A well intended* very flawed Book
From Gondhishapur to Silicon Valley
- Spiritual Forces in the development of computers
and the future of technology -
(*you know, the intentions the way to hell is paved with)
After a hundred
years of anthroposophical
activity, the Anthroposophical Society and Movement lies
asleep as to
its real condition. Anthroposophical media predominantly
good face on everything, and avoids as much as possible
thinking about its own products. As Irina Gordienko
wrote in her
lucid and remarkable examination of the real value of
works (S. O. Prokofieff: Myth and Reality):
"When a false or
non-proven assertion appears in the
scientific press, this is taken as a signal for the opening of
scientific debate, which continues until the matter is
if further research has to be carried out. It is quite a
different situation in the Anthroposophical media. There
write whatever one likes, provided no interests are put at
risk and the
familiar terminology is used. Any attempt to criticize
printed assertions is condemned out of a false ethical
tolerance towards a person is confused with tolerance of his
The ideal of brotherly love comes to mean little more
maintaining of 'diplomatic relations' with ones neighbor,
remaining indifferent to his spiritual destiny.
is, in our opinion, by no means a sign of irresponsibility -
only secondary - but is rather the expression of a materialism
deeply rooted in the unconscious, inclining one to experience
inter-personal relations in the present as absolutely real,
working of the counter-forces which stand behind every lie is
or is at best passed off as an abstract theory, about which
hold clever discussions, but which, as soon as one returns to
reality of life, will be forgotten. "An
result of research in the spiritual world is a living being.
It is there; it must be resisted, it must first be
(22.10.1915, GA 254)"
essay in no way means to
question the good intentions of Paul Emberson in the writing
book. At the same time, in that Anthroposophy is meant
science, it becomes necessary to examine whether the product
Emerson's good intentions meets any standard at all for
wants to be representative of anthroposophical Spiritual
Since it is this author's experience that the
Anthroposophy themselves are not well understood in the
Movement, here is a recent entry I made on an Internet
focused on Steiner's The Philosophy of Freedom. The
asked there "What
Anthroposophy?", and this was my
actually answers this question in
precisely the place he should have. At the end of his
wrote Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts, and the very first
the very first thought begins: "Anthroposophy is...".
difficulty comes when the next words are translated into
Perhaps some German speakers here can provide some
In the meant time, I'll parse out the problem as I have
"Here's the first
sentence of Leading Thought #1, in the
George and Mary Adams translation: "Anthroposophy is a path of
knowledge, to guide the Spiritual in the human being to the
in the universe." That seemed apparently quite plain in
meaning, until when I was in a discussion group in Fair Oaks,
California in 1984, where a German speaker said that the term
"knowledge" was not an accurate translation of the the German
erkentnis or or erkennen (I don't have a German edition of the
again someone will have to provide the missing piece).
gentleman went on to say that the problem is that "knowledge"
is a kind
of passive term, and that many seemed to think the study of
Anthroposophy was about study itself (reading Steiner and so
However, the term erkentnis (probably spelled wrong by
to something more active inwardly, and he suggested that
knowledge the proper English word should be: cognition.
"Anthroposophy is a path of cognition...".
"This then brings us
to Steiner's epistemological works, A
Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World Conception, and
Philosophy of Freedom, for these places are where the new
"Now from my own
reading, observation and thinking, I have
put together the following ideas in regard to this.
"Only in the present
phase of the evolution of
consciousness has the capacity for this "new" cognition arisen
beings. It is entirely modern in its nature. So,
example, we have Coleridge in England and Emerson in America
instinctive relationship to this new capacity, which they
best they could, and which stands behind the "how" of thinking
allows them to express their individual genius.
Yet, it was
Steiner who saw the need to first understand it in himself,
and this in
a way that wove our understanding of this capacity into
the underlying spirit of the age: natural science. So
then we get
the sub-title to the book PoF: "some results of introspection
the methods of natural science".
"Many people in our
society and movement believe that it
is Steiner's clairvoyance that is the basis for Anthroposophy.
this they are mistaken. It is only when Steiner takes
spiritual experience into his soul through the mediating lens
new cognition that we get what he often called:
spiritual science". What makes the content of spiritual
(the books and lectures) "anthroposophical" is the particular
cognition by which the percepts (the spiritual experiences)
to concepts, i.e. the new cognition.
