The Mystery of the Americas: the true West
It is possible to become quite confused concerning the
underlying spiritual reality of the World, especially if one’s thinking
excludes the inclusion of the Americas. This is especially the
case in anthroposophical circles, that is in circles of human beings
already strongly influenced by Rudolf Steiner and perhaps dominated by
members and friends of the Anthroposophical Society. Yet, an
honest look at what is done and what is talked about in these circles
is that they hardly contain at all a recognition of the Americas, and
particularly of the People of Peoples - the Americans living in the
United States of America.
For example, Stephen Clarke, one of the leading
spiritual researchers on the Americas, was so disheartened when he
learned of the holding of a conference in Dornach, focused on spiritual
leaders from different disciplines from all over the world (which yet
invited no living personality from the Americas at all!) that he left
the Society in disgust. The Center and the East don’t really know
what to do with the Americas and Americans.
Both, in their relations to the United States of
America, enact what has to be called spiritual
imperialism. The Center and the East,
in the sense of the conduct of those who consider themselves spiritual
teachers, is to treat Americans and especially North America as a
fertile ground into which to plant their views of the world. This
spiritual imperialism of both
Center and East cannot imagine that Americans desire anything more than
to be initiated or to become enlightened and worship at the feet of
Great Initiates and Gurus.
More than a few of the many European
anthroposophists, that had come to North America in the 20th Century,
have had no doubt that Americans are spiritually backward and must be
introduced to the higher cultural achievements of Europe. I
can remember sitting in a Conference on Conversation in America, that took place in Concord, Massachusetts in the early
‘90s, after having made a reference to American Culture, hearing the
European sitting next to me remark: “what culture?”
The truth is the both East and Center would learn a lot
about the spirit if they came to America to learn, and not to teach.
Something is happening among the People of Peoples that is
transcendent of all traditional spiritual life which had been born
before and often linked most significantly to a specific Folk Spirit.
Even Rudolf Steiner recognized that the version of Anthroposophy
he taught was very much a creature of the German Folk Spirit and the
Spirit of the German language.
For example, within the Stream of Anthroposophy, there
is a recognition of what is called the Platonists and the
Aristotelians, who have (according to Steiner) a shared karmic destiny.
Trapped in this pre-conception, anthroposophists are often blind
to anything else. For some, Tomberg is the archetype of the
Platonists, and Steiner the archetype of the Aristotelians. From
the view of the spirituality of the true West, both men have serious
Tomberg is a kind of esoteric elitist - in his so-called masterpiece: Meditations
on the Tarot: a journey into Christian Hermeticism, only the most special and unique individuals are to be
counted among the true teachers of Christian esotercism: the Desert
Fathers, Papus, various saints and so forth. Steiner is an
esoteric idealist - basically selling the concept that to be deeply
spiritual one must learn all about the great details of the spiritual
world, in addition to which there is meditation to be practiced and
other arts to master. Both teach a massive set of spiritual
exercises and as well the image of the self-transformed human being as
the highest spiritual attainment.
Both streams in Anthroposophy (the Plantonist and the
Aristotelian), and as well the Gurus from the East, take the same basic
consciousness is missing something.
Whatever our basic human nature, it must undergo transformation
if any kind of spiritual striving is to be in evidence. The
message of the Initiates and the Gurus is that: What
we are is not enough. We must become something more.
Christ does not teach this. Christ loves us as we are, and makes
no demands of any kind that we become something different. He
does, however, teach of consequences. In the Sermon on the Mount
He patiently explains what happens as a result of what we do with
ourselves. If we judge, we will be judged. If we become
poor in spirit, we will experience the Kingdom of Heaven. If we build
the home of our soul on sand (no practice) that edifice will fail when stressed; and, if we build
the home of our soul on rock (we do practice), then when troubles come we will survive.
We are then free to be who we want to be, and how we
want to be, but we are not required to be anything else. He is
with us, as we are, until the Ends of Time itself.
What has this to do with the Americas and
The Americas - the true West - are the most earthy place
in the world. The East is so far out there in its remarkable
world conceptions, that it is hardly on the Earth at all. The
Center is closer to the Earth and able to be remarkably artistic, but
accomplishes that through still not knowing how to be fully human on the Earth. Who did Steiner celebrate?
Goethe, who was so not like the rest of us as to seem to be from
another planet. That’s esoteric idealism - to so praise and raise another up, it automatically
puts the rest of us down.
