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4141Re: [anthroposophy] Back on track

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  • Paul Newton
    Jul 16, 2002
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      Dear friends,
      If Gordienko's central critique of Prokofieff is that he is, as it were, bypassing the full development of the Consciousness Soul, we could hardly expect that she would endorse Valentin Tomberg! 
      I came to identify my spiritual striving with Anthroposophy in large part through my encounter with the written work of Sergei Prokofieff (specifically "The Occult Significance of Forgiveness" and "Rudolf Steiner and the Founding of the New Mysteries"), and I have continued over the years to feel strongly aligned with him. So I am interested that this conversation - I hope it can be a conversation - should start up just as I join this mailing list...
      I haven't read Gordienko's book, though I would like to. As I read the flyer for it my feeling was not an angry, defensive one (and I am very wary of too readily describing people as instruments of dark powers), but rather that she may have something to say that could be healthy for the further development of anthroposophy in the world (of which Sergei Prokofieff is surely such an important part). Just an initial feeling, but one that remains on reading Joel's brief synopsis (something to do with the working together of the Aristotelian and Platonic streams? I consider Prokofieff's whole approach to anthroposophy to be clearly Platonic).
      A few questions/comments:
      1/ Sergei Prokofieff clearly had extraordinary gifts to be able to write "R.S. and the Founding of the New Mysteries" in his mid-twenties, but Joel suggests that that equated with "trying on the mantle of an initiate". I think that that is unfounded: does Gordienko say this?
      2/ When was Gordienko's book first published?
      3/ What, if any, were her personal links to Prokofieff?
      4/ Has Prokofieff responded to the arguments set out in her book?
      5/ What are the implications of Gordienko's book?
      Paul Newton,
      Wisconsin, USA
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Tuesday, July 16, 2002 12:26 PM
      To: anthroposophy@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: R: [anthroposophy] Back on track
      Dear List.
      having read Gordienko's book about Prokofieff I find  that- from a formal
      standpoint-   Joel's review about it -  is correct. .
      I have also to remark a further issue,-since Joel did say nothing about it-
      and precisely the fact that Gordienko is- in the same time- critical ALSO
      of Tomberg's work and personality.
      So you have not to think that the Russian writer - who died few months
      after having write the book about SOP- was a kind of Tomberg's supporter.
      The above reflections have obviously nothing to do with the inner merit of
      the book itself, that's a different issue about which every listmate of
      "good will" , if interested in it, will be able to grasp his own one's

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Joel Wendt <hermit@...>
      To: <anthroposophy@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Tuesday, July 16, 2002 5:03 PM
      Subject: Re: [anthroposophy] Back on track

