The Future of Anthroposophy in the 21st Century

It is important to begin with priorities.  These questions are fundamental, and live in the background of this essay, although they are not specifically answered in each case: Who is to serve who, and for what purpose?  The Anthroposophical Society cannot be conceived as something which serves itself, but are not its essential internal social processes (the meeting of I with I) to be mostly about members and friends?  Anthroposophy exists, but what is it?  You ask that question of ten anthroposophists, and you could get ten different answers.  Do we owe anything to Rudolf Steiner here?   What about Christ, or what is called the spiritual world (a term I am less and less in favor of, given its abstract vagueness)?

In addition, this essay is meant to be decidedly American, and personal.  You could in a sense, see this essay as an act of responsibility (leadership, if you insist) in the world-wide anthroposophical impulse, by an American, and for typically American purposes.  Among other matters, this means to suggest that far less consideration is given to someones hopes, good intentions, wishes and ideals, and far more to what they can actually do.  For the American writing this essay, this is what counts, and in a spiritual sense means that it is what you can actually do that has meaning, not what you believe.  Having high hopes, dreams and ideals for the future of Anthroposophy is something far different from actually being able to render this future into the world in deeds.

I don't mean to say that hopes, dreams and ideals are totally without meaning, however.  Just that actual capacities are far more needed if the quite necessary tasks are to be accomplished.  Nor do I mean to suggest that much work being done out of the anthroposophical impulse is without meaning.  All manner of good is being done throughout the Anthroposophical Society and Movement.  At the same time, we are here concerned with the core understanding of what Anthroposophy is and what are its needs for the future.  The questions connected to that problem I find not well developed among us, to the point as expressed in the introduction to this book - we are fallen and lamed, and we very much need to rediscover our true tasks.

For example, that a point of view (a belief) is upheld by the popular sentiment of many anthroposophists (for example, that the Christmas Conference means we, as a Society, are forever joined to the higher worlds), even if one can connect it to something Steiner said, is no indication either of its truth, or more importantly, its application in the moment.  The truth of something is not a function of whether Steiner said it, something that is often ignored to our detriment.  As another example, I have witnessed many conversations, on the verge of becoming a true chalice for spiritual inspiration (the
reverse cultus), killed in that almost living moment by someone announcing with grave authority a dead thought attributed to Rudolf Steiner.

This essay is, as a consequence and by example, decidedly unhappy with Dornach, and considers that Dornach is no longer an institution where the needed spirit vision regarding the future of Anthroposophy can or could be found.  Dornach is far too much like a Church devoted to the religion of Steinerism, and because of this, Dornach is not to this writer a suitable spiritual community environment for what the real practice of Anthroposophy can contribute to the incarnation of the New Mysteries.  There is far too much belief in Dornach, and not enough actual spiritual capacities that have been realized in deeds.

Yes, many good and kind and even wise people are drawn into the Centers of anthroposophical activity, but the realization of the New Mysteries is not found in the worship of Steiner-thought, research into its details or endless lectures and books parading Steiner's ideas before anthroposophists and the world as the final answer to any question.  It is only what we can bring out of our own spiritual activity, as awake spirit-thinkers, that will count. Consider Emerson here, from his lecture at Harvard in 1837: The American Scholar:

Books are the best of things, well used; abused, among the worst.  What is the right use?   What is the one end which all means go to effect?  They are for nothing but to inspire.  I had better never see a book than to be warped by its attraction clean out of my own orbit, and made a satellite instead of a system.  The one thing in the world, of value, is the active soul.  This every man is entitled to; this every man contains within him, although in almost all men obstructed and as yet unborn.  The soul active sees absolute truth and utters truth, or creates.  In this action it is genius; not the privilege of here and there a favorite, but the sound estate of every man.  In its essence it is progressive.  The book, the college, the school of art, the institution of any kind, stop with some past utterance of genius.  This is good, say they - let us hold by this.  They pin me down.  They look backward and not forward.  But genius looks forward: the eyes of man are set in his forehead, not in his hindhead: man hopes: genius creates.  Whatever talents may be, if the man create not, the pure efflux of the Deity is not his; cinders and smoke there may be, but not yet flame.  There are creative manners, there are creative actions, and creative words; manners, actions, words, that is, indicative of no custom or authority, but springing spontaneous from the mind's own sense of good and fair.

In an effort to make matters as clear as possible, it needs to be understood that I mean something very specific by the term: Anthroposophy.

