Sergei O.

Anthroposophy and the Philosophy of Freedom

a (sort of) book review, by Joel A. Wendt

In a certain sense a review of this book is near impossible.  Prokofieff is a extraordinary scholar of things that Rudolf Steiner wrote and said, and this writer has no standing to reflect on the accuracy or not of most of Prokofieff's representations of the full scope of Steiner's thought.  As the larger part of the content of this newer book of Prokofieff's consists of statements quoting or paraphrasing Steiner (and covering huge aspects of the most lofty themes), it becomes then quite difficult to make any evaluation.  Yet, it would be remiss not to mention that some years back, another writer (and a countryman of Prokofieff's), Irina Gordienko, wrote a book attempting such an evaluation of the then totality of Prokofieff's works: Sergei O. Prokofieff: Myth and Reality, in which she concluded that Prokofieff's representations of Steiner's thought contained many serious errors, which she documented in great detail. The reader of this review will have to look to Gordienko's work then for an examination of that set of questions.

Nonetheless, there is a subject in this book on Anthroposophy and the Philosophy of Freedom with which this author is deeply familiar from over 35 years inner work, and that is: introspection.  Steiner himself describes his book The Philosophy of Freedom as: some results of introspection following the methods of natural science.  So the question then that this review can take up is the accuracy and utility of Prokofieff's representations of that particular book of Steiner's.

Prokofieff makes a number of statements about the content of The Philosophy of Freedom, most of which are overly general, and repeated many times.  In almost all cases, Prokofieff is making the same point over and over again, which is that whatever major theme with which Steiner concerned himself, such as Archangel Michael, the Holy Grail, the Christian Mysteries, the Foundation Stone and so forth, a deep connection can be drawn between those themes and the fundamental nature of The Philosophy of Freedom (as understood  by Prokofieff).  Steiner himself said (and Prokofieff quotes this several times), that all of Anthroposophy is contained in this book.  Here is the main supporting quote for this idea of Prokofieff's, 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.'

Taking this statement in hand: one can discover the whole content of anthroposophy, Prokofieff then proceeds to reduce The Philosophy to a few catch phrases (such as: love, freedom, love for the deed, pure thinking, the exceptional state and moral imagination), which ideas - catch phrases - he then finds everywhere within and related to the vast corpus of the works of Rudolf Steiner.

Prokofieff's subtitle for this book is: Anthroposophy and its Method of Cognition.  His basic idea is that in order to proceed out of what he calls anthroposophical cognition one begins by mastering the two sections of The Philosophy - the first (according to him and quoting Steiner to support this view) leading to freedom and the second leading to love.  Out of this mastery then, and in connection to something for which Prokofieff uses the term: the exceptional state, one proceeds to those experiences called by Steiner: Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition.  This term the exceptional state is also repeated many times throughout the book.  Prokofieff suggests that anthroposophical cognition then begins with learning freedom and love in The Philosophy of Freedom, after which one proceeds to the exact clairvoyance of Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition (by next, according to Prokofieff, following the instructions in Knowledge of Higher Worlds and How to Attain It).

Normally I would have no particular argument with that basic scheme (one of among many such schematic suggestions that Prokofieff makes, including multiple and complicated diagrams), given its highly abstract nature (absent concrete references).  Sadly, for all his reading of Steiner, Prokofieff seems to have failed to notice something in Occult Science: an outline, which treats the two paths (that path of The Philosophy and that path of Knowledge of Higher Worlds and its ancestors Theosophy and Occult Science: an outline) as quite distinct in nature, process and result - The Philosophy being the one which is above all more exact and more sure (see a more elaborate quote from Occult Science on this theme below).  One who succeeds on the path of The Philosophy discovers during this path the means necessary for the next steps, without reference to what is contained in Knowledge of Higher Worlds, for the pure thinking itself, properly understood in practice, has all that is required, when continued with rhythm and regularity, for engendering the soul transformation that leads to the capacity for spiritual research to arise. 

To be clear: there is no necessary relationship between the path of The Philosophy and that of the later basic books.  The former goes directly into the spiritual worlds via the introspective work on thinking, and the latter books (Theosophy, Occult Science and Knowledge of Higher Worlds), in that they contain material on spiritual self-development, mostly go through the sense world via elaborate systems of developmental exercises.

