit mindfulness and spirit vision. We are already as thinking spirits, in the spiritual worlds. What is fostered in the Chalice is something rooted in the teaching of Christ: Wherever two or more are gathered in my name, there I am.

He is with us.

Moreover, He is very interested in what we choose to think, not in our obedience to Him. Our obedience we owe to our higher self, not to Him - that is to the Not I, but Christ in me. He loves everyone in the Circle equally, and observing the latent embers of recollection, mindfulness and vision within each separate soul, He aids our communion by breathing on these embers. He gives to each, according to that individual need, that aspect of His Life which is His Breath - what John the Baptist in Matthew 3:11 called holy breath. [“Now I bathe you in the water to change hearts, but the one coming after me is stronger than me: I’m not big enough to carry his shoes. He will bathe you in holy breath and fire.”]

With His Breath, during the communion that is the conversation in the Chalice, the latent embers of our own soul are given Life. Within the thoughts of each arise that which belongs to each, but which is also seen by the Love of Christ, and enthused with His Life. We rise on the moral quality of our will in recognizing the spirit presence in each other, and in the sharing of the concerns of our hearts; and, as we do this, the weaving of the thoughts into a whole - still resting on our own insight and will - is given Eternal Life, in the form of the good and the true.

Thus revealing the truth that: “I am with you every day, until the culmination of time.” Matthew 28:20

Do we understand now how there is no fault that we are incomplete and imperfect? Do we understand that we couldn’t in the beginning fully incarnate Anthroposophy as a new capacity of the I? Do we now see we are right where we were meant to be, following out our biographies, all the time supported by the Lord (artist) of Karma? Nothing Steiner meant to give us has been wasted, or lost. It is not yet buried in time (although its essence - The Philosophy of Freedom - could be if we remain asleep to our real condition). 

Yes, there were errors of thought and will be errors of thought in the future. We will have to struggle. We will have to strive. We will have to learn more. We will have to give more.

Is this bitter medicine? Well, real life is hard and painful. Should we - who want to call ourselves anthroposophists and students of Rudolf Steiner - have expected anything less as we begin the spiritual tasks of the 21st Century and the Third Millennium? In the joining of his karma to ours, Steiner didn’t just accept something of a weight from us, but also married our striving into the service to the incarnation of true Anthroposophy, which had for so long lived in him. 

He recognizes even now that we could carry out this work - even after he left the physical sphere of existence. He trusts us. He knows we share the sacraments of the Michael School in our lives between Death and a New Birth. Everyone in the Society and Movement are doing what is and has been called for, even the
seeming critics such as myself.

At the same time, the work is not finished. We have not arrived. We haven’t got it yet. We have made errors and need to notice them and then self-correct. Steiner isn’t in the physical anymore to advise us, although we can seek his present inspiration. Nor are we to lean anymore on his past thought or on our claims of his genius. What is to come next is up to us. We have to stand in the world as anthroposophists, and to rely on the supposed authority of Steiner is to violate his own wishes in that regard. The future potential for true
Anthroposophy - true appreciation of the problem of knowledge - is our responsibility, and only the original thought of our own I can create this future in a healthy way.

Yes, yes, yes! We do all kinds of good work. Everywhere one can find good work. But until we return the questions about the problem of knowledge to the center of our seeking, we will be unable to incarnate into the social world actual

To repeat one last time:

“...even Steiner lamented in
Awakening to Community (lecture three), on the consequences of failing (which has happened) to properly take up The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (or Freedom): “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....The trouble is that The Philosophy of Freedom has not been read in the different way I have been describing. That is the point, and a point that must be sharply stressed if the development of the Anthroposophical Society is not to fall far behind that of anthroposophy itself. If it does fall behind, anthroposophy’s conveyance through the Society will result in its being completely misunderstood, and its only fruit will be endless conflict!"”

Humanity will have to come to real knowledge of what
thought is, in order on this path to find the forces to confront the influence of Ahriman’s incarnation, and to transform materialism. That task, of knowing and then communicating the real nature of thought, has, up to this point in time, been given to the most conscious members of the Michael School, which they are to carry out through the work and struggle to incarnate true Anthroposophy.

In the beginning, we understand this first as a theory of the Spirit, but ultimately only via practical realization and mastery of the observation of the
territory of the soul through scientific introspection, following the map that is The Philosophy of Freedom (or Spiritual Activity), will individuals begin to play a role in evolution that demonstrates this knowledge. That book only points a finger in the direction of the true work, which each student then must learn within their own soul - discovering there the true freedom from bondage to the fixed Idea: living thinking - thinking in which thoughts do not coagulate into dogmas or beliefs, but rather are in a constant state of dying into a new becoming.

From the kingdom served by Michael himself Christ descends to the sphere of the Earth, so as to be there when the intelligence is wholly with the human individuality. For man will then feel most strongly the impulse to devote himself to the power which has made itself fully and completely into the vehicle of intellectuality. But Christ will be there; through His great sacrifice He will live in the same sphere in which Ahriman also lives. Man will be able to choose between Christ and Ahriman. The world will be able to find the Christ-way in the evolution of humanity.” R.S. Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts.

Once more ... as regards the true Second Coming

And the Word became Thought and dwelt within
* us.

*Luke 17: 20-21 “Asked by the Pharisees when the the kingdom of God was coming he answered: “The kingdom of God doesn’t come with the watching like a hawk, and they don’t say, Here it is, or There it is, because, you know what? the kingdom of God is inside you.” [emphasis added]

*         *         *

This next was written for and part of my book American Anthroposophy.  Few have read it so I have brought it forward into this book as well.

 It will contain references found only in that book.

The Natural Transformation of the Anthroposophical Society

in America (Michaelmas, 2007)

Some, who take an interest in the future of the Society in America, generally have an idea about what it should become. Some ideas could be called “continuing to develop matters along more traditional lines”, and other ideas could be described as “taking the development of matters on more progressive lines”. The use of neither of those terms here is meant to suggest anything fixed, but rather represents an endeavor to point out something that can be observed in the patterns of the thought-background, as it were, of the concepts being advocated by others. Such a pattern would not necessarily appear on a specific page of text, or in a lecture itself, but would hover in the contextual structure of concepts of the whole of any writing or lecturing concerned with the themes of development or change.

The recent article in the News for Members of the Anthroposophical Society in America, based on material created by former Vorstand member Heinz Zimmerman, was actually a fairly good representation of the kinds of ideas coming from both a traditionalist and progressive direction. Zimmerman gave us an intelligent summation of both sets of concerns. That Zimmerman couldn’t really arrive at any conclusions or answers to questions, he himself posed, is also significant. To borrow a term from astrology, the direction of the Society might be called, in the way that he expressed it: void of course - that is absent clear direction.

To come at this from another direction, I’d like to share something from an experience I received by Grace during a group contemplation (from about 20 years ago), where a member who had just died was being remembered. The perception given to me was as follows (I have worked with it since that time, and this understanding is the most current):

There were basically two dominant soul gestures in the Society. The larger gesture (in terms of numbers of members) focuses mostly on a kind of golden past, on the great heights to which the Society had risen during Steiner’s lifetime, and with respect especially to the Christmas Conference. Everything in the present in the Society is seen by this thinking as though through a kind of highly sympathetic haze colored by this spirit recollection of a golden past.

The second basic gesture of soul, but smaller in number of members, was from those who imagined a future. Their inner perception was not focused on the past, but on the possible future - the potential they experienced as latent within the Society. This
spirit vision was then the point of view out of which they experienced the present, and by this vision the present was antipathetically judged.

The former I would call the traditionalists, and the latter the progressives. The traditionalists tend to want and urge preservation, while the progressives tend to want and urge transformation. Sympathy says this is good, let us hold to this. Antipathy says this is not good, we must change. Of course, no single individual or small group (such as a Branch) is wholly in one gesture or the other, so here we are just trying to delineate the patterns of thought that can be observed and their general nature and direction.

This essay hopes to place itself inside neither pattern, that is, to see the present not out of spirit recollection or spirit vision, but with spirit mindfulness.

* * *

As beginner spiritual social scientist, I strive to perceive what is actually happening in the world and within the Anthroposophical Society. An essential matter, or at least a reasonable place to start, is a certain somewhat controversial theme which concerns the so-called Michaelic Millions. A long essay researching this theme was written by Joel Kobran and published in the Threefold Review for the Fall, 2000.

On the surface, that article represents a kind of traditionalist criticism of a kind of progressive point of view. Kobran took exception to the discussions ongoing among some anthroposophists as regards the concept that Steiner had suggested there were to be in the world six or seven million anthroposophists at the end of the 20th Century, who had been within the supersensible Michael School before incarnating.

In his descriptions of the history of this concept, who is using it, what statements of Steiner’s or others can serve as a reference point - in general as something requiring a great deal of careful research, Kobran’s article is superb. All that needs to be kept in mind is that he did conclude that the use of this idea, of there being many members of the Michael School presently incarnate who were not yet members of the Anthroposophical Society and who were instead members of what is called Civil Society - a view taken by both Perlas, Ben-Aharon and their co-workers in the Global Network for Threefolding, - the use of this idea was (according to Kobran) defective in several different ways.

I’ll not go into details here, but I just wanted to note the existence of this thorough research by Kobran and the existence of the views of others, such as Ben-Aharon’s reflections in his
The Spiritual Event of the 20th Century concerning the existence (or not) of an large unconscious or instinctive Michael community among humanity (whose language we don’t yet know how to speak), as well as a much smaller more conscious Michael community.

To remain within observable social phenomena of the Society a bit longer, I’d like to comment a little bit on a recent discussion among a few of the members of the Social Science Section in America, at a meeting I attended in Berkeley, California in late summer 2007. An initiative was there proposed that certain actions be taken via the creation of a website, on which would be various articles and other materials, provided by anthroposophists (and vetted by some kind of committee) that might serve as a support out of Spiritual Science for the work of many non-anthroposophists, who are engaged in creative social work in the world. It is not the details of this proposal that matter to us here, but simply the fact that such a discussion took place and was seriously considered.

In a similar vein, a group was formed, by Society members in the Berkeley area more than a year before, that sought to engage in
outreach. If one does an Internet search for the terms “anthroposophical” and “outreach”, many hits turn up. We could say that in the Movement and Society, all over the world, there is a common will to connect to others outside of anthroposophical communities, and to participate in the great issues of the day. There was even a book published in 1999, by Temple Lodge, offering many essays on such questions: The Future is Now: Anthroposophy at the New Millennium.

As a social scientist, it has been a part of my work to seek to observe in the phenomena of the social world facts representative of the appearance of the Consciousness Soul, which according to Steiner is the Soul transformation that is to be the signature development of the evolution of consciousness from around 1400 to 3500 AD. Various observations I have made of the activity of this Soul can be found throughout this book. I would like the reader to take it as a given, that once one learns to really appreciate in the own soul the real nature of the Consciousness Soul, it becomes clear how much of an instinctive Consciousness Soul activity is present in the world. It is everywhere, and if it remains unseen to any reader of this book, I urge them to make more careful observations of their own free moral life, and where in the world they see others expressing this free moral life. There is no free moral life, without a corresponding moral intuition of the Good (see my essay The Meaning of...), which moral intuition of the Good fits exactly Steiner’s description of the Consciousness Soul in his book Theosophy:

By causing the self-existent true and good to come to life in his inner being, the human being raises himself above the mere sentient-soul. A light is kindled in her which is imperishable. In so far as the soul lives in this light, she is a participant in the eternal. With the eternal she unites her own existence. What the soul carries within herself of the true and the good is immortal in her. Let us call that which shines forth in the soul as eternal, the consciousness-soul.

For those who wonder about the true, and who may accept that large portions of humanity could be finding their way toward free moral intuitions of the good, I suggest that you consider that the perception of the true necessarily has to be preceded by an ability to perceive the good. If people, for example, are to have at least two incarnations in the epoch of the Consciousness Soul, then it is my view that the first (our present) will bring forward the good, which then becomes a basis for the soul’s reaching for the true. In the discussion that follows, I’ll try to develop this further, and especially the possibility that in this present time one can do both, as long as it is the good that is understood first. The social phenomenological observation is, however, that people are in the present finding the good more easily than they are finding the true.

For the moment, let me suggest this. Part of knowing the true is rooted in the inner ability to distinguish the true from the false. The inner organ in the soul, for making such a distinction in a conscious way, is founded on the ability to intentionally ask ourselves inwardly whether what we think we know as the true, we do in fact know to be true. We must place before the eye of our conscience, by asking that express question, the matter of our relationship to knowledge of the true. To ask such a question is to take a moral point of view regarding our own inner actions, that is to first be living out of the good. It is the goodness in our hearts that enables us to honestly consider whether or not we do in fact know something to be true. The more conscious we are of how to know the good, the better will our soul and spiritual life be able to form a right relationship to the knowledge of the true.


To round out our discussions, I’d like to add another nuance - this concerning the lectures of Steiner called: Awakening to Community, in which the concept can be found called the reverse cultus (see lecture 6).

In Awakening to Community (also in lecture 6) Steiner remarked about a conflict then living in the Society between oppositely disposed groups (those who had duties to continue the past, and those who felt no relationship to such an impulse). Steiner then stated that it might be better if the Society divided itself into two organizations, and that these organizations would then see themselves as sister-souls, taking different paths toward reaching what was essentially the same ideal goal. A recent conversation with a friend gave rise in me the following archetypal imagery in connection with the above distinction between what I am calling the traditionalists and spirit recollection, and the progressives and spirit vision, yet which also seems related to what Steiner described in Awakening to Community as the sister-souls.

My friend thought that the two sisters could be visualized as being in the same relationship as Martha and Mary as revealed in the Gospels (search the Internet for “Gospels Mary and Martha”). Martha, the older sister, saw the world out of tradition and in action took care of the household, while Mary, the younger, pursued freedom and a devotion to the spirit. One writer calls Mary the active gesture, and Martha the contemplative gesture. Now lets not make too much of this, or too little. I do believe, however, that we can find here something very important.

In different places Rudolf Steiner spoke of the Mystery of Golgatha as being an enactment of a central Cosmic Mystery taking place on the Earth in a kind of earthly tableau. All the events connected to this moment are not just unusual historical events, but are rather a kind of Divine Speaking in which great mysteries are represented through the many actors and dramas in this Play.

For example, Christ’s death and resurrection, to my thinking, could be seen as the Great Archetype of dying and becoming that moves among all that is living in earthly existence, such that when Goethe discovers the principle of metamorphosis of plants he is finding a reflection of this Great Archetype as it expresses itself across time in all manner of phenomenal existence, both cosmic and earthly .

In a like fashion, I suggest the relationship of Martha and Mary is an archetype, one which we find folded and blended into the very nature and living structure of the development of the Anthroposophical Society. Nor is what I am suggesting an entirely new thought. The sometimes conflicting impulses between preservation and initiative are common everywhere and others have written of them in regards to our Society.

What I am trying to suggest is that these sister-soul impulses, which manifested in a conflicting way in the article by Kobran that had criticized the work of Perlas and Ben-Aharon, are
both healthy and needed. The meeting place then of those who on the one hand take seriously the duties that evolve from an emphasis on spirit recollection (and are drawn inward into contemplation), and of those who take seriously the duties evolved out of spirit vision (and are drawn outward into action), can be reconciled. The two can learn to understand each other, and to see in the other a necessary part of the whole, which understanding may then lead to the Natural Transformation of the Anthroposophical Society in America (and by implication world-wide).

With this background, let us come at this from a slightly new direction, following out more carefully the concept: natural.

Recall that Steiner said, which I paraphrase:
the American develops Anthroposophy in a natural way.

I cannot say that I have experienced all that is anthroposophical in America, but I do not doubt that my experience (of now almost 28 years) is broad enough to give me a representative phenomenal picture. Everywhere in America there are traditional institutional social forms, such as Branches, study groups, Waldorf Schools, Camphill Communities, Eurythmy Schools, teacher training facilities and on and on and on.

In such Centers of activity (which would also include many conferences), the practices are traditional in the best sense of that word. What is done is mostly what has been recognized as the best practices born out of our experience of the past. In these Centers of anthroposophical activity members draw inward to meet each other as a community, and then afterward go back to their very busy lives.

At the same time, in many of these busy lives, the moral freedom and individuality consciously fostered as a member of the Society and Movement leads people into action as participants in the wider non-anthroposophical life. In the Center, we are concentrated together, at the Periphery we have no edge, but are dispersed and interwoven with all that is happening in the wider world.

In the Center we recognize each other as sharing an unusual common interest, focused on Rudolf Steiner’s personality and teachings, and at the Periphery we are one with the rest of those in humanity that seek to heal their shared karma of wounds and move thus progressively forward into the future. In American, in particular, with its special soul characteristics, we find that while few know of Steiner, many yet live instinctively out of the individual moral freedom (
English speakers are instinctively in the Consciousness Soul in their Life of Rights - R.S.). Whether it is just a natural foods co-op, or a political group such as the Greens, or reading of and giving money to causes such as Doctors without Borders, many anthroposophists fully participate, as brothers and sisters, with those seeking the progressive advancement of the human condition, out of less conscious - that is instinctive - free moral activity.

When we draw inward into our Centers, we are glad to have the comfort provided by the Martha Impulse, to have a sense of coming home. And then, when we breath outward into the larger society, we join with the naturally arising Mary Impulse which can be found everywhere, in both conscious and instinctive forms.

Yes, I know, for many in our circles this is not true. The last thing many of those, who are more filled with the Mary Impulse, want to do is hang out with the Martha folk. Meanwhile, many of the Martha Impulse find that what the Mary folk do is incomprehensible and a violation of all the rules of tradition (particularly anything Steiner said).

Now one of the rules of polarity, that can be studied in may places where life processes provide organization, is that in the inside of one pole is its opposite, as a small but concentrated essence. This means that the Martha folk have a Mary Impulse in their core and that the Mary folk have a Martha Impulse in their core.

As a consequence, the traditionalists in their contemplative gesture must naturally always seek to actively deepen it. Our inner developmental tasks we always recognize as incomplete, although the outer form of our activity tends to remains constant (traditional). For the progressives, their transformational gesture must naturally always seek order, or an unrestrained urge to constant change will lead to chaos. Activists are always building social new form, so that the community of the Mary Impulse has a well formed structure or social foundation from which to act.

In the Society confusion arises when the Mary Impulse wants to change the traditional form in the Center, or when the Martha Impulse criticizes the inner work of the activists on the Periphery as not properly grounded in Steiner. The Mary Impulse in its own field of activity has to move beyond Steiner and traditional Anthroposophy (so as to be compatible with the wider world), while the Martha Impulse has to maintain in the Center its concentrated devotion to Steiner.

Sister-souls, sharing the same ideal goal, is what Steiner indicated in Awakening to Community. What is this goal?

I suggest it is the furthering of the life of the spirit in humanity, which act of furthering is rooted in a new Way, a Mystery Way made compatible with natural science.

