The Conscious Death, and the Resurrection,
of the General Anthroposophical Society
- a working draft -
By Joel A. Wendt
As a member of the community of anthroposophists living on the Earth and having been involved in anthroposophy for nearly four decades,
the current financial woes of the Society is
of no little concern to me. Whether or not the following essay
will in the end be useful, it still needs to be written, for it is all that I presently have to give to the
situation. I could do a great
deal more, by the way, for my connection to the needs of humanity is
far different from that which was true for Rudolf Steiner (see my
Biographical Necessity for details). I could give talks,
mostly in America, that would be quite well attended and bring not only
considerable capital into the Anthroposophical Society in America, but
worldwide as well.
Ordinary people in this time of increasing social chaos
have a deep hunger for spiritual knowledge, but the spiritual knowledge
that they need cannot be found in what comes out of Dornach and the
Councils in America in the present. People don’t need an endless
deification of Rudolf Steiner. They need knowledge of the
logos order of the world (see part three below) and intimate knowledge
of the true nature of the I-am, but this has to be expressed now in the
language of the Consciousness Soul, which is a far different language
than Steiner offered, for his listeners were still too deeply connected
to the Intellectual Soul (in my other writings will be various details
on this question).
Granted this little paper is written without an intimate
understanding of the inner workings of the
GAS in Dornach and even in the Councils in America - all the same the fact that a financial crisis exists is not only
general knowledge, it was most recently confessed by Cornelius Pietzner
in a recent Anthroposophy Worldwide. As
will be seen below, the social Periphery is just as important as the Center when such kinds of
crises occur. Anyone, who wants to consider the research basis
behind what I write, is invited to read my website: Shapes in the Fire,
First Some General Considerations
- based on a spiritually developed new social science -
The General Anthroposophical Society is a social form, that is it is an expression in formal
social arrangements of a number of human impulses and concerns.
In this particular time (the Dawn of the Third Millennium),
social forms are meant to have grave difficulty maintaining coherence
(Western Civilization is dying, and all hierarchical or top down -
Third Epoch - social form is weakened as the Fifth Cultural Epoch moves
forward in order to create and develop more viable forms out of the
social commons). A number of spiritual realities bring about this
condition, not the least of which are the following essential facts,
the knowledge of which is based upon more than
30 years of Goethean observation of the
1) Modern individuality, as it develops in its first stages,
constantly asserts its egotism against the needs of the group in which
it finds itself. At the same time, the group itself tends to
assert its collective
unconscious egotism in a counter-gesture,
seeking to homogenize individual thought and behavior into a
semiconscious group standard.
2) This same individuality has yet to unfold within
itself the necessary new capacities, as a social being, that will
form to properly live in a harmonious balance
between these individual and group needs. This development - to
discover how to manage the natural tension between group-think and
individual insight - is something that only can be learned from practical experience.
3) Social form is also a type of life,
are living human beings. It
experiences death and birth, undergoes metamorphic transformations,
reproduces itself, and lives in dynamic tension in the in-between psychological interplay among individuals. This
means that while the social form (life) is being more and more borne
within Christ, the fullness of its potential Christ relationship
remains dependent upon our slowly dawning and developing consciousness
of these dynamics. We can no longer sleep as regards them, but
4) The principle skills of awakening are both outer and
inner. The outer one involves skill in conversation, and the
inner one is connected to our capacities to discipline our life of
thought. These skills are interwoven and interdependent.
Rudolf Steiner pointed most strongly in the direction of this
need with his discussion of the Reverse
Cultus* in the lectures known as Awakening
to Community, and with his book The
Philosophy of Spiritual Activity.
*[see part two for an Imagination of a 21st Century
version of the Reverse Cultus]
5) When the slowly emerging life of a social form is in crisis, this is always a symptom of an opportunity
for micro-threefolding** to arise. Micro-threefolding itself is something
quite different from macro-threefolding, albeit still similar in kind
at a functional level. There is a natural structure to the in-between Christ logos-order, and we need to be awake to it in
order to supports its presence.
Let me elaborate a bit on this last fact. Steiner
gives us certain ideas about social life in his works on the social
organism, wherein he describes three Spheres: a Cultural Sphere, a
Rights Sphere and an Economic Sphere. This is macro-threefolding,
or what happens at the level of large societies.
Micro-threefolding can be better understood, in my experience, by
using the equally true but more modest conceptual relationship of: head, heart and hands (at the same time this reality is a bit more complicated, but I didn't want to
overburden this already too long paper). I should also mention that head, heart and hands in their social
relationship are a horizontal threefolding aspect of micro-social form - which imaginatively can be seen as a Chalice, while the functional
relationship of spirit, soul and body are apt metaphors for the
vertical threefold aspect of micro-social form - or what has to be seen as the Radiant Sun that can be
borne within the Chalice.
**[This is discussed in detail in my essay The Social
Spiritual Organism of a Waldorf School Community.]
