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11155Re: [anthroposophy] Hierarchies, anyone??

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  • Joel Wendt
    Dec 17, 2005
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      Dear Adrian,

          You ask understandable questions.

          People do have "points of view" and opinions, for example - about such things as one persons character, or whether we should be in Iraq.  Many people have a certain kind of experienced based "knowledge", such as knowing how to do something in the sense that we have a skill like sewing or cooking or car repair.

          Some people are more skilled than others at a certain task, and some people's points of view and opinions are based on greater life experience, study and so forth.  For example, there are a lot of folks saying various things about whether or not we can bring democracy to Iraq - everyone has a view.  Over a year ago I listened to a middle-East scholar (the guy was 80 and had been there and spoke many langauges and taught and wrote books for years) point out that their language doesn't even contain many of the terms and ideas which lived in Europe in the 17th and 18th Centuries, that were necessary for democracy to come into being.  In a sense he was saying the whole culture and language of Islam in the middle East does not stand on the same basis as did Europe when it emerged from the time of Kings and Queens to develop what later became Western Democracies.  He was wise and knowledgable and no one listened to him, with the result that we (who hope for democracy there) live in a kind of illusion.

          Steiner faced an even deeper problem.  In the time of deepest scientific materialism, how do you bring new spiritual revelation to light?  Having been born in the 19th Century and educated in the philosophic matters of his time, he confronted serious questions that even today few anthroposophists understand.

          The core one was: What is the truth about the inner nature of the human being, and the relationship of that nature to spiritual reality?

          At the center of even this was the question of human freedom.  Are we free, or are we just creatures of pre-determined appetites and hungers?

          His biography itself tells an important story, for while he came into an atavistic clairvoyance at age 8, as a young adult (18 to 22) he struggled with being able to justify, what he knew directly through experience, in the face of science, which he also revered. 

          He took the great risk of subduing (eliminating) his atavistic clairvoyance and then took up the question of what appeared in his inner life, if he shined the light of the objective thinking of natural science on what appears to our introspection of ordinary mind.

           Out of this study of the act of cognition he was to produce first "Truth and Knowledge".  In the process, he experienced his new (no longer atavistic) initiation via thinking over some Holy Nights by the time he became 22 (I don't know the exact year).  Following this he became involved with editing Goethe's scientific works, during which he revisited the problem of cognition once more and then wrote "A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World Conception", published by age 25.

          Finally, at age 33, having had many years of inner experience using the new thinking clairvoyance, he once more revisited the problem and wrote The Philosophy of Freedom.

          It is important to grasp that in none of these instances did he think to share his inner visions, but instead worked wholly with the problem of freedom as must be addressed in the age of science.  His thought was not really directed at spiritual realities at all, but rather at what he could share with other human beings about the essential questions living in us all.

          A crucial point is to realize that he did not invent the new thinking clairvoyance, but discovered it.  It is Christ as Creator that has made this possible for us - made us such that we can find this freedom.

          All the further work he was to produce rests upon the development of thinking and its understanding - what was essentially the result of the sacrificial devotion of his youth.  Of all his deeds, this one is the most remarkable.

          Within the Anthroposophical Society, even while he was alive, people shied away from replicating this essential work.  It seemed too difficult, and within certain limits this is true.  He was left then with further questions, mostly having to do with what he should do given people's spiritual needs.  So he began to become a spiritual teacher, and even though he knew that only a few would truly follow where he had actually led, he had to offer what could be offered in the books and lectures to which so many are drawn.

          Yet, and this is the gravest tragedy, for while many took up his indications and were able to begin to accomplish much, that greatest and most important thing they would frequently not even try - the seeking for true inner freedom - and this quest began to be lost in our circles even as a serious question.

          Most anthroposophists today are believers, and do not find their way to inner freedom.  What they possess is more accurately called "Steinerism", not Anthroposophy.  Steinerism will not live into the future, nor will it answer the developing (or even today's) burning questions living in the human soul.  Understanding has no Life (as in "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life").  Only freedom leads to Life, and only this Life enables a human being to become truly creative in the present and into the future.

          What is even more tragic, is that a myth of the difficulty of The Philosophy of Freedom has arisen, and it is common today in anthroposophical circles to be introduced to this book by someone who does not know it in practice or understand its real implications, and who at the same time encourages us to see The Philosophy as difficult because they have themselves failed to solve its riddles.

          The fact is the book is not hard.  What is hard is the self honesty required to be adequately introspective.  This is the work from which we shy away.  In our souls the doubles are quite active, and they (at every turn) would convince us of the myth of difficulty.  They are able to do this because the pre-question to freedom is moral in nature, not intellectual.  So they (the doubles) tell us not to look too closely at our own inner activity, for then we might have to overcome some favorite bad habit.

          It is the indulgence in these bad habits that deflects us.  And this fact is, of course, the first lesson on the path to true freedom.  We are prisoners inwardly, locked not only in the dilemmas of our bad habits, but also in our thought life (world view) if we become mere Steinerists - believers in Steiner-thought.  We become then (in accord with The Philosophy) "captured by the concept".

          So that is the real question.  Not a matter of having to know the epistemologies, but whether we want freedom.  To seek freedom and thereby to discover the good, is to come to Life and to Christ.  It is actually more work to remain in prison, for the prison in this case is self created.

          Oddly today it is those whose biographies have led them to the 12 Steps who are best prepared to take up The Philosophy.  On that path one confronts the soul with brutal self honesty, a much needed foundational work.  But that is a whole other story.

      warm regards,



      Adrian Hansen wrote:
      Dear Joel,
      Do you mean to say that all experiences we have in life are worthless because we dont know or are not able to understand what epistemology is about?
      Didn't Steiner say that by reading about spiritual science we are preparing ourselves for the future ? Do you think we all have to become spiritual scientist to make the grade? I agree with you that to verify the things Steiner has said we have to follow a certain path, but do we want to verify everything Steiner has said?
      Kind Regards, Adrian

      Joel Wendt <hermit@...> wrote:
      Maurice McCarthy wrote:

      >I can only tell you what happened to  myself. Through studying basic works of Steiner a certain feeling for their reality gradually grew. This was especially due to gaining insight into the sacrifices these beings have made for us. Imagine sacrificing not only your eyes but just about all sensation for the sake of your children. The only thing the highest angels see of the Earth is the death of the butterflies as scintillations of light. From this meagre perception that have to interpret all they can as to what is happening here. All the joy of seeing their spiritual children grow they have sacrificed for our sake.
      >Don't know where to point you to make a beginning but for some reason I keep thinking of Knowledge of the Higher Worlds.

      Dear Maurice,

          I want to interject a note of caution here.  Unless you've done
      something of which you otherwise don't give evidence, you don't "know"
      that bit about the butterflies - that is you lack the relevant percept
      (experience).  You may have an "understanding" of such a thing based
      upon something Steiner said (his providing of a percept-less concept),
      but that "understanding" is entirely dependent upon the accuracy of
      Steiner's research and his ability to represent his "experience and
      knowledge" in language.

          This distinction between "knowing" and "understanding" is crucial to
      appreciating what Anthroposophy actually is - that is, it is not the
      content of the reports of the spiritual scientist, but rather the methed
      (the how) - the path of cognition (heart-thinking) which gives birth to
      the modern clair-thinking never before possible in human evolution.

          This confusion (about the difference between knowing and
      understanding) is epidemic in anthroposophical circles, and has lamed
      the Society and Movement.  As we enter the tasks of the 21st Century,
      students of Steiner must return to the basics (the epistemologies), or
      knowledge of the "how" of heart-thinking will be lost.

      warm regards,

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