This journal was distributed free (about 25 copies) in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in early August, 1997, at the major summer USA anthroposophical conference. There were some unusual reactions, as the material was not without bite. Some of these reactions will be found following the Journal.
OUTLAW (rebel) ANTHROPOSOPHY
Vol. I, Issue no. I, summer 1997
another declaration of independence: spiritual science with passion - light and heat
Cover artwork: Victoria Hull. Articles and journal conception: Joel A. Wendt.
This journal is distributed free. Only a few copies are being given out, and those who find something of interest here, are invited to add their gift to ours by making more copies and passing them on. In this way Outlaw Anthroposophy will only travel where it is meant to travel. Questions and correspondence should be directed to: Joel A. Wendt P. O. Box 219 Greenville, New Hampshire 03048; e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The poll inside is correct; the next issue will be completely based upon reader response. Readers desiring a direct reception of the next issue should send a 10x13 SASE in with their poll answers, with at least one dollar US in stamps, or more, as the idea is to continue to distribute this journal at the lowest possible cost.
The Study of Rudolf Steiner's Lecture Cycles, and the Problem of Cognition - musings on the epistomological swampland of the Anthroposophical Movement
The Anthroposophical Society: Is it a living social form?
The First Readers Poll: 25 questions you've been dying to answer about your relationship to the Anthroposophical Society.
The Study of Rudolf Steiner's Lecture Cycles,
and the Problem of Cognition*
- musings on the epistomological swampland of the Anthroposophical Movement -
Joel A. Wendt
*Cognition - the German word erkennen, and its relatives, seems to have no specific English equivilant. One German speaker advised me it means "active thinking", and another spoke of it as having to do with the "relationship" of the knower to the inner nature of the object of knowledge. My own sense of this problem is that its real solution will only be found as a matter of inner experience. Erkennen can't be understood as a matter of definition or translation, but only by my direct experience of my own thinking activity.
Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy of Spiritual Activity begins with an examination of the problem of freedom: Can we choose what we desire? He solved this problem by suggesting that we can in fact choose the impelling motive, the moral ground from which our actions (both inner and outer) proceed. From this he moved to the problem of percept and concept: What is the relationship between our thinking activity and our experiences?
This second question was also approached in Steiner's The Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World Conception. I find his expression there the more beautiful; namely, that the sense percept is incomplete without the act of cognition. Thinking is the final act in the process by which Nature is created.
When I think about this truth, I am always reminded, with wonder, of the verse in Genesis about God's having given to humanity the power to name the "beasts of the field and the birds of the air". World Reality needs the human being's cognitive activity to compete Itself.
The reader may have perhaps noticed that I referred above to the "sense" percept. What about the supersensible "percept"? What about those experiences which are apparently internal, which are in my soul, and for which I have many concepts (e.g. feelings)? Are those not a kind of "percept" as well. And, more significantly, what about those experiences (percepts) which are spiritual in nature; not just congnitions about objects of the sense world or within my own soul, but what about congnitions concerning invisible, supersensible Beings and their activities?
In a footnote, written forty years later, in the same text, Steiner writes:
"Therefore, what is said in this writing about the essential nature of knowledge holds good also for the knowledge of the spiritual worlds, with which my later writings are concerned. The sense-world in its manifestation to human perception is not reality. It possesses its reality in connection with that which reveals itself in man in the form of thought concerning this sense-world. Thoughts belong to the reality of the sensibly perceived; only, that which is present in the sense-existence as thought manifests itself, not externally in this existence, but inwardly in man. But thought and sense-perception are a single essence. While man enters the world in sense-perception, he separates thought from reality; but the thought merely manifests itself in another place within the mind. The separation between percept and thought possesses no significance for the objective world; it occurs only because man takes up a position in the midst of existence. It is to him that this appearance thus occurs, as if thought and percept were twofold. Nor is it otherwise in the case of spiritual perception. When this occurs by reason of processes in the soul which I have described in my more recent book Knowledge of the Higher World and Its Attainment, this then forms likewise one aspect of (spiritual) existence; and the corresponding thoughts of the spiritual form the other aspect. A difference occurs only to this extent, that sense-perception reaches its consummation through thought in reality, as it were, in an upper direction at the beginning of the spiritual; whereas spiritual perception is experienced in its true being from this beginning downward. The fact that the experience of sense-perception occurs through the senses formed by Nature, and that of the perception of the spiritual through spiritual organs of perception, first formed in a psychic manner, does not constitute a distinction in principle."