"Further, in Occult
Science Steiner made clear that the
new cognition (the achievement of the goal of PoF) did not
directly to clairvoyance, but instead led the thinker to an
of the world of spirit as a world of thought. He also
says in the
same paragraphs (end of Chapter Five in Occult Science) that
Knowledge of Higher Worlds can lead to spiritual experience,
of PoF does this in a way that is more sure and more exact.
leads indirectly through the sense world, but only PoF lead
through the spiritual world of our own inwardness.
"Another way I see
"The Creator gave us
the potential for certain capacities
through the evolution of consciousness. But we have to
into manifestation, for it is part of our evolution to develop
necessary inner will forces. The I has to become
(the I is the will), and PoF is the challenge to modern
the development of this special capacity only now available.
anthroposophists to only teach this (after succeeding in
goal of PoF), we could give nothing more to humanity of any
At the same time, like any "science" it really only
itself in application. We learn the new cognition not
ourselves, but as a service. We need to not only know
PoF, but to apply this new capacity to questions of Life.
"There is a lot more
that could (and should) be said, but
that takes us off into the realm of an much needed honest
how well the Society and Movement are doing with respect to
knowing and practicing the new cognition."
Let me now say
some more about the
significance of The Philosophy of Freedom (Spiritual
we confront Emberson's text.
It is clear
from a study of The
Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, and even more clear from a
(objective and empirical) introspective life, that the human
has knowledge when he is able to unite in his soul both
(experience) and concept (thought). The mere reading of
text can in fact never provide knowledge, although this myth
is sub-consciously endemic in the Society and Movement.
I recently heard a talk by the head of the Pedagogical Section
School of Spiritual Science where he said: "We know through Rudolf Steiner
that..." [emphasis added].
statement can only be made by
someone who has not troubled themselves to come to know
Steiner's most important work, a condition so common in the
Movement that it causes us to fall into error after error in
Some years ago
I wrote the following
essay, which I published on my website (in 1997) and which was
translated into German and published in the Jahrbuch
anthroposophicsche Kritik 1998 at
editor's initiative: The Study
of Rudolf Steiner's Lecture Cycles and the Problem of
Cognition: musings on the
epistemological swampland of the Anthroposophical Movement. [http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/oajnr.html]
matter can be put this way.
Most of Steiner's work is derived from his research into
Spiritual World. He there has had many remarkable
which I suspect we mostly have no adequate idea. He then
these experiences into words, either written or spoken.
hear them or read them. The question is whether what was
knowledge (percept-experience united with concept-thought)
become, through the process of listening or reading, knowledge to us. Clearly it cannot because we lack
of the necessary elements required for knowledge - the percept-experience. In fact, most of
read or hear from Steiner would basically have to be called perceptless concepts (or
thought uncoupled from experience).
This fact does
not, by the way, in anyway
make Steiner's works any less important, or imply that he did
that seems to have confused us. On the contrary, he is
clear (for example in Theosophy and Occult
Science: an outline), and has
written in the
introductions and the beginning materials in those two books
over again of: understanding. He
has remarked more than once that the reports
of a researcher into the spiritual has the same value and
the reports of a natural scientist to the neophyte. The
scientist can also not give us knowledge, but can give us understanding.
Would that this
is all there is to the
Understanding, if we
read Steiner carefully, has to be earned.
We cannot be passive, and must work over consciously the
so provided. In the best case we recreate what he has
said) in our souls by this working over, and by consciously
through the underlying logical relations. We meet
half-way as it were, and this enables our soul to acquire a
deep understanding of the results of the work of the spiritual
However, because the Society and Movement failed to draw
itself Steiner's works on the problem of knowledge in a healthy way, the boundary between, and the
significance of, the difference between knowledge and understanding is
unknown to us,
such that we have lost the true understanding of the
scientific basis underlying Anthroposophy.
where the reader of the
books and lectures is more passive, not even understanding can be achieved, and the material becomes in the
belief. Tragically we
encounter this everywhere in the
Society and Movement, where we meet many individuals who have
substituted for their prior religious views the
world-view without any inner activity at all.
by this process of passivity, degenerated into something that
has to be
called: Steinerism; and, when those outside our Movement encounter
attitude of soul they are quite correct to think that we are
more than just another religious cult.
Let us look a
little more closely at the
relevant soul processes so that this difficulty can be more
When I read a
text my experience (the
percept) is of symbols on a page, nothing more. Through
of reading (coupled with the skill of the speaker/writer), I
thoughts, but these thoughts are the result of my own mostly
sub-conscious activity. The meaning of the symbols on the page is my creation, and
I sleep through this process, the less likely I am to benefit
A second matter
is that this
self-generated thought content, once created, roots itself in
From this we get the horrible habit in our circles of Steiner said. When we hear this term, we have to
the speaker has not been engaged in the act of thinking in the
moment (forming intuitions), but has
turned in their soul to
memory, and from memory drawn out the relevant conceptual
Now many people have learned to think for themselves to
degrees, and often we will hear this original content
writing or speech, followed by a quote from Steiner.