When we observe objectively (and phenomenologically)
small social forms, we need to set aside the abstract Ideas of
Cultural, Rights and Economic Spheres, in order for thinking to form a
more exact appreciation of the functional relationships of the different organs of small social
forms. In these struggling-to-appear functional
relationships we will come to the emerging logos
order of small social forms, which will each
have a quite individual expression. While micro-social forms have
tendencies to elements of order similar in kind to the human form and its
inhabiting individual spirit, it is also true that micro-social forms
are essentially a
living body for the collective ego presence of a
community. Just as each individual is unique, so is each
community and this includes the General
Anthroposophical Society in its whole functional presence in the World
Social Organism, and as well in its micro-culture as exists in specific
localities such as Dornach.
If we were to stand outside of human social life and view it with the picture forming capacity of the mind, we would come to see how it is dotted everywhere with various kinds of micro-social forms, some large (such as the Catholic Church) and some small such as a neighborhood Latino gang in South Los Angeles. Within the larger social forms are multiple smaller social forms, such as each individual spiritual community (parish) within the the large whole that is called the Church*. The same is true of each Branch and Study Group within the GAS - each is an individual micro social form (Branch and Study Group), yet all are also structurally related to a larger micro social form (the GAS).
A right understanding* of the biography of the GAS would help reveal the nature of the future micro-threefolding potential currently present and latent, which includes the biographies of individual Branches and Study Groups. Just as the human biography reveals characteristics of its spiritual reality indicative of the future, so does the biography of a social form reveal details of the spiritual potential - we just need to keep in mind that this is a fluctuating and changing community, not a single individual, because the individuals move through the form as their own personal biography unfolds. At the same time, a comprehensive biography of the GAS would be quite long, so here we need to focus on just one often overlooked fact that has special significance. By the way, nothing said below is meant to be critical of any personalities, for the truth is that the overriding principles of karma (properly understood) have more to do with the matter to be discussed below than any other factor.
*[For preliminary details, see: General Renewal - or
illusion - of the Anthroposophical Society, by Harald Giersch.]
As a preliminary idea we know, for example, that an arrow
directed at a far away target needs only to be fractionally misdirected
at launch in order to completely miss that target. If the
misdirection involves an under appreciation of fundamental spiritual
realities, the eventual consequences can be considerable.
A core fact of the biography of the GAS is the death of Rudolf Steiner and the immediate
aftermath. Things fell apart, and the center did not hold, as
Yeats predicted. The actors in that play in Dornach at that time
are only partially at fault, for the times (pre and post Steiner’s
death) was already inexorably dragging them all into the social chaos
that was soon to engulf the world.
This tragedy was also part of a general mistaken approach, among members and friends, to
the spiritual life in the rest of the
Threefold World. We overlook the extent to which the soul
characteristics of the Center, are not the same as the soul
characteristics of the East or of the true West (the Americas).
The split that arose in between Dornach and the National
Societies, in the years following Steiner’s passage into the afterlife,
could not be avoided, in large part because of the acute nature of
theses unrecognized differences in the inner life of the many
representatives of various nations and cultures. That many shared
a love of anthroposophy (as they understood it), and of Rudolf Steiner,
was not sufficient cause to hold the whole together, unless they
developed the ability to see better into the inner life of each other.
The GAS has for some time, and
is now, dead
as a social form, and it has to be a serious question whether the
existing operational personalities (by themselves) have the capacities
needed to create a viable future. To
give a broader picture, we could legitimately say that the death of the
GAS as a living social form arose before 1940. Following
the end of WWII, efforts to heal the split did not succeed in creating
a spiritually viable social form, but rather only a kind of shadow
play, in which the parties due to their mutual yearnings wanted a
quality of spiritual life to be present, but this desire could not
factually produce what was lacking.
In order for a social form, especially one that is
esoteric in its fundamental being, to regain a condition of life it has
to reforge that connection to the spiritual world that had at one time
been rooted in the activity of Rudolf Steiner. The structure of
the GAS and of the School of Spiritual Science, presupposes the
presence of initiate consciousness. While such was present in
the wider or peripheral GAS (Owen Barfield, for example), those drawn
to the centers of anthroposophical activity (we can’t allow ourselves
to say life) shared more in common with the old guard that had
caused so much trouble before Steiner died. Their love of
form over substance doomed the reconstitution of the GAS following WWII.
All the same there is a kind of dying into new becoming latent in the background. This
seeming chaos of the present crisis at the GAS will be the seeds of a new living form. At the same time, this cannot be brought out
of its latent condition, without first a conscious participation in the
death process. As long as the
shadow play is something to which members and friends are still
emotionally attached, no new life can be engendered. Thus there is a process of consciously
psychologically and spiritually dissolving
into chaos that is necessary to and proceeds any true metamorphosis of
something into once more becoming living. These facts call for renewed spiritual
It has been my experience, as an observer of such social
transformations, that personalities clinging to the form undergoing the
dying have to let it go, or be let go. There is no discovery of the latent substance as long as
those who cling to form without substance continue to dominate. The entanglement, of any inflexible egotism in a dead or near lifeless social
form, will only inhibit, if not make impossible, the yet latent
If, however, we expand our conception of the life element
of the social form that is the GAS to include its environment (see Graig
Holdrege's works on the relationship between individual plant forms and
their environments at http://www.natureinstitute.org/txt/ch/index.htm),
such an individual social form is also interdependent
in its functional health with the social context in which it exists.