The essential problem with Prokofieff's book, however, arises in this way.  As most people know, a small error committed at the beginning of a task, can over the length of that task lead to considerable problems.  A number of such small errors will then have an even greater effect on the  total result.  Unfortunately for readers of Prokofieff, they will not find his representations of the reality of The Philosophy of Freedom accurate or useful; and, as what has to be called Prokofieff's theory of the meaning of that book is central and foundational to the totality of this book under review, the whole later edifice must collapse in on itself. 

On the basis of what Prokofieff has written, I can only conclude that he has not at all come to knowledge of Steiner's most essential book in practice, but since few anthroposophists have achieved such knowledge either, the task here to illuminate this matter is made all the more difficult.  Nonetheless, because this book, The Philosophy of Freedom, is so crucial to understanding anthroposophy, and to the future of humanity, an effort must be made to save it from the so very human carelessness (unscientific thinking) of those who ought to be its best friends.

In what follows, besides considering Prokofieff's mistaken take on The Philosophy, I hope to introduce the reader to certain aspects of that work in a way that will enable them to appreciate more deeply what can be gained by taking that Path.

Some general points: In scientific introspection we study the universal operating principles of mind, while remaining awake to the particular individual variations in application.  That is, we become objective about our Self in its most general and common characteristics, never forgetting however our unique and individual nuances.  We also move beyond the more ancient teachings of the Buddha, in that the Four Noble Truths took one point of view regarding the meaning of suffering and desire as leads to liberation from earthly karma; and, with The Philosophy of Freedom, written for a more modern form of consciousness, we realize the potential for inner freedom in a way that enables us to (as Tomberg puts it in his Early Writings) ennoble the earth by clair-thinking our way into its fundamental truths.   In each case inner freedom or liberation is sought, but the end-purpose is different, and thus also certain aspects of the means by which this end is to be achieved.

First of all, this book of Steiner's is not a book about Philosophy.  It appears in the stream of 19th Century central European philosophical thought because that is the place it needed to appear, and this fact then created, by necessity, the form and language conventions in which the Being of the Book needed to clothe itself.

The question being considered at that time was itself broader than a mere philosophical treatise could ask, although one form of the question often looked like a problem in the field of epistemology - in this sense: how do we know what we know, and how do we know we know it?  As an existential human question it can take this form: what is the meaning of thinking, and what is the relationship of my thinking to the world that appears to be outside myself?

In approaching this human question, Steiner begins with two very important questions of freedom, only one of which is barely mentioned in Prokofieff's attempted theory of the meaning of this book of Steiner's.  The first question (not mentioned at all!) is a bold one and strikes right at the heart of the matter.  Its importance is made clear by the fact that it is the last sentence of the original preface and has always remained there in that pride of place throughout multiple reprintings.  This is what it says:

One must be able to confront an idea and experience  it, otherwise one will fall into its bondage. 

For example, suppose someone does what Prokofieff has done (and many anthroposophists have tried to do this as well), which is to achieve a scholarly mastery of the vast corpus of Steiner's thought.  In general the result is the same - in the soul arises a world view, not created by the free activity of the thinking of the own I, but through devotion to the thought of another.  Our inner activity has been spent on trying to master, via memory and sometimes deliberate note taking and schematic analysis, all the great detail of the content of spiritual science, which totality is then often mistakenly called Anthroposophy.

But thoughts are real, and no less appear to be objects separate from our I as are all the aspects of sense experience.  Our I stands in relationship to such objects, and we are there the thinking (as in perceiving) subject.  Yet, as serious readers of The Philosophy of Freedom are aware, Steiner points out that there are different kinds of thought experiences, such as the mental picture, the concept and the idea, as well as specific acts of inner will: moral imagination, moral intuition and moral technique.  Introspection must learn to carefully discriminate multiple inner experiences, each from the other.