Nothing could be clearer, could it? Let me draw from this paragraph, written in 1924, what I believe is relevant to our discussion:
The same dynamic, between experience and thought, in terms of a science of knowledge, exists for both the sense world and the spiritual world. In the case of the former, the sense world, the nature object (the experience) is not the reality, as this reality is only found in the thought brought about by human cognition. This apparent division between thought and experience arises only because the human being is present; in reality they are united.
In the case of the latter, the spiritual world, the same is true, with these two differences. In spiritual perception the reality (the unity of thought and experience) is apprehended from the beginning; and, psychic organs need to be first developed in order for spiritual perception to take place.
What has this to do with our theme? Throughout the world, where anthroposophy is practiced, groups of anthroposophists engage in the common and collective study of the works of Rudolf Steiner. These works are of two kinds: works actually written to be read (e.g. Occult Science); and lectures, only spoken, whose transcriptions were never read or revised by the speaker (e.g. World History in the Light of Anthroposophy).
When I read a text, any text, not just something by Steiner, what is happening? What is the nature of my experience? What light can a science of knowledge shed on this experience? What is percept and what is concept?
I begin with the most obvious fundamentals, because it is essential not to wonder off at the very beginning by letting in any assumptions. I look at a text, and discover on a page a series of symbols - written language. Right away, just in the act of reading, I interpret meaning. This meaning is not inherent in these symbols, but is supplied entirely by my own thinking and imagination, and colored by my own life experience, prejudices and assumptions.
I have not entered into the author's mind. I do not see what he/she saw, nor do I know what she/he thought. I only know my interpretation.
This is a different experience from just looking at the book, at the sense experience. I know what a book is, what language and printing are and what a page is. These are sense objects. The ideas conveyed by the symbol system of the text are generated by me in a largely unconscious internal process seeking to reconstruct the imaginations and the thoughts of the author.
Let us consider something more familiar as an example. We read a novel. Later we see a film constructed by some others who have read and interpreted the novel. Often we do not agree with their interpretation. It has conflicted with our own personal envisioning.
Now let us consider something more familiar. We are in a study group, struggling (sometimes) to come to an consensus interpretation of a Steiner text. We do not always agree here as well. Are there differences between a novel, or a work of non-fiction, and a Steiner text on supersensible realities? Yes, many differences.
In a work of fiction the author is presuming he/she is creating something in my imagination. The whole art of the act of writing fiction is to give fuel to that process, to enable it. Yet, there are limits, and the limits are as much or more in the reader than in the author. Some characters need my sympathy, others my antipathy. Some situations require of me a similar experience in order to properly interpret the scene and its dynamics. Further, the author has the whole of the novel to create character, setting and the tension of the plot as its inhabitants move through it.
Moreover, the more I believe it, the stronger the feelings evoked in my soul. Where the author uses facts to create a scene I must consent to them. Where she/he uses insight into human nature to develop a character, I must buy into it. I participate at all levels in this creation in my imagination.
Even my motives in reading become a factor. One kind of novel lets me escape the drabness of my own life; another shows me a soul life and a world I would never otherwise know. The one fills my time, but leaves little trace. The other lifts (or drops) my heart and gives me the gift of an experience I can receive in no other way.
