Bitter Medicine*

Saving Anthroposophy from the Anthrposophical Society and Movement

by Joel A. Wendt

*this title is 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 ...

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!""

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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, 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 there 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.]

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Recently the 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 a 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 and 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 full 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 Philsophy of Spiritual Activity), that (whether knowingly or not) the most popular leader 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 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).  What William Bento needed to characterize, in his review, as opinion, was not mere opinion.  Introspection enables the I to makes 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.

Real 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.

Without 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) Thinking, also what needs to be called: The New Mysteries.  We can, if we try, practice these new mysteries in our group work, and the culmination of this group work - the New Mysteries - 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) 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 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.

As 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 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.

*       *       *

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 absract 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.

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:

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?  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]