the Anthroposophical Society, Money,
and a very necessary spiritual Revolution


Original Goetheanum - soft curves became straight lines and hard angles - Goetheanum after the fire

The Society, like many modern institutions in this era of chaotic economic processes, has suffered recently from a loss of income.  Mostly this has to do with the drying up (to a degree) of what is called: gift money.  The Society was overly dependent upon gift money, and has had to cutback services and employees in order to balance its books.  There are some who blame the current leadership, and want that leadership replaced, but the social reality is itself pregnant with another solution for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.

The spiritual world, in the form of the community of Beings that are part of what Rudolf Steiner called: the Anthroposophical Movement, has not abandoned our work.  At the same time, by its own rules, this spiritual Anthroposophical Movement must work through human beings.  Human beings must attend to the needed new inspiration, otherwise the Movement cannot help the Society.  It is a question fundamentally of human freedom.

Right now the basic blocking gesture within the Society is the inability to be awake to something Steiner predicted: the Culmination and the related karmic tensions between what Steiner characterized as the Aristotelians and the Platonists.  An earlier effort to illuminate these riddles was done by Stephen Usher, and then a later one by the myself.  My article (see the end of this missive) has a link Usher’s essay.

detail, Raffaello Sanzio of Urbino's School of Athens painting
Plato on the left, and Aristotle on the right - notice the contrasting gestures of the right hands

Right now the Centers of organized Society activity are occupied by Aristotelians, to the exclusion of the Platonists who reside mostly on the Periphery.  This Periphery reaches far, and includes folks not even members or friends of the Society, while at the same time well acquainted with Rudolf Steiner.

That should not be surprising if one thinks about this carefully.  The plain fact this speaks to is that the Aristotelians will not be able to receive the help of the Platonists, if the former do not in some fashion discover how to invite the latter into a Way of co-working.  This invitation need not go so far as to place Platonists into positions of institutional power - the intercourse need only happen at the level of an exchanges of concepts that can begin to take place merely through reading.

As to what other Platonists might offer (or have already offered), my article has a few details.  Here I will only speak for myself. 

In my experience the most profound scientific question of our time concerns whether it is true or not that the mind and the brain are the same.  If we get that wrong, our whole understanding of the nature of thinking and of the human being remains trapped in the Ahrimanic Deception (Enchantment). 

detail, Ahriman: Steiner's Representative of Humanity

With the idea/concept that the brain is the source of the personality, and controls all behaviors, we remain fixated in a territory of terrifying untruth.  If we recall the emphasis Steiner placed on his book The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, we might see a problem, because not only is this book virtually unknown in modern philosophy, it is hardly even practiced successfully in the Anthroposophical Society.  The result is that the central question of human spiritual freedom, upon which Steiner based all his later work, has been forgotten in the Society.  And, as a consequence, anthroposophists are completely unprepared to deal with the current concepts in brain physiology and neurology that suggest that the human being is nothing but an accidental organic artifact of blind and random evolution: the presumption being that  all is matter, and there is no spirit (an effect of the anti-Christ spirit).

Yes, there is brain-bound thinking, but sense-free thinking is not brain-bound.  Is the human being free of his biology, or its prisoner?  What is even more tragic, is that if we successfully practice The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, we become able to perceive that ordinary thinking is not always brain-bound, but has constant moments of transcendent encounters with spirit.  Constant.  Brain-bound is not a fixed condition, and ordinary consciousness continuously has sense-free experiences. We mostly just sleep through these experiences, not having developed the orientation Steiner called: the exceptional state.  This orientation comes about because we study our personal inner world with the same scientific empiricism we apply to the sense world.

What more fundamental questions could there be then, and, sadly, it is clear that the institutional Centers of anthroposophical work don’t even know enough to face it.  Mostly Steiner is quoted, and patterns and habits of thought live on without any sense that a truly living Society would naturally evolve.  Ours does not.  Even the architecture became rigid.

Upon the appreciation of this concept/riddle of the meaning of our existence (matter or spirit), then follows our whole ability to establish what is going on in history, in civilization, and in all the most intimate aspects of our social/political lives.  This tension between materialistic science and a new religious-like scientific revelation as to the true nature of thinking is at the heart of the becoming of the Third Millennium.

Door to Third Millennium, Painting by Latin American Painter Alberto Pancorbo

The turbulent seas of change, everywhere dominating the modern world, while seeming to be chaotic and full of troubles, are in fact organized after their own true fashion and inner spiritual nature.  The principle currents take the shape of what Christ spoke of when He said: I come not to bring peace, but a sword.   The outer conflict we see everywhere has the purpose of making possible inner soul changes/trials of a quite real nature.  If there are no conflicts producing individual moral dilemmas, the billions of souls living in the Age of the Consciousness or Spiritual Soul are not confronted with the need to pull out of themselves (essentially invent) individualized moral intuitions (thereby discovering the Good and the True).  