The Martha Impulse preserves the Steiner core, while the Mary Impulse has to forge allegiances with that which does not, and need not, recognize Steiner. In this sense, I believe Ben-Aharon is right in his conception of two communities, a conscious Michael community and an unconscious (instinctive) Michael community. At the Periphery of anthroposophical activity, where the Mary Impulse has to integrate itself with the wider world, brotherhood and sisterhood means that one cannot stand apart on the basis of doctrine, but must find real inner compatibility. For the Mary Impulse this is done in recognizing the free moral nature (Consciousness Soul) instincts in others, and that this inner free moral nature can be shared across any fancifully imagined division of doctrine or path.

From the Center, in the natural realm of the Martha Impulse, Kobran was correct to suggest that, to the extent the Perlas Ben-Aharon group seemed to see the Consciousness Soul only in Civil Society and not in the world of banking, politics or corporate life, this view had to be false. Thus, the Mary Impulse can be aided, out of the work of the Martha Impulse, to struggle to see more deeply into the World, and perhaps observe that an individual’s membership in any group cannot be used to define the state of their inner moral freedom (which observation includes the Anthroposophical Society and Movement - membership in either or both is not necessarily a sign of the achievement of ethical individualism).

The contemplative gesture can inform in a good way the active gesture. Of course, in order to really do this, the contemplative gesture will find its help ignored if it is rooted in a non-objective criticism; and likewise, the active gesture will lose something very precious if it removes itself too far from the Mother Source carried more strongly by the contemplative core.

The Kobran article, in its criticism of the Perlas Ben-Aharon idea of where are the so-called Michaelic Millions, also was concerned with the question of whether it was accurate to see Civil Society as a cultural gesture of threefolding in the world social organism. This dispute then would suggest that a rethinking on the part of both the Martha core and the Mary rim needs to be done as regards the state of threefolding of any new cultural life in the wider world. As this is a significant question, I’ll try to contribute to its resolution next. It is, in addition, my view that learning to perceive these aspects of modern social existence will be very helpful for everyone in Anthroposophy, whether they more strongly identify with the Martha or the Mary Impulses.

The basic intuitions of the Mary Impulse as regards threefolding are represented quite strongly in Ben-Aharon’s remarkable (and quite important for Mary Impulse anthroposophists) book:
America’s Global Responsibility: individuation, initiation and threefolding. A part of this view could be stated briefly as follows:

In the course of the 19th and 20th Centuries, the general condition of human societies encouraged greater human freedom and individuality. As a consequence, out of this freedom non-governmental organizations arose and became after a time more effective in delivering aid to those human needs that governments were becoming less and less able to provide. The State (that is one aspect of the political-legal sphere) was not able any longer to be devoted to goodness out of freedom, and into this vacuum stepped a Consciousness Soul response that was world wide: Civil Society.

At the time then of the arrival of the global economy, with its huge raw forces and influences, a counter-pole came into being as a necessary balance - a new cultural impulse (the Wise-Earth, see first essay above). So effective was this counter-pole, that the institutionally supported and hired minds of those seeking to rule economic life recognized it long before most thinkers on threefolding in the anthroposophical Society and Movement recognized it. Civil Society, a free moral (Mary Impulse) gesture that organized social forms for the purpose of solving humanity-wide social problems, represents to such thinkers as Perlas and Ben-Aharon the coming into being of a world-wide transformation of the Cultural Sphere of humanity. Kobran seemed to disagree, and I am certain he is not alone.

The difficulty lies not, in my experience, in one or the other being more correct in their views, but in the fact that the Martha Impulse tends to think about the threefold social order through a different inner process than does the Mary Impulse. Since the method (or gesture) of thought is different, the resulting thoughts and conclusions will of course be different.

One of the phenomena that can be observed in the anthroposophical Society and Movement is that there are two major and quite different paths of development: the
Knowledge of Higher Worlds path, and The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity path. In several essays in this book I make reference to this, and I will not be repeating myself here about this in any great detail (all of which can be found elsewhere).

A major characteristic of the former is that it seeks the spiritual indirectly through the world of the senses, that is through the world were Ahriman has a certain influence, both within the soul and outside it in sense reality. The latter seeks the spiritual directly, through self observation (introspection), and here encounters the realm of Lucifer, again inside the own soul and then at last at the Threshold.

Both paths influence the development and awakening of more conscious thinking. As the Society and Movement developed over the 20th Century, the inner core of Martha folk (who are far more numerous) became quite involved with
Knowledge of Higher Worlds. Those who followed The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity tended to the edges, and thus we find such as Barfield, Kuhlewind and Ben-Aharon on the Periphery of the Society, where the Mary folk are gathering.

The thinking, as practiced and modeled in the Center, tended toward a kind of European idealism of the soul. While on the Periphery there was an instinct for a more pragmatic (almost American) introspective life. The Martha folk looked at threefolding as an ideal to be incarnated, and the Mary folk as a phenomena of social existence to be perceived (a division rooted in the difference between the Aristotelians and the Platonists?). So we find Kobran, for example, carefully reading Steiner, and vetting any thoughts about world threefolding development against the ideal of threefolding given out by Steiner. On the other hand, such as Perlas and Ben-Aharon tried to live into the phenomena of social existence and listen to that social-forming spirit speak into their thinking.

Where this takes us next is something we have to be very careful about understanding.

The knowledge that comes into thinking, from that which we have called a kind of progressive spirit vision process, is out of the future. While the knowledge that comes into thinking, from that we have called a kind of traditionalist spirit recollection, comes from the past. The former pulls us forward, and the latter anchors us to our necessary roots. It is only through spirit mindfulness, in the present, that we can meld the two poles together into their natural unity and harmony. Too much sympathy for the past make an idol in the present, and too much antipathetic measuring of the present against a vision of the future ungrounds us.

Paradoxically, the threefolding idealists are living in that aspect of the Mary Impulse which is the core inside of the Martha folk. So to perceive the ideal of that which is not yet fully incarnated is to have a vision of the future. While the threefolding phenomenologists, fixed in their thinking on the present, are really only seeing the past in the present - what has already become, for that which is living (changing) in the present is not fixed in form, but is rather invisible or hidden as it were. Their inner core of the Martha Impulse tends to fix the views being developed by the Mary folk.

At the same time, those on the edge, in meeting the rest of humanity at the Periphery of anthroposophical (the conscious Michael community) activity have to set aside the Steiner idealism in presenting threefolding. The unconscious Michael community has no use for what would appear to them as a dogma, so the Steiner given idealism in the conception of threefolding has to be stripped away, otherwise its presentation will be sterile (see the work in the world of Gary Lamb for a healthy example of this). What the Martha folk want to present out of traditional Anthroposophy has no use for the wider world, and Steiner even pointed this out in suggesting that when Anthroposophy truly entered social life it would disappear.

The movement from the Center, out of the contemplative Martha aspect of the sister-souls, outward toward and through the Periphery and as a gift to humanity through the actions of the Mary aspect of the sister-souls, involves the disappearance of Anthroposophy, at least as presently conceived. The Martha folk conceive of Anthroposophy as the substance and content of Rudolf Steiner’s works, which need (correctly) to be preserved and kept linked to his name. The Mary folk conceive of Anthroposophy as the method of cognition, the will to spirit in the soul that leads to living thinking. Such living thinking is not owned by Rudolf Steiner by the way, who was only one of those who discovered it (for example, Coleridge and Emerson discovered it before him).

Christ is the creator of the human potential for living thinking, and its major co-participant when we are able to engender it out of ourselves. At the Periphery of the Society and Movement, where the rest of humanity is encountered, it will be Christ who is ultimately linked with this living thinking, for it is Him that is the Life that comes into us when we learn to think in this new way.

It would be possible to say then that the Martha folk would view the current world conditions as lacking something of the ideal as represented by Steiner in his books on the social organism. The Mary folk would view the world of social phenomena as a logos speaking of macro threefolding (the appearance of Civil Society) into a cultural dynamic as an opposite pole to an economic dynamic (Elite Globalization). However, if you read carefully what Ben-Aharon has written in his book on America’s Global Responsibility, his presentation is a bit weak on certain levels. As this is important I am going to take up this subject next. That is we are going, for a time, to look at the present day threefold conditions of the social world out of spirit mindfulness, rather than out of spiritual recollection or spirit vision.

Years ago I wrote of this theme and offered an article on it to the Threefold Review which choose not to print it. Several years later I was able to publish it on my website, where aspects of it drew the attention of the English anthroposophist Terry Boardman, and he wrote of these ideas in an essay called:
The Idea of the Threefold Society at the Dawn of the Third Millennium, which was first published in the book referred to above: The Future is Now: Anthroposophy at the New Millennium.

Here is some of what Terry Boardman wrote:


In his lectures to the West-East Congress in Vienna 1922, Rudolf Steiner spoke of Europe-Asia as ‘the problem’ of modern times and Europe-America as ‘the solution’. By this he meant that Europeans were preserving the dessicated remnants of an ancient Asian spirituality in the dusty abstractions of their intellectual, political, and religious systems. The future lay rather with the will to create out of nothing. And this willingness he saw in the youthful energies of the Americans. It is no surprise therefore to learn that it is an American anthroposopher, Joel Wendt, who has articulated best this need for Anthroposophy to enter the belly of the Media. Wendt has written: (13)

(quoting me)

“What else have politicians, terrorists, single interest groups, businesses etc. been fighting to control and manipulate? Within Media the People come to common (equalized) self knowledge and mutual understanding. Within Media the idea of the State and of the rights and duties of citizenship come to common form. Media shines light on the activities of the State, and media personalities (with varying degrees of consciousness and moral integrity) believe they act thus for the People. However we turn our thinking, if we remain pictorially descriptive of the dynamics of social life as these actually play themselves out in the political-legal sphere we will come to the perception of the threefoldness of State-Media-People.

(Boardman again)

It is a risk, Wendt says, to enter this realm, but a risk that should be taken, a nettle that should be grasped if the Media serpent is not to continue merely to slide in the dust.

(quoting me once more)

“Media, if its present condition is clearly understood, is young; i.e. it is still undergoing formative developments, and functions today with a kind of moral or spiritual immaturity. In this sense Media may take one of two different courses of future development. It may become a kind of moon center, rigid, arid, not light originating, but rather only able to reflect those impulses which come to it from the outside. Or, it may become a sun center, a source of warmth and understanding, a medium of creative forces flowing into the social order and carrying both in deed and in word a true image of man as a being of soul and spirit. I imagine then, Media becoming a sun, a true heart of the heart of the social organism, so that the common understanding of the People will find a renewed vision of the State. In Media a song can yet be heard, the song of the truly free man, the moral man. In this way the rigidification, the mechanization, the image spell-binding of the word will be overcome, and a true understanding given to Western civilization of the Idea of the Threefold Social Organism as a dynamic social form already latent in human social existence in the West....There is of course no predicting how events will proceed, yet it seems clear to me that this historic moment is pregnant with certain kinds of potential. Just as there is great risk of a further fall into materialism, so as well there is much possibility for spiritual transformation. If we do not blind ourselves with a kind of threefold dogma (for example, that the first need is to free the spiritual cultural life), but instead truly perceive the actual dynamics. Then as far as I am able to hold in pictorial thought, the ripe moment lies in bringing moral trans-formative forces to the thinking active within the Media - to bring a song to life just here in the heart of the heart of the social organism.

(on last remark by Boardman)

“Here speaks a true American voice - a voice of idealism and the will to courage.”

Leaving aside Mr. Boardman’s kind words, let us consider then the concept that during the development Western Civilization, a kind of natural threefolding occurred in the newly being born Life of Rights (which arose when the Greeks and the Romans began to see the State as one pole of the Life of Rights, and the Citizen as the other pole). During the course of this unfolding of the Life of Rights, it threefolded within itself, not unlike the natural threefolding of the Cultural Sphere into Science, Art and Religion (or what is latent in the Economic Sphere: production, distribution and consumption). Only with the Life of Rights we have a natural threefolding into: State, Media and People (or Citizen).

This makes Media to be the heart of the heart of the social organism. Since the middle realm of a threefold organism (such as the human being, which is the Archetype of the Social Organism) is, in part, a melding together of the two poles, yet which seeks to be the selfless servant of both, we can see in modern media the struggle between economic and cultural impulses. Like the rest of the social organism, Media is dominated today by the cold calculations of profit and power seeking motives. Yet, this is the outer Media and it is now being enriched deep in its interior core by that free moral spirit currently inhabiting the Internet.

The Internet is to a great degree that natural anarchy in which is hidden beneath the surface Steiner’s instinctive Consciousness Soul idea of ethical individualism. We find this individual and natural anarchy in the Open Source communities and their various services given away for free to the Internet, and in the struggles between the free exchange of ideas and art that is giving fits to those who cling to the old Roman idea of property rights under the current term: intellectual property rights (which wants to own the products of spirit, by the way - but that is a whole other story). In any event, between the millions of blogs and millions of individual websites, the Internet is an extraordinary development of a free Media process as it works deeply within the middle of the threefold nature of the Life of Rights: State, Media and People.

This was the means, as was noted by Ben-Aharon in his book on America, that enabled Civil Society to defeat the introduction of a horrible attack on the economic life of the world social organism in the guise of a treaty called: the Multilateral Agreement on Investments, which would have turned all economies world wide into prey for the concentration of wealth among speculators and huge financial capital institutions. The Internet has become the physical apparatus of living social reality: free Media, which is the free moral heart of the heart of the social organism, and was absolutely necessary for people to become informed of this attack (and essential to the use this same resource - free Media - in repelling this attack). The whole confrontation, against the Multilateral Agreement on Investments by Civil Society, would have been impossible without a truly free Media in its current form of development.

If I was to point toward the most special place for the Mary Impulse to work, it would not be so much in Civil Society itself, but within free Media on the Internet. This free Media is the beating heart of the lifeblood of the community of wisdom that is Civil Society, or the instinctive Michael community. This heart is built up out of the streaming intelligence, from below and above, yet is that one place were the opposing nature of these streams can be mediated.

We confuse ourselves if we turn away from the Internet because it is based on an ahrimanic tool, the computer. It is the uses this tool is put to that are important. 

From above, out of a somewhat luciferic Civil Society comes those ideals and dreams that represent an active and instinctive free moral intelligence, while from below, out of the ahrimanic economy, with its technological excesses comes the tool - the Internet. Somewhere some people have to be wise enough to consciously serve this confluence of downward streaming wisdom as it intersects with upward streaming wisely authored earthly formations. Here is the point from which to alter the world conceptions of the community of human beings meeting on the Internet. At the same time, it is not the Martha Impulse that will function best here, but the Mary Impulse.

The ideal (but unpracticed) living thinking, cultivated in the contemplative core where the Martha Impulse struggles to nurture the Mother - Anthroposophy, has to move out through the Mary Impulse into the beating heart of free Media, and from there into the social periphery where the instinctive Consciousness Soul of humanity can come to collective self-consciousness. Only in free Media can the living nature of social threefolding, of the reverse cultus, and of a scientifically based new gnosis come to conscious world-wide understanding. Here, in this periphery, lives Christ. In the interactions on the Internet, world-wide in scope and crossing all former barriers of culture, race, language and religion, the Michael gesture predominates. Human beings seek each other as human beings, no longer as Jews or Arabs or Americans or Chinese. Then, in the interweaving exchanges, carried by a human created physical structure no less significant than the cosmos created physical structure which is necessary for speech, Christ lives in between. All is, of course, crude and barely workable, but even so, if we look at the drivers behind much of the human activity on the Internet, it’s use is forged by hundreds of thousands of human intentions to create bonds of contact across former boundaries, which ultimately leads to face to face interactions (from the world’s Social Forums such as FaceBook to Moveon’s American meet ups, to individual love affairs and marriages).

Let us look a little more closely at one very odd, yet quite compelling Internet phenomena: YouTube. YouTube is a website where anyone anytime can post home-made videos. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people world-wide go daily there to look at these individually created picture stories born frequently in the impulses of instinctive consciousness soul activity. Whereas mainstream culture, such as television and movies is mostly dominated by corporate culture and impulses of greed, YouTube, a representative phenomena spilling upward out of the social commons, lets everyone be a TV producer or film-maker. Short films to be sure (some less than a minute), but if it strikes a cord, in a short time it can be viewed by millions.

What if the creative arts and selfless thinking of anthroposophists, as individuals, were to join in this world-wide artistic community dialog. Instead of thinking (as the Martha folk tend to) that people should come to us, we (as the Mary folk are inclined to do) go to them -
to where they are.

Far too many anthroposophists are so focused on the rightness of what they are doing, that they often miss what the rest of the world is doing. In case the reader of this doesn’t want to be asleep, they should read;
Blessed Unrest by Paul Hawken; and, World Changing: a user’s guide for the 21st Century, edited by Alex Steffen, Forward by Al Gore.


Let us now weave back in a previous theme: Steiner is the one, who in The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity found the way to this living thinking through the application of the methods of natural science to the processes of introspection. That deed will remain linked to him for a very long time. In a certain sense, the Mary folk are the mediating principle between the inner core of anthroposophical tradition and Steiner study held dear by the Martha folk, and the wider world of humanity. Martha strives to keep the treasure house pure, while Mary tries to distribute the treasure freely to all, humbly and without need for credit, just as Christ gives Himself away without needing any acknowledgment.

As American anthroposophists (and perhaps others in the world) wake up to this conception of the sister-souls and their natural relationship, this waking up may foster in both realms impulses toward a greater clarity of activity. For the Martha folk this may arrive in the form of a desire to deepen their relationship to Anthroposophy by taking up more firmly the inner work of
The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity - that is to approach the spiritual more directly (instead of indirectly) through a scientifically based introspective activity. For the Mary folk this may bring about in them the desire to deepen their practices of the reverse cultus, for they will find that not only does the wider world have an instinctive relationship to free moral action, but also to deeper group practices rooted in the spirit.

After a century of anthroposophical work, it seems to be the time in which the belief, that
The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity is too hard, has to be overcome; and, that Knowledge of Higher Worlds, while a quite definite path to the spirit, has to be seen as Steiner saw it, as lacking the same surety or exactness as The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (see Steiner’s remarks toward the end of the fifth Chapter of Occult Science: an outline). Out of such a change of emphasis in its contemplative directions, the Martha Impulse, in the core of the Society and Movement, will find itself able to achieve much that before was impossible. They will, by such an act, remove from the dust heap of the 20th Century the most important work Steiner created, and return it to its throne as the true ruler of anthroposophical spirit activity, since it represents Steiner’s own path of development (which Knowledge of Higher Worlds does not).

At the same time, the
reverse cultus too must be rescued from that same dust heap into which the understandably spiritually immature activity of anthroposophists in the 20th Century discarded it. Let me create for the reader an Imagination of such a Rite in action, as an aid to appreciating what has been lost. For this Rite - the reverse cultus - is the Queen of the New Mysteries, just as The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity is the King.