Introspection also reveals three different states of soul in relationship to the actual content of mental pictures, generalized concepts, pure concepts and ideas; and, these states of soul are: belief, understanding and knowledge.  I can believe something to be true (a kind of religious devotional faith based approach); and/or  I can know something to be true (a kind of objective scientific empirical and experimental approach); or, I can understand something to be true and be awake to the fact that while I don't know it, as a temporary content of thought such understanding helps me more carefully approach real knowledge.

That Steiner appreciated this problem is clear from his use of the term understanding in the introductions to (for example) Theosophy and Occult Science.  Steiner knows he is giving us the potential to understand the results of his spiritual research, but he also knows that such understanding is not knowledge.  The problem of knowledge Steiner reserves for A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World Conception; and, The Philosophy of Freedom (or Spiritual Activity).

A most crucial element for introspection is to learn to know what Steiner points toward as the distinction between percept and concept, or experience and thought.  If, for example, all I have is the concept or thought, then I can never have knowledge, but only belief or understanding.  A perceptless concept (thought only - no experience - taken from the mere reading of a Steiner text) of the return of Christ in the Ethereal is far far different from the direct experience of Christ in the Ethereal and the thoughts and concepts that follow such an experience.

Appreciating this has vast consequences for a lot of what is manifesting in the Society and Movement in the form of lectures and writings.  Knowledge only can arise when we have both the concept and the percept (or the thought and the experience) in the soul, for knowledge is the union of the two.  Since so few have experiences (percepts) of the spiritual world, most of what is written (such as in Prokofieff's books) can only be about our beliefs and our understandings.  Such discourses then, rooted as they are in what Steiner has said rather then our own authentic spiritual experiences, lose their connection to the scientific.  As a consequence, almost all modern lectures and writings, based on using Steiner's spiritual research, have more similarity to a theory of the meaning of Steiner's thought (understanding) and/or a  theology of Steinerism (belief), than they do to a continuation of Steiner's spiritual scientific work. 

Keep in mind, however, that this is not true of all anthroposophical work and thinking activity.  In Goethean Science for example, the question of knowledge remains fairly safe.  This is also so in many other instances, as when for example, an anthroposophical doctor confirms a supersensible indication of Steiner's during his or her practice.  At the same time, when we sit around discussing Archangel Michael's intentions, in study groups focused on a Steiner text, in the absence of a supersensible percept (experience) of Michael, we remain in the realms of belief and understanding, not in the realm of knowledge.

A clue to when this is happening is when we hear or read this phrase (used by Prokofieff in this book, by the way):I imagine that ...followed by what is essentially speculation, a type of thinking far removed from the disciplines of natural science standing behind Steiner's introspective work.  In a similar vein, Prokofieff frequently uses these terms: it follows that, suggesting that the speculation he is about to offer is the only logical conclusion of the propositions just written.

It can become a fact of soul life (and this author is quite familiar with it, having previously fallen into this trap), that we can become possessed by complexes of concepts (ideas), and not then be inwardly free.  Of all the complexes of concepts, which anthroposophists are in danger of falling into bondage in relationship to, it is the thought-content of Steiner that is the most problematic.  If we cannot hold Steiner thought (“Steiner said”) at a objective distance from our own I inwardly in the soul, then we are captured by or in bondage to this thought-content.  All our experience will be polluted by this massive content, and we will not be able, as thinkers, to form fully free and creative conceptions outside it.

About this problem Emerson said this in his lecture at Harvard in 1837, called The American Scholar: 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.

Prokofieff and others, all with good intentions, have absorbed far too much Steiner, and by this have placed their own I in bondage to a thought-content from which great forces (see further below for details) of inner will are needed in order to find the spiritual freedom with which The Philosophy concerns itself.  Remember and always keep in mind that true* thought is real, and it is just as real as the objects of the sense world.  But Prokofieff doesn't know this book in practice, only his theory (perhaps a too weak - see addendum - understanding mixed with moments of mere belief) of it, so that when, for example, he attempts to speak of what Steiner describes as pure thinking, Prokofieff once more makes an error of thought.

*[I use the term true here to distinguish mental pictures and many concepts that arise from either mere memory or that are simply repetitions of old thought.  A great deal of the content of our consciousness consists of this dead debris of prior thought activity, and it all needs to be distinguished from true thought, which is living and mobile, and does not coagulate and then die and lay like dust in the soul.  Typical dead thought appears frequently as "Steiner said", having been drawn from the dust heap of concepts in an aspect of our memory that is like a graveyard or storage house.]