What people in the true West are struggling to do is to
be themselves. They are not interested in being someone else’s
idea of who they should be. Just being what they want to make of
themselves, that’s hard enough (Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix, etc).
There’s been a fundamental transformation in the nature
of human existence. What before had to be sought outside the
biography - inner transformation through initiation or enlightenment -
is now built into the biography itself. This is built in partly
by us during our sojourn between death and a new birth. Even if
we include within our biography encounters with spiritual development
disciplines, the central processes of transformation occur within the
biography - not somewhere outside it.
Rudolf Steiner recognized this when in Knowledge
of Higher Worlds he said that for each step in spiritual
development, one must take three steps in character development. We can exercise ourselves silly, but if we don’t
live our biography in a moral way, there is no transformation - no
purification, no catharsis. Where is Christ in this?
Off on some mountain top? Only available to you if
you development Imaginative consciousness? This is what Steiner
and Tomberg seem to teach when they speak of the Return of Christ in
the Ethereal. Part of our problem is that both Steiner and
Tomberg found in the spiritual world a reflective image of their own
attitude, one the idealist and the other the elitist. Neither anymore had ordinary consciousness, and did not know really what was going on with the rest
of us. Spiritual reality can only give us a reflection of what we bring - it has no desire to overwhelm our
freedom. As a consequence what Steiner and Tomberg met in their
journeys to higher worlds was in large part determined by what they
brought with them.
In a certain sense the following is very true: Steiner
was the last great Initiate. In a way he was a kind of living
bridge between an old clairvoyance and a new clairvoyance.
Tomberg clung to the old clairvoyance, out of his elitist
impulse. Steiner tried to step past it with his work on the real
nature of thinking. This thinking activity is relatively new (in
its present form), coming to the fore only in the last 250 years, as
Barfield noted when he pointed out that in the English language it was
just a couple of centuries ago that the term: self-consciousness became present in ordinary discourse. Before that
time we were inwardly not yet fully self-conscious.
As self-conscious thinkers we now do something in
ordinary consciousness that was not possible before. This is what
I researched for almost 40 years, for with my incarnation into a body
prepared by another, at its age of 30, that is where my I shined its
light - into the field of ordinary consciousness (thus, part of the
appendix in my book the Way of
the Fool: the
virtues of ordinary consciousness).
Eventually I discovered that for ordinary consciousness, when
seeking to be moral, there arose a Second Eucharist in the Ethereal, as
an aspect of Christ’s Return in the Ethereal. For details see my Living
Thinking in Action and other writings.
From this basis (understanding ordinary consciousness) I
then developed my Goetheanistic Social Science, culminating in the
book: The Art of
God: an actual theory of Everything.
That book was not possible, or even conceived, until into my
ordinary consciousness stepped the Lesser Guardian and the Greater
Guardian of the Threshold out of their own forces of Will and Grace (in
2009). It wasn’t until I had ripened my ordinary consciousness
via facing the trials of my own biography, that the final patterns in
the puzzle of the new clairvoyance (living thinking becoming clair/clear-thinking) entered into my ordinary
consciousness. I had been anticipating the old clairvoyance
(imagining that Steiner and Tomberg’s views applied everywhere in the
world). As the new developed within my soul I was surprised and
had a hard time recognizing the difference (which on my part was an
error of perception warped by my assumptions). But eventually I
did come to understand what had really happened. My biography had
produced living thinking and then clair/clear-thinking in an
instinctive way out of ordinary consciousness, confirming Steiner’s
observation, made to the workmen on 3 March 1923, that the American was
destined to come to Anthroposophy in a natural way.
This then is what the Americas teach - how to be merely
and gloriously human. The significant matter is that when this is
properly understood it is enough of a task. At the same time, it
is also an individually defined task. No one gets to tell us what being human means.
All of culture in the Americas (most obvious, presently,
in the United States) is about the trials of life leading one to
becoming ordinarily human - discovering there their highest and deepest
potential. Even among the aboriginal peoples in the Americas this
was their Way. There is no system, no goal - no standard we must
become. We just live our life among our fellows, and as we grow
into our maturity, our fellows may then recognize us. In many
Native Cultures this appears at a time when the community begins to
label this state of human maturity, by the honorific: Grandfather or
Grandmother. This comes as just a simple recognition of the
development of character that means that the individual designated and
honored in this fashion is being noticed as a living example of
what it means to be a human being. No initiation, no
In this way one is looked up to by the community,
naturally, for having unfolded the grace-filled elements of being
human. No one can teach us how to be ourselves, except ourselves.