* * *

The Circle gathers, with one shared intention - to consciously work with the spirit. No member of the Circle is more important than any other member. First in silence they recall what Steiner taught about why Judas had to kiss Christ. The truth at that time in Palestine was that when crowds gathered to hear teaching, the teaching came from all those in the circle around Christ. The Christ spirit spoke through all, first one and then another. For this reason Judas had to kiss the One who was the center, otherwise the Centurions would not know whom to arrest.

After this mood is engendered, in which each recognizes in the other a true source of spirit presence, the members of the group begin to speak. What they offer is not a pre-thought theme, about which one may be more expert than another, but rather the simple feelings of their hearts in the moment. These heart-felt concerns are the sharing to each other that opens the hearts to each other. The Circle meets each other in this art of coming to know each others deepest concerns, which can (and often will) be entirely personal. This knowing of each other is a great gift to give and to receive.

In this brief sharing will begin to emerge the spirit music latent in the coming conversation, for the co-participating spirit presence knows the truth of our hearts, and is drawn to these concerns out of the darkness represented by the Threshold and into the light and warmth of the sharing. Thus, in acknowledging each other in silence as also true speakers of the spirit, and then in sharing the true matters of the heart as exists for each at that moment in time, the Chalice is born in the Ethereal - in the mutually shared world of thought.

Now comes the Art of Conversation, the Royal Art.

Here too no one is better than another for as Christ is quoted in the John Gospel: “What’s born of the flesh is flesh, and what’s born of the breath is breath. Don’t be amazed because I told you you have to be born again. The wind blows where it will and you hear the sound of it, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it goes; it’s the same with everyone born of the breath”.

The breath of spirit blows where It wills, not where we will It.

The Royal Art is deep indeed and begins (as Tomberg expressed it) by learning to think on our knees. At the same time, these inner skills of thinking and listening will have little effect on where the wind blows, and while the study of The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity may make us individually more awake inwardly, the will of the spirit presence in the conversation belongs to that spirit presence, not to us.

So the conversation proceeds in the heart-warmed Chalice of the shared experience of the world of thoughts. Each contributes what is thought in them. Together a weaving of a whole is sought, but no one can judge whether anyone else’s contribution is a needed thread or not. Often, for example, something, which on the surface seems antagonistic or oppositional, is precisely what is needed in the moment to stimulate another in the offering of their part of the whole.

It is possible then for this circling weaving conversation to rise, in the nature and the substance of its overall meaning, nearer and nearer to spiritual other-presence. It will not do, however, to believe that as the conversation of the members of the group draws near this other-presence, that It will tell us what is true and good. That would violate our freedom. The true touch of the wind in the soul is otherwise in its nature.

In each soul lie latent embers of spirit recollection, spirit mindfulness and spirit vision. We are already as thinking spirits, in the spiritual worlds. What is fostered in the Chalice is something rooted in the teaching of Christ: Wherever two or more are gathered in my name, there I am.

He is with us.

Moreover, He is very interested in what we choose to think, not in our obedience to Him. Our obedience we owe to our higher self, not to Him - that is to the Not I, but Christ in me. He loves everyone in the Circle equally, and observing the latent embers of recollection, mindfulness and vision within each separate soul, He aids our communion by breathing on these embers. He gives to each, according to that individual need, that aspect of His Life which is His Breath - what John the Baptist in Matthew 3:11 called holy breath. [“Now I bathe you in the water to change hearts, but the one coming after me is stronger than me: I’m not big enough to carry his shoes. He will bathe you in holy breath and fire.”]

With His Breath, during the communion that is the conversation in the Chalice, the latent embers of our own soul are given Life. Within the thoughts of each arise that which belongs to each, but which is also seen by the Love of Christ, and enthused with His Life. We rise on the moral quality of our will in recognizing the spirit presence in each other, and in the sharing of the concerns of our hearts; and, as we do this, the weaving of the thoughts into a whole - still resting on our own insight and will - is given Eternal Life, in the form of the good and the true.


Thus revealing the truth that: “I am with you every day, until the culmination of time.” Matthew 28:20

* * *

What does this mean for the sister-souls, the Martha Impulse and the Mary Impulse?

In the Center, where the Martha folk strive to keep the work deep, in addition to their renewed studies of
The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, can be added a renewed interest in the reverse cultus. At the Periphery, where the Mary folk strive to integrate with the wider world, they will find everywhere, just as they had previously observed an instinct for free moral action, an equal striving for the spirit in conversation. Whether it is in a formal setting such as the striving in 12 Step Groups or the study of Non-violent Communication, the instinctive path of spiritual communion through conversation is everywhere - for again: Wherever two or more are gathered in my name, I am there; and, I am with you every day, until the culmination of time. Christ does not make a distinction between anthroposophist and non-anthroposophist, nor from a certain perspective should we.

The Martha Impulse recognizes the treasures that Rudolf Steiner spent his life forces to give to humanity. The Mary Impulse recognizes the need to meet people where they are. Turning everyone into anthroposophists is not the mission of Anthroposophy.

The deeper is the contemplative core (Martha Impulse) of the conscious Michael community, the richer and more practical will be the realization of what Steiner taught, especially in all the daughter movements. The more other (thou) directed is the active rim (Mary Impulse) of the conscious Michael community, the more will the wider world be able to receive the dying into becoming of Anthroposophy as that metamorphosis of spirit is transmitted from the Center, through the mediating Periphery thence into service in the world.

There is a direction of movement in the horizontal social, from left to right:

>Center-Martha Impulse <(Michael)> Periphery-Mary Impulse

<(Michael-Christ)> World>

which as a social impulse (in the horizontal) eventually loops around (a cross within a circle) and pours itself into the individual biographies, from within (this, from the vertical-spiritual), or: Fires in the Biography, upward and downward.

holy breath



free moral activity (instinctive and conscious)



reverse cultus groups (instinctive and conscious)



sharing of trials in the group creation of the chalice

(instinctive and conscious)



trials by fire in the biographies

where it once again spreads out in the horizontal-social, the whole inwardly a lemniscate gesture on the one hand, and outwardly a circle-cross gesture on the other. This creates in the in between, where Christ lives, the spiral-like gesture of development of which we all should now be well aware.

It is in the fires in the trials of the biographies that the outer gesture of our baptism by holy breath and fire appears. Outwardly we are baptized in trials by fire in our individual biographies (through Christ’s Art as Lord of Karma), and at the same time we are inwardly baptized by the Living Christ via holy breath.

Thus does the future and the past, via Anthroposophy both in its concentrated form (conscious Michael community - the sister-souls of Martha and Mary) and distributed form (unconscious Michael community), homeopathically pollinate the present social world of humanity in a natural way. Through the shared gesture of free moral activity, and conscious conversation (whether fully awake, instinctive or somewhere in between) humanity is united in spiritual communion with and via Christ.

For anthroposophists, this creates significant responsibility. If they fight among each other, unable to recognize the value of the different Impulses, they will cripple their own work. Only by walking side by side, each honoring the other, may the two gestures - the sister-souls - accomplish the work that neither can do on its own.

The Class, the School of Spiritual Science, the work of the Sections, the work of Branches and Group - all this concentrated Steiner focused activity, essentially contemplative in nature, is one kind of work. It supports and enables the other kind, the active in the world work - the work of outreach. Some will prefer to limit their work to one sphere, and others will move back and forth. All that is really needed is for the two to understand each other, instead of judging each other. On the success of that seeking after understanding, a great deal depends.

For the real challenge in the end is whether the Martha folk and the Mary folk can combine their ideal intentions in such a way that humanity is served - such that something begins to come to light in free Media - that is Anthroposophy leaves the Society and Movement and dies into the living world social organism as a fully awake and conscious gesture of service. We are not meant to create a new philosophy or a new sub-group of spirit practitioners - that is to spread the idea of Anthroposophy - but to instead purely and simply serve the needs of humanity through the
practice of Anthroposophy.

[As I was going through my final review of the whole text of this book, the following is a second statement (the first is above at the end of
In Joyous Celebration....) that appeared in an essay, written by Michael Howard, in the News for Members: “A crucial aspect of the Social Art is the question: how do communities and institutions metamorphose? If the Anthroposophical Society is to play a leading role in the cultivation of the Social Art, then what better starting point than for the members of the Society to take up action research regarding the ways the Anthroposophical Society will metamorphose.” On reading this statement I had the hope that the essay above, written some time before, might make a contribution to this riddle.]

*         *         *

Appendix One

A discussion of the Prokofieff/von Halle conflicts,

in the light of Peter Tradowsky’s book:

The Stigmata: destiny as a question of knowledge.

I hesitate to repeat myself endlessly, but as this point is so crucial I will once again refer to Steiner (just keep in mind that thoughtful observation of the Society, coupled with knowledge of what he means here, fully confirms his prediction):

"Steiner lamented in Awakening to Community (lecture three, Feb. 6th, 1923), on the consequences of failing (which has happened) to properly take up The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (or Freedom): “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....The trouble is that The Philosophy of Freedom has not been read in the different way I have been describing. That is the point, and a point that must be sharply stressed if the development of the Anthroposophical Society is not to fall far behind that of anthroposophy itself. If it does fall behind, anthroposophy’s conveyance through the Society will result in its being completely misunderstood, and its only fruit will be endless conflict!”“

Above, in Bitter Medicine, I pointed out that both the idea of the evolution of consciousness, and the basic idea of Steiner’s book The Philosophy of Freedom, presuppose that the human being, as regards his own mind, begins in an unfree state.  If this was not the case, everything would be fine and no development necessary.  So ... lets not pretend otherwise - the reader of this needs to confess that in all probability they do not know how to control their thoughts very well or how to  master their feelings - that is they have not succeeded in the fundamental goals of the Six Basic Exercises.

This is not a wrongness, but rather it is karma of the deepest kind.  Nor does this mean we are incapable of knowing the good and true as an aspect of living in the Age of the Consciousness Soul.  It just means that Rudolf Steiner, following the inherent obligations of his own development, had to place before us the highest possible ideal goals.  There are still opportunities to follow him.

All the same, one result of this situation is that people mostly sleep through the inner processes by which they formulate their own conceptual life.  For example, we have been taught that our will is generally not accessible to the consciousness of our I.   This is true to a degree, but not true in the sense of what lies potential within us that can be called: the will-in-thinking.  This will manifests in that we can determine what objects about which we will think (the attention), and what reasons we will chose to have regarding how and why we think (the intention).  In my Living Thinking in Action (which essays are also throughout most of my major books), I discuss this problem very carefully and exactly.  The more  consciously we apply the intention and the attention, the more accurately will we think in the new Way.

The intention is the essential aspect of the will-in-thinking.  We must learn to face, with humility and honesty, why we are thinking about what we are thinking about.  Steiner’s The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity begins with the problem of desire: can we want what we want?  Or, are we prisoners of our appetites, ambitions, hungers and needs for love and recognition?  What drives our thinking?  What goals does it really seek?  In The Philosophy, right from the beginning, Steiner reveals the essential secret: We learn to place a freely chosen moral ideal in the front of the desire, and we learn how with that moral idea we can move all feelings and thoughts in the service of others.

Do not believe this to be easy, by the way.   If it was there would be no problems, and everyone would have already mastered the problem of knowledge as solved by The Philosophy.  Below I will go into details.

In my most recent book, The Art of God: an actual Theory of Everything, I discuss various modes of thinking and various moods of feeling as these relate to how concepts are produced.  Modes of thinking include (but are not limited to) figuration, theorizing, reflection (Barfield), comparative, associative, hot, cold, organic, pure, about, with, within and as.  Moods include (but again are not limited to) antipathy and sympathy, desires rooted in pleasure and pain, various semi-conscious wants and desires, and, at a higher level, cultivated (intended) moods such as awe, reverence and the like.

To be able to manifest these moods and modes by choice (mastery of feelings and control of thoughts) is to achieve the goals of GA 2, 3, and 4 (A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe’s World Conception; Truth and Knowledge - Steiner dissertation; and, The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity), that is: to become spiritually and inwardly free.

The absence of success here is what then manifests in the confusion arising in the General Anthroposophy Society that leads to partisanship and conflict - just as Steiner predicted in the above quote from Awakening to Community on the results of failing to realize in practice the changes in consciousness (in will and in thinking) connected to learning to properly read his The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity in the right way.

What is the proper way to read this book?

Each sentence, where possible, must be used to direct the thinking observation (introspective activity) of our own I at the phenomena of our own mind.  We read this text, but to understand and appreciate it we have to more or less simultaneously look at our own mind.  The text is map, the mind is the actual territory.  Through this observational process we then become a scientist of our own mind.  Nor do we practice scientific introspection just when reading the book - but rather we learn to be reflectively introspective all of the time - that is awake from moment to moment to those inner processes regarding the relationships between the will-in-thinking and feelings and thoughts themselves.  We still have a sense life, we are just more and more awake to how our thinking and feeling effect our understanding and knowledge of what we experience, both inwardly and outwardly.

What happens when we fail to learn these lessons?

Our thinking becomes the victim of semi-conscious impulses often related to moods of feeling that are not mastered, such that the Opponents, via the doubles, are able to turn our own thoughts away from the good and the true.  Because this unfree condition is “normal” (revisit Kuhlewind’s From Normal to Healthy),  and common (we all share these tendencies), no one notices that just here conflict is produced because we don’t know how to find, collectively - in community, the good and the true.

We believe we seek these, and I don’t doubt for a moment the sincerity of Tradowsky, Prokofieff and von Halle.  The problem is that without a mastery of mood and control of thoughts, the thought content we will produce will be extensively infected with unredeemed impulses of antipathy and sympathy, and un-noticed non-logical trains of thought rooted in semi-conscious thinking mostly determined by the thinking modes: comparative and associative thinking, which are themselves generally driven (when semi-conscious) from antipathy (comparative) and sympathy (associative).

For example, antipathy leads us to compare that this object of thought (such as a person toward whom we might have a lot of sympathy) is better than that differing object of thought (such as a person we don’t favor).  So Tradowsky’s book is littered with sentences that prefer von Halle over Prokofieff, via the sub-consciousness moods (feelings), something toward which we would find more truth were we less asleep and less possessed by our unredeemed antipathy. (This is all laid out in Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, especially such as Chapter 7 in Matthew on: judge not least ye be judged.)

An example of semi-conscious associative (sympathetic) thinking is found right from the beginning when Tradowsky starts to write of von Halle as having “received” the stigmata.  He uses this term “received” everywhere after, borrowing it (apparently) from the usages made of this term in the discussion of their Saints by the Catholic Church.  We can understand why the Church used this terminology (for its beneficial - spiritual bragging rights - view of the phenomena).  Yet, in the fields of disciplined logic and reason (that is when we bother to be scientific) we would say that this usage - “received” -  begs the question, for it is precisely the missing fact of the cause of the stigmata that we seek/need to know.

Once we characterize it as “received” we have jumped to and implied the idea that positive spiritual beings have given this as a gift*, and the question Prokofieff seeks to pursue (in a very lame way apparently - I have not read his book and only know of it through Tradowsky’s references to it) is not really clearly asked.  A conscious thinker, familiar with organic and pure thinking, would never use such a term as: received, precisely because it assumes an answer to the underlying question.

*[Consider for a moment, the idea that the stigmata is a “gift”.  Would a God of Love give as a “gift” suffering?  The person with the stigmata is also not free.   They are not given a choice.  The wounds appear without apparently being asked for.  In a somewhat overly done horror movie called Stigmata, a young woman, who believes herself to be an atheist, asks the Priest who tries to help her with her stigmata, whether she can give this gift back (which the Church believes to be precious).  Again, would the God of Love give suffering to someone without their conscious consent?]

In phenomenology (organic thinking, or Goetheanism) we simple describe what is/was observed, such that we could say that on such and such a day von Halle’s body appeared to have wounds on it, in accord with the traditions connected to the idea of the stigmata.  It is very important to acknowledge the existence of that idea, by the way.  That the appearance of the wounds (the experience), and the idea (the thought or meaning) arise at the same time is part of the phenomena.  Keep in mind what I’ve quoted from Steiner many times above: One must be able to confront an idea and experience it, otherwise one will fall into its bondage.

We are not to leap to any conclusion, especially “received”.  While Tradowsky refers to Goethe’s dictum that the senses don’t deceive, only the judgment, Tradowsky doesn’t know how to apply it to this event.  Seeing the wounds is one thing, deciding the cause is a matter for the thinking judgment and that is where we can fall into error.

Now I am not taking a position here on the cause of this aspect of von Halle’s life destiny, by the way.  I am just suggesting that, if we are to follow Steiner’s example in thinking, we must proceed very carefully.

The rest of Tradowsky’s book is a kind of argument between him and his observations of the structure of Prokofieff’s book.  Both individuals seem to endless quote Steiner, which is in itself a complete misuse of what Steiner taught.  This use of Steiner as an authority, as if in Steiner we can find a justification for our sympathy (Tradowsky) regarding von Halle, or our antipathy (Prokofieff) regarding von Halle, is unworthy of all true students of Rudolf Steiner.

Steiner himself was very explicit: don’t use me as an authority!

For example, Tradowsky goes into a lengthy discussion of the differing interpretations of a ancient word, one by Steiner and the other by von Halle as well as many scholars (the specific word is not relevant here).   Both Tradowsky and von Halle treat Steiner’s reports as to this word’s meaning as not to be doubted.  This is not justified to a real scientific thinking, even though Tradowsky concludes that since Steiner read it in the so-called Akashic Record, that it must be true.

Again, this problem is a clear result of the Society in general not learning to read The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity in the right way. 

Both Tradowsky and Prokofieff, and most of the rest of the members and friends, treat the writings and lectures of Steiner as if in reading them we gain knowledge of spiritual realities.  Tradowsky uses that term - knowledge - in reference to something he is quoting from Steiner several times in fact.  No one, who has succeeded in mastering their feelings and controlling their thoughts, in accord with the goals of GA 2, 3, and 4, would ever use Steiner as an authority for knowledge of the spiritual world.  Why?

Steiner was a very precise and careful thinker.  As a consequence, in the introductions to both Theosophy and Occult Science he explicitly uses over and over again the term understanding*, but never knowledge.  The term knowledge is almost exclusively used only in GA 2, 3, and 4.  (He does use it in Knowledge of Higher Worlds and How to Attain It, but if we think about that use it is clear - the book is about how to get spiritual knowledge through direct experience, not how to find knowledge through reading a book.  One studies as a preparation, but study only gets the soul ready for its supersensible experiences.)

*[See Appendix Two below on the nature of  spiritual research for a deeper discussion of this issue of the significance of the term understanding.]

Let us see if we can shed some more practical light on this problem of how thinking-cognition needs to relate to experience in order for knowledge to arise.

In A Theory ... (which Barfield calls “the least read most important book Steiner ever wrote”), Steiner begins with making clear distinctions between experience and thought, although he also calls thought (after a while): a higher experience within experience.  In The Philosophy..., Steiner makes a distinction between percept and concept (or experience again and its idea - that its thought).  Once more, ... it is not so much a matter of understanding the books (the maps), but of learning to look carefully at the territory of the own inwardness.