Anthroposophy is a spiritual path via the New Thinking.  Nothing more and nothing less.  From out of the New Thinking everything else flows. Without the actually practice and achievement of the New Thinking, anthroposophists might as well pack up their bags and go home, for they otherwise have nothing out of deeds, truly born within the New Sun Mysteries, to contribute to humanity, or to the modern trials of Civilization.

"Anthroposophy is a path of cognition..."  announces Steiner in the beginning of the First Leading Thought.  This point has been confused for the English speaking world, by the many translations which substitute the term "knowledge" for "cognition", a matter discussed in the essay called: Rudolf Steiner's Lecture Cycles and the Problem of Cognition: musings on the epistemological swampland of the Anthroposophical Movement (that can be found on my website).  As a consequence, many have come to assume that reading a Steiner text gives knowledge (as against understanding, which Steiner makes clear in both Theosophy and Occult Science: an outline is what those books mean in part to provide, although if properly thought these books can do more.  That properly thought aspect is, however, a product of working through the self knowledge that comes from introspection.).  True spiritual knowledge, in the sense of the path of cognition actually practiced by Steiner, we only possess through the study and introspective practice of Steiner's objective and scientific philosophical inquiries into the New Thinking.

A concept without an experience leads away from the truth.  Only introspection provides the essential experiences needed for Theosophy and Occult Science: an outline to really work in the right way.

Yes, yes, yes, we have people with all kinds of spiritual experiences.  But more we need people who can think in full self aware consciousness of all those aspects of their own soul, both shadow and light, that are productive of thought.

Anthroposophy, in the sense I am trying to emphasize, is how you do the New Thinking, not what ideas or content occupies your mind.  This how is found primarily, and most exactly, in Steiner's objective introspective philosophies.  The New Thinking needs to become fully conscious activity, in all its delicate and subtle aspects.

The conceptual product developed in many of Steiner's books and mostly in his lectures is only anthroposophical because it is rooted in his own acts of the New Thinking.  But these materials are in themselves a complete side-track, to the extent any individual soul presumes that merely reading Steiner leads to spiritual development.  Changing your world view - changing the concepts you have about reality - has value, but is not true soul metamorphosis.  Too many people spend their hours inside Steiner's lectures, only to fill up their heads with Steiner-thought (Steinerism); and, by this means they make the potential conceptual treasure house of their souls into a swamp full of undigested mental pictures, which the I will eventually discover to be a prison.

This potential conceptual treasure house of the soul is only of value when empty, for if we are not poor in spirit, then there is no place in the soul into which the delicate and subtle presence of Fullness and fullness of Presence can speak.

That most of members of the Anthroposophical Society and Movement live half-asleep in this prison of Steiner-thought is a principal spiritual tragedy of the Twentieth Century - a tragedy only increased by the behaviors of the leading personalities, who apparently not only do not at all perceive this unfortunate spiritual condition infecting far too many of the general membership, but actively (albeit perhaps unconsciously) foster it.

None of this means by the way that no individual has achieved any grace of true and authentic spiritual development within the Society or Movement. This only means that anthroposophical social institutions are presently paralyzed from even the potential of adequately modeling Anthroposophy in the way that meets humanity's present needs.  As a consequence, the inspiration out of the future (Michaelic Cosmic Intelligence) is unable to approach the world's true needs through these lamed anthroposophical social institutions, and is more and more being forced to seek other outlets for its gifts.

A honest reading of the material in this book should leave no doubt as to the above conclusions.  As well, a single observation proves the thesis.   The number of anthroposophists is stagnating, and our communities are aging, while few young people are drawn to what we do.  We have lost the living thread of spiritual inspiration, and instead have become addicted to Steiner's works - to the past, leaving no place within our circles for the new breath of spiritual wind to speak into our meditations.  Few guardian angels are going to inspire their charge to join a group so lost as are we.

Consider now these following images which are born out of seeking spirit vision, yet are fully connected to spirit recollecting and spirit mindfulness:

We are given to understand by Steiner that thousands of years ago with the passing of Atlantis, two main streams of migrations occurred.   One stream went into the West, into the Americas, and there became a principal influence on what was living there.   The other stream went East, into the depths of Asia, and from there spread its influence into all the subsequent civilizations from which Western Civilization was eventually born.