This act of
quoting is done, as we know, most often for the sole purpose
suggesting to those listening (or reading) that the
own thought content is verified by the authority of the great
(such a use of Steiner's words he over and over again
disapproved - we are not to use him as an authority for
In effect, it is a kind of secondary thinking flaw in the Society and Movement, which makes us so
our own original thinking, that we seldom can express
reference to Him
(resulting in an sub-conscious
Steiner's personality - another attitude that causes others to
mark us as a cult).
(living) thinking is always
with us. We do this far more than we frequently
The problem is that without having engaged in the
introspection, we generally can't distinguish those thoughts
original intuitions from those that arise from mere memory.
constantly have moments of real knowledge,
but in the
absence of well practiced skills of self observation, we are
distinguish such real
knowledge from true understanding and these two from mere belief. We sit in circles of conversation with
other, and the ebb and flow of the thought content wanders
three (knowledge, understanding and belief) without most people
quite recognizing just why these conversations make us so
and are fundamentally so difficult.
In the absence
of both a sound working
out of The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, and an equally sound practice of the Reverse
Cultus (a whole other story - see
below), we are fated to collectively wander in darkness.
worse is that because we rely excessively on Steiner, and have
this myth that he can provide us real knowledge, we do far more harm than good, for the Shadow
open doorway in most all soul processes that to us are
This leads us
back in the direction of
this very flawed book, but let me add one more nuance first.
spoke of a particular
danger faced by the Society and Movement, which he called: the
the Michaelic Cosmic Intelligence.
This is the
fundamental tragedy of the
Society and Movement as a consequence of the failures of the
Century, which failures we still refuse to even acknowledge,
properly face so that we can learn the quite valuable lessons
there. We have made into a dead intellectual thought
almost all that Steiner gave of us out of the remarkable
us from the Spiritual Worlds that we were given to understand as the Michaelic Cosmic Intelligence.
wrote and spoke, this Intelligence
was present in the room. When the concepts entered
onto the page they died. If they did not properly enter
hearts of his listeners, they also died. Some among us
remember what it was like, for example, to speak to someone
actually present at the Christmas Conference. In them
something quite unusual, because they actually heard it.
have we this gift within our Society and Movement such that
now what we
have is a dead
on the page thought content entombed
books, lectures and reports.
Only our own
activity can enliven this content,
and without our facing that we have such a task, or how
poorly we do such a task (to the extent we instinctively understand it), the less and less likely it becomes that we
succeed at this much needed work.
In order to do
this, we have to first
enliven our own thinking. The place to start such work
actually A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in
Conception, which Owen Barfield
least read, most
important book, Steiner ever wrote".
Think of this work as the Overture to the Symphony that
Philosophy of Spiritual Activity.
is no better introduction to The
Philosophy of Spiritual Activity,
are thoughts to be found through a study of Theory that are quite important for really appreciating
Theory really introduces us to
thinking in the best possible way,
Philosophy takes us from this organic thinking (Goetheanism) to moral or spiritual
thinking (Anthroposophy). Once
we have the latter gift well
in hand, much that remains otherwise invisible now becomes
In any event,
turning to the book From
Gondhishapur to Silicon Valley, we
the consequences of the failures of the 20th Century, outlined
on display. Let me first list some general conditions.
One of the
matters, which struck me as
quite odd when I read this book a year ago, was that here was
written by a Central European on a matter that is clearly
Steiner to involve soul attributes belonging to Americans.
Americans are to develop "mechanical occultism", so what
(I asked myself) is a Central European doing trying to explain
rest of us the meaning of this future unfolding?
I also knew
that Emberson clearly knew
little about how already the question of mechanical occultism was being handled in America (which state of
is true of most American anthroposophists as well). The
occultism is developing not in
Valley, but on the outer reaches of natural science, where
those who study the works of Nikola Tesla, John Keely and
Russell. The foremost spiritual researcher into this is
American anthroposophical playwright: Martha Keltz. Here
link to her web pages, which are extraordinarily rich in
while I am not completely in accord with all that she does and
she is far far better at this than Emberson.
is the main page]
She, at least, speaks from actual spiritual
In addition there is Borderland Sciences, a web page behind which stands work starting all the way back in 1945, and which has been a nexus of the work of many others who are trying to further the research into mechanical occultism, which initially appeared in the world out of activities of Tesla, Keely and Russell. [http://www.borderlands.com/].