Knowledge, we learn through practice, requires the union of thought and experience, or percept and concept.  Reading a book, while itself an experience (a percept of a book), the concepts expressed by the words in the book are absent their related and necessary experience or perceptual groundedness.  I can read and read all manner of things about Christ, via Steiner’s reports on his spiritual research, but the direct experience of Christ is something so completely different from what I read, that this direct experience dwarfs entirely my Steiner-derived ideas (understandings) about Christ.

Even von Halle’s apparent memory* pictures of Christ, cannot be the same as Steiner’s Intuition experiences (a few of which I have had) where we are united and within Christ in the present moment - we don’t know in this way His past, but rather we know (as in participate in) His Eternal Present. 

*[Above I wrote of the problem related to Steiner’s advice to keep the Society and the Christian Community separate, given that the Rite of Consecration of Man, through the descent of spiritual memories into those present, creates social harmony and warmth.  If the Society is not to lose the hunger for such harmony and warmth in its Branch and Group gatherings, there needs to be not only this separation of the Society and the Christian Community, but a counter-Rite: the Reverse Cultus. 

Yet, was it as a member of the Christian Community that what is essentially an involuntary mystical** experience happened to von Halle?  Or are many of her “fans" members of the Christian Community?  The record (at least what can be found via the Internet) on that question is not clear.  All the same this should give us sufficient reason itself to look carefully at the totality of the personal and social effects of the whole phenomena - not just at von Halle, but at her surrounding companions as well.]

**[Steiner indicates that true supersensible experience does not enter into earthly memory, such that we have to go back to the source again and again in order to gain deeper insight.  My own experiences confirm this.  In the light of this caution, how are we to understand that von Halle has “memories” of the events at Golgatha.  Again, I am not drawing conclusions, but I am insisting that we think very carefully about what this all means, especially as regards advancing or inhibiting the future development of the Anthroposophical Society.  Also keep in mind that von Halle describes her experience of “traveling back in time” as involuntary.  Steiner’s spiritual research was not involuntary.]

When Tradowsky tries to write of Steiner’s visits to the so-called Akashic record, Tradowsky has no actual knowledge of what that experience is like, but rather he “believes and understands" only the way he interpreted what he read - the ideas and concepts his mind has created while reading.  Such an “idea” is best described as a perceptless concept - a concept or idea disconnected from the actual and necessarily-related experience.  Tradowsky has never visited himself the experience Steiner called: the Akashic record.

Most of what people write, based on the reading of a Steiner text, is a collection of far to frequently ungrounded perceptless concepts.  These can easily become mere beliefs in the soul, such that we create a kind of religious-like philosophy of the world of spirit.  Because Steiner was so rigorous in his research efforts and in the deliberate nature through which he expressed himself (his careful choices of words and terms), we can receive through reading an understanding (that is, we can acquire more than a mere belief).

When Steiner described the reports of his research as related to the work of natural scientists, he was referring to this creation of understanding.  When a physicist tells his tales of his experiments and what he thinks they mean, he is transmitting his understanding, but not his actual direct experience.   The same with Steiner.  To him his experience is knowledge because it has both percept (experience) and concept (thought), but he knows that to us the best that can happen is he helps us understand the spiritual world and the spiritual history of our world.  He also hoped, through his books and lecturing, to inspire us to pursue our own direct knowledge of the Divine Mysteries.  Given that he didn’t expect the influence of Anthroposophy on Civilization to arrive in less than 400 years, we can see that we do have time to understand our errors, and perhaps understand how to proceed into the future - the object of most of my anthroposophical writings.

As to the question of what it means that von Halle’s body shows the wounds and as well that she has stopped needing to eat (which seemed to happen before the wounds - again the record one can obtain via the Internet is weak and I apologize for any mistakes or unwarranted assumptions), - these phenomena are not even barely or adequately developed* in Tradowsky’s book, which simply becomes a polemic by a partisan in an unfortunate dispute between Prokofieff and von Halle that is rooted completely in the failure of the culture of the Anthroposophical Society to take up the right way to read Steiner’s The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity.

*[Mostly Tradowsky’s thinking in this book is overridden by his understandable assumptions already present once he characterizes the stigmata as “received”.  In the discipline of a true science of the mind, fostered by Steiner’s works on real thinking, this is called a pre-thought thought.  The effect of an assumption or pre-thought thought is to color over the experience and essentially then not see it at all.]

Missing so far from the dialog on these issues, is the lecture cycle of Steiner’s called: Pastoral Medicine, where he brought together priests and doctors to give them indications regarding the treatment of specific kinds of problems where a physician was needed for the physical problems and a priest needed for the spiritual problems.  In these lectures he describes how the subtle bodies can become grossly disharmonious in their relationships (such as the astral too far embedded in the physical), and that these extreme conditions tend to produce madmen on the one hand and saints on the other. 

Steiner also speaks there of suffering as related to spiritual experiences.  To have a certain supersensible experience will bring with it, for the human being having the vision, suffering.  The problem, as it were, is to not lose sight of what it means that we bring the impulses of natural science into our cognitive activity regarding our spiritual experiences.

Am I suggesting that something is wrong with von Halle by this statement?  Of course not.  I am suggesting, however, that the Stigmata might disappear if the right kinds of therapy (both physical and spiritual) were applied simultaneously, and that through such a process we might gain insight into the causal element, rather than assume she “received” something - that is assume she is being “blessed by the divine”.  She could become a “better” spiritual scientist if there was more discretion applied to reporting the results of her experiences (recall that Steiner waited 17 years before sharing with the wider world, in The Riddles of the Soul, his discoveries regarding the threefold nature of the human being).

I also think we should ask: why upon the appearance of the Stigmata did von Halle not retire to private meditative life, instead of becoming a public personality, sharing her visionary experiences in books and lectures, implying that it constitutes a kind of trust worthy spiritual research?  I know from my own experiences the temptation offered by being surrounded by adoration and affection, and I can well picture von Halle’s dilemma - do I step into the limelight of this adoration, or do I retire and seek thereby to deepen what has arisen (semi-retirement being a path previously common to most all other mystically inclined stigmatics).

From my own biography (see Biographical Necessity) it is clear that certain kinds of experiences are temptations for the I.   We could realize that for both Prokofieff and von Halle personally, this situation can easily magnify their own egotism, especially considering the fact that they both have acquired “fans”.  People think of such personalities as special (for Prokofieff for his intense and voluminous “scholarship”, and for von Halle for her stigmata and visions), and gather around not only to worship them, but to often to surrender their own thinking to the pronouncements of such types of personalities.  This surrender of the own thinking of the I is the antithesis of what Steiner taught - and I have in other contexts gone so far as to call it the presence of an anti-Steiner spirit.

Tradowsky does quote Steiner to the effect (recall that this from Steiner is for our understanding and does not provide knowledge), that the “spiritual world”, is offering to us, with such figures as Kaspar Hauser, a kind of important lesson.  This means, at the least, that we are right to pay attention to von Halle’s life destiny.   However, and this is a very big however, we are not justified (again a questionable judgment - as pointed out by Goethe), in thinking that the spiritual world means by this to anoint as authoritative any concept which she seeks to express.  This “spiritual world” certainly did not mean for us to treat Steiner that way (although we did and do), so perhaps part of von Halle’s gift to us is to remind us of just how important it is to think exactly and carefully and not to leap to conclusions based upon excesses of unredeemed sympathy or antipathy.

Tradowsky also writes a number of sentences which logically speaking he has no justification for writing, given that there is no possibility of him having the necessary experiences related to such thoughts.  I’ll just give one example that comes during his long, and wandering, discussion of the fact that stigmatics generally stop eating - continuous fasting* (which von Halle has apparently done): “This process occurs as a creative act of will in the deepest subconscious of those concerned, and can neither be invoked nor affected by the conscious awareness; it manifests as a continuum of life.

*[Fasting, by the way, does commonly induce mystical states (sometimes called “belly clairvoyance”), but this certainly cannot be a process for producing what Steiner meant when he used the terms: spiritual research (otherwise Steiner would have encouraged all of us to become religious ascetics).]

Keep in mind what we know about Steiner’s biography, and the fact that he spent a great deal of time on personal development, and did not just come to us “blessed” by the world of the spirit.  We have to earn the ability to know spiritual matters in the Age of Science, otherwise we become just imprecise (unscientific) mystics, something Steiner urged us again and again to avoid.

Like much else that happens in this Age (see my work above on the meaning of the descending social chaos), the purpose of such events is to drive us toward being more awake through raising the temperature of conflict (certainly a consequence of the discord between Prokofieff and von Halle).  If it was all peaceable and nice nice, we would just sleep.

In fact, to disagree (conflict) with Steiner (Wendt, how could you do that?!?!?), I find his constant usage of the term “spiritual world” (don’t know what the German is/was) to be misleading.  Even using his works (as well as my own experience), I don’t find there is any unitary nature to the world of higher Beings that would justify our speaking of them/it as a coherent thing in itself, which acts upon us in a likewise coherent and purposeful or organized fashion.

The world of spirit is a complex of diversified communities, who among themselves often don’t particularly “cooperate”.  Its not that they compete, as we do, its just that for us to assume this “world of spirit” is universally cohesive to the point of having a large common and shared specific and clear intention is just plain wrong.  The evidence, once we ask the right questions, is otherwise.  But that my friends, is a whole other level of discussion, although we can begin to end here by asking a few good questions:

What spiritual communities oversee the Christian Community?  What spiritual communities oversee the Anthroposophical Society?  Do they have the same agenda?  Why didn’t Steiner “receive” the Stigmata?  Why did not Emerson, or Goethe or Coleridge or Barfield or Kuhlewind or Ben-Aharon?  Why von Halle and not these?

Perhaps the primary message from the Mystery is to von Halle herself, and not one that suggests she is “approved” the way an Oscar might be given to a movie star.  On the contrary, in terms of the Christian-Rosicrucian Path, she is only now “crucified”, leaving two more stages yet to be endured.  The Stigmata are not an end, but a sign of a phase.   What happens next?

Next is the Entombment, which in the case of St. Francis, who “received” the Stigmata late in life, signified his coming death.   Perhaps for von Halle the stigmata is a suggestion that if you want to achieve the highest, it is time not for more speaking, but for silence.  It is not what she has done or is now doing that is important, but what she can become precisely through renouncing her public spiritual life.

The Jew who “received” the stigmata, Richard Pollak that Tradowsky mentions, kept his condition secret for years.  All surprising acts of destiny in our biographies are two edged swords.  In that they suggest we have arrived somewhere or become something spiritually important, only means we are to face powerful temptations to self-pride - it is the luciferic double that is brought forth.  Inwardly in this state we receive in our thinking all manner of seemingly wise thought, but often hardly the truth.

That is why we experience Entombment and can by choice enter entombment (the silence).  Only in this state can our thoughts and feelings “cook” in the right way, becoming thereby far more than they otherwise would be were we to immediately present them to the world.  Again: Steiner waited 17 years before presenting the idea of the threefold man.  In paths of sacred magic it is the virtue of silence that realizes the highest powers.

What von Halle does or does not do is only part of the problem.  We who would love her have our own dilemmas (the other edge to the sword) to face, but that is another story entirely, given that it belongs to each of us individually to decide.  In this “book report”, I have done what I could in this moment.

Appendix Two

this is from the end of my review of Prokofieff’s problematic book:

Anthroposophy and the Philosophy of Freedom


[It has been altered from that original presentation for this book.]

- concerning some confusion on the nature of spiritual research -

For some time I have been hearing of the idea that a study of Steiner’s writings could constitute a kind of spiritual research, and as this has bothered me greatly, I was pleased to find near the end of Prokofieff’s book on The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity a lengthy discussion, by at least one member of Vorstand, of a version of what might be their idea of why such study could be considered spiritual research. Since it is my view that a proper experienced-based knowledge of the reality of The Philosophy would preclude believing the study of Steiner texts could ever constitute spiritual research and knowledge, I going to place a discussion of this matter here. One can certainly do academic and scholarly research on Steiner’s thought in this way, but true spiritual research has a whole other character.

Let me give first my own conclusions here (after many years of work on scientific introspection as well as many years of “spiritual” experiences):

I think it would help the Society and Movement (the human social element) to distinguish the following: the words spiritual research should be limited to instances where one is having clairvoyant experiences, and has spent many years working with these and only carefully puts forward their results after appropriately applied patience and scientific rigor in thinking.  We should use the words scientific research based on the indication of a spiritual researcher to describe scientific studies rooted in such things as the indications of Rudolf Steiner.  

We should us the words scholarly research to describe what someone like Prokofieff does, when they mostly read Steiner and replay that personal interpretation of what Steiner may or may not have meant as if it was authoritative of Steiner’s thought.  This leaves such work open to objective examination for its accuracy, such as was done of Prokofieff’s work by Irina Godienko in her book: S. O. Prokofieff: myth and reality.

We should us the words personal intuition when we are presenting a thought that seems to us to be particularly important and related to a specific subject, as opposed to saying such as: I imagine that, or it follows that, which can bear the stamp of idle speculation if not carefully reflected upon.

If we know the Living Thinking, that is the result of working out fully within one’s self the stages made possible via The Philosophy, we can have greater confidence in our own work, but that confidence does not and should not transfer to others.

The idea here is to promote the use of some exact standards of meaning, within the Society and Movement, regarding what we intend to represent as the basis for our own thoughts.  Did we do: spiritual research, did we do scientific research based on Steiner’s indications (which might include Goethean Science), do we do scholarly research, or did we have a personal intuition, and/or are we capable of Living Thinking - thinking which has life in it, and that is then the basis of our thought.

Perhaps our work will contain all of these in different proportions, each to be delineated as necessary.  If we don’t make these distinctions, we will find the present confusions everywhere present, as is typified by Prokofieff here:  

This is what Prokofieff has written (long, highly abstract, and somewhat wandering on the subject):

First quoting Steiner:

When, based on freedom and stimulated by the reading of the astral light, a human being does this or that consciously or unconsciously, then Michael carries that which is an earthly deed out into the cosmos so it becomes a cosmic deed”. GA 233a, 13 Jan 1924 [scholarly research on Steiner]

[me, writing a brief aside: Steiner can certainly offer this for our understanding, out of his spiritual research, but whether such ideas constitute knowledge for the reader, that is a quite different question. In addition, this observation of Steiner’s is a generalized supersensible fact, as seen from the outside by the spiritual researcher - observer. From the inside, when one is actually experiencing the Living Thinking for example, the direct experience is quite other. One is supported, the way a deft wind (holy breath) supports the wings of a flying bird, with the results that the pure thinking reaches a bit higher than under other circumstances. Prokofieff doesn’t know this because all his understanding is derived from the reading of texts (Steiner-said), and nothing he writes indicates he is experientially familiar in any way with consciousness soul introspective science.]

Next Prokofieff, pages 213, 214 and 215 (in the English paperback edition) [with a few comments by me in this form in brackets]:

An important question arises at this point: Is the here described process only feasible for an initiate, that is for one who can read in the astral light, or does the possibility exist for all human beings today to draw near to Michael on such a path. The latter is actually the case [personal intuition, spiritual research, scholarly research done badly?], . When we study anthroposophy not in the ordinary abstract sense but in the studying itself ascend to pure thinking so that it becomes for us the first stage of modern initiation (see GA 13) [Steiner said, allegedly, but how does this apply in a concrete way?], then through our purified thinking we have taken in the same insights [not possible, absent the same supersensible experiences, given that the so-called insight is generated by us during reading] that an initiate generally can read only in the astral light [unjustified personal conclusion]. For in a certain respect all results of anthroposophical research are acquired in this way: they are all supersensible facts read in the astral light [for the initiate, not for the reader of the initiates reports of their research]. Now if a person takes them in [we don’t take them in, we generate their meaning ourselves] through his thinking, he resembles an initiate who has to carry these spiritual contents in his thinking for the purpose of communicating them to others in the same way as one who subsequently studies these supersensible facts [in science we call this a tautology or circular reasoning]. And although such a person cannot research these contents in the spiritual world (that is read in the astral light), once he has understood them rightly with his thinking he can act, based upon them, as freely as can an initiate [Prokofieff’s ad hoc justification for his own activity]. So as to transform the insights that are based upon the study of spiritual science into into truly free deeds, however, their implementation must initially be left up to moral imagination so that they can subsequently be carried out based on pure love of the action [pure invention on his part]. Thus on this modern path of the human being to Michael, we have the activation of all three characteristics of ethical individualism [as someone familiar with this work from over three decades of personal experience, it is very clear Prokofieff hasn’t a clue] .

One can therefore say that today only this path really leads to Michael , but only under the condition that prior to that a person has come to terms with anthroposophical insights and has thoroughly made them his own [emphasis added: this cannot be true, for Christ withholds nothing from all the Father’s children, and if Michael is truly the countenance of Christ, then Michael is certainly not the exclusive possession of anthroposophists, or that one must know Steiner to relate to Archangel Michael]. In so doing the main characteristic of such appropriation of such higher knowledge consists of the following. When we bring the study of spiritual knowledge [reading does not give us knowledge, only understanding] to the point of pure thinking [if only Prokofieff had demonstrated that he even understood that term - pure thinking, much less had direct personal knowledge of it in practice], we thereby do not receive anything foreign into ourselves, only something that has lived in us from the very beginning since we ourselves descended as spirit beings out of the supersensible world onto the earth [no! this only lives in us as our interpretation of Steiner’s text - it can only give us understanding - of course its not foreign, since we created it while reading!]. This distinguishes the study of anthroposophy fundamentally from any other study [Not true]. Rudolf Steiner points this out in the following words: ‘Although the thoughts [of spiritual science] are already present when one surrenders oneself [as a student] to them, one cannot think them unless in each case one recreates them anew in ones soul.’ (GA 13) [This Steiner quote does not actually logically support the statement - This distinguishes the study of anthroposophy fundamentally from any other study - it follows] It is through this very ‘recreating them anew’ (something that is only possible in pure thinking) that the spiritual-scientific thoughts become the property [here’s the fault line, for Prokofieff now demonstrates his confusion between belief, understanding and knowledge, all of which he conflates into the term: “property”] of the human soul as if the soul itself [he hopes!] had discovered them in the astral light. And more: ‘What is important is that the spirit-researcher awakens thoughts in his listeners and readers which they must produce out of themselves, whereas one who describes matters of sensory reality refers to something that can be observed by listeners and readers in the sense world’ (ibid,; emphasis by Rudolf Steiner). When human beings do things in the world that are brought out of their own thoughts in accordance with ethical individualism, meaning that they accept them into the moral imagination and then work based on it [this is just speculation on how ones thinking actually operates when reborn in the practices of The Philosophy] , then these are deeds that can be affirmed by Michael and then continue being effective in the spiritual world as cosmic deeds of man [does Prokofieff actually want us to believe he has actual spiritual perceptions of Michael confirming such deeds?]