This picture is remembered by the Hopi Indians of the American Southwest, whose oral history and prophecies speak of the death of a chief, whose two sons subsequently went West and East, each carrying with them one-half of the stone tablets - one-half of the ancient wisdom of their father and their people.  Eventually, so the prophecy and oral history  tells, the younger brother peoples (those who went to the West) would find their way of life dying, and their lands invaded by a white race.  At this time of crisis, again according to their prophecies, the elder brother (the True White Brother) would return from the East, bringing the life plan for the future.  In the words of the prophecy, the elder brother peoples are this way described: "they are sun clan, they are the children of the sun".

For a more detailed picture, see this essay on my websites: The Mystery of the True White Brother: an interpretation of the meaning of the Hopi Prophecy by a member of the elder brother people, at  Additional details will be found in part four of the later essay in this book: Waking the Sleeping Giant: the mission of Anthroposophy in America.

The New Thinking reveals that this picture can be expressed in the following way:

Two forms of consciousness left Atlantis.  The younger, or least mature, continued to live in the West, integrated with the Natural World and the world of the Invisibles.   The elder, or more mature (in the sense of the Evolution of Consciousness), had the task of slowly emancipating itself from the ancient ways, eventually producing intense individualization, and out of this the potential for a new form of initiate consciousness.

Eventually these two would meet once more in the Americas, and the elder could either overwhelm the younger, or they could marry, for the wisdom of the younger had not lost its validity, but rather had honored and preserved that treasure of understanding of how to live as a community integrated with the Natural World and the world of the Invisibles.   The elder had abandoned that old form of consciousness in order to eventually produce after many epochs of history the New clair-Thinking, a highly individualized form of initiation.  But this development comes at the cost of forgetting how we once lived united with the beings of Nature, the four legged, the winged and the green world; and as well, those who went to the East of the Americas also lost the ability to live consciously with the world of the Invisibles in their social life.

This separation out of conscious integration (what Owen Barfield called: original participation) made possible something the older less mature consciousness of the younger brother could not do - that is overcome the group soul, and then eventually to seek re-integration in freedom (in the past, this integration with the divine whole was a given).  For the younger brother (the aboriginals of the Americas) this state of given integration (union with Nature and the Divine) held on for a very long time.  At the same time, the social wisdom living in this stage of group soul community and integration with the Natural World is not to be lost, for nothing in creation losses its meaning.

Just as Rudolf Steiner harvested the ripe fruit of the old mysteries of the East, North and South, in order to soundly foster Anthroposophy as it tried to be born in the Center, so also do the far older mysteries of the true West - the Way of Original (participation) Integration, need to be harvested.  This will then add the contribution of this ancient spirit-recollected social wisdom to the whole creation of new culture as the 21st Century makes possible another attempt at a full incarnation of the New Mysteries (this time to be made from the Periphery (mostly) in America).  This is what it means to honor your father and your mother.  Tradition is not to be abandoned by the future, but rather is to be integrated with the new.  The real process is metamorphosis, and this is what the ancient Aboriginal teachings offer to our understanding of the social.  The marriage of the new initiation wisdom and the ancient social wisdom will produce something new.  We must grow our new social life out of the old, transforming ourselves and bringing it forward into entirely new social forms.

Let me repeat this once more, for a great deal depends upon understanding it.  The movement to the East out of Atlantis resulted over long periods of time in a form of consciousness free of the group soul, and as well emancipated from all the aspects of original participation (integration with Nature and the world of the Invisibles).  Original participation was sacrificed in order to achieve individuality, freedom and the potential for the Consciousness Soul, which has also made us feel so alone, and so inept at the building of community.

Those who went to the West out of Atlantis, retained as long as possible not only original participation, but in creating their social traditions out of this wisdom, they kept alive into the present a deep understanding of a healthy spiritual integration with Nature, and of how to make living communities.  To be able to do this, they sacrificed (to a degree) that same individuality, which Western Civilization now so prizes.

As a consequence, the progressive initiation Way of Native People's in the Americas came to rest at a stage, which in Tomberg's Meditations on the Tarot is described in Arcanum XII as The Hanged Man.  On this path, the seeker sacrifices their individual will to the Celestial - it is a path of obedience to the Sky People (the ancestors and related spiritual communities), which is why the figure of The Hanged Man, in the symbol-picture system of the Tarot, is upside down.  These initiation Ways still exist, at least, in North America.

In this sacrifice, and in the preservation of this remarkable social wisdom properly called The Saturn Mysteries, the flower, fruit and seed of how to build communities integrated with the natural world is spirit-recollected.