Yet, not enough thought is given to the
living dynamics of the relationships between the life possibilities of
the GAS in the Center - in Dornach - and the life of potentialities of
the GAS at the Periphery - at the edges. Keep in mind that
on the Earth, the Life (as in ethereal formative forces) flows toward
the Earth from the Cosmic Periphery. In a like fashion,
living social forces are connected to Periphery and Center as they
appear on the Earth itself.
As an added qualitative aspect of all this -
that social form is
of the ethereal - the sculpting of social
form from the outside is a bit different from the way a plant is
sculpted by the cosmic
ethereal formative forces. A human social form is sculpted in a
way from the
inside - through the thinking, feeling and willing activity of the
individual members of a
particular community. It is just that the nature of the thinking,
feeling and willing activity at the Periphery of the GAS is different
from the thinking etc. activity in the Center. Given also that
this time is marked by the
return of Christ in the Ethereal, much help is available from that
quarter as well if we have the will to seek it (ask, seek and knock).
Yes, there is an instinctive recognition of these dynamics, but something is missing and this is the development of a true history (the story) of the biography of the GAS and its relationship to the National Societies (including their biographies). It is only when thinking lives into such details can the underlying dynamics be perceived in their specific spiritual reality. We need to become careful phenomenologists of the social - that is to practice Goetheanism concerning the living element of our social forms if we want to understand what is involved. If the consciousness seeking the rebirth of the GAS refuses to know its own history (biography), no new development will be possible.
A social form that has no truly living spiritual community in support of it, will become over time more and more rigid and eventually die. In effect it becomes inhabited by its own double. The Christmas Conference which failed, was the last gasp effort by Steiner to save the GAS from this fall from Grace.
To get more deeply into the relevance of the above
understanding of social processes it is crucial to begin with first
understanding needs. Human beings have needs, and in seeking to
satisfy these needs they engender purpose into social forms. This transition from needs to
purposes then calls forth, from the form, functions. It is then the
needs and purposes living in the social form that creates the functions
required, so that when a micro-threefolding arises, it does so in
accord with the principle of all biological life: form follows function. Eventually, we will find that the metaphorical
use of the terms head, heart and hands will be quite useful in
understanding these needed and purposeful functions. Here is a small symbol set:
human needs > human
purposes > functions created to satisfy needs and purposes >
The needs and purposes that have to be taken account of,
in considering the future of the GAS, go far beyond the present day physical or psychological
boundaries of Dornach or any other social form that wants to be rooted in
Anthroposophy. Anthroposophical Institutions
belong to the future, and the personalities that manage them in the present are to be the
stewards of those institutions, not their in-effect owners. The
natural egotism has to re-orient itself, out of its own forces of
renunciation, in order for the social form to acquire the right balance
and harmony among individuals.
Because the GAS is loved and attended to by higher impulses out of the
world of spiritual inspiration, part of the needs, purposes and
functions reflect these understandable spiritual realities. When
an individual member of a community learns to renounce some of her/his
natural egotism, this human based supra sensible insight becomes
available to the emerging community. For example, a Michaelic
Stream (along with other Streams, such as a Discipleship
Stream, and a Sophianic Stream) needs incarnate individuals willing to
be of service to these Ideas; and, the
Anthroposophical Movement is a place where these different Streams seek
These Streams are discarnate
communities of beings who exist in the Eternal, far beyond our narrow
time of incarnate existence. Yet, they work with and for
incarnate communities, following our choices (needs
and inner gestures.
Among much else, this means that the present semi-conscious
intercourse, within the Anthroposophical Society and Movement between
the Aristotelians and the Platonists, is also capable of playing a
significant role in this potential transformation and resurrection of
the General Anthroposophical Society. Multiple Streams (communities of discarnate
beings) are focused on crucial decisions being made in the present
within Anthroposophical Institutions.
This is not the only factor involved at this level of
spiritual interest, for one would have to include the fact that our present
time also corresponds to a 1000 year rhythm connected to the separation
of the Shepherds and Kings at Jesus' Birth, and the forming of the
School of Chartres around the year 1006. Something of this 1000
year rhythm is connected to the current
potential metamorphosis ongoing at the GAS.
Understanding this allows us to ask larger questions in
regard to the future of the GAS, for we will find that in this time is forming a potential nexus of
remarkable personalities from both the Aristotelian and the Platonic
karmic communities, and the Shepherds and Kings karmic communities.
Much more is at stake in the present decisions than the mere future of the GAS as presently conceived.