Prokofieff's theory suggests that the essence of pure thinking is sense (or body) free thinking, which is understandable as a concept based solely on the reading of Steiner.  However, were Prokofieff's thoughts about this book based upon his own direct experience, rather than mere reading, he would have discovered that pure thinking is pure in three unique and different ways.  Yes, it is pure in the sense that the attention of our I is oriented fully away from sense experience (we don't actually have to leave the body to do this), but it is also pure in a consciously intended moral sense - that is our  thinking is fully other-directed.  We have no egoistic stake in the outcome of the thinking activity, for we do it for others not for ourselves.  The third way such thinking is pure is that it is only of concepts and ideas - that is the object of thought is the thought-world itself.

As a consequence Prokofieff confuses certain matters which a careful scientific introspection would have revealed as separate.  Having read in Steiner of the higher cognitive experience, he believes (theorizes - imagines - speculates)  first that the exceptional state mentioned by Steiner in The Philosophy is this higher cognitional state and that another way to describe it is as pure thinking.  The reality of the exceptional state is, however, quite different and much simpler than his speculation.  One is in this exceptional state when the attention of our I is focused not toward the outer world of the senses, but  fully on the inner world of introspective experience.  This state is exceptional precisely because the attention of the I in ordinary consciousness seldom turns around in this way.  Oh, we do reflect upon our inner soul life on occasion, which is a kind of thinking, but we generally don't observe and then reflect about thinking itself. 

We also cannot think about our present thinking directly.  We have to discover through introspection that thinking leaves a kind of after-effect in the soul, much the same way that light leaves an after-image in the eye itself.  That after-effect can then be perceived by the subsequent thinking and by this means be thought about.

Above, when leading up to the concept or idea of bondage to ideas, I mentioned a second problem of  freedom that Prokofieff failed to appreciate in practice and thus correctly represent, which again was right in the beginning of The Philosophy.  This is territory first deeply explored by the Buddha, but Steiner puts the question of desire and suffering in a unique way: can I want what I want.  For the Buddhism born of the Four Noble Truths, the question was how can I overcome desire (become liberated from its influence).  For Steiner the question was  can I be the master of desire - stand in a free relationship to it, yet not leave it aside.

In the 19th Century this was a difficult question, for the idea was dominant then that we were creatures of desire, and that our desires rule us, rather than the other way around.  So a secondary and particular question of freedom then resides in the problem of the relationship of our I to desires,  hungers, needs and wants.  All of  this is in the first Chapter of The Philosophy, and represents (as later described by Steiner) the point where he started his own introspective studies.  The Philosophy is an exact,  but objectified, description of the path Steiner took (or better said: discovered, for the existence of this cognitive path is obviously the result of the activity of the Creator Beings).

Steiner's discovery, also elaborated briefly in the first Chapter and then in detail later, is that we can place in front of a desire a freely chosen moral ideal, and by this means the I can learn to rule the desire or want.  We can, through the elaboration of our own moral laws, learn to want what we want.  On this path begins something that eventually results in the purification (or katharsis) of the astral (desire) body, and which Steiner describes carefully in the 12th lecture of the cycle on the John Gospel.

Again, Prokofieff knows this theoretically (his personal collection of beliefs and understandings), having been a deep reader of Steiner's texts for years, but there is little evidence of his having practiced the teachings of The Philosophy as exemplified in his inability to even mention in passing these most essential aspects of inner or spiritual freedom (freedom in relationship to the idea, and freedom in relationship to the desires of the astral body).  In the former we find a free relationship to the spiritual world by being able to confront an idea and experience it; and, in the latter we find a free relationship to the sense world, because of the interconnection between the astral (desire) body and the carnal (physical) body.

In point of fact, The Philosophy is not about concepts at all, but represents a map to introspective practice that results in a training of the will.  It is what the will learns (which is far beyond concepts), that is the essence of that book.  But the map is not the territory - only he or she who actually practices scientific introspection will find their way to katharsis.  It is not what I think, or the thoughts I can have that are crucial, but what I can do inwardly in my own soul.