The new initiation science must find a means to author a new social science (community in its widest sense), which is why Carl Stegmann (a retired Christian Community Priest) moved to America and gave the founding impulse that led to the creation of Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, California.  In this gesture he was inspired to not only seek to create a center there for anthroposophical studies, but more crucially a Center for the Study of the Social Question in America.  Unfortunately, along with the general tragic conditions of the Society and Movement in the 20th Century, that impulse was not understood and was (as was The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity and the Reverse Cultus) laid aside in error.

In America then, Anthroposophy - the new Sun Mystery - is meant to lead to a healthy encounter with the ancient Saturn Mysteries - the wisdom of the Native Peoples of the Americas.  The broken stone tablets are to be rejoined.  The Way of Initiation and the Way of Integration are to unite in a spiritual marriage, within the individual soul first and then consciously in new communities next.

This aspect of the true West is also part of the past and future of Anthroposophy - that is: spirit recollected, which at the same time includes something of the future.  But to understand the present - to be spiritually mindful, we have first to deeply consider the future, to practice spirit vision, which as well contains something of the past.  The present is a meeting place of past and future, and each pole of that polarity contains an aspect of its opposite.

So then we next will look at the past inside of this future, while the just above was a brief contemplation of the future inside the past.

Two thousand years ago, not to long after the founding of Western Civilization, there was a meeting on the occasion of a birth.  The priest-kings of the old mysteries were joined at the celebration of this birth by the shepherds of the new mysteries.  This story symbolizes for us the fact that the old way of Gnosis - the ancient mysteries that arose from the migrations to the East - were giving way to the new mysteries of Faith.

One thousand years ago, there was another meeting of kings and shepherds, when the School of Chartres was founded, and when for a time initiates of Gnosis were again in the same locale as priests of Faith.

Today, in and around the anthroposophical movement and society, the kings impulse gathers again, albeit now labeled by Steiner as Platonists and Aristotelians.   The Sophianic and Michaelic streams of Esoteric Christianity have been graced (since Steiner wrote and published his works on the science of objective philosophical introspection) with the inner foundation for the New Mysteries in the form of the New Thinking (Anthroposophy).  At the same time, the institutional forms of the Society and Movement, themselves aristocratic and by necessity tied to the present day remains of old third epoch hierarchical social forms, became misguided and confused, which produced the split in the Society following Steiner's crossing.  This split has never been spiritually healed and as a consequence the Society is presently (that can change) an unsuitable place for this mystery union of the Platonists and the Aristotelians - of the Sophianic and Michaelic streams of Esoteric Christianity.

In the rejection of Tomberg, and in the isolation off to the side of such personalities as Barfield, Kuhlewind and Ben-Aharon (all Platonists), the institutional forms of anthroposophical activity turned the Michael Mysteries into mere intellectual content (first Steinerism, and coming soon to a theater near you: Prokofieffism - for details see the essay below on Anthroposophy and the Russian Soul).  The Platonist (Sophianic) stream, with its deep and direct experience of the mysteries of the imagination, is a needed leavening for the now over-conceptual Aristotelian (Michaelic) stream.  The Michaelic Cosmic Intelligence has not been received in a living way.  Only the Sophianic Stream, the Platonist stream, can bring the Life back to dead Steiner-thought, and help free the membership from prison in the Soul that the failures in the 20th Century created. [We should notice in passing that in America a Platonist (Dennis Klocek) is more and more being recognized for his ability to contribute.]

In addition, the every thousand year rhythm of the millennia wants once more to have the Esoteric Christians engage in spiritual intercourse with the Exoteric Christians - for Gnosis to seek reintegration with Faith.  But Esoteric Christianity presently is split into pieces (anthroposophists live an illusion if they think they own Esoteric Christianity).  The Anthroposophical Society, which was meant to be the meeting place of at least these various streams of Esoteric Christianity, ruins this possibility by its inflation and elevation of dead Steiner-thought into the worship of an Idol.

The great social tasks of the future require the full incarnation of the New (Sun) Mysteries.  Materialism needs a strong dance partner, one who can appreciate its truths, and at the same time guide it away from its illusions.  The battle in biology between chance and random causality on the one hand, and some kind of divine and wise design on the other, yearns for the New Thinking's participation.   The social paternalism living in Materialism needs to be enfolded by a new social maternalism.  A world on the brink of devastating wars among waring religious fundamentalists yearns too for knowledge of the significance and meaning of the Earthly life of the individual human spirit.  Even more crucial, as the Economia of the World grows deeper into its own nature, if the New Thinking Initiation does not enter with moral forces into this development, Materialism will triumph on the plane of social existence.