We need to realize that remarkable spiritual talents have
been and are attracted to the work at the GAS,
and if we proceed in the right way through
this crisis, nothing of these talents has to be set aside. In a certain sense, Periphery and Center fold into and out of each other (the projective geometry process is: involution), when such a social
metamorphosis arises. It is likely that some personalities in the
Center may go into semi-retirement
(already happening) - that is go into the Periphery, while some on the Periphery will go into the Center, becoming active in
Dornach and the Councils in America.
Without making too much (or too little) of this matter in
details, let me now jump ahead to the potential latent within the GAS in terms of needs and
purposes, leaving aside for another time how needs and purposes will
eventually produce functions and then new social form.
The root of the anthroposophical impulse, in that it is
connected to the Christ, is moral in nature. It is about knowing
and acting upon our understanding of what is the Good. In that
this impulse is connected to Michael, it is also about applying this
Moral Grace (knowledge of the Good) to the apprehension of the True.
The Cosmic Intelligence connected to Michael can only be brought
in through moral acts (the Good), such as the mystery practice of the Reverse Cultus (see part two), where
individuals meet together in conversation to seek the True.
This is the essence of the New Mysteries, behind which
stands the New Thinking. It is this which seeks a home in the
dying and becoming of the GAS. In point of fact, it is only in such dynamic
conditions of near chaos that new impulses can truly enter.
At the same time, such an impulse is not driven by requirements out of the world of spiritual
inspiration that seeks for human beings to conform to the wishes of
higher beings. Instead such a higher
impulse is far more interested in what
the individual human beings themselves want to become and to do. Michael waits for
us to choose, and Christ offers His very own Being to our need to know
the Good (see my essay: The Meaning of Earth Existence in the Age of the
Consciousness Soul, in my book American
In this light, if we ask ourselves (such questions as) what are the needs
humanity (not the needs of the members
of the GAS), that
the forces of the Souls on the periphery can supply out of the anthroposophical impulse, it will
eventually come to our thinking that these
needs are strongly connected to the future
direction of the World Economy. We can also observe that the
economic life of mankind is seemingly driven
today by a great deal of amorality, or as
Thomas Aquinas wrote: "evil is the Absence of the Good".
The needs and purposes that then lie potential in the GAS, if it can awake to the
true nature of the New Thinking and the New Mysteries, is to provide a
service to human individuals whose task in their biographies requires
their participation in the future developments of the World Economy.
This development is a part of
macro-threefolding - i.e. it involves a maturation of
macro-threefolding, and a conscious incarnation of the Threefold Social
Organism. Instead of the narrow (and
perhaps now doubtful) task of just providing teachers and farmers
and doctors so as to continue to fuel what
might well be a far too slow set of changes
at the level of World Culture, the GAS could be providing adult education to future and current business, political and community
We have come to understand through Rudolf Steiner the
tragedy that results when education fails to develop capacities in the
human being. The point being made here is that we do not
need to just seed the world with such as Waldorf Schools, waiting
decades for the necessary human capacities to mature and enter into the
stream of macro-leadership of the world. What the world hungers
for presently is for the GAS to undertake part of the adult education
leaders and potential world leaders in all fields of inquiry.
We wash the feet of those who have responsibility in the
world, instead of putting forward our own narrow agenda of more Waldorf
and so forth. We stop serving ourselves, and instead serve
others. At the same time, we need to step boldly into this
situation in the world - to stand for something.
It is well understood that modern Business Schools (and
other institutions of higher learning) have failed in providing the
necessary moral education to their students that would then infuse the
ongoing corporate and wider culture with the moral strength required to
stand within the Belly of the Beast with Michaelic Courage. This
failure of traditional academic institutions is understandable, for it
is a task that cannot be done through formal education. The new
moral life available to humanity is only supported by freely
participated self-education. The individual must hunger to become awake and transform
their own soul forces.
Such possibilities are latent in the New Thinking and the
New Mysteries, but at present the leading
personalities of the Society and Movement
are often far too parochial in their thinking to be able to offer such
a Schooling. Much of that which is old and no longer useful will
have to be discarded, as a necessary first step for the appearance of
At the same time individuals desiring to bring new forces
of soul and spirit into the realm of creative entrepreneurship (and
other community needs) will welcome finding an institution that will
offer a four or five week course, which introduces the individual into
the arts of true self-education.
Instead of creating “anthroposophists” via the School of Spiritual
Science, we strive to create new and human beings, who are seeking true
freedom and need offer no allegiance to the GAS, to Steiner, or
the anthroposophy. We support real freedom via the School - not
membership in our
The GAS also itself needs this infusion of new personalities, as well as new
sources of income and capital. It is the former, the new
personalities, that will enable new sources of income and capital to be
attracted. Steiner gave us the model
for this with the first Waldorf School. Capital came there
from an existing and vital financial enterprise, and this capital then
was spent (died into) education for the creation of new capacities
among free individuals. This is the model for a reborn GAS - a
school for the World, not a school to make more lovers of things
In addition, these same (potential and existing)
individual members of the pragmatic entrepreneurial business
community as well as other kinds of community leaders, that would
hunger for a deeper connection to the world and their own true nature,
will tend to have a much higher capacity to pay fees than many of those
drawn idealistic from only the already
overtaxed anthroposophical community.