So we see then, everywhere, processes where what Steiner called the “group soul” are being broken down, freeing the individual from those binding traditional moral rules (not peace, but a sword).  These processes do not, however, proceed at the same rate over time, nor exist everywhere in the same state or nature.  As a consequence, in America we tend to have more individualism, and in other places less.  Further, the individualism in America impacts the rest of the world with cultural artifacts that increase elsewhere the breaking down of the group soul, such as the social macro-effect of rock ‘n roll music (and more recently hip-hop) as it passed into the larger world over time.  These arts help the young separate from the traditions of their elders, and when we read the rest of the statement of Christ’s, the whole begins to reveal a remarkable shape:

Matthew 10:34-40:  “Don’t think I came to cause peace across the land.  I didn’t come to cause peace, I came to wield a sword, because I came to divide a man against his father and a daughter against her mother and a bride against her mother-in-law, and to make a man’s servants his enemies.  Whoever prefers father or mother over me is not worthy of me; and whoever prefers son or daughter over me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.  Whoever found his life will lose it, and the one who lost his life because of me will find it.  Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me, receives my Sender.”

This undercurrent is the spiritual macro-stream working outward from within the great and grave seas of change we see everywhere.  It is nothing less that a direct encounter between humanity and the Cosmic Christ: the Lord (artist) of Karma.  This encounter takes place inwardly, not in the outer circumstances, which mostly serve as a goad to inner waking up.  Ahriman already possesses the raw intellect (his natural realm), and it is up to human individuals to wrest from Ahriman this moral core of the soul, and infuse it with the forces of Christ: Not I, but Christ in me.

This wresting is being done everywhere, as can be seen in such works as: Blessed Unrest, by Paul Hawken.

If the Aristotelians can grasp this fact, then they can begin to perceive related social processes, which have been finely detailed in many of my writings.  This is essentially new knowledge, and can be a great help to the Society in the navigation of many of the coming changes.  Not only that, but this kind of knowledge (including how it is arrived at via a more conscious - and less instinctive -  sense-free thinking) is something desired by many in the world who are not (nor need to be) as fond as we are of Rudolf Steiner. 

a collection of concepts from various think tanks: image by Many Eyes

In this age, knowledge is also an economic product because it has value.  As a consequence, if the right style (1) of social form is created in order to convey this knowledge (the Cosmic Christ and the new mystery of thinking) to the world, the Anthroposophical Society can not only serve (wash the feet) of the modern world, but find new funds for the support of our other activities.  While the world needs Waldorf Schools and Biodynamic Farms, it needs knowledge of these seas and how to navigate them far more.  At the same time, it is not about our pouring Steiner-said into empty souls.   These new social forms of adult education must be based on the student creating their own Way.  We don’t sell them our Way, we wash the feet of their Way.   Again, it is a question of human freedom.

We should not teach Steinerism (a world view that dominates the Society, and is not a science), nor should we teach just the content of the daughter movements.  Instead we teach (and ourselves learn more about) the truly fundamental questions: What really is the full potential of mind, and how would such a mind describe the social realities humanity now faces?  Once we awake to the spirit in the mind, then perceiving the spirit everywhere else naturally follows.  Nature, for example, has an inside just as do we.  Yet, the best way to appreciate that requires us to first be more awake in our own inside.

As long as the Aristotelians assume that their business is creating more lovers of all things Steiner, while maintaining their own institutional positions and prerogatives, they have not seen and not heard.  At the same time, careful observation of the Society, as a social form, reveals that Steiner, in fostering local Branches and Study Groups, made it possible for the membership and the friends to become completely free of the limits of our institutional centers, such as in Dornach and the Councils in America.

Nothing less than a social/spiritual revolution in terms of how the Society is led is called for.  In fact, in accord with our Age, the more ancient (Third Cultural Epoch) hierarchical social forms are dying, and being replaced by circle-like (Fifth Cultural Epoch) social forms within the social commons.  Dornach, which is very hierarchical at the level of concepts - such as by decreeing the theme of the year, is no longer capable of providing viable leadership, and it is the local Branches that need to assert themselves so as to freely determine their own courses of action.

If Dornach and the Councils in America knew what they were doing, I wouldn't have to write this stuff, which is obvious to an awake thinking.


             third epoch social form with Steiner's ghost at the top                                 fifth epoch social form with the Youth Section
                                                                                                                           in the center
of a squared circle

It isn’t necessary to wait for the various Centers to give the Branches in the Periphery the permission to create viable and profitable adult education centers in which the Platonists’ wisdom can be added to the Aristotelian wisdom (solving the $$$ money $$$ problem at the local level - see note 1).  All over the world there is a hunger, living in those outside the Society, to find their individual Way.  But all local social problems need to receive a local solution.  Neither Steiner or Dornach are to tell us what to do.  A local adult education center teaching the practices of truly free thinking enables everyone to contribute.