Let me continue the examination of this seeming argument, with first a look at the use of the term understanding in both the introductions to Theosophy and Occult Science: an outline.

TheosophyOnly through the understanding of the supersensible does the sensible “real” acquire meaning. ... It is indeed only through an understanding of these elements that it becomes clear how higher questions should be asked. ... In the same sense it is unnecessary to be a researcher in the supersensible in order to judge the truth of the results of supersensible research. ... For the feeling for the truth, and the power of understanding it are inherent in every human being. And to this understanding, which can flash forth in every healthy soul, he addresses himself in the first place. He knows too that in this understanding there is a force which little by little must lead to the higher degrees of knowledge. ... One requires certain powers to find out the things referred to; but if, after having been discovered, they are made known every person can understand them who is willing to bring to bear upon them unprejudiced logic and a healthy sense of the truth. ... We take the right attitude towards the things of the supersensible world, when we assume that sound thinking and feeling are capable of understanding everything in the way of true knowledge which can emerge from the higher worlds, and further, that when we start from this understanding and therewith lay down a firm foundation, we have also made a great step onwards towards seeing for ourselves; even though in order to attain this, other things must be added also. ... The determination, first of all to understanding through sound thinking what later can be seen furthers that seeing. [all kinds of: “emphasis added”]

Clearly Steiner is saying that the understanding we gain from reading a text are a support for knowledge, but the latter only appears if we do other things than read.

Occult Science: an outline (from the last preface, written by Steiner in 1925 - all the earlier material is similar): 

...the realities of the world of spirit, will then be cast into forms of thought which the prevailing consciousness of our time - scientifically thoughtful and wide-awake, thought unable to see into the spiritual world - can understand ... Spiritual cognition is a delicate and tender process in the human soul, and this is true not only of the actual ‘seeing’ in the spirit, but of the active understanding with which the normal ‘non-seeing’ consciousness of our time can come to meet the results of seership. ... When a man’s judgment is tinged however slightly by the dogmatic assertion that the ordinary (not yet clairvoyant) consciousness - through its inherent limitations - cannot really understand what is experienced by the seer, this mistaken judgment becomes a cloud of darkness in his feeling-life and does in fact obscure his understanding. ... Nor is this understanding confined to the realm of aesthetic feeling as in the latter instance; it lives in full clarity of thought, even as in the scientific understanding of Nature. [emphasis added]

Please now return mentally to what was briefly explained in the main body above regarding the distinctions that a scientific introspection can make between belief, understanding and knowledge in our relationship to the actual content of mental pictures, generalized concepts, pure concepts and ideas. These three qualitative relationships between the I and the thought-content of the soul can be examined quite carefully, especially in the light of the conscience (the instinctive moral imagination, or the higher I within the lower). Further, one can develop a participated-conscience, which does not appear in the same way as the instinctive conscience appears in ordinary consciousness, but arises as a conscious act of will in the life of the soul.

We do this by applying inwardly the skills learned through the practice of moral imagination, moral intuition and moral technique (about which Prokofieff has mostly theory - belief mixed with understanding) to questions of inner life and action. Just as we can ask whether a certain action is moral or not in the outer world, so can we ask inwardly what is the relationship between our I and a specific thought-content in the sense of whether this thought content represents (to us) knowledge. In the beginning this organ, for an inner sense of whether a specific thought-content is known by us to be true, develops slowly. But develop it does with practice. As it develops, we then learn to know intimately this relationship of the I to the thought-content: some as belief, some as understanding and some as knowledge.

Real knowledge, as pointed to above, requires the union of experience and thought, or percept and concept. Our inner organ for perceiving the truth of this will see clearly whether or not we have had the relevant experience (percept). Very few will have had real spiritual experiences, and so very few will be able to claim, before their own organ of participated-conscience, that we then possess real knowledge. In terms of the distinction between true understanding (as pointed out above by Steiner) and mere belief, the matter can there as well be clear to the perception of this inner organ, for true understanding is the result of certain inner actions on the part of the I. Let us next examine the act of reading, for most of what we encounter via Steiner comes to us through the reading of a text.

In terms of experience and thought (or percept and concept), in reading a text all we have immediately is knowledge of a symbol set on a page - the sense experience of print or writing. Secondarily, we have in the act of reading, something out of our own I that interprets the meaning of the symbols on the page. Meaning is not buried in the page, but first begins to appear in our own mind by our own interpretive reading-thinking activity. While the effort at authorship (even my writing of this article) tries to convey meaning from my mind to yours, only you determine how carefully you read, and then how skillfully you interpret.

In appreciating what Steiner tried to teach us about true
understanding (noted above in italics in the introductions to Theosophy and Occult Science), we have to keep in mind that reading his texts can’t under any circumstances be passive. We have a deep clue to this in the admonition of Steiner’s that instead of reading 50 books once, we instead read one book 50 times. Most anthroposophists disregard this admonition and read all manner of books just once, or if they do “study” a text they will tend to study it in the form of self-instruction traditional to the Intellectual Soul age, that is by taking notes and making diagrams (Prokofieff’s scholarly habit). 

Consider also, as a minor matter but also very crucial from a certain point of view, what it means when we read a secondary source instead of the original. First Steiner creates his works, toward which we are encouraged to acquire a deep understanding out of our own efforts (by reading one book 50 times). Instead then, we read such as Prokofieff, and take his derivative understanding and belief as if it means the same as the original. In a very real sense we have now a kind of weak tea copy of the original, and if we expect to have a deep appreciation of what Steiner was trying to communicate, by reading this weak copy, how much of a fool have we thereby become (how in any sense can such a process produce spiritual research in the form of direct knowledge).  This is what Gordienko discovered about Prokofieff’s writings, when she line by line compared them with the relevant texts as originally given by Steiner.

Such will not work if we wish to enliven (make true) our understanding, for the very act of taking notes means we edit or alter what lived in the spoken word when Steiner lectured. We also alter the meaning when we read secondary sources. These altered meanings, notes and schematic diagrams (with which Prokofieff filled this book) are not true understanding, but a kind of abstracted skeleton of something that was once living. Like the current practice of natural science, with its excess of analysis, the world of the thought-content created by Steiner out of his experience is reduced by note taking etc. to a mere ghost of itself in an act not unlike how a botanist reduces the living plant to ash in his laboratory. 

If instead, for example, one were to read (without analysis or note taking etc.) Theosophy 50 times, then our experience would slowly evolve as each repeated reading builds on the prior one so that sentence by worked over sentence the living element returns, because as thinkers we are able to count on one of Steiner’s most important discoveries (first expressed in A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe’s World Conception), that: there is only one thought-content to the world. See there his discussion of how there is only one single idea of a triangle, that is nonetheless able to be perceived by the thinking of all individual I’s. Further, in this reading over and over again, we gain the ability to place this content at one remove from the I in order to recreate it in the soul - we learn to stand outside it. At this remove we have a practical means by which we can avoid falling into a relationship of bondage as discussed in the main essay above.

Let me here supply a personal experience which resulted  after reading and rereading a specific text.  I was once more rereading two lectures collected under the title: Geographic Medicine.  I was particularly interested in the second lecture which had Steiner speaking of the double and of America (that was my main interest at the moment).

After reading, I was reflecting on what I had read, and in a way recreating the themes of the first lecture in my mind.  I noticed that he kept repeating himself on two themes: one theme was that folks who violently in their youth, would often experience a kind of grace given gift in their subsequent incarnation; the second theme was that folks who didn’t have the idea of the afterlife during incarnation (to much scientific materialism) often could not find their way into the afterlife in a good way.

Then I saw (had a personal intuition) that Steiner was speaking to the dead in the room.  The lecture was in 1917, around the end of WWI, and he was speaking directly to the dead soldiers, and telling them something very important for them to hear.  This insight caused a huge shift in how I saw Steiner’s lecturing activity.

I had another experience with a different lecture cycle, where I was convinced that it contained a certain idea.  Yet, every time I went looking for that idea I couldn’t find it.  But I clearly remembered reading it.  Given the above experience with regard to Geographic Medicine I began to wonder whether during reading we might have a direct (in the moment intuition) of Steiner, given that he might be drawn to our reading and have something directly to say to us, in our present.

Reading does prepare us for something, but is that something always about the content of the lecture or book?  I believe we need to move past assumptions about what happens during reading, and involves memory and interpretation of meaning, and through conversation and research come to concrete ideas instead of myths, such as are being here promoted by Prokofieff via his loose associative thinking.

Steiner, having taken his experience of the delicate and sublime world of spirit, and rendered it via the imagination into word-based picture images, creates for us via his texts (lectures and books) a set of ideas (complexes of concepts) congruent with the actual thought-world as it exists independent of our I. These ideas hover over the page as we read, and we need to be very careful in how we re-render them in the act of reading (active understanding). It is the efforts of the I during reading that produce this work of recreating the true understanding out of ourselves or through our own inner work.

Now contrast this description just above (by me) with the one made by Prokofieff, with its theories of pure thinking, astral light and other matters for which he has no real experience. If he was truly familiar with Steiner’s writings on the problem of knowledge, he would have had no trouble at all explaining this as simply as I just explained it. For example, here are the terms above which he uses almost constantly from The Philosophy: the exceptional state, moral imagination, ethical individualism, pure thinking, freedom and love - that is only a few of a large group of concepts necessary to this book of Steiner’s. Prokofieff may believe he has explained these terms earlier in the text, but has done so only by reference to other Steiner material, and never out of his own experience. What is perhaps even more strange is that nowhere in this book of Prokofieff’s will one find a discussion of Living Thinking, the most common contemporary phrase among those students of Rudolf Steiner awake to Steiner’s own references to this state of soul. 

Nor does he discuss the even more essential matter, which is the will-in-thinking.  You cannot succeed at discovering the reality of The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity and not wake up to the will-in-thinking.

Prokofieff, as both Gordienko and I noted, is not familiar with the Consciousness Soul experience (rudimentary introspection and knowledge of moral imagination as available today to ordinary consciousness); or with Goetheanism - organic thinking (taught in 
A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe’s World Conception) or the reality of pure thinking as taught in The Philosophy of Freedom (or Spiritual Activity). He is, as a consequence, essentially possessed by his beliefs mixed with understanding (in bondage to the idea), and in thrall to his own passions and ambitions (yet no full katharsis of the astral body) - that is to say he is merely human, imperfect and flawed.

Let us add one more nuance. Above in the main text I described how it was that to introspection pure thinking is pure in three ways. First the I is oriented away from sense experience - body free, so that the thinking is purely inward in its focus. Second the I only wishes to be of service, such that its moral intentions are likewise pure. Thirdly, of all the content of the soul available to it, the I is solely involved with the thought-world itself. Within a practical synthesis of these three ways, the I experiences pure thinking.

Of significant moment with regard to a lot of efforts seemingly being made to justify the idea that such pure thinking, in that it repeats or works with Steiner-thought, is akin to spiritual research, - this thinking fails most often at the Second of the three ways described above. This failure is to not recognize that by over-reaching our true capacities, and supposing we can do things we ought to otherwise know we cannot, we have become immodest in our ambitions. By immodest I mean to suggest a deep lack of humility.

A spiritual researcher, such as Rudolf Steiner, is able to experience the depths of spiritual worlds precisely because of the qualities of soul acquired on a path that always includes considerable suffering. Steiner has hinted at this, but humility and modesty require that such not be the main focus of what he relates regarding his own experience. The true aspirant will learn soon enough on their own the costs to be borne in order to have contact with higher beings. In fact, the Christian-Rosicrucian path begins with humility (washing the feet) and then follows these with others - six stages of life (inner and outer) experiences that take the shape of Christ’s own path through the Cross to the Resurrection: the scourging; the crowning with thorns; the carrying the cross; the crucifixion; the entombment and the resurrection. To believe that we can, merely by understanding a Steiner text (assuming we can even do that), duplicate what an initiate has done in this realm in order to obtain cognition of their insights, is to foster in our souls a grave and tragic vanity. To abstract out of all that we can read in Steiner, that what he did and what we are about to do can be called “reading in the astral light” is to fail completely to appreciate the difficulties truly involved.

The processes of initiation itself, and its resultant work of spiritual research, involves deep pain and suffering - it is not like going downtown as if the akashic record was a local library. The world of spirit is more real than the sense world, more sublime and more demanding. It contains much that was born through the efforts and suffering of Divine Beings, which can only be understood when we learn to identify with their pain and with their joy - the one does not exist without the other. Do we believe, for example, that Christ and the Holy Mother know us in full intimacy without also simultaneously knowing all our human sufferings and joys?

However, as I wrote in my book
American Anthroposophy, in the essay Anthroposophy and the Russian Soul, Prokofieff entered a Society and Movement that had already lost its connection to the scientific spirit and experience as applied to understanding the authentically spiritual. Like most of us he simply imitated what he experienced as the practice of anthroposophy, so in writing the above I am not really being critical of Prokofieff as a personality. Prokofieff here represents an archetype of a social condition common to the membership, which explains in fact his popularity. He and his readers think alike in their unscientific approach to spiritual questions.

Absent real introspective knowledge of these problems Prokofieff is unable to truly understand the practice of even what he quotes: ‘Although the thoughts [of spiritual science] are already present when one surrenders oneself [as a student] to them, one cannot think them unless in each case one recreates them anew in ones soul.’ (GA 13).  To do that recreation is why we read one book fifty times instead of fifty books once.

There is an even worse secondary problem with which Prokofieff’s book is filled.

Introspection reveals that ordinary consciousness (undisciplined and unscientific) contains what needs to be called 
loose associative thinking, which is the tendency of the I to combine and recombine an already existing thought-content (mixed beliefs, understandings and knowledge - yet about such characteristics our I is mainly semi-conscious - that is we combine and recombine a few drops of living thought with vast amounts of dead thought) and invent something new out of it. Concepts are brought into association (nearness) with each other, that really (if we were inwardly awake) would repel each other because of their lack of mutual harmony and logical truth. We run into this when we hear someone speak (“I imagine that...”, or “it follows that ...”). As pointed out above in the main essay, such statements reveal that a loose association has been made - that is, that in that moment one is speculating. For anyone who aspires to being a spiritual scientist, speculation is a serious failure of inner discipline.

So in reading this book of Prokofieff’s, we run into multiple statements which float into existence off the page and into our thinking, revealing what Prokofieff’s semi-conscious thinking has combined and recombined (inventing something new and probably illusory) out of the differing statements of Steiner’s which he believes he understands and then combines. Not able to discipline his mind in the manner that a true science of introspection teaches, these loose associations become the flawed and erroneous conceptions which Gordienko discovered and reported in her book - a book which has been studiously ignored by anthroposophists world-wide, and its challenges never answered by Prokofieff or others in responsible positions in Dornach.

This failure to answer her work is perhaps one of the most tragic events to happen in our Society, since the splits in the Society that occurred prior to World War II. While on the surface she properly criticized Prokofieff, in reality she also criticized (again rightly) Dornach itself for its unscientific approach to Anthroposophy.

What is worse is for us to not realize that this dogmatism and its resultant sectarianism (mixtures of mere belief and true understanding, connected to too little real knowledge living in the minds of far too many anthroposophists) repel others outside our Movement, who instinctively sense the lack of a real scientific discipline in our activities. To outsiders we appear to be just another religious cult, who worship a content and its creator as both infallible (a Christian Community priest once said to me: “we are never to doubt Rudolf Steiner”). But part of real freedom is such doubt, and doubt (properly understood) is a linchpin in natural science. Such attitudes (religious-like beliefs in the infallibility of Steiner) make of our work the very worst that it can be, which ought to be a deep clue as to why so few are attracted to our work.

If this unscientific attitude continues in the Society and Movement, they will become the greatest opponent to Anthroposophy possible. Already, the Steinerism (unscientific beliefs) and the theological representations of Steiner-thought (poorly worked over understandings), has created within the field of Waldorf education, in its social relations, a huge anti-Waldorf, anti-Anthroposophy and anti-Steiner movement. This phenomena has to be seen as fully rooted in the absence of scientific-thinking that has been coming from our leadership in Dornach for many decades. People new to Anthroposophy and Spiritual Science naturally imitate the accepted examples as the way to be anthroposophical. If these examples fail, then those who come new to Anthroposophy have little choice but to follow such examples into continued failure.

The central question of this essay, however, is not to criticize or point out flaws, but to discover whether there is a will in others in our Society and Movement for reform - a will to reignite the scientific spirit that prevailed when Steiner was alive. Without reform, that which was pointed toward above, regarding the falling behind of the Society and Movement from its connection to living Anthroposophy (in Awakening to Community), and the inability of both the Society and Movement to support and receive the coming Gospels of the true Second Coming, will continue, and may well result in tragic consequences for humanity.

For esoteric Christianity has many tasks to fulfill if the true Second Coming is to be properly recognized. In this book Anthroposophy and The Philosophy of Freedom, Prokofieff has asserted that the Society and Movement (and the Anthroposophy he believes he knows) is esoteric Christianity. But that is something not realized by merely asserting or proclaiming it is so. Only deeds will succeed. Esoteric Christianity (Anthroposophy) today is not the content of spiritual science - a set of concepts, but a Way of Deeds - a method of fully awake cognitive activity, and not its resultant content.


This is why Steiner said nothing would remain of his work but The Philosophy of Freedom thousands of years hence, for the present thought-content of spiritual science is a temporary construct, necessarily expressed mostly in the language of the Intellectual Soul (the Class Lessons are something different). Spiritual reality is not this understanding, presented by Steiner as a gift for a certain limited time. Spiritual reality is far more sublime and delicate, and we are all destined to experience it directly. Even so, the scientific method of cognition will endure for it is not a thought-content, but a qualitative aspect of the Soul itself. Once given birth, it remains an aspect of ourselves in the same way we still retain sentient and intellectual soul elements, even though the time of their creation and arising is long passed. None of these were replaced or disappeared, but continue to be built upon as a foundation while the evolution of consciousness proceeds.

Again, from Occult Science: an outline: “One who wholeheartedly pursues the train of thought indicated in these books {The Philosophy and A Theory of Knowledge} is already in the spiritual world; only it makes itself known to him as a thought-world. Whoever feels ready to enter upon this intermediate path of development will be taking a safe and sure road, and it will leave with him a feeling in regard to the higher world that will bear rich fruit in all time to come.

This question then, at last: Will anthroposophists remain mostly scholar-like readers of Steiner’s texts, or will they become authentic esoteric Christians, knowing doers of the true Second Coming, and real followers of Steiner’s own path, which he named: The Philosophy of Freedom (or Spiritual Activity)?