This will meet not only the ongoing income needs of a fully
functional faculty, but also be able to retire the apparently rising
amounts of debt. Individuals currently at the GAS center in Dornach, who have
labored for little pay for many years, also should be able to at least
semi-retire if this new infusion of income and capital can be brought
Caveat: Moments that involve
crisis and dramatic change and development often appear for a only a
short time, and then are gone. Without the letting go of
the control over the situation by present old guard GAS personalities, and the
infusion of new personalities into the situation, the GAS will be unable to transform
into its latent potential.
This general picture then takes us to two fundamental
kinds of questions, both requiring more detail. The first type of
question is what would a structure supporting such self-education look
like? What would be the courses, who would teach, what can be
charged, how do we determine satisfaction, and are credentials necessary?
And the second, is what kind of advertising presentation
is needed in order to find those interested in such work? How do
we offer to human beings something that matches their true hunger? What
is the practical Idea, after all?
To answer these questions in general we need once more to
turn to the question of need. Not the need of the GAS, but the need of those who
may hunger for a meeting with that which Anthroposophy can offer to
this time. Recall that Steiner said
that when anthroposophy properly enters the social world, it would
disappear. If we assume, as
unfortunately has been done far too much, that what we are about when
we teach Anthroposophy is the teaching of Rudolf Steiner's works, we
guarantee failure. Here in this regard is a long quote from
Emerson, but one quite worthy of deep attention:
Anthroposophy is not taught by teaching Rudolf Steiner!
Anthroposophy is taught by inspiring others into a lifetime of
mature self-education. Anthroposophy is the active soul (...the path of cognition...), not the content of Steiner
lecture cycles (for details see American
I am not suggesting, by the way, that all
anthroposophical institutions take on such a task, for certainly we
still need to provide for those who want to teach Waldorf, or learn
biodynamics and so forth. Rather I am just suggesting that the
Center must recognize the needs of the world for this Center to mature
and be far less Steiner-centered in what it offers. The
world can gain a great deal if what is really a very subtle
transformation takes place. We stop being an institution
revering Steiner, and instead become a School supporting true human
spiritual freedom (the fundamental goal of Steiner’s The Philosophy of
Freedom). The School of Spiritual Science is something in
communion with the various communities of spiritual beings, but it is
also meant to serve humanity. Recall Steiner again: the Religion of the Gods is
Let us now return to our questions...
First, what is the proper form of instruction? In
this age of freedom, it is essential that the adult student have the
greatest latitude in making choices. Only the individual i-AM (the verb that lives) knows itself well enough to
determine what it should take up on its own path to true self-education. The GAS must stop offering courses in Steinerism
and the material supportive of the daughter movements. As we
instead wash the feet of the need for true leaders of the next phase of
world civilization, it will happen quite naturally that the daughter
movement needs will be met.
This means that in the main GAS
- offerings should most resemble a
menu. Moreover, once the adult student comes, they need to be
able to more or less immediately correct their course as they discover
that this item or that item is not to their taste. The
faculty does not tell the adult student what to do, but most carefully
respects and encourages their freedom.
Further we can not just teach what we think of as Anthroposophy.
We are seeking to add to world culture something it very much
needs, and our teachers and teachings must stop being so parochial.
Rudolf Steiner hoped the Society would be a meeting place
of different streams. One of the signs of its death is that
this has not come about. When we broaden what we teach
beyond that of Steiner
Steiner all the time Steiner, we will experience
an infusion of genius from all kinds of other sources of wisdom.
In accord with the times, which evoke a need for once more
that there should be a conversation between the Kings stream and the
Shepherds stream and between Platonists and Aristotelians, we should
not expect that leaders of those streams are all going to be members of
the GAS. The excessive worship of things Steiner in the Center
has pushed people away, and now is the time for those barriers to be
We can, for example, offer the usual artistic elements,
but not require them. Like a good restaurant, we might find that samples are the best means in the first week of a course (at
least three or four courses of this kind can be presented in each of the Seasons: the Fall,
Winter, Spring and Summer). The
adult student gets to meet with several different instructors, teaching
a variety of matters, and then designs their own next few weeks course
of study in accord with this initial experience.
To make this more concrete, I would believe that the
normal course should be five weeks, with the first being the sampling
activity, and then the rest the immersion phase. This process
also allows someone, who cannot satisfy all their hungers, to return
for a later courses
at another time. Keep in mind we are
waking them up to their own capacity for self-education, and that
capacity will then foster all later efforts. This is a far
different, and far more important task, then turning out little
In the beginning, such a course of action will seem a bit
strange, but it will over time prove itself out in the satisfaction of
the adult student, who will be in the end the best advertisement. Some may find my use of the term advertisement
not to their taste, but we should consider that in order for the GAS to offer services to the World Soul, it must wash the feet of that Soul. We cannot stand in a superior
relationship, speaking endlessly out of Steiner-said as if we knew
something others did not. Nothing will kill the living hunger of
the adult student more, regardless of how enthusiastically we present
It is the adult students' minds and souls that are to be
developed, and only they can do that act out of themselves. Nor
does that act depend upon the reading of texts. No text can teach
what a true introspective life can teach. No text can teach the
wisdom real reflection on the life so far lived can teach. We
serve the student, and by our washing the feet, we best model
such moral and spiritual developmental behavior.