No one will grasp this goal through the study of the text itself.  Instead, one must study the own soul, and through ones own introspective thinking draw ones own conclusions. If we even try to conform our conclusions to accord with Steiner's expressions, we will remain in bondage to an idea or a theory of this book.  The I must find the exceptional state (turn around and observe within), and here then will be discovered the real teachings and teacher, which is not Rudolf Steiner, but our own true self (Know Thyself).

Prokofieff did not do this, and his work on trying to find a true relationship between The Philosophy and Anthroposophy suffers gravely because of this lack.  Let me begin the conclusion of this review by sharing my own appreciation of this relationship between The Philosophy and Anthroposophy, that has arisen from decades of introspective practice.

I had been practicing introspection for 7 years before meeting Rudolf Steiner, through his books in 1978.  I immediately became fascinated, not only with his work but also with the works of his students and read probably 50 to 60 books of various kinds in the next three years.  At a certain point I became  aware that I once more had been captured by an elaborate thought-content (this had happened to me twice before in the previous seven years).  This time that inner territory was familiar, and I knew from experience what I had to do to free myself.

I stopped reading Steiner and friends completely, and for the next several months opposed the spontaneous arising of any Steiner connected thought in my own consciousness (soul).  No thoughts at all of this kind were to be allowed (thus strengthening the will for control of thoughts, i.e no bondage to the idea).  Further, I had learned from previous experiences that I needed to be so free that I could consciously decide never to read another Steiner book or have another related Steiner thought.  I needed to purge myself of even the motive (unfree desire) to study Steiner.  The final key was to consciously formulate for what reason I  might renew my acquaintance with his work and the work of his students.  The motive itself had to be consciously thought out, and it could not be personal (an inner act similar to those involved in the mastery or katharsis of the desire body).

Upon achieving this free inner state, I was then able to undertake a review of all that I had so far learned and read in Steiner and in his students (during this mastery of a thought-content, it does not disappear, but goes into a kind of pralaya condition in the thought-world).  As much as possible I tried to inwardly behold the whole of what I had previously studied, and eventually reached this conclusion: Anthroposophy was a method not a content.  It was how you did something, not the resultant what.

A week or so later I was visiting a new friend that I had met through previous anthroposophical Society explorations, and I told him of my discovery.  He immediatly went to his book shelf, and took down a copy of Owen Barfield's Romanticism Comes of Age, where he read to me, from a lecture Barfield had given in Dornach in 1933, the very same exact words:Anthroposophy is a method not a content.  No experience since that time has changed this conclusion, although my own methods and practices require of me to renew from the ground up such fundamental concepts regularly or whenever otherwise needed.

Unfortunately, this subtlety is not taught in the Society and Movement, and much confusion results.  For example, recall Prokofieff's subtitle to this book: Anthroposophy and its method of Cognition.  Clearly (from this statement) we can see that Prokofieff feels that of the producing cognitive method and the resulting conceptual content, the latter is Anthroposophy and the former is not.  The key word isIt's.  Anthroposophy for Prokofieff possesses or contains the method, but is not identical withit.  Yet, Rudolf Steiner frequently used the following unusual construction in his lectures and writings: anthroposophical spiritual science.  Such a phrase makes no rational sense if Anthroposophy and Spiritual Science are an identity, for then such a phrase would be the same as saying grape flavored grape flavor.  On the contrary Steiner clearly meant the term anthroposophical to be a modifier of the noun spiritual science.

Further, in the very first sentence of the first Leading Thought Steiner defines his terms in this fashion: Anthroposophy is a path of cognition from the spiritual in the human being to the Spiritual in the  Universe.   Keep in mind that the book this quote is taken from is called Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts.  What makes something anthroposophical is in fact  action on the path , or the practice of   Anthroposophy.  Which returns us to the point of The Philosophy, so that we can see that the book is not an argument or set of concepts, but a manual for the training of the will-in-thinking through inspiring us to engage in scientifically empirical and experimental introspection.

Now some may find this a bit over-technical, but this is what actually makes Anthroposophy scientific -  the discipline involved in the thinking activity,  coupled to the fact that it can be universally applied to all experience, even spiritual experience; and, that all thinkers with a more or less intact mind should be able to replicate the work.