In the case of a non-fiction work, there is less appeal to the imagination (although such processes are still possibly active). Instead, my critical judgment is evoked; or not, if I do not properly participate. If I am a "true believer" the thoughts I am lead to will be accepted without doubt, assumed true, and therein after made a part of my world view. If I am more "objective" I will take the author's word with a grain of salt, withhold judgment and make some independent effort to verify.
In each case the work has stimulated inner activity on my part, but the images and the way I accept or reject them remains my own act. The author leads me to a world of thoughts, not unlike a traveler leading a newcomer to a place previously explored. Except, this is not the sense world, with its independent given, but rather the world of thoughts and ideas, which, we (as anthroposophists) have been told, are mere shadows of the world of spirit.
In the case of a novel, there remains only my imaginative attempt to follow the author's lead. I have been given an experience of which it is not necessary to examine the truth, as much as consent to it (the truths of literature often depend upon our reconfirming them within our own experience). In the case of a work of non-fiction, its truth is verifiable should I be willing to make the effort. In a work of the imagination there are no percepts to go with the concepts. In the case of a work of non-fiction, there are assumed to be percepts, if I were to trouble myself to seek them out.
In the case of the Steiner text, the percepts are beyond the threshold (supposedly), which places them at even a further distance then the usual non-fiction text. Not only that, but I don't even have this-world experiences that can be used by way of analogy. Whatever a Steiner text says, I remain within my self created images of what it means. I dare not confuse those weak and impotent images for the true percepts, the Presence, which is said to lie across the threshold. The map is not the territory.
Steiner was not unaware of these problems. Each lecture cycle reminds us that this transcribed work has not been corrected by the speaker. Again and again he enjoins us to not take his word for granted, but to exercise our own common sense and to verify everything, whenever possible, through our own efforts. He understands he is creating pictures (imaginations) of the spiritual world, but he insists we seek for objectivity, and in The Philosophy of Freedom he specifically warns against becoming captured by the concept - becoming so attached to an idea that we lose completely our objectivity. He has even said (The Boundaries of Natural Science) that the world would be better off with materialists who thought, than with anthroposophists who didn't.
Having now seemed to have tied myself up within my own soul, let us examine this from another direction. Let us grant for the moment that Steiner is accurately relating his experiences of the spiritual world, within those limits of language to which he so often referred. What has to have been sublime experiences, awesome in their subtlety and humbling reality, has been reduced by the initiate to abstract concepts - to the ordinary language of our age. Steiner has cognized for us - has given birth to the names of - beings and events we ourselves are unlikely to meet in our own lives. Carried upward by the language and the imaginative pictures, we are graced with thought-concepts for which we have not the related experience - percepts.
If thoughts are the shadows of things unseen, then at the least, with a Steiner text, we have shadows from objects (beings/events) with a deeper penetration of the truths of the invisible world. Steiner has told us that, armed with these concepts, our experiences in the life between death and a new birth will be different then it would be absent these ideas coming into our souls.
Granting a best result from this experience of these ideas (whose meaning and imaginative picturing remains products of my own activity) the best that is possible is the arising in my soul of a set of concepts in harmony with spiritual reality. Even so, I remain divorced from the actual perception of that reality by the laws of the threshold.
What then is the nature of my knowledge of the spiritual world? In terms of a science of knowing, what lives in my soul as a result of having traveled the thought-trails created by the spiritual researcher? Am I justified in saying to someone else, for example, that the Earth had three previous incarnations? Do I possess such factual knowledge? I don't think that I can do such a thing. Whatever I do know, it is not that; and, if it is not that, then what do I know?
I can say something on the order of..."Ruldof Steiner said...". But what could that mean to someone else? Further, in calling upon authority I am violating Steiner's own admonitions regarding this kind of knowledge - it is not to be based upon authority. In fact, the whole philosophic basis of anthroposophy turns me ever and again back upon myself as cognizer.
The question remains: Having ingested Steiner lecture cycles and texts, what do I in fact know about the spiritual world?