There is then
in Emberson a kind of
presumptive arrogance, which Shadow driven impulse leads him
he can penetrate these mysteries, without bothering to
investigate the land and people whose soul gesture is to
aspect of Emberson's book
is its almost total reliance on Steiner's indications, which
everywhere treated as the final authority on just about
Here we encounter the problem of the undisciplined use
of perceptless concepts on a huge scale. A perceptless concept is completely ungrounded (luciferic), having
divorced from its concrete and necessary origin - the
Emberson has no
experiences himself, but
must raise up as a kind a deified authority the work of the
initiate as the ultimate expression of truth. If you
carefully this book, paying particular attention to individual
sentences (which in order to represent the truth must be
logical and coherent from one section of the text to the
next), we come
upon very large general assertions (Emberson's version of what it all means) broken up by quotes from Steiner. Yes,
a lot of facts about the history of the development of the
but we have to be very careful to examine the conclusions that
reaches in order to see if these are actually justified on the
what he actually knows to be true (as
against what he believes to be true).
For example, he
writes (end of page 129
"One of the most
wide-spread delusions of our time is that
binary computers were developed by human beings to serve
This is not the case. Binary computers were
the ahrimanic double in man, to serve the Sorat and his hosts.
Man was but the instrument of the double's activity.
ahrimanic beings have a comprehensive grasp of what is
computer technology. Men are lulled to sleep by visions
knowledge and power."
Now the most
curious aspect of such
thoughts as these, which are everywhere in this text, is that
by and large a product of Emberson's own thinking. This
vision of the truth of matters, albeit spread throughout the
everything he can find that Steiner ever said that can be used to support
Emberson's fantastic (luciferic) vision.
Clearly Steiner said some disturbing things about such
as to the future of technology, but in the case of Steiner,
did this in any lecture cycle, he actually walked around the
matter in a kind of circling spiraling gesture, seeing it from
sides and raising the eventual picture up to a higher level.
working out his individualized
version of the meaning of what he has read in Steiner (perceptless concepts), is
here creating conclusions which cannot ultimately
be justified because they are so one-sided, so absent the
walk around the subject matter and view it from multiple
Emberson doesn't have any experience of Sorat, or Sorat's hosts or of the ahrimanic
All he has is the images and meanings he has created in
consciousness from reading, which he shows no sign of ever
The fact is
that when we produce a
thought content, the main ingredient of the character of this
is the moral intention (quality) that stands behind the inner
activity. This truth becomes known to everyone who
penetrating to the truths of The
Philosophy of Spiritual Activity,
and in the
absence of the necessary self knowledge, the I will inevitably
errors of thought, because (again) where we ourselves are
of the sub-conscious the Shadow is given free play. In
it would seem that Emberson also has an antipathy for this
(no redemptive concepts of its meaning at all), which
unredeemed antipathy is precisely the soul-soil in which the
Lets look at
another example of what he
has written, where on page 130 he writes of secret brotherhoods and on page 131 of Western occultists. Has he provided any evidence he actually
knowledge of these groups, or are we
here just being exposed to
beliefs. Anyone drinking
a lot of
coffee can have thoughts. True thoughts are a lot harder
by. When I read this kind of stuff in Emberson, it made
more of the worst kind of thinking and writing that comes out
conspiracy buffs, than anything careful, restrained and
disciplined in a scientific manner.
Also on page
130 we find this sentence: "Such computers will
physically be semi-living beings."
that is an interesting idea, but it calls for a great deal
discussion, for everything we can come to understand about life and ethereal processes from Steiner
that this may be a great deal more complicated than what
has so far brought out in this fantasy which he has created.
this semi-living being have an ethereal body, an astral body
or an ego?
At the edge, where the two (the mechanical and the
what will happen when the ethereal forces of the cosmic
with the forces of sub-nature? Emberson doesn't seem to
actually critically thought about his thoughts at all
self-examination being an essential task of anyone working at
On page 131,
Emberson follows with a long
quote from Steiner about electricity and its relationship to
but somehow doesn't seem to notice this phrase in the Steiner
learns to view it from a particular level...".
something Steiner often expressed, ought to have
suggested that only from a certain point of view was the
that Emberson is quoting. Yet, Emberson uses it to make his
point, without being really able to
enlighten us about electricity.
