Re: [anthroposophy] Digest Number 1778
- Dear Joel,Your post reflects my experience. I studied the Philosophy of Freedom intently and alone when I was 20 ( I am 58). I subsequently participated in the movement, but the overall tone of the AS has always reeked of sectarianism. I became a family physician and through subsequent study aquired a subspecialty in psychiatry and substance abuse. Years later I developed a severe, treatment resistant post-traumatic depression. Through what still strikes me as a somewhat absurd destiny, in the ultimate extremity of agony I recovered through hard-core, skid-row Alcoholics Anonymous, though having no personal history of addiction. For many years I have used elements of the epistemology in treatment with great success and helped a small number of recovering people to study the Philosophy of Freedom. Untruthfulness is the great obstacle to progress in such study, but today there is also little grasp of words such as inner and outer, necessity and freedom. It is more than ever necessary to step back and reflect earnestly on what words do with respect to concepts, without which I can not see how modern human beings can consciously progress towards true freedom.Mike Horowitz
Date: Sat, 17 Dec 2005 20:57:44 -0800
From: Joel Wendt
Subject: Re: Hierarchies, anyone??
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
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
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