Up to this point I have specifically left aside what arises when one begins to undertake self development. Certainly this kind of work results in greater self knowledge, and, if I have been fortunate, there will begin to be various kinds of experiences of the threshold. We certainly do learn things on the anthroposophical path and this knowledge is of another order than that which we acquire/create in the reading of Steiner texts. What I have made my own, in this way, I can speak of as knowledge. The rest remains an interpretation, lacking direct experience, of someone else's reports from a far country.
Personally, I am unable to justify, to my conscience, failing to make a clear distinction between these two kinds of experiences: one direct and personal, the other indirect and interpretive. The first is knowledge, the second, because of the manner of its arising in my soul, cannot make the same claim.
What then happens in a study group when a Steiner text is read and discussed?
Here, I can only speak from experience, and give testimony that conversations with others have indicated that these experiences are not uncommon. Critical judgment is basically suspended and an assumption is lived out, that not only has Steiner given us the truth, but that as against all other authorities his view is the most perfect. Moreover, social pressure exists within these groups, especially upon the newcomer, to consent to these abuses of the ideals of a true science of knowledge.
In fact, a good portion of the dialogues I have been exposed to have contained, as a major theme, the never disputed proposition that Steiner has done a "great deed", always gives the perfect example or metaphor, never makes a mistake of fact, and is frequently spoken of in such glowing terms that one is tempted to pray to him as a minor deity.
There is no excuse for such behavior existing in anthroposophical groups. After over one hundred years of knowledge of the two main philosophical works noted at the beginning of this essay, the fact that study groups cannot carry out conversations, with the relevant philosophic self-discipline, means that not even the most basic fundamentals of anthroposophy have become understood.
Anthroposophy is not a content. Being anthroposophical is not about knowing about reincarnation and karma, or about the hierarchies, or the Saturn, Sun and Moon incarnations of the Earth. Being anthroposophical is about the method by which we form cognitions - the nature of the processes by which we "erkennen". Anthroposophy is not a what, it is a how.
"Anthroposophy is a path of knowledge, to guide the Spiritual in the human being to the Spiritual in the universe." Rudolf Steiner, First Leading Thought. The word knowledge in this quotation is a translation from the German term: erkennen. This term is where we began this work, many thoughts ago; concluding then that knowledge of its meaning could only come from the experience of one's own soul life. To understand erkennen, one must catch one's self in the act of doing it.
Study groups generate and pass on, in their living and becoming, various practices and understandings. What lives in the present has roots in the past. That study groups lack a practical grasp of epistomological fundamentals, and even more saddening, that they also lack secure knowledge and practice of the reverse cultus (a theme too complex for this small essay), means only one thing: Within the most fundamental and common structure of the anthroposophical movement - the study group, anthroposophy does not exist.
New members imitate what they see, and rightly assume that what they see is anthroposophy. Critics judge us for what they see, and also rightly assume the same. At the turn of the millennium, just who are we fooling? My experience is that we are only truly fooling ourselves.
Addendum: It may occur to the reader to wonder what do Waldorf teachers, or anthroposophical doctors do, for example, who study anthroposophy and make use of the many indications that Steiner has given. What is the nature of their knowledge?
Again, it depends upon the individual soul relationship to the concepts, the degree to which that individual soul is awake inwardly, and the nature of that soul's practice of epistomological discipline. In both the above cases, as well as other callings of a like nature, the soul can make a clear distinction between what Steiner has directed it to pay attention to and the actual phenomena of experience.
For example, the doctor is encouraged to see behind the various degrees of health and illness, which each patient brings to him or her, the activity of the subtle bodies, i.e., the etheric, the astral and the warmth or ego body. The experience generated by treating the patients with these ideas in mind creates the constant possibility of confirming the given indications. The same is true of the teacher, who will see, in the phenomena presented by the children, evidence confirming all that material about development and so forth which has been previously studied. As well, each discipline is directed to be awake to the intuitions formed inwardly in response to these sense phenomena; intuitions which are themselves an inward experience-phenomena, towards which one can have an objective and free relationship (i.e. philosophically disciplined).