Steiner said a
great deal about
electricity over his life time, and was often limited in what
say because his listeners had so little understanding of the
background. If we (as modern anthroposophists) want to
electricity better, then we need to realize that we won't get
Emberson, but instead should turn to Ernst Lehrs remarkable
book Man or
Introduction to a Spiritual Understanding of Nature on the
Goethe's Method of Training Observation and Thought. Lehrs has well understood Steiner's A
of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World Conception, and his comments in Man
Matter on electricity are not so
one-sided as the views which Emberson seeks to express in
order to put
forward his fantasy.
puts forward a quote that
contains this sentence attributed to Steiner: "Either things go on [speaking of the future] chaotically, as
technology have done until now, in which case it will lead to
has the possession of these things causing havoc, or else it
cast into the moral mold (sic) of Freemasonry."
goes on (his own words,
page 133) to suggest, as a further element of his fantasy, man
eventually become "incorporated
the spidery world-machine of artificial intelligence". No doubt the idea of artificial
common today, with many actively seeking to create such a
Here we can see a thought-phenomena, expressed in words,
representative of much that habitually exists in many people
just anthroposophists. This is properly called: the loose association.
the two terms artificial and
intelligence may not actually be able to mean anything true.
Steiner frequently pointed out to us that phrases in
frames of reference frequently did not reveal a truth.
contrary, they often led to, or were born out of, illusions.
Emberson by bringing into contact with each other
throughout the book, not just here) the regular world
terminology "artificial intelligence"
seeks to bring forward a strong mental picture for the reader.
But the important question is whether the language used
leads to the truth, or to further illusion.
When, in the
soul, two or more ideas are
brought into contact with each other, introspection reveals
representative phenomena. They can repel each other, or
harmonize. They can be forced together, or grown
A lot depends not just on the meaning of terms, but the
the thinking seeks to express. Words on a page are only
a part of
what is involved. The real idea hovers over the page,
and we can
loose ourselves in this fantasy if we do not adequately pay
to the ideas being woven by these words.
arrangements of concepts will
be entirely ungrounded and fantastic (that is luciferic).
so concrete and rigid as to be fully materialized (ahrimanic).
takes a certain amount of inner quality of soul to bring such
into contact (association) with each other, such that they
to a new thought. Many people have a good instinct for
their motives in bringing the ideas into contact with each
other have a
certain purity (selflessness) of soul. The moral
(conscious or instinctive) of the thinking gesture enables the
to harmonize in their meaning.
in this direction when he
describes, in the
Challenge of the Times, that English
are instinctively in the Consciousness Soul in their Life of
He says (in the same lecture), that Central Europeans
have to be
trained to the Consciousness Soul. This requires of us
ask whether Emberson, who already has demonstrated he is not
familiar or practical terms with Steiner's works on the
knowing, is even awake in the Consciousness Soul.
How would we
The nature of
the Consciousness Soul is
such that it does not out of its will seek to overwhelm the
the other - the Thou. This service (washing the feet of
the reader) gesture is frequently
found in many works on Goethean
Science (which Emberson's book clearly is not), in that the
such works provides only descriptions, and then out of these
descriptions draws forward for the reader their logical
a clear and transparent fashion.
It is the
Intellectual Soul that wants to
make arguments, and convince, and in doing so finds it cannot
rest on its own original thought, but needing to rely on
constantly make footnotes (which is why Prokofieff, for
such long footnoted books). The Consciousness Soul
to present facts, which it has itself already rendered into real knowledge, and which it then puts forward in service to
understanding of the reader, never
requiring of the reader a blind
obedience to any other authority than the readers own mind (a
written in the absence of this inner gesture, will often lead
reader in the direction of a descent into mere belief). The real matter Emberson seems to
of the readers his book is that he be believed, thus the many
seeking support in Steiner, such that the whole structure
sub-consciously designed to entrap us in his fantasy.
movements, such as those
connected to Anthroposophy, following on the crossing over of
founder, tend to decay almost at once. The practices
not followed, and the work that is produced later by the
frequently becomes a mere commentary of what the guru had once
Many anthroposophists march into the future, walking
their eyes never leaving the overly-revered thoughts of the
teacher. Often the result of such missteps is that the
forces are able to work destructively from within, while the
involved, vainly assuming its dependent on authority purity,
believes falsely that all opposition comes only from without
of what we all know to be true - that we are always our own
trapped in an anthroposophical
culture gone to sleep as regards its real treasures, is merely
archetype for much similar work. Yet, we have to ask
whether any other purpose is served by his work. If much
in it is
fantasy, and rooted in Emberson's own sub-conscious and
soul life, who benefits by the erroneous pictures thus
Keep in mind that the problem is not that there are no
no truth present, but that the mixture of illusion and lie
whole essentially useless. A half truth is not truth at
We can start to get an answer to this by returning to
the text at
spread of binary computer technology,
which did not yet exist in Rudolf Steiner's time, has been the
influential factor paving the way for the incarnation of
that mighty Aspect of his cosmic being which we call the
Binary Beast. Indeed, we may say this incarnation of
the incarnation of the Binary Beast."
