Breathing Lessons:

There is an irony to conferences, to any kind of gathering of individuals who only see each other on occasion.  We find each other interesting, but we also have a need to be interesting, and sometimes the conference even requires us to be interesting.  We have to expose ourselves, and hope that some of this exposed truth will work for the best - at least for ourselves.    The “other” has to endure us being us.  Oddly, for all the idealism of a perfectly humble human being, Christ very much likes us to be us, flaws and all.  This next, then, is me being me.

Near the end of the June Section meeting in Shelburne VT, I stood up at a gathering of all those remaining, and explained that I was leaving the Section, and the Society.  I didn’t have anything against the people there, but rather I had to face the fact that anthroposophical Society meetings caused me a great deal of pain of soul, and I was letting go of continuing to endure those kinds of experiences.  I would do then, in a few days after the weekend, tear into tiny pieces my blue card and my pink card, and burn them.  This burning was to be symbolic celebration of the dying of a long term relationship, between my soul and a social form to which I had failed to find healthy relationship.  For example, the last two times I attending Society gatherings, the meeting last year in Keene, and this one, had actually made me physically ill.

I spoke that way in part to shock those who were listening.  I wanted them to be awake and listening carefully.  I went on to explain that the Society in America was in a lot of trouble, because of too much Steiner-said, and not enough listening to the reality of American Culture.  I spoke briefly of my written books, and mentioned particularly American Anthroposophy.  I reminded them William Bento had given a positive review of the book (in the Evolving News for Members), and even though he called it “bitter medicine”, he thought people should read it.  All the same, very few have.

I didn’t so much care if they read my book (although it was written specifically for anthroposophists), but the Society in American needed to put down Steiner books, and read something else - read something American, such as David Foster Wallace, in the study groups, and stop polluting their minds with an excess of far too much Steiner.  It is not Steiner per se - he’s fine, it is the excess - the almost addict-like dependence on the thoughts from a particular mind.  Emerson warned against the tyranny of such books, where we are made into a satellite in orbit around another ‘s mind.  A book’s only value, to Emerson, is to inspire.  To Emerson then, the real thing of value was the individual “active soul”:

“This every man is entitled to; this every man contains within him, although in almost all men obstructed and as yet unborn.  The soul active sees absolute truth and utters truth, or creates.  In this action it is genius; not the privilege of here and there a favorite, but the sound estate of every man.  In its essence it is progressive.  The book, the college, the school of art, the institution of any kind, stop with some past utterance of genius.  This is good, say they - let us hold by this.  They pin me down.”  The American Scholar: a speech given to Harvard in 1837

After I had spoken, Kristin Puckett had asked me to consider writing something for the Section newsletter, about the pain - what was it, and what had I meant.  The reader of this might do well to appreciate that when I hear speech, or the written word, I experience the ideas lurking in the thinking behind the manifestation.  It is analogous to that situation of the magnet and the iron filings.  The words, spoken and written, descend from a place, and the activity of thought in them reveals the nature of the place from which they originated.  When I listen, or read, I follow the path back to that place or origin.  Since I am deeply familiar with the experience of the world of ideas and concepts, and its moral aesthetic, if what I have heard and read is disharmonious with that world, I will experience this dissonance as pain of soul.  The more disharmonious, the worse the pain.

There are a lot of people who are sensitives, seers, clairvoyants, whatever.  The mind in the soul can naturally become a kind of musical-like instrument.  To do so, however, often requires a kind of cultivated vulnerability.   The invisible world is very subtle, yet at the same time very powerful.  These spiritual folks (who often adore us) have little desire to harm us or rule us, but at the same time to find a means of communion with them is not easy.  It is a very real kind of love affair. 

For someone with my own biography, which is weird but not particularly special, there came, from the beginning instinctively, something I now describe more maturely and poetically, as the Rising of the Sun in the Mind.   A  relationship arises with the true and the good.  It is a kind of moral aesthetic - a music of the mind: Or as Steiner spoke of it: It thinks in me.  But what is that kind of thinking, and what is the subtle romance in the intimacy of It thinks in me?

For example, I love Anthroposophy, especially its mysterious seeming deeper aspects.  The same with America.  Those are not abstract feelings, but intuitive perceptions - a merging as it were.  I know and I am known, as St. Paul would have put it.  In point of fact, there is no real knowledge of anything we do not love.

Then, I get in some rooms with anthroposophists, many American, some European.  They are, mostly, what Steiner would have called: Aristotelians.  I am a Platonist.  I don’t have opinions about what is true, but rather have an intimate spiritual relationship with the truth.  In these conferences I hear my fellow members speak, and inside my soul I listen to the music of thought expressed via the instrument of their speech.  The moral aesthetic music of it.  Imagine if you could play Steiner, as a kind of Mozart of true Philosophy, in your own mind, and the voices you heard outside you were honestly trying to do that, but could not.  They mostly slept, and/or were blind to their own thinking, and did not appreciate the beautiful instrument that an awake mind could truly be.  Even in the tone of voice, their pain of the dissonance with the truth was there. 