*         *         *

Appendix Three

Ahrimanic Opposition to an Understanding

of the American Soul as manifested in the

American Anthroposophical Society

- this little piece was written for something

I later redesigned -

Along the path which I took in developing the new thinking mystery and applying it to learning to experience the reality of the social world -
to learn how to have it think in me, it was required by the circumstances of my life that I look carefully, as a spiritually-oriented social scientist, at the Anthroposophical Society.  I could tell from the first days (in 1983), when I initially encountered institutional anthroposophy in Fair Oaks, California, at Steiner College, that something was very wrong.  What did I observe?

I had spent 1969 through 1982 in and around Berkeley California.  My essential waking up (see my booklet Biographical Necessity) took place in this environment.  When I became a member of the anthroposophical community, centered on the College and the Sacramento Waldorf School, it was as if the 1960‘s and 1970‘s had never happened.  Whatever spirit was inspiring the work in Fair Oaks, it somehow managed to exclude these most dramatic changes in American Culture that had unfolded two hours away in the San Francisco Bay Area.  To give an only slightly unjust capsule description: It was as if the Americans living in Fair Oaks, in imitation of the Central Europeans dominating anthroposophical  life there, had colluded to exclude the Spirit of America from their hearts and minds.   In the work centered on Carl Stegmann, and his study circle the Emerson Study Group, as well as the America in the Threefold World journal this group produced, the American Spirit found a tiny, mostly ignored, voice in the Fair Oaks Community.

The main way this is observed is by noticing how people use language.  Cultural changes initiated in the Berkeley San Francisco area (even Time magazine observed this) radiated out into the whole country, influencing the way folks thought, and making that change in thinking appear in the language used to notice and appreciate the nature of the cultural transformations everywhere being experienced.  I did not find that language in the anthroposophical community in Fair Oaks, when I arrived there in 1983.

A more blunt way of saying this is that through the sub-conscious powers of the ahrmanic double, the development of a real American Anthroposophy was prevented - something Ahriman greatly desired because his chief foe as regards his ongoing incarnation in America would have been an awake American Anthroposophical Society.  It was important to Ahriman that the naturally explosive transformation of cultural life within the American Soul - during the '60's and 70's - not have intercourse with authentic anthroposophical ideas and ways (which is why he also has worked tirelessly to hold back the real development of Anthroposophy in Central Europe).  As a result, the many Europeans that came to America dominated the cultural life of the locales in which they plied their trade (whether Waldorf folk, or doctors, or practitioners of other so-called anthroposophical disciplines).  In a kind of false imitation Americans assumed that to be anthroposophical was to do what Europeans did, never understanding that Americans were meant to find their own Way*.

*[For details on this perception of mine from a deeper spiritual direction, see next below: Appendix Four: some incidental results of imaginatively reading the biography of a social form.]

I could tell dozens of stories of how the instincts of Americas were shut down, mostly because the doubles of anthroposophists, under the influence of Ahriman, worked diligently to prevent the needed awake cross fertilization between the two, quite contrasting, soul gestures.   Here I will just give a most recent one.

The 2004 AGM in Detroit, which was destined to occur the weekend following the G.W. Bush re-election, had been organized by the Central Regional Council to offer the work of those doing research on the spiritual and soul nature of America.   This was the first time a major conference in America was to turn away from an unjustified fascination with things European and things past.  An unusual American personality was scheduled to speak - someone who in his encounters with others was often abrasive, and that sometimes in a very intense fashion.   He had not made many friends among anthroposophists in America.  How and why he was to speak (one among several presenters) I do not know.  While I do confess that there was some justification for seeking to exclude this abrasive individual, the later self-serving chastisement of a leader of the Central Regional Council, by un-named gossiping anthroposphists, as being solely responsible for this embarrassing event, is an excellent example of the ahrimanic and luciferic doubles in action.

But truth seeking and the practice of the good was not the effort that was made behind the scenes.  Rather than exclude a particular speaker (perhaps an unnecessary problem in any event), the whole American nature of the AGM presentations was shut down, and other work substituted at the last minute.  A friend and I had been planning to attend, looking forward to certain speakers who we knew were to bring forward matters of the American spirit in a deep way.  We had airplane and motel reservations made months before.   Thirty days before the AGM we were informed that the presenters had all been changed.

What we got for presentations was straight Steiner-said (the first night - again by a Central European) and the next day then a number of remembrances of another Central European individual (Rene Querido*) who had recently crossed over into the spiritual world.  No mention of America, and this was very peculiar given that for many people attending the conference the re-election of George Bush just days before represented a terrible social tragedy.  I can still recall the plaintive cry of a young woman in the final plenum (the only time conference attendees are permitted to speak outside of small group sessions):  What’s happening to America?   Aren’t we supposed to know something about America?

*[For more about this, again see Appendix Four]

My friend, an anthroposophical physician, was so incensed with the domination of that AGM by three so-called leading anthroposophical women speakers, turning our attention fully away from America at a moment of great social crisis, that following the final plenum she personally confronted one of the female General Secretaries of the Society , that had been one of the speakers who spent over an hour speaking glowingly of a now dead European, and resigned from the Society.

We need to stop pretending that Ahriman and his cohorts do not spend a massive amount of time, via the doubles which we never talk about, providing opposition to an American Anthroposophy.


By the way, almost weekly and sometimes more often, I have for years now received e-mails from Americans thanking me for my website, where some of what they feel and need is being recognized and provided.  The hunger and the need is there, but the American Society remains too focused on Central Europe, Rudolf Steiner and the Past.

*         *         *

Appendix Four

some incidental results of

reading the biography of a social form

This is in part a report of an actual experience connected with some inner work I engaged in with regard to the social form: The Faust Branch in Fair Oaks California.  The Branch was getting ready to celebrate its 35th Anniversary, and in preparation I did the following inner work.

First, through conversation, I collected the history of the Branch from a number of individuals, including going all the way back through the day (in 1977 I believe) when at a meeting of the Branch Carl Stegmann, the retired Christian Community priest (one of the original priests and the author numerous books, including The Other America: the West in the Light of Spiritual Science), stood up out of inspiration and indicted that a Center for the Study of Anthroposophy should be formed in the Fair Oaks area.  His conception was that this should be an organism of two parts: one directed at teaching the fundamentals of Anthroposophy, and the other at doing research on the spiritual history and meaning of America - a kind of American Studies program done under the inspiration of anthroposophical insights and practices.

Committees were set up to bring this about and various personalities began to prepare themselves to participate.  One individual went so far as to take leave from his work and family, and go to work with Francis Edmunds (in either England or Scotland, for a year).  Many lives began to change as this proposal was being brought into incarnation.  Money had to be raised and land acquired, as well as all the other aspects of creating a viable cultural institution.

Seeking a leading personality for the anthroposophical studies aspect, it was eventually worked out the Rene Querido (a central European expert in Waldorf eduction) and his American wife Merlyn were brought in to head this anthroposophical study center.  However, when the dust settled something strange had happened.  The American studies aspect was left aside and the anthroposophical studies program soon warped into a Waldorf teacher training center, under the leadership of Rene Querido, which was eventually named: Rudolf Steiner College.

The man who went to study with Francis Edmunds was shattered when he returned to find this condition, and eventually left the Society.  A number of others, who were drawn into the idea of working on research on the spiritual America were also left high and dry.  When I arrived in Fair Oaks in about 1983, there was only a remnant of the impulse to study America, gathered around Carl Stegmann and called: the Emerson Study Group, which produced Carl’s works, as well as 12 issues of a journal that called itself: American in the Threefold World.

I wrote for the journal a number of early materials that later became aspects of my own work, including the original report on the relationship between anthroposophy and the Hopi Prophecy, as well as a first attempt to develop the idea of a Goetheanism of the social, which I called at that time (1985): Listening to the World Song.  [This link will give a more mature (1999) version of my thinking on this process of applying Goetheanism to the social.]

For the 35th anniversary meeting of the Faust Branch I prepared by taking the stories of the history of the Branch and recreating them in my imagination.  I would sit meditatively at my desk (altar) and slowly create pictures of these events as best I could based on the oral histories I had collected.

When I got to that aspect of the history related to the strange dynamics involved in the formation of Rudolf Steiner College, I experienced the gift of an Imagination (a supersensible symbolic picture), which I will next describe.

There were two main figures, one to the left and one to the right.  The left figure was in blue lines (these lines were realized much like an artist would sketch the most basic elements needed to picture that to which their art was to refer), and the right figure was in red lines.  This lines were not exactly static, but contained a kind of gesture of movement.

The left pictures showed Rene Querido somewhat rising up in the air as if he was rotating slowly around.  Included with him were three seemingly adoring students who also were rising in the air, but below him somewhat.  All figures were not on the ground.

The right figure pictured Carl Stegmann, sitting on a half built stone or brick wall, somewhat in the form of Rodin’s the Thinker.  Around him, sitting or laying on the ground were three others, surrounded by smaller suggestions of half-built walls and weeds.

Simultaneously I experienced certain ideas in connection with these pictures, and I have since this event continued to study (call it forth), and think about the relevant problems, such that my ideas as to its meaning have grown.  My present conclusions:

The fact that it was Rene and Carl was secondary, not primary.  It could have been any two European anthroposophical personalities, with the three companions of each, any three American personalities.

The point, as it were, of these pictures was to reveal the effect of certain Earth forces, as described by Steiner, that arise in the Americas in connection with the fact that the mountains in the Americas run North-South, while the mountains elsewhere in the world all run East-West.  These forces come from the kingdoms/spheres of the Interior of the Earth, and are also related to what Steiner called: sub-nature.

These forces influence the nature and structure of the soul born in these geographic regions.  Steiner in fact tells us that the soul is formed in large part out of the “geography” of where the birth takes place.  We can make too much of this if we think of this “geography” as solely material/physical, but rather we have to think of it as simultaneously ethereal, astral and egoistic.  The soul is formed in a “field” on intersecting activities of diverse spiritual communities (see the Class Lessons for this).

Americans are born with a specific kind of soul density, particularly connected to the double, such that we easily exist in this more earthly “field”.  This is why Steiner describes the double in America as far stronger than the double elsewhere.  When Europeans come to America, this field of earth forces, particular to this region of the world, tends to push the European soul off the ground so to speak.  The astrality of the soul seeks a kind of equilibrium with the general astrality of the place.

The Rene-like figure then represents this “European" influence as is carried out within the American Anthroposophical Society - it ungrounds the European, and to the extent we try to imitate or emulate European soul life, the American as well ungrounds himself (the other three adoring off the ground figures in the left image).

The Carl-like figure represents what can happen when a European permeates themselves with the love of America before ever coming here (as Carl clearly showed to all who knew him).  This grounds them, although Carl is still somewhat above as well, since he is depicted as sitting on one of the walls.   The sitting and lying on the ground figures symbolize the natural state of Americans.

The half built structure is of course American Studies, which has languished for almost all of the time anthroposophy has been studied in America.

The colors represent: for blue (water) the life of feeling, and for red (fire) the life of willing.  The European is more of an artist, and the American more of a doer.  More could be said, but I think this is enough hints for someone who has troubled to read this far.

*         *         *

Appendix Five

- also from my book American Anthroposophy, such that it will

contain references to other parts of that book, not available here -

The Methodology Necessary for a New Social Science

- a brief introduction -

 (written for that book in the Season of Michaelmas, 2007)

One of the potential capacities, of those who seriously follow in the footsteps of Rudolf Steiner, involves the ability to give birth to the New (Living) Thinking. However, merely reading Steiner, or joining the Society, does not bring about this birth. Moreover this birth, when accomplished, does not just arise in the abstract, but realizes its deepest self-awareness when this Living Thinking is applied to a specific field of knowledge. In fact, the New Thinking very much needs earthly application in order to have a proper moral grounding. In this earthly connection a kind of training occurs, which has the consequence that when a will thus trained enters on spiritual experience, it brings with it capacities not otherwise obtainable.

Now within the anthroposophical movement, the dominant field of knowledge in which an
embryonic version of the New Thinking has appeared is what is called Goethean Science. We also find its mature birth in the works produced by such individuals as Owen Barfield, Georg Kuhlewind, Bruno Abrami (a member of the overlooked Italian School) and Jesaiah Ben-Aharon.

Thus, in the Goethean Scientific work of such as Schwenk (
Sensitive Chaos: the creation of flowing forms in water and air); Schad (Man and Mammal: toward a biology of form; Grohmann (The Plant vols. 1 and 2) and the related institutions, such as the Nature Institute [] featuring Craig Holdrege and Steve Talbott, the goetheanistic application of the embryonic version of the New Thinking is slowly taking its proper place in the world. The methodology of such a science is developed in its basic form and structure in Ernst Lehrs’ book: Man or Matter: Introduction to a Spiritual Understanding of Nature on the Basis of Goethe’s Method of Training Observation and Thought.

Rudolf Steiner unveiled these first (embryonic) steps of the path of a
knowing doer of the spiritual in Nature, in his book: A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe’s World Conception. We also owe to Steiner the revival of an interest in Goethe himself, and in particular Goethe’s scientific works such as The Metamorphosis of Plants and A Theory of Color. Anyone wanting to develop their thinking, such that it can be prepared to work within a New Social Science, will want to become well acquainted with all these books, but in particular with A Theory of Knowledge ....

In moving from the embryonic aspect of the New Thinking, to its maturity via
The Philosophy... there appears a boundary condition, which this New Thinking can encounter during its development. This is where the phenomena being studied lacks a definite physical sense world existence. Thus, Goethe’s idea of exact sensorial phantasy (the use of the imagination to recreate inwardly in the soul a sensory experience as it occurs over time) can reach a limit when the phenomena sought to be studied is only available in the soul as a purely abstract mental picture or concept and has no corresponding appearance in the world of the senses.

This is a problem that Owen Barfield certainly had to meet in his studies of language, which he clearly thought about imaginatively and in movement over time (see for example his remarkable:
Speaker’s Meaning, as well as his World’s Apart). Once we no longer have a sense world necessary given (see Steiner’s A Theory of...), thinking acquires an additional responsibility, for the object of its considerations now only arrives in the soul out of our own activity in the creation of mental pictures and the apprehension of concepts.

In a proposed answer with an apparent awareness of this problem, the anthroposophical mathematician Lawrence Edwards, in his book
Fields of Form, suggested that in addition to a kind of Goethean thinking, there is a thinking which needed to be called: polar-Goethean thinking. As this essay proceeds, I’ll be trying to develop such ideas in a deeper fashion, so that the reader can find their way to understanding the kind of thinking needed in order to be able to behold the living and spiritual elements of human social existence, in all its dynamic expression (see my The Meaning of Earth Existence in the Age of the Consciousness Soul, for a demonstration).

One last point of reference concerns the study of projective or synthetic geometry. This geometrical discipline will be very helpful to anyone wishing to find their way into the New Thinking. Working with this geometry exercises our inherent picture thinking qualities in such a way that we can behold and transform mobile imaginative pictures without losing any quality of exactness. The development of this geometry among anthroposophists (by such as George Adams Kaufman, Lawrence Edwards and Olive Whicher - to name just a few) is very much a consequence of the polar-Goethean thinking to which Edwards pointed, and this as well needs to be appreciated. The best book, in my view, (which is, of course, out of print!) is Olive Whicher’s:
Projective Geometry: Creative Polarities in Space and Time.

The reader interested in projective geometry should also know that its study in the above book is not done through abstract proofs, but entirely through drawing. We discover the rules of projective geometry with a piece of paper, a ruler, pencil and our own imagination.

As a cautionary tale, so as to not forget that is possible to follow paths that can lead to errors of thought, we will also here take a look at what has been called (among anthroposophists)
symptomatology, which is a well intended effort to apprehend with the thinking the deeper aspects of the social and historical, but has (alas) led instead to much confusion.

And finally, we need to recognize that it is Steiner’s
The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity or Freedom, that resolves the dilemma posed by the transition from working directly with sense experience, to working solely with mental pictures and concepts (abstractions) that have no definite exact reference in the world of the senses. This resolution is made available when we understand the practice of pure thinking.

Let me remind the reader here of the threefold nature of pure thinking as described above in In Joyous...

First the thinking is essentially sense free, which means that the consciousness is focused on the thinking to the exclusion of sense experience (as much as possible). Second the thinking is selfless, that is it is pure in the moral sense. Third, the thinking is only of concepts and mental pictures themselves.

* * *

As we begin to get into details, I want to share with the reader that what is to be written here was not by me understood in the beginning. I wandered in many strange places and down a number of false paths, before I slowly came awake to the real inner processes and activities. If there was a guiding light, it was that as I proceeded thoughts would arise in my consciousness that clearly revealed a deeper than before understanding of my riddles (the social). In effect, I would have small successes, and this would lead me on.

I say this here so that the reader will not think that they have to have arrived at some kind of inner state first, before taking up their riddles. It is clearly true that it is the riddles themselves that guide us on our personal path to the discovery of the intimate secrets of the New (Living) Thinking. We hunger to know, and are thus drawn forward into the adventure that awaits.

I will also below have to make additional references to my previous essay: In Joyous Celebration of the Soul Art and Music of Discipleship, in which I have laid out certain moral arts that I found it necessary to develop in order to acquire the capacities to enter more deeply into a contemplative picture-thinking of the social. These capacities first arose as a consequence of learning how to think more consciously about my fellow human beings, but the polished development of these capacities was in the work of seeking answers to my riddles. In that essay I placed human relationships in the foreground, but at the same time everything said there can be applied to problems of knowledge in general, as will be made more clear as we proceed.


Lets begin with the riddles.

We have an experience that we want to know something. We may also have the experience that knowing what we want to know might be a bit harder than we think. This latter experience usually comes in the biography in the form of failures. We think we know, only to discover from experience that we do not know.

After a time we might come to understand that the seeking of knowledge comes to our consciousness first in the form of a question, or a riddle. In its higher sense we can sometimes think of this as a Parsifal Question - a question that if we don’t seek to answer it when the answer is nearby and available, results in our having to undergo trials that may have been unnecessary and avoidable. What we are likely to discover over time is that these riddles really present themselves as a series of
nested questions. We move deeper into our riddles by moving from question to question, following a trail in the world of thought.

At the same time, the above books can help us understand from various directions this inner process, its dimensions and how we can find our way into the world of pure thinking in a scientific fashion. At least a few scientists understand this is possible, because (in particular) of the nature of pure mathematical thinking. At the same time their understanding of the art of thinking itself is weak. It was Rudolf Steiner in his
A Theory ... that laid out the basic rules underlying this discipline of the soul by the spirit, which was later revisited with another and deeper emphasis on the moral element in The Philosophy....

For example, the mathematician Roger Penrose, in his book
The Emperor’s New Mind, makes this remarkable admission: “...I cannot help feeling that, with mathematics the case for believing in some kind of ethereal, eternal existence, at least for the more profound mathematical concepts, is a good deal stronger...” (pp. 97). There is other evidence that Einstein and Godel (as well as Penrose) are considered by some to be modern Platonists, because of their views on the independent existence of ideas (see Incompleteness: the Proof and Paradox of Kurt Godel, by Rebecca Goldstein).