For me there
were two ways to read this.
One was that Ahriman was going to incarnate in the
intelligence of the spidery-world - that is Ahriman's body
some kind of hybrid of semi-living flesh and technology -
Ahriman as a
cyborg (or Borg - see Star Trek). The other idea is that
is himself in his nature the Binary Beast, and will incarnate
Such is Emberson's fantastical inner pictures, which
are actually quite unclear (lacking the necessary
disciplines), that we
can't quite be sure what he (Emberson) means here. In a
sense, Emberson has actually helped the Incarnation of
sowing the seeds of an incredible confusion and misdirection
Society and Movement though the production of this work with
elements of conscious (self aware) thinking activity.
read this book might very well end up looking for Ahriman in
place and perhaps the wrong time. (Emberson is not alone in
Such confusion and misdirection has crept in everywhere
so-called anthroposophical literature.)
This is all the
more odd, because on the
page before, Emberson quoted Steiner as follows (page 139):
"...before even a part of the third millennium of the post Christian era has elapsed, there will be, in the West, an actual incarnation of Ahriman: Ahriman in the flesh."
If we actually
read this sentence
carefully, Ahriman is already incarnated (...before
the third millennium...)!
with us now. Nor will he be a machine (for such machines
Emberson fantasizes don't yet exist). In fact, he will
Steiner's indications are true), have an outer world name: "The thing that will
though, will be for people in the age of Ahriman to know that
William Smith  is only what appears
them outwardly, and that inwardly Ahriman is there; they
know what is happening and not succumb to any deception in the
drowsiness of their illusions." R.S. 28
[emphasis added] [1: a name Steiner made up merely to
If the reader
of this essay wants to
explore an alternative set of conceptions to Emberson's
place and significance of Ahriman's incarnation, they are
invited to go
to my website and read the on-line version of my forthcoming
Anthroposophy, where the first essay
Ahriman's incarnation. The only caution is that this is
a work in
process, and the reason I direct people's attention to it
today is my
desire for fruitful dialog as part of the path by which this
becomes further developed. [http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/otlwa.html]
who wishes to comment can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a final
comment, I should note that
one of the main elements of one-sidedness in Emberson's book
is that he
seems to believe that Christ and the Divine Mother are sitting
out on the sidelines, leaving to the evil demonic beings the
field of play in which the future of humanity is to unfold.
is so patently untrue, and is all the more strange, given that
as regards the Christ, Steiner (the great authority) placed
of Golgatha (and its aftermath) as the main redeeming gesture
affairs. One really has to look down (from a superior
assumption?) on the rest of humanity, in order to believe that
worst is on the horizon.
Again and again
Emberson sees his fellow
human beings as fools (Men are lulled to sleep by visions of
knowledge and power). This is
so untrue, and can only represent the
thinking of someone who has not yet been able to understand
first step of true moral activity (washing the feet). Here is an example of the danger
which Steiner frequently warned us. At the beginning of
of self development, the gravest danger is an excess of
To know how
false is Emberson's idea of
human beings being driven completely forward in this
technology by its
own secret nature, one only has to look at the Open Source
experience the moral power that puts this tool to use in
ways. The whole of Civil Society also uses this tool to
step by hard step more and more moral sanity into the world.
Everywhere one looks at how human beings apply the
the needs of their lives, its aid as a source of social and
health is obvious.
knowing the tool idea is
counter to his thesis, wishes to argue it away. He does
two ways. First by declaring that only the ahrimanic
understands the true nature of computers. If this is
then does Emberson understand them in the way he proposes?
efforts of soul activity has enabled him to rise above the
stupid and foolish humanity to come to this more pure vision?
The second way
is to rely on Steiner,
borrowing from him a comment that one needs to be discerning,
always use the tools of technology. Again Emberson knows
rest of us should do here - be afraid of the boogieman in your
writers and the technical
savants who create the physical aspects of this tool,
Emberson and come to feel that he has so dismissed and
life of struggles and moral efforts to make something that
humanity, that this would come as a great blow to their souls.