This is also true for those of us who do not answer a professional anthroposophical calling. We know children, we follow the health and illness cycles within ourselves and within our families, and there is no reason not to make practical use of all the indications Steiner has provided over the many years of his life's work. But to do this in a truly anthroposophical way, we need to be awake to what is knowledge, and what, in reality, is an act of faith.
An act of faith is not a bad thing. All that Spiritual Science really calls for is for us to know the difference between the two and when we act on the basis of one, and not the other.
Science orients itself in the world through the application of doubt, even Spiritual Science. Science says, this is what I know objectively, and this is how I came to know it. Religion orients itself in the world through the application of faith. "Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed." John 20:29.
The healthy soul can (and should) contain both impulses, and be awake to and know the differences. They are not a contradiction, but rather complete and compliment each other. In fact, we could say that the art (imaginative core) of soul life is to integrate and unite the impulses toward science (reason) and religion (devotion).
The Anthroposophical Society:
is it a living social form?
Joel A. Wendt
Does it make any sense at all to talk about a social form, such as the Anthroposophical Society, as if it was living? What could that possibly mean? What qualities would a living social form need to have? What happens when one dies? How would one know this has happened? What is the role of the consciousness of the members of such a social form in the answering of such questions?
What is the proper model for a living social organism? The threefold social order, the human organism or some other pattern? What could be learned by looking to Goethe, either as an example, or a model? Rudolf Steiner held up the poet as the Ur-human being and he placed enthusiasm as an essential human quality: What can these ideas tell us?
Where is there a definition of life which would include social forms? Can any rational relationship be made between truly organic forms, and social organizations? Is it possible there is some other idea which belongs to social forms, but which has an order beyond the idea of life?
Another problem, one which is very central to the whole question, is: What does one do with the once-called daughter movements? Or in a broader vein: What do we include within the Society, in making the judgment as to whether it is living? Do we include or limit ourselves to any or all of the following: study groups, branch meetings, annual general meetings - local and national, Waldorf School communities, bio-dynamic farm communities, the Christian Community, Eurthmy performances or schools, the activities of regional or national councils, the activities of the Vorstand, the activities of the sections of the School of Spiritual Science, Camphill Villages and their relatives, and so forth. Where does the Society end and the Movement begin? Is there is a difference?
There would seem, at first blush, to be two general approaches to answering these questions. One approach would be Goethean, and would involve, first of all, intuiting a method of investigation appropriate to the phenomenal nature of the object of study. A second approach could be polar-Goethean (as described by Lawrence Edwards in his: Field of Forms), that is to work wholly with the ideal-abstract relationships.
Utilizing the first method, we could begin by inwardly beholding the "history" of the Anthroposophical Society from the Christmas Foundation meeting onward into the present. But how do we make the appropriate imaginations of those events? With the second method, we might assume, that following the Foundation meeting, the Society was in fact a living organism. From this we would have to assess what the later splitting processes (the breaking off of many of the national societies from the General Anthroposophical Society in the 1930's) meant to this living quality, and then what the reconfiguration in the 1950's and '60's meant as well.
Another method would be to form some kind of abstract idea of a living social form, and then look at the modern conditions of the Society to see if it met these criteria. In addition, one could poll the membership, to see what the nature of their perception of these questions was.
So many questions, so many ways to travel. For the purposes of at least having a starting point, let us begin with a small observation of this last - thoughts of a few of the membership on this subject.
In May of 1997, in Sebastabol California, the Western Regional Council of the Anthroposophical Society in America met with a local group of members and friends for a weekend conference called "Spiritual Geography". Late on the Saturday, after many presentations on the theme, the Council met with those in attendance to discuss whatever was felt to be of importance.
