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, at

*     *     *

part one

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 social:

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 but 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 enable social 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, for all its constituent parts 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 must awake.

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 functional 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).

*[See my essay: Saving the Catholic Religion from the Roman Church: through deepening our understanding of the Third Fatima Prophecy.]


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 certain 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 means that latent in the 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 activity.

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 metamorphosis. 

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, we can see that 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 > social form

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 to meet.

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 purposes) 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 world 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 Anthroposophy).

In this light, if we ask ourselves (such questions as) what are the needs of humanity (not the needs of the members and friends 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 leaders. 

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 of world 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 the new.

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 thing.

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 Steinerian.

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 into play.

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:

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.

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 Anthroposophy).

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 mankind.

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 - Dornach - 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 dissolved.

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 anthroposophists.

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 such material.

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 the Resurrection, of the General Anthroposophical Society.

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 many years.

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.

*   *   *

part two

the Reverse Cultus

an imagination

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 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 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 fire.”]

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 28:20

*     *     *

part three

Events in Dornach

- and 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 organism of the social world that has arisen through the Creation, and then the Incarnation, and now the true Second Coming.

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 follows.

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 different details.

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 unique.

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 anyone.

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 freedom.

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  quality: more important than other deeds.   Then because his students had 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 last lines:

"Do not think that I came 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 10:34-39 NASB)

Dornach needs to get over itself.  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 celebrated.

If one 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?

Because they violate the very freedom 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.

Yet, 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 Dornach?

Obviously, I don’t think so, or it would not have been possible to write about: The Conscious Death, and Resurrection, of the General Anthroposophical Society.

Joel A. Wendt

in the Season of St. John’s Tide, 2010