Pain fills the souls of humanity, while too many anthroposophists read mostly only Steiner books, and believe that somehow that will move their souls toward its needed metamorphosis.  Lecture after lecture by present day anthroposophical leading personalities roots itself in Steiner-said, and only death forces can appear in the Society as a consequence of this activity.  Nothing less than a rebellion, against this unconscious thought control out of now decadent anthroposophical hierarchical institutional social forms, can meet the challenges of the times.  Only truly free anthroposophists, acting out of individual initiative and from out of the social commons of the Society and Movement, can rescue the New Thinking from the dust heap into which most of the anthroposophical activity of the 20th Century discarded it.

The over-conceptual representation of the New Thinking by the mere phrase: heart thinking, by people who don't actually know the New Thinking as an experience, is a terrible misdirection.  It mistakes a concept (heart thinking) for deep and morally responsible processes of introspective mystery activity. The New Thinking is won by the individual spirit waking up in the soul, and understanding itself as a priest in the temple of its own inwardness.  It can't be read about or even discovered in a lecture or a conversation, no matter how many times heart thinking is mentioned, or Knowledge of Higher Worlds is given as a reference.

Only the books on objective philosophical introspection, that is: A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World Conception, Truth and Knowledge and The Philosophy of Freedom, can grace the soul with the spiritual nourishment it needs to discover in practice (not as a mere concept) what heart thinking really is. With this true and pragmatic understanding of heart thinking, the anthroposophical Movement and Society, working out of the social commons of Branch and Group work, can create (as is their real mission) true Fifth Epoch mystery centers, not in Dornach which must die into its future, but in thousands upon thousands of places all over the world where the true mystery significance of the Reverse Cultus (see lecture VI of Awakening to Community) yet remains to be discovered in practice.

It is the American Soul that can lead here, for as pointed out in the essay In Joyous Celebration... this Soul bears within it a special instinctive relationship to the Good, as well as a special capacity for brotherhood. (...and crown thy Good, with brotherhood...)

Some will find in the emphasis here on things American an odd taste, perhaps not to their liking.  The sad truth is that as regards the American Soul, much of what has come to America out of European Anthroposophy, in that it failed to confront its own Shadow within, came in the same imperial mood as did those Europeans that first sought to crush and eliminate the Aboriginal Peoples from this land.  The Spirit of Rome had infected the Center via its fall from grace that manifested in the split among the national Societies in the 1930s, and this Center now bears a wound in its unconscious Shadow element that must be named: spiritual imperialism.

This impulse, ahrimanic in character, has and would continue to rule the Soul of Americans, making them believe that a European Idea of soul development is Anthroposophy.  This is false.  And this is why American Anthroposophy must begin to discover itself first in conscious rebellion against the teachings socially forced upon it from Dornach.  What is worse, is that like our Founders' struggles, there will be the loyalists, those American anthroposophists who will be strong in urging a blind allegiance to an illusory spiritual aristocracy that calls itself the Vorstand, the School of Spiritual Science, and the Councils.  Even many in the centers of anthroposophical authority in America will be lost in the illusions of this spiritual imperialism - unable to free themselves, and from which position of spiritual ignorance and arrogance they will seek to bind us all. [For a practical illustration of this struggle, speak to the members of the Central Council in America, and in particular ask them for the history of the Uriel Question.  For additional discussion of the problems in the Center, go to the essay below, called: Anthroposophy and the Russian Soul. ]

Do not buy into their Shadow driven ruminations.  Think for yourself.  Eventually, I believe, you will come to understand how it was, almost ten years ago, when I was sitting with some friends in Dolores Park in San Francisco, that the inspiration came to me to call my work Outlaw (rebel) Anthroposophy, which impulse eventually lead to my calling this book, first: Dangerous Anthroposophy, and then finally: American Anthroposophy.

At the same time, this spiritual rebellion necessary to free the American Soul from the profound over-reaching of a European teaching that does not in the least understand the Mystery of the American Character, need not in any circumstances lead to schism.  Nothing here means to suggest a division of social form.  On the contrary, the needed rebellion is entirely inward and individual.  It is inner freedom the American Soul seeks from this imperialistic spiritual prison of allegiance to the dead thought of Steiner-said.  If we break the chains of this far too intellectual conceptual structure, and seek to move our own soul with inner deeds - Emerson's Active Soul (as against the vanity of thoughts from books), what will burst forth from the American Soul cannot be imagined.