      > On Tue, 2002-07-16 at 09:46, evlogite wrote:
      > >
      > > I, for one, am interested in the Prokofieff book by Gordienko. I
      > > haven't  read, much less seen a copy-- and would find it a great
      > > benefit if someone would give a synopsis of its main points.
      > > Going a little further, I would similarly like to see the Tomberg
      > > book by Prokofieff discussed and also the topic of why it's so
      > > difficult for new work to be accepted into the body of
      > > Anthroposophy and why there have always been factionalism.  Is
      > > it merely the inability of certain streams to work together?  Does
      > > it play itself out downstream in forums such as this?  Is it worth
      > > reconciling?  What is the ultimate prize that we all hold dear?
      > No problem, I've been looking for a discussion of the actual book
      > (rather than various kinds of "gossip", as you say), for quite a while.
      > G's [Gordienko's] thesis is pretty straight forward.  She begins by
      > reminding us that anthroposophy is meant to be a science, and that means
      > critical review of work ought to be welcomed and be the standard. That
      > critical review is not welcomed or the standard is one of her points,
      > for she feels that SOP [Sergi O. Prokofieff] would not have the status
      > he has if his work had been thought about with clarity in the beginning
      > of its being offered.
      > One of the things that she does is carefully quote SOP over and over
      > again [from a variety of his writings] as to how he seems to see and
      > state his version of the "evolution of consciousness".  She then
      > contrasts this with Steiner's elaboration of the same theme.  She shows
      > through this process that SOP either eliminates completely (or radically
      > down plays it) the stage we are presently in (Consciousness Soul) and
      > substitutes the Spirit Self (the next stage).  He does this both
      > explicitly and in terms of how he uses various restatements of what
      > these terms mean.
      > Parallel to this she examines SOP's biography, from his own words, and
      > shows how he began his spiritual development (in his late teens) before
      > he had finished incarnating (we do this about age 21), with the
      > consequence that he didn't really have an authentic experience of the "I
      > am" in his own life, which is why he fails to see the centrality of the
      > development of the "I am" during the stage of the evolution of
      > consciousness we call the Consciousness Soul Age.
      > She also quotes him extensively, where he describes his own spiritual
      > experience and it is clear that this experience is not the result of the
      > development of "living thinking", but rather something more in line with
      > a kind of "deep mystical feeling".
      > From this we can get the picture that SOP is basically a Russian mystic,
      > who developed his clairvoyance (if it could be called that) during that
      > period of life when one is full of rich and deep feelings, skipping over
      > then the disciplining of the thinking out of the forces of a fully
      > incarnated "I am".  Recall that his first publication was at about age
      > 26 (Rudolf Steiner and the New Mysteries, if my recollection serves me),
      > a phase of life in which no one in our time should be trying on the
      > mantle of an initiate (Marie Steiner criticized Tomberg for taking on
      > this mantle at age 33, insisting that RS showed the correct way by
      > waiting until he was 42).
      > As to SOP's book on Tomberg, The Case of Valentin Tomberg, I found it
      > quite interesting when I was reading Gordienko's book that my reaction
      > to SOP's anti-Tomberg screed was precisely in line with G's
      > conclusions.  Basically what I said to friends, at that time - some 4
      > years ago, in response to the Tomberg book was that SOP clearly had no
      > experience of the Consciousness Soul, and had written the book entirely
      > out of the Intellectual Soul and to the Intellectual Soul.  If one
      > understands, experientially, the Consciousness Soul, then one does not
      > proceed by the form of argument, much like an academic (our universities
      > being the present day debris of the intellectual soul).  The
      > Consciousness Soul convinces itself of what the truth is out of its own
      > thinking, and any appeal to authority is contrary to this impulse.  So
      > when we write to the Consciousness Soul we offer anecdotes of our own
      > experience and facts in the form of pictures, leaving the reader to
      > his/her free choice as to how to incorporate what has been offered.
      > This is not to say we do not "reason".  There is a difference between:
      > 1) making an argument, such that a plus b equals c, and therefore the
      > reader should agree, our argument being the final word (how SOP
      > approaches his Tomberg book); and, 2) arranging facts in such a natural
      > order that they lead to something that just as naturally follows, if the
      > facts are correct.  In the latter case we show the reader something of
      > the logical path we ourselves have followed, inviting them to
      > participate in the journey.
      > Gordienko's book not only has this quality, and it is also a spiritual
      > experience (a most remarkable personality wrote this book).  In writing
      > this book Gordienko takes us on a journey of initiation, because the
      > questions she puts to SOP's work, we also apply to ourselves.  We find
      > ourselves reading this book and thinking: Could my world view withstand
      > this careful and complete level of examination?
      > Let me expand upon this a bit.  Gordienko was a brilliant Russian
      > scientist, as well as anthroposophist.  She had one of those minds that
      > shines light whenever it thinks.  So, in her book she just isn't writing
      > a polemic against SOP, as much as showing how we need to think (in terms
      > of questions asked and internal logic required) about any world view,
      > any set of elaborate and related concepts.  Moreover, she doesn't use
      > her own world view as the contrasting measure to SOP's, but Steiner's,
      > with which she is very familiar (and which of course we are also well
      > acquainted).  When we read this text then, we live in this light and
      > cannot but help to shine it upon our own thinking.  It is really a
      > remarkable and quite educational experience.
      > warm regards,
      > joel
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