Once we understand that the thinking process is drawn forward by riddles and nested questions, then we can take a more careful look at some aspects of thinking itself.

Generally thinking has an object, in relationship to which we are the thinking subject. In Joyous... above, I wrote of a moral process connected to renunciation and love (Tomberg speaks of learning to think on your knees), wherein thinking about gave birth to thinking with, which in turn gave birth to thinking within, and then that to thinking as. In this slowly unfolding process (about > with > within > as), the relationship between the object of thinking, and our subjectivity slowly becomes more intimate - the separation narrows. Eventually “it thinks in me”, and the subject object nature of the conversation can disappear.

Now in
A Theory... Steiner takes us carefully toward organic thinking and then through that toward spiritual thinking. Lets look at the problem of organic thinking first, which is more accessible in a way. Sometimes this thinking is called phenomenology, and above I have called it thinking with. This is a kind of thinking very suited to coming to knowledge of the living or organic aspects of existence, which is why this process of Goetheanism gives birth to works in the field of Goethean Science.

For Goethe, the matter concerned the world of perceptions (the sense world), which Barfield sometimes called the world of appearances (see Barfield’s
Saving the Appearances: a study in idolatry). Goethe discovered that the world of appearances, which Natural Philosophy (science) was at that time beginning to dismiss (it was thought the truth had to be found somehow and somewhere other than the realm of the senses), could be read. He called it: reading the Book of Nature.

For example, using microscopes and telescopes led Natural Philosophers to realize that there was enormous detail not apprehended by the therefore limited human sense organs, which then suggested to them that the unaided senses would not lead to the discovery of the truth. Goethe thought otherwise, which was a kind of act of faith.

Goethe’s researches led him to conclude that the sense world spoke, and if we studied it in the right way (various rules of thinking discipline needed to be applied - see Man or Matter above), then Nature Herself would teach all that we needed to know. My work has shown to me that not only does the natural world speak, through its phenomenal appearances, but so also does the social world. There is not only a Book of Nature, but also a Book* of the Social World.

*[See my The Art of God: an actual Theory of Everything for details.]

For those who would like a bit of explanation for this, you might consider the following: Picture that the Creation has come to rest in a living equilibrium. Although it is true from a spiritual-historical view that the senses experience a world of maya - an illusion. A more modern view (Goetheanism),which has arisen since the Incarnation, realizes that this maya is not disorganized. What appears to us as the illusion reveals its own nature, because the Word Itself is embodied in it. The Word has clothed Itself in the Creation, and when thinking wakes up in its true nature, the speaking of the Word in the appearances becomes capable of being beheld within human consciousness by the I (“it thinks in me”); or as Steiner has pointed out in The Philosophy...: knowledge (the speaking of the Word through the Creation) is the union of percept (experience) and concept (thought).

As said above, Steiner put it this way in A Theory...: “Thought is the last of a series of processes by which Nature was formed”. Or Emerson, in his essay Nature: “Nature is a thought incarnate, and turns to thought again as water becomes vapor and then gas. The World is mind precipitated, and the volatile essence is forever escaping into the state of free thought”.

If there is a caveat, it is this. We must be active inwardly. Our thinking needs to become disciplined - ordered in a way, yet remain artistically open. Our will-in-thinking needs to awaken. Only the I can bring about this metamorphosis in the soul, which leads the thinking from its given state, through an organic qualitative picture-thinking, to an awake and pure (living) thinking.

Let us return once more to the
subject / object aspect of thinking.

What Goethe discovered was that if he recreated the gestures of Nature, particularly of the Plant, in his imagination in as exact a fashion as possible, that which was
within the appearances made itself known to his inward picturing. This is why we are introduced to such disciplines in the contemplation of changes in leaves over the becoming cycle of a particular plant. We collect or draw the various kinds of leaves made by a plant over the course of its life, and then recreate inwardly with our imagination, this series of form gestures the plant has made over time. We think with the plant’s expression in the sense world.

In doing this
thinking with we open ourselves up to that which stands within the different forms that arose over time, but which was all the while continuously living behind each individual form. Such work is, however, merely an appetizer for the real work, which is why I encouraged the reader to become well acquainted with such books as Sensitive Chaos. From such reading we can come to understand how much detail can be gone into while exploring this relationship between ourselves as thinking subject and the objective world of changing form.

A major aspect of the needed discipline involves realizing that we must hold back our own gesture of thinking in that it tends to want at once to bring a ready made concept (a thought) to our experience. We instead give our consciousness over to the experience - live in the perception and let
It speak - and then will arise the true related thought. We do not want to impose an already thought thought or mental picture or concept on the phenomena, but wait, holding back the cognitional gesture, until the phenomena Itself leads us to the thought-concept.

Only practice, which is carefully self-aware, will understand this. Learning this is something that can’t really be known as a mere thought from reading a text. We must develop the tools of introspection, so that we can make inner observations of our own activity. We not only study the phenomena of the sense world, but the phenomena of the own soul as well.

There is a bit of a trick here, in that when we are thinking, we can’t self observe. What makes self-observation possible is that our inner activity leaves behind it a kind of fading away impression in the soul, such that after a certain inner activity, we can for a time observe this slowly disappearing mirror image of our own activity. Again, this is an experience which must be gained directly, and cannot really be understood as a mere thought from reading.

Now when we move from thinking about sense world objects (or other kinds of
the necessary given), to the pure thinking in mental pictures or concepts of objects which have no necessary given, a certain problem arises. How do we trust the mental picture or concept which we have abstracted from our experience? The necessary given aspect of the sense world is obvious, but when we think about, with or within a non-sense world object (such as the concepts: biography, community or family), there is no true sense percept (no true sense experience). The abstract concept has already been taught to us by our culture. In fact, our ordinary consciousness has many such abstract concepts, for which there is no sense world percept.

The solution to this is to understand something which is part of the discipline of Goethean Science, namely to learn to be purely descriptive. So we can then ask: What is a biography, a family or a community? (to continue the examples).

These are such simple abstract concepts that we have no problem at all with them. We were raised (most of us) in a family. Aspects of our biographies are lived in communities made up of many families. We can say all manner of things about biographies, families and communities in general, and in particular, out of our own experience. We also know that such a term (word) as family can be used metaphorically, as in: the
family of man. Or, a community of related types of plants. Or even the biography of a social form such as a Branch of the Anthroposophical Society.

To help us further understand this, let us next look briefly at two kinds of errors which arise in thinking in relationship to social questions, one of which is mostly part of the anthroposophical movement (symptomatology), and the other mostly part of conventional social science. 

The error in conventional social science arises in the tendency to emulate the past of physics, a problem true also in conventional economic theory. This is the tendency to reduce complex phenomena to number, and then to seek to find laws of the phenomena in the number relationships (statistics).This was not always the case (and is still being resisted in some quarters), witness, for example, C. Wright Mills:
The Sociological Imagination, but there lies a whole other story. In Goetheanism, that is in learning to Listen to the World Song, or to behold the speaking of the Book of the Social World, we live into the appearances, and do not try to analyze for some kind of hidden behind-the-appearances rule or law.

Instead of seeking number relationships among large populations for our understanding of the social, we carefully practice description (for more, see below).

The error in symptomatology (as done by anthroposophists) is as follows: First, one studies Rudolf Steiner, and acquires from Steiner certain concepts. Then one looks at the social-political world as if it presented symptoms, to which we attach the already thought concepts we acquired from reading Steiner. In the last phrase just above we come to the problem. There is in this activity no phenomenology and the social-political world is not allowed to speak, for we already have the concept (borrowed from Steiner) which we attach to the contemporary historical phenomena.

In addition, our experiences of the social world may be driven by unconscious feelings of antipathy and sympathy. Any thought arising out of an unconscious (shadow driven) feeling has lost its objectivity. Such that when an anthroposophist, who is trying to work with symptomatology, is reacting unconsciously out of antipathy to the phenomena being observed, this further distorts away from any objectivity the falsely practiced joining of the pre-thought Steiner thought that is now being attached erroneously to the social phenomena.

Thinking in this case is then not listening, but instead is a bringing to the phenomena of social existence a pre-thought thought, which has the effect inwardly in the soul of placing a ghost (Barfield called some of these
idols) in between our thinking and the phenomena. Similar kinds of things exist in contemporary social science as well, when certain points of view are elevated to near-eternal verities (dominant world views), and are then used to interpret all social phenomena in accord with that particular view. Here, for example, we see today the use of Darwinian evolutionary theory, especially in the form of evolutionary psychology, as a main interpretive meaning given to understanding humanity’s social life in the modern world.

In both cases, whether it is the application of pre-thought concepts borrowed from Steiner, or from modern theories of human nature, the result is the same. The phenomena are not experienced - not heard. Only the pre-thought ghost (the
idol) is known in the soul.

So then, what is the incipient, striving for the new (living) thinking, social scientist to do?


No theory, no conclusions, no idols, no ghosts. Simply
pure description, which is not an easy craft at all by the way.

About 12 years ago, I went through old files, and made a throw-away pile on the floor of my bedroom/office of years of descriptive writings set down on loose leaf notebook paper. The stack of individual sheets of paper was higher than my knee.

Of course at that time I was only guessing as to method. I had discovered that when I carefully described, new perceptions of the social would arise, which new thoughts led me on (nested questions and riddles). I also had the advantage of a deeper introspective life, such that when thinking about the outer and inner aspects of social existence, my sense of the inner was more accurate and less confused by contemporary and false conceptions of the nature of mind, assumed by modern social scientists to stand behind human behaviors.

I also held back on publishing, such that I had, by the time I threw out that stack of paper, offered for publication (to the Threefold Review) only one paper:
Threshold Problems in Thinking the Threefold Social Order []; and self published another Song of the Grandfathers: real wealth (wisdom) and the redemption of social and political existence (civilization) []. The first was written in 1991 or so, the second in 1995) and both remained basically unavailable to others until 1997 when I begin to construct my own website. After being available for a time on that website, the Threshold essay did receive some recognition on anthroposophically oriented aspects of the Internet. I have been, during my biography, mostly a father (five children, two marriages) and a member of the working poor (but never an academic), so my offerings never really had a chance of receiving much recognition in traditional ways, and the research was always being done in fits and starts.

At the same time this was a blessing, because I didn’t have to fight against the tide of contemporary thought. I share this, by the way, so as to encourage others to do such work in whatever circumstances of life they find themselves, knowing that it is the questions and riddles and work that has the most meaning, not success or achievement or notoriety.

Some may recall that Steiner held back on publishing his research about the threefold form of the human being for 17 years! Much can be gained by letting our work in the world of organic and pure thinking mature over time.

Let us go forward now, continuing our examples with the biography, the family and the community.

Using the imaginative faculty, and our related carefulness with regard to the fact that we are working with what can become an
idol (an illusory abstraction), we make descriptive pictures of each over time. Here I’ll be brief, but many texts by social anthropologists contain important data, just not yet developed in full consciousness in a Goethean fashion.

At the same time we need to keep clearly in mind that these themes being described here take the form of pure abstract concepts, and not anything that exists as a necessary given in the sense world.

Let us begin with the biography. We each have one, and this itself can be something to carefully contemplate, for it contains both individual and universal phenomena. While a great deal of understanding given to us by Rudolf Steiner can illuminate certain details, it is actually unnecessary to borrow his concepts, when instead we can carefully observe and describe, using quite ordinary language, the nature of a biography.

We are born, we die. We are raised and educated. We come into a specific time and place, as well as language and culture. We make choices and have meetings of destiny (spouses, work situations and so forth). We suffer illnesses and meet all kinds of challenges. 

If we look within at our own soul life, we will come upon a world view that belongs to us, but was/is strongly influenced by all the above factors. We also have emotional habits and strong desires. The more detail we go into in our own biography, the greater will be our ability to recognize not only the universal elements of all biographies, but even more important the individual nature of this
organism - our personal Tale (the biography as a thing in itself).

We also have significant tendencies that arise in the personal nature of our thinking, but which are due to outside influences. If we are willing, we can through conversation with others, become more deeply aware of how they too have such characteristics as do we. Emerson wrote this as pointed out above, for his Harvard lecture,
The American Scholar: For the instinct is sure, that prompts him to tell his brother what he thinks. He then learns that in going down into the secrets of his own mind he has descended into the secrets of all minds...

This picture can then be made...

From my self as a center, I peek out at a world of sense experience. I interpret this world according to those experiences that arose during my biography, and while the details of those interpretations of the meaning of my experience are rich, they often represent influences I have not worked over on my own. My world view is shaped by family and community (in its widest sense). These influences also determine the conceptions by which my self conceives of my inner life. My I swims in a sea of meaning I may have had little influence determining on my own, and I also seem to be the tail wagged by the dog of emotions over which I have little control.

These are the general or universal characteristics of the biography. What is also crucial to realize is that the individual characteristics result in each biography being essentially unique. This observation is a little harder to obtain, because one of the influences to which we may have submitted has shaped our thinking to perceive others only by their general characteristics and not their individual and unique natures. I have to actually strive to learn to “walk in another’s shoes”, that is to see their biography from its inside, rather than from the outside (to think
with and within them, instead of just about them).

Next, let us take up the family...and simultaneously, the community. Here again we have general or universal characteristics, and when we get into the fine details, quite individual and unique characteristics. Remember we are also going to work with this as something in movement over time.

Take an old world village, perhaps about 500 years ago (at the beginning of the Age of the Consciousness Soul), for example. Many large families. Often a dozen births for each mother, not all of them live. Many relations, as well. An old world village might contain any number of large extended families (a few grandparents, many parents and several dozens of children and related cousins). Rules as to marriage across these complicated lines of blood existed for very practical and obvious reasons.

Such a village (community) would often have one language, one general culture, one religion and social political structure. Different villages in different locales in Europe would have differences of language, culture, religion and social political structure, but all would have large extended families as the dominate basis of the community.

Everyone would know most everyone else. Children born into such families would have destinies almost fixed in nature (the son becomes like the father, the daughter like the mother). No one violates social norms without severe consequences. Individualism is generally unheard of. People almost do not have a thought outside the standard and shared point of view. Most are uneducated, and few can read and/or write.

Now let us jump forward a bit - say New York City in the mid to late 19th Century.

Here we have neighborhoods. Large extended families continue, but not as large or as extended as an old world village. As immigrants, parts of families were left behind in the Old World. It is harder now to keep tradition alive. Religions, cultures and languages butt up against each other, often in conflict (mirroring in a small way the frequent wars in Europe rooted in the same differences). Children are less inclined to follow in the footsteps of the parent. Marriages across lines of religion, language and culture are frequent. Individualism increases, and the ability of the community (now fractured from within, and attacked from without) to cause conformance to its dominate values lessens.

During the transition from the older isolated villages to the neighborhoods in the great cities, two important changes have appeared - natural science and industrialization. Religion, as a family and community cohesive forming force, is weakened by natural science; and, the family and community by the industrial revolution (the father is driven from the home and into the factory, along with many of the children, as people leave the villages to find work in the growing cities).

Flash forward now into the present - Los Angeles 2007.

An inner core and an outer rim. Mere vestiges of neighborhoods, mostly racial ghettos in the inner core, with smaller families. Better education, similar poverty. In the outer rim, a different racial mix, tiny (nuclear) families. In neither place does a coherent community exist as once did in the Old World village.

A staggering increase in homelessness. None of these individuals has a place to call home. Even the family has fractured into individual splinters. The I is alone even there (c.f. Riesman’s
The Lonely Crowd). Children wouldn’t think of following in their parents footsteps. Individualism triumphs and the old world cohesive nature of community and family is near dissolved.

What happens in our consciousness when we move these pure abstractions through time? What happens when we recreate in the imagination the gesture of
social form over the last 500 years in Western Civilization?

In addition, what happens if we add to this social form movement an understanding of the evolution of consciousness, or at least the pictures we have made of the biography? This is something hardly known to the ordinary social scientist, and while indicated by Rudolf Steiner it was proved in three books by Steiner students: Lehrs’
Man or Matter (a history of science), Barfield’s Saving the Appearances: a study in Idolatry (a history of language and meaning) and Richter’s Art and Human Consciousness (a history of art). In each instance a phenomenological examination was made, which shows that the phenomena themselves (history of science, language and art) reveal that consciousness itself was not static, but in movement.

We discover that not only was outer social form in movement, but so was human consciousness in the biographies. Social reality has not just a mobile developing outside, it has a transforming inside as well.

One of the things that becomes apparent is that we begin to see that something from the inside of the human being is driving these changes. Yes, there are huge transformations of outer circumstance, but individuation is itself a force moving from within outward into social existence, transforming it.

Now this idea is not entirely new (its obvious to some degree to many ordinary social scientists), but a Goetheanistically oriented organic and pure thinking begins to behold something which ends up speaking of the death and the becoming of civilizations. A great
metamorphosis at the level of social order is in process. However, to pictorially think this transformation requires that we combine, in a single whole, a variety of individual threads, including not only the kinds of general trends we can observe in changes in biographies, families and communities, but wider social phenomena as well. One such is the arrival of what seems to be a tendency to a post-literate culture, that is the loss of interest in books among the young. Another is the frequency with which artists of various kinds create novels and films of a post-apocalyptic near future, such as the 1992 novel by P.D. James that later became the basis for the 2006 film Children of Men

Once we have become sensitive to these kind of phenomena, we discover they are everywhere. In addition, not only is there phenomena reflective of the breaking down or a descent into social chaos, we can also find phenomena indicative of the emerging new civilization. Tragically, while our dreams are haunted by visions of darker times, they remain (in many circumstances) yet absent any sense that redemptive powers are also at work.

One of the early ways I wrote of this
logos speaking of the world song, was that as the loss of social form increased (family and community becoming less coherent) such was necessary for moral freedom to arise. The outer social form had previously coerced the I into conforming to social values, and as the I pressed itself outward from within, it reached a point where it had overwhelmed the morally coercive effect of the family and the community (the family-community nexus itself disabled by natural science and the industrial revolution), enabling the I to act as an individual determiner of what was moral (this has been called by some - who understandably could only think in a finished and fixed way instead of an organic way - moral relativity, the family values crisis and the culture wars).

A number of social phenomena reveal this - I’ll just point to one. In the 1950‘s in America, it was not unusual for a parent to say to a child: you should do what is right, with
right meaning the shared value of the community. As the transition through the 1960‘s to the 1970‘s took place, do the right thing became do your own thing.

Now above I used the phrase:
logos speaking of the world song. I had years ago (1984) written a first version of: Listening to the World Song. In these last years, as my thinking penetrated more deeply into this Song, I began to behold inwardly that Christ was the Author of this situation (in which He told us in Matthew 10:34-40: “Don’t think I came to cause peace across the land. I didn’t come to cause peace, I came to wield a sword...” In some of the essays below (or above) you will see such language in the newer pieces, while the older ones do not have it. The culmination of my research via pure living thinking was, of course, published in the essay The Meaning of Earth Existence in the Age of the Consciousness Soul.