Lets begin to close this “sort of” review with some  words of Steiner from near the end of the 5th Chapter of Occult Science: an outline, on the theme of the relationship between the books: Knowledge of Higher Worlds, as well as certain developmental indications in Theosophy and Occult Science: an outline, and the book: The Philosophy of Freedom (or Spiritual Activity): 

The path that leads to sense-free thinking by way of the communications of spiritual science is thoroughly reliable and sure. There is however another that is even more sure, and above all more exact [emphasis added, ed,]; at the same time, it is for many people more difficult. The path in question is set forth in my books The Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World-Conception and The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity. These books tell what man's thinking can achieve when directed not to impressions that come from the outer world of the physical sense but solely upon itself. When this is so, we have within us no longer the kind of thinking that concerns itself merely with memories of the things of the sense; we have instead pure thinking which is like a being that has life within itself. [living thinking, ed.] In the above mentioned books you will find nothing at all that is derived from the communications of spiritual science. They testify to the fact that pure thinking, working within itself alone, can throw light on the great questions of life - questions concerning the universe and man. The books thus occupy a significant intermediate position between knowledge of the sense-world and knowledge of the spiritual world. What they offer is what thinking can attain when it rises above sense-observation, yet still holds back from entering upon the spiritual, supersensible research. 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. 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.

Steiner faced a peculiar problem when he taught, mostly in Central Europe, during a particular time (the moment of triumph of scientific materialism).  The problem was the lingering influence of the Intellectual Soul.  The time of the Consciousness Soul had barely begun, and the momentous event of the inauguration of the true Second Coming was still pending.  This required of Steiner that he create conceptual expressions for our understanding, which were mostly of a form that could inspire the dying away remnants of the Intellectual Soul, in his readers and listeners, to take up the tasks of giving birth to the Consciousness Soul.  We can get a hint of the difficulty, when Steiner indicates in The Challenge of the Times that while English speakers are instinctively in the Consciousness Soul in their Life of Rights, Central  Europeans must be educated to the Consciousness Soul.

Let me now turn the light of a Consciousness Soul approach on his situation. 

Just as the Incarnation occurred at the Turning Point of Time, so the true Second Coming arises during the triumph of scientific materialism (and the deepest descent of the I into matter).  In relationship to the return of Christ in the Ethereal, Steiner plays the same role that John the Baptist played: he is the voice crying in the wilderness of scientific materialism, urging us to make way or prepare for the coming of the Lord (of Karma).  Similar to John the Baptist, Steinerloses his head, that is his life is cut short at just that moment when his most mature thinking abilities could have come to the aid of the ongoing  metamorphosis of Western Civilization, and then midwife it into an entirely new spiritual culture.

Subsequent to Steiner's death, and during the beginning years of the Return of Christ in the Ethereal, the Anthroposophical Society abandons itself to a devotion to Steiner (idolizing him and his works), hopefully only temporarily losing an opportunity to consciously participate to a more significant degree with the true Second Coming.  Steiner predicts this possibility in Awakening to Community (I believe this is in lecture three, but it could be in lecture six where the material on the Reverse Cultus is set out), when he describes for the Intellectual Soul that the development of the Society and Movement may fall behind the development of Anthroposophy itself, perhaps leading to endless conflict (the essential danger in our present situation).

The discipleship impulse, that followed the Incarnation, also exists today, in that Witnesses to the true Second Coming are appearing and beginning to write the Gospels of the true Second Coming (see, for example, Ben-Aharon's book: The Spiritual Event of the Twentieth Century).   These Witnesses yet refuse to accept that the potential breach between discipleship (true Anthroposophy) and an excessive devotion to things Steiner (a kind of cult of Steinerism), is unavoidable.

The author of this sort of review is one such Witness, and from the periphery of the Society and Movement we urge a change of heart in the Center, such that the excessive devotion to Steiner becomes replaced with an urgent hunger to experience (have real knowledge of) the true Second Coming.  That experience is the real fruit of the practice of The Philosophy of Freedom (or Spiritual Activity), which is why Steiner encouraged, in the 12th Lecture on the John Gospel that we learn to truly think, via the skill, craft, and art, learned from scientific introspection, and thus  become able to fully live into, in thinking as perceiving contemplation, the ethereal aspect (part) of that which is recorded in the Prologue to the John Gospel (the first 14 verses).