After some "light" conversation, this writer spoke up and made the observation "...that from his point of view the Society was dead, and had been dead since, at least, before World War II. While there were many vital individual initiatives, these were simply growing in the ground made fertile by the rotting corpse...". After this the conversation grew more animated, and members of the Council later reported, during that period when the conversation spilled over into the dinner hour, that this was a common theme (the absence of 'livingness") heard by them in their travels.
During the conversation, one individual put it this way, with a great deal of feeling (I will paraphrase): "When I come to the Society I get much for my head, but nothing for my heart!" There were a number of variations on this theme - a common general sense of something being absent, and very much desired. Could this be life?
Perhaps this is our true guide, rather then all the earlier questions. We look at the present, and try to find signs of life - of something that has vital qualities. For example, what do we know about Nature, its vitality? It is attractive - we are drawn toward it. How go our meetings, in truth. Are they well attended? Do all members come, knowing something is going on there that is so essential to them they could not think of missing it?
How about a more subjective point of view? Do you feel needed, as if you would be missed if you did not come? Did you get a call after the last time you didn't go to a Society branch meeting, wondering if you were all right? Certainly all the Waldorf teachers can not carry on their work without attending branch meetings and drawing vital spiritual energy from the Presence which is evoked there. This is no doubt true for those anthroposophists in the Christian Community as well.
By the way, I am not being sarcastic. How can we call what goes on in branch meetings, which are the core meetings of a local anthroposophical community (see Statute 11: "As a general rule every member should join a Group."), living, when no one suffers who does not attend and we do not suffer when they are absent? Where is the feeling-tension that is the sign of all highly developed life.
As I struggled in the considerations of this essay, although I felt a certainty that (except in very rare localized cases) there was no life in the Anthroposophical Society, I had a difficulty forming a cognition as to where to go from there. Finally, in a study group meeting, where I was suffering through trying to communicate my conviction that the life of the group would be enhanced if people gave out of their own soul life, rather than concentrating on interpretations of Steiner texts (see above essay), the whole dilemma fell into place and I understood what was going on.
In the groups, and especially in the branch and other meeting-forums of the formal Anthroposophical Society, life does not exist because we are constantly killing it. Death forces are constantly flowing from our own souls into our group activities, disabling the natural life that would arise if we were to truly understand how we were called upon to conduct ourselves.
What are these death forces? How do they arise, and how may we act so as to no longer be killing the very vital elan' for which we are yearning?
These death forces arise whenever we do not rely upon our own knowledge and understanding - on what lives in us and we have made our own, and instead defer to some imagined truth which we attribute to Rudolf Steiner. It is the constantly evoked egregore of Steiner that kills the life in our groups and Society meetings. We manufacture a ghost, a shade, of Steiner, and place this shadow as the superior ideal before which our own soul understandings must give way. Who can compete with such a idol? In the deification and assumed perfection of the great initiate and the great deed, we erect a false god, whom we have come to worship and so violate the fundamental spiritual principle of the First Commandment: Thou wilt have no other Gods before me.
Let us consider this one more time. It is very crucial to understanding where Anthroposophy is today, and how it might proceed into the future in a more healthy and social way.
When a circle gathers, having as its intention to be anthroposophical, what is present? The primary element is the spirit and soul natures of the participants. Whatever happens in that circle is dominated by those presences. Granting, without assuming its truth, that various spiritual beings may be attracted to, and interested in, this activity, the intentions and practices of the human participants remains the determining factor.
Within the participants themselves - as individuals, it is the I, the ego, which is the essential reality. What the soul manifests, the I, or spirit, engenders. When you have a collection of egos, a group, what the group does collectively can vary considerably according to how the individual egos conduct themselves with respect to each other. Everyone is familiar with the both the positive and negative activities that can occur in groups, according to the moral qualities the ego practices in terms of listening, or not; dominating conversation, or not; and so forth.
Out of these activities the life of the group is formed and maintained.