All the same, a whole weekend listening to the raw and sour notes of Steiner-said wears me out.  The boundaries of my soul/mind become sandpapered into an invisible oozing open wound.  The delicate inner senses of soul, from which I have learned to see, are rubbed raw.

Now someone might say: well, Rudolf Steiner bore our excessive adoration, or didn’t suffer from it.  To that I would say: You don’t know what he felt at all.  You have a fantasy - a myth - of Steiner, but nothing of his reality, as a vulnerable suffering human being.

Consider Steiner’s first four books.  First he points toward Goethe and away from himself.  Goethe is the highest expression of something latent in human nature.  Not Steiner, Goethe.  In his second book Steiner tries to illuminate the Way of Knowledge that Goethe practiced and lived, but never articulated.  Goethe never thought about thinking, either in an organic or pure fashion - he just did it.  In his third book, Steiner’s dissertation plus an additional chapter, he tries to connect the living cognitive potential of thinking to the field of German Idealism and the ongoing Way of Knowledge in natural science.  In the fourth book, Steiner lays out his own path, through thinking, to the good and the true. 

This last, The Philosophy of Freedom, is a map to the study of the mind, but most anthroposophists study the book, not the territory of their own mind.  The last sentence of the original preface reads:  “One must be able to confront an idea and experience it; otherwise one will fall into its bondage”.  This bondage is what lives in the Society, with its excessive reliance on Steiner-said.  Minds, not free, but in bondage.  It is painful to experience.  Impossible to heal from the outside.  Only the addict can cure himself.

What happens to a soul that loves a dead philosopher/seer more than it loves and trusts either its own potential, or the world of spirit to which that potential leads?  The worst is not the Steiner-said, however.  The worst is the absence of a seeking for Christ.  Especially given that He could not be closer to us - closer than even Steiner.

Forty-four years ago, a young man left his physical body, his astral body, and his ethereal body, and gave it to me.  He was in his 31st year.  He also gave me his biography - a wife, three children, a job, and many habits.  It was seven years before I even began to understand the source of all the changes that ensued, because when he walked out, and I walked in, I had no direct memory of the change.  I only knew that on a particular morning, upon leaving sleep, I was awake inside my own mind.  I was different from before, but had no concepts whatsoever to explain this deeply subtle, yet profound experience, for this awakeness was buried under all the confusion of the Time, in which my benefactor (who gave me his life) had been raised.

My own birth into this world required I awake to what lived in his ethereal and astral bodies, and raise them out of this confusion - to transform them.  That took decades to evolve.

At my last Section conference, mentioned above,  I was in a poetry workshop.  The teacher coaxed this poem from me, in which “he" and “his” refers to “Joey”*, my body brother - the first personality, who was/is a most remarkable human being:

he gifts me with secrets
cursed beautiful agony
his loss, my confusion
our pain becomes responsibility
birthing woken light
thought radiant
a lost world revealed


Since this is a kind of last word, from me to the Section, let me go a bit further toward the future.  The Section could invite me to speak, and pay my costs, even though I am no longer officially a member.  To speak to them, to the next AGM, and so forth.  Why?  Because I really am better at a spiritual social science than anyone else in the Society. 

Why don’t people know this?  Because Ahriman’s minions, via the threefold double-complex, make it hard.  No one reads my works.  No one.  My book: “The Art of God: an actual theory of Everything” is basically a social science text [ ].  I recently wrote on Facebook this, over a 12 week period: “Introduction to a Spiritual Social Science” [ ]

Part of the problem, for the Section and the Society, is to assume knowledge here begins and ends with Rudolf Steiner and Threefolding of the Social Organism.  That’s  poppycock.  Demonstrate-able poppycock.  As a Platonist, well versed in the Socratic approach, all that needs to be done is ask a few good leading questions, and the weakness of that assumption is made to appear right in the mind of the doubter, through their own thinking activity.

People are just too mentally lazy, and can’t grasp that the spiritual world, especially that Community of Beings Steiner called: the Anthroposophical Movement, would find any other geniuses with which to gift and help the world find its way to Anthroposophy.  Such as me, for instance.  Old, bald, fat guy, who seems mean and opinionated.  Better we love our dead and deified Herr Doctor, then lift up our heads and look around for the next spiritual-geek the Anthroposophical Movement trains for the Third Millennium phase of the incarnation of Anthroposophy.   Easier to read Steiner all the time Steiner, than even imagine anyone else could ever be better (although Steiner himself said who would be, and where to look for them).  As Kurt Vonnegut was want to say: “So It Goes”.  Or Zippy: “Are we having fun yet?”

What’s the real question and the real problem?  Few anthroposophists know how to do science.  In the Age of science, we end up teaching Steiner as a belief system.   Very few will buy this.  Ever.  Maybe if we don’t just teach Steiner, and broadened what we do teach, to the Goetheanists for example, our product might look better.  Far better, and more justifiable, to those who admire science.  Science is not just ahrimanic.  Real Science is filled with the Christ Impulse, especially when it isn’t just numbers.   Go figure. <more irony>

Joel A. Wendt, a friend to Steiner and to anthroposophists everywhere.