At the same time, it is no small problem to consider what
the public face should be in such a situation (the reformed nature of brochures
etc.), and what it means to keep and retain what of the past that
should be kept and retained. Fundamentally this aspect best comes
from what the title of this paper referred to: The Conscious Death, and
of the General
The GAS no doubt has some kind of mission statement. To
engage in the true death gesture (the dying into becoming) that a real metamorphosis requires, would mean to
sacrifice (renounce) this mission idea, the whole past
form of the GAS (all its structures) and the nature and makeup of the
faculty and the classes. However, by this I only mean the ideas we have about these matters. Nothing in the
ongoing relationships, who is doing what and so forth that already
exists is to be let go. All this remains. What is allowed
to die is the Ideal
Conception in which all this takes place.
This is not easy, and becomes a kind of intimate and
difficult soul-work. The individuals involved have to do this
work, have to be willing to sacrifice the old thoughts. Only
through this intentional death
of the Old Idea of the GAS, can the birth of the New Idea find a suitable home in our souls.
Once the New Idea has revealed itself
(been created by our conversations out of the discipline of the Reverse Cultus), we will then find more easily the nature of the new
form and the exact means by which we move from the old to the new.
Nor does this New Idea need to take the shape
as suggested - a school in support of adult self-education for
community and business leaders. That offering above, was in part
urged as a way of showing that new ideas are possible, if we but let go
of the past, so that the future can speak into our shared present.
All the same, it would be dishonest of me to suggest that I have
not been working with this idea, of an institution dedicated to
promoting self-education among business and community leaders, now for
Next it ought to be asked, what is my personal agenda in
offering this paper? Do I see myself as one of the new
personalities that is to operate or work in the
GAS in the future? Since we so easily
assume individuals have personal agendas when they offer an initiative,
let me now speak to that question.
This question, in my view, breaks down into three
sub-questions: Could I participate? Would
I participate? And, Should I participate?
The Could aspect of the question refers to capacities - am I
capable of participating. The answer to this question is no, if
the idea of participation takes the form of lead. I am not a
leader in this sense, not having the right temperament (I am
phlegmatic, not choleric) nor the right experience. I am capable
of being a part of something. I do know a lot about how to work
in groups and be a
part of groups and I am also very familiar
with the inner processes connected to the Reverse Cultus - an essential aspect of the New Mysteries.
As to Would I participate - this is
first a question of my freedom, and second a question of what would I
be participating in. The second aspect is very important to me,
for it would determine the answer to the first. I would not
participate in something that was not courageous enough to really
undertake the death process needed a for true conscious metamorphosis
of social form.
As to Should I participate - that is
for others to determine. In point of fact, it is the most
important of the three. Without an honest invitation, coupled
with a recognition of my capacity to contribute, nothing I could offer
would have any meaning.
As a member of the social environment (the
periphery) in which the GAS exists, it has
been my pleasure to offer this paper as a contribution to that work. Whatever happens next, it is my hope and wish that the GAS finds its way to weather
its current struggles, such that that which is in between - the Christ, can be just that help that is needed.
This means that not only is this Idea valid from the point of view of the Good, it is also economically
and socially viable, because it will be based
on recognizing with the New Thinking the needs of humanity in this age.
* * *
the Reverse Cultus
The Circle gathers, with one
shared intention - to consciously work with the spirit. No member of
the Circle is more important than any other member. First in silence
they recall what Steiner taught about why Judas had to kiss Christ. The
truth at that time in Palestine was that when crowds gathered to hear
teaching, the teaching came from all those in the circle around Christ.
The Christ spirit spoke through all, first one and then another. For
this reason Judas had to kiss the One who was the center, otherwise the
Centurions would not know whom to arrest.
After this mood is
engendered, in which each recognizes in the other a true source of
spirit presence, the members of the group begin to speak. What they
offer is not a pre-thought theme, about which one may be more expert
than another, but rather the simple feelings of their hearts in the
moment. These heart-felt concerns are the sharing to each other that
opens the hearts to each other. The Circle meets each other in this art
of coming to know each others deepest concerns, which can (and often
will) be entirely personal. This knowing of each other is a great gift
to give and to receive.
In this brief sharing will
begin to emerge the spirit music latent in the coming conversation, for
the co-participating spirit presence knows the truth of our hearts, and
is drawn to these concerns out of the darkness represented by the
Threshold and into the light and warmth of the sharing. Thus, in
acknowledging each other in silence as also true speakers of the
spirit, and then in sharing the true matters of the heart as exists for
each at that moment in time, the Chalice is born in the Ethereal - in
the mutually shared world of thought.