Within anthroposophical groups something rather unusual is added, both consciously and unconsciously. Each individual brings, within their own soul life, some form of relationship to Rudolf Steiner. In addition, through those social collective processes, which groups engage in as a matter of course, the group will also form a certain relationship to Steiner. But the question needs to be asked: which Steiner? Steiner as a spiritual reality, as an ego presence himself (assuming he is still dis-incarnate), or an image of Steiner, both collective and individual, which has no relationship to Steiner as a reality, but derives its nature solely from unconscious and semi-conscious assumptions as to his nature, being, meaning and intentions.
This falsified image, self generated by the group and its separate individuals, is the egregore - a spiritual entity created by human activity, and which maintains its being through the gift of our worship and adoration, the feelings we create when we venerate this falsified image.
This being has no interest in us, as individuals or as a group. Its dynamics are entirely pathological; it acts only so as to continue its existence as a psychic parasite. All that is life in the group will eventually be absorbed by this egregore. Unless we awake to its presence, and its manifestations, and discipline our selves and our groups so that it is no longer fed.
The esoteric student is compelled, if he/she wishes to advance upon the spiritual path, to reflect frequently upon the past; and to be thorough and objective in looking at the failings and the weaknesses tolerated and given into. This is not done so as to indulge in self recriminations, but rather to learn, to grow, and to feel appropriate shame and remorse at one's misdeeds. These are the seeds and nutrients needed for further growth and development.
How can an esoteric Society not practice the same disciplines in its collective soul life?
The question was put to me in the meeting referred to above: "Okay, so the Society is dead, how to we resurrect it?"
First, admit there is no life. This ought to be done officially, although I do not expect the formal leadership to have the necessary courage. But, at least, in those groups were this essay has meant something, it would first be appropriate to speak and think together upon the fact of the absence of dynamic life within the group.
Please do not arbitrarily agree with me. Know it for yourselves, above all else. Then, if that comes about, and is in a mutually cognized form, then discuss how to practice the necessary group and individual disciplines which would enable individuals to speak more from their own experiences and that which they have made their own, and less and less in deference to the thoughts and ideas we imagine can be attributed to Rudolf Steiner.
In the beginning, I would suggest that people study Steiner at home, but do not bring the texts to the meeting. In fact, don't bring Steiner in any sense to the meetings. The temptation to quote or speak of an idea as coming from the "authority" needs to be resisted, and ultimately eliminated. I suspect individual groups will develop individual ways of helping each other end the habit of mutual worship of the idol, and learn to appreciate what is really living in each other's hearts as fellow human beings. Life is engendered in the group through admitting into the circle the heart felt concerns of each individual, irrespective of their familiarity with Steiner or Anthroposophy. The neophyte has as much to contribute to the life of the group as the long time practitioner.
First Reader's Poll
- twenty-five questions you have been dying to answer
about your relationship to the Anthroposophical Society -
Joel A. Wendt
Polling is a favorite American sport. This, the first, issue of Outlaw Anthroposophy must, therefore, run straight at this unique opportunity. Asking questions is also a way of communicating certain kinds of ideas, as well as cultivating and communicating a certain kind of attitude. The next issue will be completely devoted to the responses to this poll.
1. Do anthroposophists have a sense of humor about anthroposophy or Rudolf Steiner? If so, please send us your favorite joke(s).
2. Aren't you tired of the word anthroposophy? I mean, really, isn't it time we called our society and our work something which means something to people who are not members or friends? Isn't it a bit pretentious to have a name, for an organization, you have to explain?
3. Was, or is, Rudolf Steiner perfect? If not, please send in examples of flaws you think he had or has.
4. Are there any initiates now active in the Society? If you think so, send in their name (or names, as the case may be); isn't it time for such people to come out of the closet?
5. Anthroposophy has been active in America for several decades now. Being that the American has different soul capacities from the Central European, could you please send in the list of "original" anthroposophical work that you have observed in America. Not derivative work, not Waldorf Schools or any other impulse which first appeared in Europe, but that which is unique to America.