At the same time that a degree of social chaos was necessary for the inducement of the opportunity for moral freedom, this moral freedom itself has become productive in social existence in the form of the various Civil Society and culturally creative movements all over the world. In these latter phenomena will be found the up-building and renewing processes of the new civilization that is emerging from this long term
metamorphosis. We need, however, to keep in mind that this is a process spread across centuries, and that what appears on the surface as social and political phenomena is simply symptomatic of far deeper currents (see Steiner’s lecture cycles: The Challenge of the Times, and From Symptom to Reality in Modern History).

Let me offer one final picture, to reemphasize certain matters suggested above.

When we think the social world, it is crucial to think it from the individual biography outward, and not from the Stage Setting inward. That is, our picture of the Logos Speaking of the World Song needs to move from where Christ’s Love focuses on each individual, instead of seeing the world as consisting only of the horrors of current history and politics.

We need to have clear in our minds the difference between the context in which the biographies are embedded, and the essence of that biography, which is the development of the individual
i-AM. The context serves this development, and is itself, in its higher nature, another expression of Christ’s Love.

Each individual, of the six billion plus now incarnated, has their own karma, fate and destiny. Christ, being outside of Time and Space, has eternity in which to focus on us one at a time. In support of this is the whole symphony of the spiritual world’s incredible variety of communities. Down and into the finest details of our day to day existence, creative powers pour their love. The
i-AM swims in a sea of love that crafts for each individual a unique and individual biography, physical body, astral body and ethereal body. The poor farmer in deepest despair in South Korea is just as important as the struggling striving head of the pedagogical section of the School of Spiritual Science.

Each of us bears individualized concepts through which we interpret the meaning of the world, which concepts are precisely and exactly those concepts which we need in order to experience our biographies. Each of us has just those individualized bad and good habits and unique configuration of temperaments, that play their necessary role in our karma and fate. Not only this, but the living nature of the Logos Spoken World Song is malleable. It constantly adjusts, stretches and contracts, moves and dances in accord with our free destiny decisions that are made moment to moment.

Our conceptions of linear time and fixed space are maya. The real social world is far more dynamic. It is a living womb to the song of the becoming of each unique individual


Above I have tried to indicate, through both ideas and a minimal level of demonstration, the existence of certain questions, about the thinking processes and observational process of a new science of the social, such that stands behind my research work on the social. I fully expect the above to be inadequate, and that others, who in following their own riddles and nested questions, are likely to discover much that I have overlooked. Hopefully the above will provide an adequate beginning.

Most of the details that have been hinted at above will be found scattered throughout my writings in many places. When opportunities permit I expect to publish in book form my essays on various themes that can be found on my website
Shapes in the Fire. The main reason for this brief introduction was to make explicit certain aspects of method, while in the other essays it was much more important to bring forward the product produced by the method.

After all, the resulting thought content is the reason for the activity of thinking in any event.

*         *         *

Appendix Six

The Social-Spiritual Organism

of a Waldorf School Community

- an essay on micro-threefolding -

A healthy social-spiritual organism for a Waldorf School community is threefolded in two ways - a spiritually integrative gesture in which the threefolding takes a form analogous to that already known structure, which describes the human being as simultaneously spirit, soul and body; and, in a socially integrative gesture, similar to that of human physical form, which is so organized that functionally it displays, as aspects of a whole, those capacities which are realized in head, heart and hands.

Thus, there are two gestures in the social-spiritual organism of a School, which integrate in such a way that morphologically they can be symbolized in the image of the Cross combined with the image of the Circle.

The Circle is the social body of the school, and has the qualities of a Chalice. The Cross is the soul-spiritual body of the school and has the qualities of a Radiant Sun.

The various human beings associated with the organism of the school have different roles depending upon whether they are, in any given moment, contributing to the Life of the School, as an aspect of the Chalice, or as an aspect of the Radiant Sun. In one kind of meeting or action someone will be acting in one way, and then two steps and a minute later, in another. Much of the social confusion that arises in Waldorf School Communities comes about because these rapid changes of role are not understood.

I came to understand the above, in part, because I was a member of the Pine Hill Waldorf School (in Wilton N.H.), shortly after the moment of its own spontaneous social threefolding. This generative social event occurred as a response to a large tuition increase from one year to the next (on the order of 25%, as I recall), which drove the parent body first into a state of panic, and then to an organized attempt to grasp more firmly their relationship to the school. As a result there came to be three functional, and predominately, social organs, each of whose individual role in the social and spiritual life of the school was different. These three bodies (after the third added itself) were: the Board of Trustees, the College of Teachers, and the Friends of Waldorf Education (the parents).

The Friends had a rather narrow conscious focus in that, within this essentially social organ, an attempt was made to equalize and mediate, among the parent body itself, the burden of the huge changes in tuition. The Friends, as a whole, contracted with the School, to carry the tuition of all its members (all those parents who joined the Friends); while among themselves, the Friends distributed the costs in a way compatible with individual incomes. Non-parents could also be members of the Friends, but the core group were (and had to be, as a social necessity) parents of children attending the School.

Now those familiar with Rudolf Steiner’s social ideas might easily think that because the Friends dealt with economic matters (funding the tuitions), that this body would be analogous to Steiner’s Economic Sphere. But this is a mis-perception of the social facts.

The core problem the Friends dealt with was only incidentally economic. Its true center was the social life of the school - namely, how to help people get along with each other in the turbulent and dynamic social tensions of the school community (following the large tuition increase). The Friends mediated and balanced the social pressures, in the course of their meetings and through their relationships with the other functional organs of the School: the Board and the College. At a functional level, the Friends were the social heart of the school, the middle element, analogous to Steiner’s Political-legal Sphere.

The Social Life of the School is the Chalice, which itself supports the Spiritual Life, the Radiant Sun. What is involved in Teaching - that is, what is predominately involved in the Spiritual Life - cannot be accomplished without this support. Let us now look more closely at this supported activity.

The teacher stands upright in the classroom as a human being. It is this example, as much as anything, that teaches. The student first imitates (kindergarten to 4th or 5th grade), then walks beside (4th through 9th or 10th), and finally meets this teacher, this particular human being (l1th and 12th), as another ego being, another individuality.

Now it is not the teacher, or the student, who is the Radiant Sun. Rather it is what happens between them, what is born in the relationship, which is the Radiant Sun.

Thus, as a spiritual organism, the school is organized as follows. Analogous to the individual spirit in the human being, one finds, above the social body of the school, that there exists a community of spiritual beings: the angels of the children, the dead who have an interest, the hierarchies that inspire and so forth (one should not think of this above as toward the sky, but rather that this above represents a qualitatively finer form of existence).

Below this purely spiritual community exists a second community, which is analogous to the soul of a single human being. Thus, the Soul of the spiritually integrative gesture of the School Community is centered in the community of teachers, whose inner discipline and work is necessary for the spiritual life of the School to exist. It is the teachers who consciously carry the work of integration between the community of spiritual beings hovering over the school and the needs of the children. The teachers are the spiritual heart of the school, in the same way that the parents are the social heart.

Now both the parents and the children are inspired by the spiritual world as well, but their spiritual role is different and does not require the same degree of consciousness - the same attendant responsibilities as carried by the teachers. At the same time, the parents’ social role is greater and more central then that carried by the teachers. It is here, where this difference is not perceived, that much that brings illness to the social life of the Schools is born.

The parents’ responsibility is the Chalice, the social organism of the school, and the teachers’ responsibility is the Radiant Sun, the relationship between student and teacher.

Let us now review the two primary threefoldnesses.

In the vertical-like gesture, the school is organized as follows: Above, the purely spiritual community of inspiration; in the Middle, the Soul-full community of the incarnated - centered in the inner work of the community of teachers; and Below, the social community, the social organism (body) of the School. The vertical-like gesture is an integrated organism of three communities.

In the horizontal-like gesture (that is socially), the school is organized as follows: the functional head, the directing and deciding organ, is the Board of Trustees; the functional heart, the social mediating and balancing organ, is or should be an organized parent body (Friends of Waldorf Education?); and the functional hands, the actualizers of the art of education, is the College of Teachers. The horizontal-like gesture is an integrated organism of three socially functional organs, within the lower, or most nearly physically expressed, community.

It may occur to some readers to ask where do the children fit into this picture. I would describe it this way: The Children drink (absorb) the wisdom of the Radiant Sun from the fount that is the Chalice. The combination of the Circle and the Cross serves the Children.

[Now, some students of the Steiner’s threefold social order may wonder about this picture, and well they should. At the same time it may help them to reflect that we are here looking at micro social dynamics, rather than macro social dynamics. At the macro level, the ideas associated with the Economic, Political-legal and Cultural Spheres have validity, but at the micro level one has to be able to clearly see the purely functional relationships, free of any abstract associations in thought.]

For example, in practice, this is the way the school social body might work. The teachers express a need for something in order to carry out their work, the trustees decide to meet that need and plan how to carry it out, while the parents make sure the whole social community understands - feels integrated with - the totality of the process. Each organ carries out a different role, but each is necessary to the other.

Neither the trustees or the teachers should carry out the understanding function; that is, the social health of the school community is not their problem. At the same time, both the hands and the head must understand that the heart, the social middle, is the central necessary organ in the social life of the school. If this organ is unhealthy, which it most often is in modern Waldorf Schools, then the social functioning of the school is lamed, and all the many related problems going on in Waldorf Schools cannot be solved, because the social heart, the Chalice, is not vitally organized.

It may help some of the naturally arising confusion here to recognize that the parent body is a free association, and that teachers and trustees can participate in it, according to its rules. The inspiration of the Pine Hill parent body, to call their newly born association: The Friends of Waldorf Education, should not be passed by without deep consideration. The social life of the school has a heart, and it is in the social organ dominated by the activities of the parents (but not necessarily exclusively theirs). The total social body of the school includes the Trustees and the Teachers, but the most intuitively correct knowledge of what is socially right to do, rests within the central organ, the Friends.

Let us continue our examination of the spiritual-social organism of the School by exploring more deeply the symbolism of the Circle (the Chalice) joined to the Cross (the Radiant Sun).

The Cross is the symbol of vertical-like integration, between the upper and lower aspects of spiritual life (inner, psychological life) and the relationship between that act (of vertical-like integration) and the possibility of horizontal-like (or social) integration - participation in the life of Community.

The Circle is the symbol of social integration, the cojoined purposes uniting the different individual members of a social community, yet having (absent the Cross) an empty center, recognizing the simultaneous autonomy of each individual member.

As individuals (as Cross bearers) we can sacrifice in a vertical-like gesture - upward toward the higher aspirations of our own individuality, and downward, by accepting our individual flaws. We can also sacrifice with a social (horizontal-like) gesture by holding back our individual perceptions and intentions on those occasions where the needs of the whole, the community, seem to require it.

As members of a community (as Circle bearers) we can hold within ourselves the nature and needs of the other members (individually and as a group), while at the same time, along with this inward beholding - an act carried out together - we unite ourselves in common purposes and processes.

We combine these two symbols, when through acts of unification we create the Chalice, and when through acts of sacrifice we create the Radiant Sun. These acts are not independent of each other, but have a reciprocal reinforcing nature, so that the stronger and more effective the social organism is (the Chalice), the more support there is for the act of sacrifice which allows the spiritual organism (the Radiant Sun) to arise in the relationships between individuals. Conversely, the stronger the act of sacrifice is carried out inwardly, the more capacities the individual develops in support of participation in the Chalice (the social community).

From this then we can see just how, in the Waldorf School Community, Rudolf Steiner’s most poignant social insight is made manifest: “The healthy social life is found when in the mirror of each human soul the whole community finds its reflection, and when in the community the virtue of each one is living.”

Let us next carry forward this contemplation, by considering again a problem noted at the beginning, concerning the fact that in one instance an individual may be acting as an aspect of the Radiant Sun, and in another instance, moments later, an individual may be acting as an aspect of the Chalice.

A teacher is teaching in a the classroom, and as he or she moves among the children, the teacher is, to the degree able, consciously open in a spiritual gesture, inwardly empty and calling forth inspiration, while simultaneously humble, realizing they are also human and flawed. In between the teacher and the child, as this goes forward (the child does instinctively, in the beginning, what the teacher has to strive to do consciously) the Radiant Sun is born.

Now class ends, and the day is over, and parents enter the class room to conduct their necessary part of the activities. The teacher and parent converse and the subject concerns the social life of the school, not the nature and practice of the pedagogy. At this point the teacher defers to the intuitions of the parent, because it is in the vertical-like gesture of the soul life of the parent that the intuitions concerning the social organism are most present. Between them, the parent and the teacher, a Radiant Sun is active, while at the same time, in the acceptance of the different roles (for the parent defers to the teacher as regards matters of classroom activity) the Chalice is carried.

When the individual parent tries to dominate the pedagogical (spiritual) aspects of the school life, they are interfering in the necessary upward and downward stream which needs the teacher for its focus. When the individual teacher tries to dominate the social aspects of the school life, they interfere in an analogous way. If there are pedagogical concerns among the parents, these can be refereed to the College of Teachers, but what parents need to recognize, is that in the organism of the School, it is the teachers who must be free to determine these matters. Without this freedom, the vertical-like integration with the community of inspiration is impossible. On the other hand, when a pedagogical problem needs to be explained to the parent community, it needs to be translated through the consciousness of the parent body itself, because it is there that the inspiration exists for how to mediate common social understanding.

For example, when there are crisis meetings where teachers are sitting facing parents (creating an us and them social environment), at that moment the social-spiritual organism of the school is dead, and cannot carry out what it needs to, regardless of how much talk or other efforts are expended. At that point the needed living social process (the Chalice) has been fractured into pieces, and without its support the Radiant Sun cannot properly shine.

Perhaps it will help to think of it this way. In the social organism of the school, as distinct from the spiritual organism, there is an interpenetration between the active element (the hands) and the mediating element (the heart). What are the healthy processes, socially, within this field of interpenetration? The heart element needs to empathize with the needs of the hands element, to understand those needs. The hands element needs to defer to the heart element to distribute this empathic understanding to the whole organism. The hands are incapable of carrying out the function of the heart.

Now a crisis may contain more than one characteristic. The pedagogical characteristics (the art of teaching) belong to the College to define. The decision making characteristics (the art of making policy and long term goals) belong to the Board to define. The understanding making characteristics (the art of social integration) belong to the Parents to define. Social leadership in a crisis belongs to the Parents, who then enable, through their mediating function, the head and the hands to act in the ways best suited to those organs. But all must work together, because dominance by one or the other will mean disease and disorder.

The heart might say: “this is what is right to do”. The hands might say: “this is what we need in order to do what is right”. Then the head can say: “this is how we shall go about doing what is needed and is right”. So at Pine Hill, the hands had said, this is how much we need to live and to operate the school according to our pedagogical goals, and the head had said, okay this is how much the individual parents are going to have to pay to meet these needs - both leaving out any truly balanced dialogue with the parents - balanced in the sense of understanding what the social organism of the school needed in order to deal with the huge tuition increase. Then the parents said, ouch, and afterwards solved the social problem out of their own insight, saying that what is right is that the money needs of the school should be handled among the parents in a particular social way (The Friends of Waldorf Education).

Accidentally then, they ended up working together in a more or less healthy social way, but over time, there was insufficient consciousness of how to carry this into the future, and the old habits reasserted themselves.

Social processes, in this age of family emancipation from community, and individual emancipation within the family, are very difficult. Where these difficulties intersect, in the social life of a school, all the worst tendencies manifest themselves; and, Waldorf Communities struggle constantly to live in a ocean of mixed and confused social realities. Hopefully, these words above will provide some small bit of a map for the future navigation of these turbulent seas. Remember, however, that the map is not the territory, and each School will have an individual manifestation of the general social-spiritual configuration described above, and therefore have highly particular and individual social and spiritual needs, which must be perceived, understood, and healed.

The crux, such as it is, is to remember that the school organism is both social and spiritual in nature, both Chalice and Radiant Sun, simultaneously (a cojoined Circle and Cross). In one sphere the intuitions of the parents need to lead, and in the other the intuitions of the teachers. [It may well be that this social -spiritual organism, in its micro-nature, is an archetype for all other micro community threefolding dynamics. It remains for the future to discover if this is so.]

One final point, speaking as a former parent. The College of Teachers and the Board of Trustees need to very carefully free the parent body to follow its own intuitions in the creation of its own (the parents) social structure, intentions and purposes. All that arises needs to come from the initiative of the parents themselves. They only need be shown this article, or otherwise inspired to begin to express themselves as the stewards of heart of the Chalice.

In many schools the parent body already carries a great deal of the social life - school parties and celebrations, and the social structure and nature of fund raising events. More crucial, and not well developed, is the role of the parent body in relationship to the wider community in which the School community finds itself. This as well, this outreach gesture, belongs to the parent body to initiate and mediate - it is a gesture of the social heart of the school community. The teachers must trust that the parent body will, over time, find the appropriate healthy way to organize the heart relations of the school community toward the other surrounding communities. Teachers and Board members should make themselves available to serve certain roles at the request of the parent organ, but the initiation of outreach is a social matter, not a spiritual one.

Moreover, as some students of Waldorf School dynamics may know, Christopher Budd has criticized the Schools (and anthroposophical organizations in general) for failing to appreciate the needed economic relationship for the funding of the schools. The school, as a cultural form, must be funded out of the surplus capital generated by viable economic enterprises and not by what is essentially a tax on the parent body.

The use of tuitions from the parents to fund a school is a major underlying factor in the social disharmonies, because many parents intuitively recognize that something is unfair here. But lacking the necessary idea on which to understand what should be done, and desiring the education for the child above all else, the parents undertake to financially support the school. [Of course, this is different in countries where the State provides funding, but even there the school is not financed in the appropriate fashion. There still results a social disharmony. It is just displaced into another arena. In American this has manifested in the activity of PLANS, which opposes (correctly) public funding of Waldorf Schools. Truly free Waldorf Schools should not be funded by parents or by the State, but directly from surplus capital. [PLANS by the way (while an understandable social response to certain excesses with the Waldorf community in the present), is itself an excess of displaced passion and anger.  But a deeper discusion of these problems belongs to a whole other essay.]

It is essential to the future social health of Waldorf Schools, that not only should the parent body organ become more highly developed and socially active, but the fundamental financing arrangement of the school itself needs to change. This financial change can be one of the first matters set before the parent body, as the arbiter of what is right in the social organism, not only within the school, but in terms of the school community’s relationship to the wider social life. For it is within the entrepreneurial spirit of this wider social life that the needed excess capital is to be found. The contribution of this capital to the school is a social deed, as is the seeking after it. Just in this then, the hidden social genius of the newly developing strong parent bodies can make a giant step forward in the future life of Waldorf Schools [try to remember why the schools are called Waldorf - the original school was funded directly from the excess capital of an active business organization].

Then, through this social deed, will the Chalice discover its path to maturity as the support of the Radiant Sun.

Joel A. Wendt, in the Season of Michaelmas, 1998