The intercourse between the Platonists and the Aristotelians is discussed in my paper noted below.  The former live mostly in the Idea as a concrete experienced reality, while the latter live mostly in the abstract concept.  The only caveat as to working out this necessary intercourse is for the members and friends to reduce their reliance on Steiner-said, and replace that with greater personal cognitive activity: the will-in-thinking. 

For example, imagine how you would feel were you to go to a heart surgeon needing his/her services for your child, and during the time when this operation was being explained to you, the surgeon kept quoting his/her teachers as if they had no confidence in their own skills.  The world cannot receive this wisdom if it does not come from our own insights and practices, without Steiner’s name everywhere attached.  To others this reliance on Steiner will seem like a crutch, and we ourselves will appear to be spiritually lame.

Among each other, yes, Steiner is relevant (along with a lot of others who have contributed to our understanding and knowledge of the world, again see my essay on the Culmination below on who were some of the 20th and 21st Century Platonists).  But to the world, the references to Steiner will effectively murder any chance we have to be true helpers.  You need to be the teacher yourself.  There is no other Way.  The fundamental revolution is individual.

Let us here take a brief look at the problem of Steiner-said in a more intimate soul-fashion.

When we think, and write or are in conversation, our minds (mostly by unconscious habits of associative thinking) often defer to Steiner, with the result that we stop actually thinking and our “I” turns to memory in order to retrieve the quoted material.  Anyone listening to us, that is not already in our camp, gets confused.  They will be more interested in what you think for yourself, than in the thoughts of some dead spiritual guru.  They don’t know or value Steiner, and often become less inclined to know Steiner when they meet us as students unable to think outside the dead bones of Steiner-thought. 

This excessive quoting of Steiner has created all kinds of social problems, particularly in Waldorf and Biodynamics.  For example, I use “Google news” to search daily for references to Waldorf and to Biodynamics.  In almost all cases, where Steiner is heavily quoted, the reporter/writer dismisses the information being provided, wanting quite naturally to hear these matters of spirit discussed with an awareness of the related scientific questions.  Where the teacher or farmer speaks from their own experience, the situation is otherwise.  Not enough anthroposophists have made themselves familiar with the Aristotelian Steiner’s philosophical and epistemological works, or with the works of the Platonist Owen Barfield on language and the evolution of consciousness.  Understanding both those contributions to human understanding is necessary in order to acquire the ability to present our work, in the context of the scientific age.  When we can't, it turns us into holders of just one more belief system. 

The main religious-like point of view of our Age is natural science.  If we are to help people grow past its present-day limits, we need to be well aware of the nature of those limits.  One of our limits is our belief that reading a Steiner text delivers knowledge. It does not.  A text only provides concepts (perhaps leading to understanding), but in the absence of the percepts (experiences) that go with the concepts, there is no knowledge (as established in Steiner’s The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity.

Knowledge then, can be born of an intercourse within each individual of both the Platonist and the Aristotelian inspirations.  But this “knowledge” is only possible for our personal experiences.  Reading about Christ is very different from having a direct experience of Christ.  Real direct knowledge of this type  belongs not to the Society, but to the world as a free act in local centers of adult education.  We don’t need more members in the Society.  We just need to be good participants in the seas of change involving everyone in the world - participants who speak from their own personal experience, and who feel no compulsion at all to rely upon or to sell Steiner-said (Steinerism).

All of us have a lot to share.  We just need to practice this dictum of Emerson: “In self-trust, all virtues are comprehended.”  The Aristotelians have locked us into the dynamics of Steinerism, and it is requires an encounter with the Platonists to show the way free.  There are a lot of Platonists, many very visible during the 20th Century, and some quite active now.  We no longer need to rely solely on Steiner.  If the Society wants to be alive and evolve, it must move beyond its present-day habits.  Again, read the link for details.

revolutionary paper by Joel A. Wendt

referenced link on the Culmination:

The Potential Mission of the Anthroposophical Society in the Early Centuries of the Third Millennium.
The understanding of this Potential Mission is intimately connected to first fully understanding: the Culmination.

(1) In later essay I hope to convey some detailed concepts about the style and money questions, relating to adult education enterprises.   The basic concept here is that adult self-education centers, created by local Branches, have viable economic potentials.  People just have to teach what they actually know, not what they believe to be true from reading Steiner, or anyone else for that matter.