This practice then of truly thinking the Prologue leads to the means to not just have belief in the Second Coming, or an understanding that it happened and is happening, but to know the Return of Christ in the Ethereal through direct experience (and thus write for ourselves, a revision of the Prologue - not a replacement, a revision - that does for the true Second Coming what the original did for the Incarnation).  For example, where the original Prologue begins to end with: And the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us, ...; a version oriented toward the Second Coming could say: And the Word became Thought, and lived within us, ...".

This is not as hard as one might believe, by the way, and while the details (particularly in terms of a Second Eucharist in the Ethereal) of that go far beyond the scope of this review, they can yet be found in my Living Thinking in Action, available for free on my website: Shapes in the Fire.

Gospels (the Good News) of the true Second Coming will continue to emerge as we move into the future.  They will be as different from each other as were the original Four Gospels, and (of course) there will be many more than four.

To close, let us return to near where we began, with this:...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, ed.]

Because Prokofieff (along with a lot of others) has misconceived what Anthroposophy is (mistaking the content or product for the method or producing cause), he is unable to appreciate what Steiner has said here.  It is the act of true inner freedom out of which thinking discovers the content.  In this sense producing cause (method) and created product (content) weave seamlessly into each other.  They are two sides of one coin (monism), yet what introspection reveals is that one begins something that the other completes.  While experience seems to come first, it is the free act of thinking that draws forth the thought and creates the unity.  Without the presence of the free subjective thinker, the experience acquires no human meaning.

In effect, Prokofieff's book tries to force his preconceptions onto the phenomena, with the result that he distorts the reality of The Philosophy to make it fit his pre-thought assumptions (a problem that thinking can avoid if it first trains itself in the organic thinking - different from and preliminary to the pure thinking - of Goetheanism as taught through the book A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World Conception).

At the same time, let us save what Prokofieff has actually accomplished.  Working as many others do within the Society and Movement, while yet not awake introspectively to the differences between belief, understanding and knowledge, Prokofieff has nonetheless managed to forge his beliefs and understandings (and no doubt a few moments of real knowledge - true moments where he is able to unite a spiritual percept/experience and its related concept/thought), into a remarkable edifice.

Alas, like all of us, he is human and can make errors.  The edifice is far from perfect, which then suggests that we do no service to him, or to Steiner, if we enshrine Prokofieff's writings as if they were perfect.  So let us honor the effort - the striving to try to be able to represent in a coherent form the whole of the  massive content that Steiner produced, while at the same time recognizing the human flaws with which such an effort will necessarily be accompanied (belief and understanding are not yet knowledge, and the related tragedy of bondage to an idea).  That is a apt description of the book:  Anthroposophy and The Philosophy of Freedom - remarkable, yet flawed.

He and I spoke at Ann Arbor in 2005, for about 15 minutes, where I shared with him my concerns about the Gordienko book, and my agreement with her assessment that Prokofieff did not know, as an experience, either Goetheanism, the Consciousness Soul or The Philosophy of Freedom.  He did not disagree, but said in reply (and a bit wisely): None of us are perfect.


- 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 Freedom 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 research on Steiner's thought in this way, but true spiritual research has a whole other character.

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

[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, 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.]

Now 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.  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), then through our purified thinking we have taken in the same insights that an initiate generally can read only in the astral light.  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.  Now if a person takes them in 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.  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.  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.  Thus on this modern path of the human being to Michael, we have the activation of all three characteristics of ethical individualism.

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 to the point of pure thinking, 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.  This distinguishes the study of anthroposophy fundamentally from any other study.  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) [The Steiner quote does not actually logically support that statement 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 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.

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.

Theosophy: Only 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.  [emphasis added]

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), 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. 

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).

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.

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.

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 what is 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).

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 is a linchpin in natural science (properly understood).  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 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, that which he named: The Philosophy of Freedom (or Spiritual Activity)?