Now comes the Art of
Conversation, the Royal Art.
Here too no one is better
than another for as Christ is quoted in the John Gospel: “What’s born
of the flesh is flesh, and what’s born of the breath is breath. Don’t
be amazed because I told you you have to be born again. The wind blows
where it will and you hear the sound of it, but you don’t know where it
comes from or where it goes; it’s the same with everyone born of the
The breath of spirit blows
where It wills, not where we will It.
The Royal Art is deep indeed
and begins (as Tomberg expressed it) by learning to think on our knees.
At the same time, these inner skills of thinking and listening will
have little effect on where the wind blows, and while the study of The
Philosophy of Spiritual Activity may make us individually more awake
inwardly, the will of the spirit presence in the conversation belongs
to that spirit presence, not to us.
So the conversation proceeds
in the heart-warmed Chalice of the shared experience of the world of
thoughts. Each contributes what is thought in them. Together a weaving
of a whole is sought, but no one can judge whether anyone else’s
contribution is a needed thread or not. Often, for example, something,
which on the surface seems antagonistic or oppositional, is precisely
what is needed in the moment to stimulate another in the offering of
their part of the whole.
It is possible then for this
circling weaving conversation to rise, in the nature and the substance
of its overall meaning, nearer and nearer to spiritual other-presence.
It will not do, however, to believe that as the conversation of the
members of the group draws near this other-presence, that It will tell
us what is true and good. That would violate our freedom. The true
touch of the wind in the soul is otherwise in its nature.
In each soul lie latent
embers of spirit recollection, spirit mindfulness and spirit vision. We
are already as thinking spirits, in the spiritual worlds. What is
fostered in the Chalice is something rooted in the teaching of Christ:
Wherever two or more are gathered in my name, there I am.
He is with us.
Moreover, He is very
interested in what we choose to think, not in our obedience to Him. Our
obedience we owe to our higher self, not to Him - that is to the Not I,
but Christ in me. He loves everyone in the Circle equally, and
observing the latent embers of recollection, mindfulness and vision
within each separate soul, He aids our communion by breathing on these
embers. He gives to each, according to that individual need, that
aspect of His Life which is His Breath - what John the Baptist in
Matthew 3:11 called holy breath. [“Now I bathe you in the water to
change hearts, but the one coming after me is stronger than me: I’m not
big enough to carry his shoes. He will bathe you in holy breath and
With His Breath, during the
communion that is the conversation in the Chalice, the latent embers of
our own soul are given Life. Within the thoughts of each arise that
which belongs to each, but which is also seen by the Love of Christ,
and enthused with His Life. We rise on the moral quality of our will in
recognizing the spirit presence in each other, and in the sharing of
the concerns of our hearts; and, as we do this, the weaving of the
thoughts into a whole - still resting on our own insight and will - is
given Eternal Life, in the form of the good and the true.
Thus revealing the truth
that: “I am with you every day, until the culmination of time.” Matthew
Events in Dornach
their relationship to the logos order of the world -
In order to understand social life, and see the place of
individual social forms in the totality of this social world, it is necessary now to raise our sights so
as to appreciate the logos order of the world itself - that is to see the
world that has arisen
through the Creation, and then the Incarnation, and now the true Second
The first obstacle to such seeing lies in a common error,
shared by large portions of humanity, that sees history and events as
central, when in fact these matters are merely the stage setting or
backdrop against which the individual biography finds its own drama
unfolding. From the standpoint of the Creator, the individual
human spirit is the meaning-moment of the Creation, and all
order (in its higher sense) comes into existence so that
individual biographies can gain what they need.
To understand this requires only that we think about the
universal characteristics of a biography carefully from the point of
view of any individual as a center. This can be done as
Each is born into a physical body in a specific place and
time. This organization of birth actually has four bodies: warmth
or ego body, astral or desire body, ethereal of life body, and material
of physical body. These bodies are the home and temple for the
spirit. From another point of view we also can see this
structure: spirit, soul and body. Both are simultaneously
true, it is just the different questions we can ask that brings out the
Already at birth the substances of these bodies are
determined by various rules, although the substance nature of the
different bodies varies (spirit and matter for example are highly
different in a qualitative way).
When we are born we are also born into a social context.
This includes a specific family constellation, a particular
(local) community and certain features such as language, culture and
geographical location. The incarnating spirit also brings a kind
of past, which we can call karma, but even that term hardly gives us
the dynamic nature of these features. Each I-am is different and
unique from every other I-am. While we can look at the universal
features of all human beings as sharing many similarities, the most
profound and powerful aspects of any incarnation are individual and
There is only one of each kind of human being - in fact
that is an essential feature of being a human being - we are truly and
profoundly individual - we are like no other.
The ways we are the same determines much of the details
of how our lives are lived. The ways we differ determines
our deep past (prior incarnations) and our ultimate destiny.
As we live out our biography we encounter many different
kinds of communities, in the broadest sense in which that term can have
meaning. Family and village and town are only one such
characteristic. If we have a certain limit due to a physical or
mental lack (such as deafness), we will also be a member of that
community - the community of the deaf.