6. How important in your daily living is the guidance and lecture material that comes out of the Vorstand in Dornach? Please give concrete examples.
7. The basis for the "authority" of the school of spiritual science is the supposed natural hierarchy of real capacities. What evidence exists that there is a sufficient differentiation of capacities so that the Vorstand has a right to lay claim to this natural order?
8. If the anthroposophical society is dead, with what do you think we should replace it?
9. Do you think some effort must be made to reform the formal Society?
10. How would you suggest we go about such a task?
11. Have you noticed any of these questions making you check out your own assumptions about anthroposophy and the Society? Please share some of those assumptions with us.
12. Who would you vote for, as the future Maitreya Buddha: a) Steiner, b) Tomberg, c) me, d) your choice? Please include your basis for this vote.
13. Are you superstitious?
14. Where do you think Rudolf Steiner is right now and what do you suppose he is doing?
15. If you were on the Vorstand, what would you recommend to the membership as we enter the 21st century?
16. What question(s) do you think should have been added to this poll?
17. Is it possible to define anthroposophy in some other way than Steiner did in the First Leading Thought? Please provide an example.
18. What is your favorite Steiner idea or quote?
19. Have you read, or are you trying to read, one book 50 times (as recommended by Steiner)?
20. Which book?
21. Will you lend me some money - include how much?
22. Have you ever had the thought that the Christian Community priesthood bears on odd resemblance in its role with regard to the anthroposophical movement to that role played by the Jesuits (the Society of Jesus) in the organism of the Catholic Church?
23. In the same vein (we are now cutting very deep, so perhaps it should be an artery), doesn't it sometimes seem like the Spirit of Rome (Steiner, The Challenge of the Times) has taken over our movement and installed Steiner as a kind of invisible Pope, whose sayings are infallible? (Dornach = Rome; the Vorstand = the Curia; the Class Readers = the Cardinals; the National Society leaders = the Bishops;...does it hurt yet?)
24. What rights (or responsibilities) does (or should) the ordinary membership have in the creation of the future of the Anthroposophical Society?
25. Imagine Rudolf Steiner before you, and Archangel Michael behind him, what would he (Steiner) say? Or would he just cry?
26. Are not remorse and shame matters of moral development? Should we feel any of these emotions when we contemplate the current condition of the Society?
27. Yes, I know I said 25 questions. But, I didn't say I could count.
When you send in your answers to this poll, please include a statement about whether we may give your identity to the extent we quote something you send in. For example: limit us to first name and last initial, no name or whatever.
I hope you like our journal. Those readers, who suspect that there may be some special Mystery regarding the relationship of Anthroposophy to America, are invited to find a way to check out this web-site: http://www.microweb.com/grtfljdi/elderbrother.html The native peoples of the Hopi Nation of America's Southwest, have been expecting the arrival of a "true white brother" or "elder brother" at this moment of world crisis, and guess what? Yup, we're it, anthroposophists (well, actually, it is the People of the Rose-Cross, which may include non-anthroposophists) are the True White Brother of the Hopi Prophecy. Its a major responsibility, but also guess whose completely asleep to it? Yup, right again. Remember:
"We dream America / We sing Her shadow and Her light / We dream America / And America dreams us."
That's right. There was no reaction. It was ignored! That is in the immediate moment, no one sent me any responses. Over the years that this has been on my website many people have found it of value. One person translated the two essays into German and published them in the "Jarhbuch fur anthroposophische Kritik 1998". Bob and Nancy's extensive Waldorf Website has copied the two essays with favorable comments. Four years after the conference, someone who had been there found this material on my website and sent me an e-mail. They described having heard that "subversive" material was being circulated at the conference, and that this must have been it. Now, that is a very interesting term (subversive), if you think about it. In a Society, which is dedicated to the Ideal of Spiritual Freedom, people were reacting, to the above efforts at seeking the truth, in a political way.
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