The devil runs their work, Emberson is saying, and those
strive here are themselves the tool of something they don't
What a terrible and unjustified judgment to place
another human being.
thinks we should know that
electricity is the same as human thought. At the same
demonstrates that he has himself not entered into the
electricity fully on his own effort (no familiarity with
thinking on this subject - although Lehrs book has been in
since 195l). We are all fools it would seem, while
beliefs in the superior authority of Steiner leads him
to the vision of the grave danger that confronts the rest of
All the same, Emberson exhibits a problem which Lehrs saw natural science already trapped within. Lehrs writes that in following the path of questions that arose from its encounter with electricity and magnetism, humanity has entered "a country that is not ours". Human thought, according to Lehrs, has descended in the direction of sub-nature, and become lost there. Yet, Lehrs also knows that this is something that had to happen, and further that a fully developed Goetheanism and Anthroposophy can lead the way out.
himself has become trapped in a
train of thought that sought to become too close to evil.
Tomberg, in his Meditations
the Tarot, explains how it is
too closely contemplate evil, for to meditate on evil leads in
direction such that a communion with
possible. The soul that draws too near to evil (is not
enough, standing back as it were at a distance) sacrifices its
elan` - its life forces.
was not unaware of this
problem. In the last sentence of his original preface to The
of Freedom (written in 1894,
revised in 1918), he writes: "One must be able to confront an idea and
otherwise one will fall into its bondage."
The real freedom Steiner was teaching in this book is
freedom. The natural scientist following electrical
unknowing into the realm of sub-nature is not free. An
anthroposophist, too contemplative of evil is also not free.
is in bondage to the idea, and even Steiner's anthroposophical
world-view can be such an idea to an I that lives far too
asleep as to
the real processes of its own mind (becoming ultimately a mere
believer in Steinerism).
wonderful lecture Dennis Klocek
gave at the 2005 AGM, on the alchemical path underlying
he spoke of the mandala of exercises of which the Air Trial
the letting go or unwinding of thoughts (this can be found
the Newsletter). I wrote an essay out of the
relationship of the
discipleship path to the same mandala, although this essay
focused not on the alchemical-Rosicrucian exercises, but
development (In Joyous Celebration of the Soul Art and Music
Discipleship - http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/samod/html)
in accord with
Steiner's admonition in Knowledge of Higher Worlds about our
take three steps in character development, for each single
spiritual development. In my essay this problem of the
is seen as one of renunciation - the sacrifice of thoughts.
It is the
capacity to let go our
thoughts, to surrender them, that makes us free in the soul
potential bondage ideas represent. Blessed are the poor
spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Would that Emberson had had the understanding of
necessity of sacrificing his thoughts, as a necessary part of
discovering the truth. My own experience after many (35)
practice, is that the sacrifice of thoughts always leads one
toward the truth. If we do not surrender at various
strongly held mental pictures, we end up in bondage to them.
in the very act of surrender, renunciation and sacrifice the I
free of its own mental past, such that the soul become a
which the wind (the spirit) can pour new insight in accord
with our own
slowly developing character.
It is The
of Spiritual Activity, however,
where the path of true moral development is laid out in the
on moral imagination, moral intuition and moral technique.
need ultimately to be practiced and not just be theories.
the Movement and Society hardly recognize these facts is the
all the flaws in our work for which Emberson's book is an
It will seem to
some that this is overly
harsh, but it is not. The unfortunate reality is that
and Movement are tragically wandering in darkness, and
asleep to far too much. I take no pleasure in pointing
but rather my soul lives in great pain whenever I read the
junk-food in far too much anthroposophical writing or hear the
spiritual junk-food speeches of far too many anthroposophists.
I'd much prefer matters to be better all around, and for
Society and Movement to be actually nourishing itself and
through being living examples of Steiner's greatest gifts.
are not, and we are not to such a degree that we are on the
turning our work into the gravest enemy of Anthroposophy
If we do not
take ourselves in hand, then
our deeds will bring it about that Steiner's gift of The
of Freedom (spiritual activity)
and the Reverse Cultus will not
come to the aid of humanity during this time of great crisis.
