Shapes in the Fire

(Certain references below are present in this essay due to the fact that it was
first published as part of the small book Manure for the Garden of Anthroposophy.
It was also sent to the Social Science Section Conference on the Life of Rights
that took place in New York State around mid-summer in 2011)

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

*         *         *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*[the foolish philosopher:]

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

in Concord, Massachusetts.