These sources will bring about a specific world view - a
set of ideas that is carried by the language and culture which we are
born into. That we can overcome this birth-given necessary
characteristic is also a fact of no little importance. The world
view can be too parochial, and thus a prison for our I.
Because of who we are as a unique kind of being (being
human is only one of several possible universal shared
characteristics), the biography is organized in order to give us
various types of experience. This meeting of the I-am during
incarnation, with its particular and unique experiences, is what life
is for. Thus we can say that a unique and individual kind
of spirit incarnates in order to have a unique and individual
experience. Granted there are many superficial types of
experience, but the reality is that the totality is not the same for
With language we also get ideas. The spoken
word and the conceptual world bear particular connections, whose
details are worth appreciating. One of these is that meaning
itself is individual and unique. When I use the word love,
for example, I mean it in a way that is completely different from the
meaning given to this word by any other being. The differences
may on occasion be slight, but they are inescapably there.
One of the many consequences of seeing this logos order
is the realization that to be on the Vorstand of the GAS, or in one of
the Sections of the School of Spiritual Science located in Dornach, is
to have an individual meaning in the eyes of Christ that is no more
important or no less important than a criminal on death row, or someone
dying of AIDS in Africa and so forth.
In a similar vein, the idea of anthroposophy is not any
more or any less significant than the ideology of a terrorist in
Pakistan. It is not that meaning is relative or not relative - it
is that meaning, along with all that is, just is. Members
of the GAS do a work that they have incarnated to do, and it is no more
and no less important than what a brothel owner in Thailand is doing.
Christ loves each kind equally, and has made a world which
accommodates each kind equally.
No doubt some members of the Vorstand were in previous
lives more like the criminal on death row, than like the priest leaders
of a modern mystery school they might today believe themselves to be.
Properly understood, the appreciation of this aspect of
reality gives us a great deal of freedom. This is because
when we consider our work more important than it really is, we make a
prison for our own I - we dig a kind of rut in which our biography will
have to run, because we have conceived our work in a way far out of
proportion to what it actually is.
When Rudolf Steiner encourages us to do something out of
the love of the deed he is pointing us in this direction. We only
gain problems by raising the deed up in relationship to the deeds of
others, which is why Christ modeled for us the washing of the feet.
Dornach is not a special place. It is just a place.
Anthroposophists are not special people, they are just
people. Now it is possible that if anthroposophists conduct
themselves in certain ways in Dornach, that other people will find what
is done there for the love of the deed useful to them. At the
same time there is nothing to compel them to find what we do useful.
And we can’t act in such a way that they do find it useful - that
is we can’t force their interest. That interest belongs to their
At the same time there is what we might call human
nature. So human nature could not help but make evaluations
of Steiner, and of what he taught, as regards this specific
important than other deeds. Then because his
egos, they then attached themselves to this more important thing they
thought really existed, and which allowed them to feel more important
by teaching Rudolf Steiner to the world.
This is not a new attitude. The Creation
in fact takes account of this possibility, which is one reason why we
get to have many lives in order that eventually we will get over
ourselves. This is also one of the reasons Christ said that
unless we become again like little children, we cannot get into the
kingdom of heaven. A child is a being that is so completely
egotistical that it passes beyond egotism. To be
spontaneously child-like is to risk social censure, yet that is
precisely what saves us from the excesses of gravitas (the ahrimanic)
and the excesses of selfishness (the luciferic). The more
true we are to self, the less we are self, for the real nature of the
I-am is selfless.
Here is Christ again - pay attention particularly to the
to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to
bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her
mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his
household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of
Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of
Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his
life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew
Dornach is just a social collection of
individual human beings that have shared karma. At the same time,
we all live in a cultural frame in which comparison is so common, most
our words have such a quality. There is no up without down.
There is no better without worse. If one can be more
moral, one can be less moral. If we have a region of the Earth
where people gather to celebrate the work of a particular human being,
in this case Rudolf Steiner, then there are also places where he is not
has learned of him, one can teach about him. The problem comes
when we form the idea that others should have the same affections
toward him and his work that we do; or, if we form the thought that
because we can imagine the world as a better place if everyone was just
like us, then clearly the world should go in that direction - that is
people ought to learn of Rudolf Steiner, as they will be better for it.
Though common, such thoughts are not quite right. Why?
which was the core of Steiner’s own work,
and which is at the core of Christ’s Love. Anthroposophy not only
cannot be imposed upon the world - to seek to impose it would destroy
it. A lot of people get this, however, and realize it is by
example that we must live. Then our life demonstrates, and
others are free to take from that demonstration, or not.
what does Dornach demonstrate? It demonstrates an infatuation
with all things Steiner, and makes itself into a Center of Steiner
thought. Is that really what Steiner himself hoped for
it would not have been possible to write
Conscious Death, and Resurrection, of the General Anthroposophical
Joel A. Wendt
the Season of St. John’s Tide, 2010