These gifts could well disappear from view in the next
decades if not practiced, and only a far later age will find
tragically at one time the path to spiritual experience was
known to a
small few as a science for a time, but then forgotten. (Anthroposophy is a
cognition from the Spiritual in the human being to the
Spiritual in the
As an addendum,
this essay ends with an
Imagination of the Reverse Cultus, based upon experience and a
reading of Rudolf Steiner's instructions regarding the same as
presented in the Sixth Lecture of Awakening
gathers, with one shared intention - to consciously work with
spirit. No member of the Circle is more important than
member. First in silence they recall what Steiner taught about
Judas had to kiss Christ. The truth at that time in
that when crowds gathered to hear teaching, the teaching came
those in the circle around Christ. The Christ spirit
through all, first one and then another. For this
Judas had to kiss the One who was the center, otherwise the
would not know whom to arrest.
mood is engendered, in which each recognizes in the other a
of spirit presence, the members of the group begin to speak.
they offer is not a pre-thought theme, about which one may be
expert than another, but rather the simple feelings of their
the moment. These heart-felt concerns are the sharing to each
that opens the hearts to each other. The Circle meets
in this art of coming to know each others deepest concerns,
(and often will) be entirely personal. This knowing of
is a great gift to give and to receive.
In this brief
sharing will begin to emerge the spirit music latent in the
conversation, for the co-participating spirit presence knows
of our hearts, and is drawn to these concerns out of the
represented by the Threshold and into the light and warmth of
sharing. Thus, in acknowledging each other in silence as
true speakers of the spirit, and then in sharing the true
the heart as exists for each at that moment in time, the
born in the Ethereal - in the mutually shared world of
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
"What's born of the flesh is flesh, and what's born of the
breath. Don't be amazed because I told you you have to
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
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
think on our knees. At the same time, these inner skills
thinking and listening will have little effect on where the
and while the study of The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity
may make us
individually more awake inwardly, the will of the spirit
the conversation belongs to that spirit presence, not to us.
conversation proceeds in the heart-warmed Chalice of the
experience of the world of thoughts. Each contributes
thought in them. Together a weaving of a whole is sought, but
can judge whether anyone else's contribution is a needed
thread or not.
Often, for example, something, which on the surface
antagonistic or oppositional, is precisely what is needed in
to stimulate another in the offering of their part of the
possible then for this circling weaving conversation to rise,
nature and the substance of its overall meaning, nearer and
spiritual other-presence. It will not do, however, to
that as the conversation of the members of the group draws
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
vision. We are already as thinking spirits, in the
worlds. What is fostered in the Chalice is something
the teaching of Christ: Wherever two or more are gathered in
there I am.
He is with us.
is very interested in what we choose to think, not in our
Him. Our obedience we owe to our higher self, not to Him
is to the Not I, but Christ in me. He loves everyone in
Circle equally, and observing the latent embers of
mindfulness and vision within each separate soul, He aids our
by breathing on these embers. He gives to each,
according to that
individual need, that aspect of His Life which is His Breath -
John the Baptist in Matthew 3:11 called holy breath.
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.
will bathe you in holy breath and fire."]
Breath, during the communion that is the conversation in the
the latent embers of our own soul are given Life. Within
thoughts of each arise that which belongs to each, but which
seen by the Love of Christ, and enthused with His Life.
on the quality of our will in recognizing the spirit presence
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
own insight and will - is given Eternal Life, in the form of
and the true.
revealing the truth that: "I am with you every day, until the
culmination of time". Matthew 28:20
A few final
It is clear to
anyone that reads this and
takes it to heart, that while The Philosophy of Spiritual
be necessary, it will still be some time before enough people
it to make a difference. This is true, yet at the same
time it is
quite possible to understand the import of this book on the
have about knowledge, and from this understanding begin to
our activities, and moderate the excesses now endemic in our
You don't have
to master the Philosophy
to begin to ask yourself whether you have real knowledge of
or just true understanding, or only mere belief. This
inventory can lead easily to a more modest (moderate) writing
speaking in all of us. Most especially, however, it is
Reverse Cultus that can begin to save our work.
This we all can
do, for it requires only
the recognition of each individual's spirit reality, and the
to form conversations not on the basis of expertise on grand
glorious themes, but instead on the simple present in the
expressions of each individual heart. Such a circle,
where no one
can anymore assert a mastery of Steiner said, and proclaim (as
their vain beliefs as absolute truths, begins the necessary
We form the chalice out of a recognition of each other
as just as
significant as the other, for the circle is a social gesture.
Then by opening our hearts to each other, we bring such
warmth that all the potential luciferic vanity and cold
intellectualism so common today is banished.
Being a spiritual scientist is in practice a lot easier than it seems. We just have to stop trying to be mini-steiners, and move forward just being ourselves. Human, ignorant, unfinished, troubled, and hungry for spiritual community. In such a circle our very best Friend will have no trouble at all coming to visit us every time we meet.
Joel A. Wendt
in the Season of Michaelmas, 2007