Viewed this way, one can come to see everywhere in the true West
this development being born in the individuality; and, the tragedy is
that the Anthroposophical Society misdirects us, because no one studies
what it means to be an American in the Americas. It is assumed
that our spiritual development ought to imitate either the Center or
the East. The soul of the true West is assumed to be empty -
needing to be filled from the outside.
Years ago I was graced with what some would call an
Imagination. While thinking in pictures on the history of the
Faust Branch of Fair Oaks California, I was presented with a symbolic
picture. I have continued to work with this gift ever since, and
details can be found in my book Manure for
the Garden of Anthroposophy. The
central fact revealed goes like this ...
In the Americas, where the mountains run north-south
instead of east-west, certain forces rise from the deep spiritual
inside of the Earth, which have the effect of pushing up off the Earth
- ungrounding - those souls born elsewhere (Center and East). The
soul of Americans is organized to be able to live within the
materialism, and the hardening forces here. To be grounded,
within this field of willing, feeling and thinking, is natural to us.
To those who come from elsewhere, they are pushed up, off the
dense moist Earth of the Holy Mother, and if we imitate their spiritual
teachings we too will lose our natural connection to the Earth.
To seek initiation or enlightenment is for an American to
sacrifice an essential aspect of our soul.
This is why there is no research on the three-fold
double complex in the Society. Ungrounded self-knowledge wants to
deny the existence of the double. Just about every natural and
amazing spiritual and cultural fact of America is rejected by the
Society. Granted there is an interest in what developed here in
the first years, witness the anthroposophists working on Emerson and
Franklin. But at the same time, the Society completely fails to
celebrate our arts (television and movies and jazz and rock and country
and salsa and rap), or our mechanical inventiveness in the fields of
electronics and computers.
You cannot know or understand what you do not love and
Can the Anthroposophical Society in America fix itself?
There’s a joke, which is worth noting: How many anthroposophists
does it take to change a light bulb? Nobody knows, because
Steiner never said. Did Steiner say
stuff to us to help us with this problem of the Society fixing itself?
Well ... from one point of view that’s all he ever talked about -
read the lectures: Awakening
to Community. Next, a personal story:
In the late ‘90‘s I was part of a Internet political
discussion group run out of Stanford University - about 300 members.
I made there the comment that unless we developed a
phenomenological view of the political and social, we’d never figure
out how to heal our social wounds. As a consequence I was invited
to join a much smaller group of academic philosophers (about a dozen,
American and European), that were into the study of such as Nietzsche,
Deleuze, Foucault and so forth.
Things did not go well because I was totally unfamiliar
with the works of these kinds of minds. I did believe it was
possible to still discuss their ideas, but whenever I asked a question
on the discussion list, wanting for these “academics” to illuminate the
details of a specific point, I was told to go read a bunch of books. It
was like they lived in a world all of their own, whose vocabulary and
principles were too obtuse for “ordinary consciousness”.
Anyway, at one point one of them made the rather bald
statement that America had never produced any philosophers on the level
as these men and others (celebrated now by a personality of the Center:
Y. Ben-Aharon in his latest book: The Event
in Science, History, Philosophy & Art).
I wrote a lengthly reply, in which my main point was that in the
world of the mid to late 20th Century those American minds of similar
caliber as to the French post-modernists et. al., finding the world
lost into a level of absurdity, realized it could only be reached at
its true depth through humor, and they became stand-up comics and
cartoonists. For them, philosophical intellectualism had no
more weapons in its arsenal, having become inbred and self-reflective
(philosophers only read other philosophers, and not one of them writes
something to which ordinary consciousness can make a connection).
I then gave multiple examples, limiting myself here now
to just a few: Walt Kelly has his character Pogo say: We have met the enemy and he
is us. Bill Gaines of Mad Magazine has
Alfred E. Neuman say: What, me worry? Bill
Griffith has his character Zippy the Pinhead say: Are we having fun yet? Bill Watterson: Hobbes: How come we play war and not
peace? Calvin: Too few role models. Then there is George Carlin, and his references to our “owners”. Deep wisdom distilled to its most earthly
essences lives in America’s humorists.