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Re: [steiner] Re: History

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  • Jarvi
    Dear Sena and Steiner group, It is of course true that Steiner incorporated the ideas of reincarnation and karma into his system . I certainly didn t mean to
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 5, 2000
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      Dear Sena and Steiner group,

      It is of course true that Steiner "incorporated the ideas of
      reincarnation and karma into his system". I certainly didn't mean to
      imply that anthroposophy has not stood on the shoulders of the
      traditions which came before it. Anthroposophy is unique, however, in
      that it acknowledges the value and importance of all of the major
      religious and philosophical impulses within an encompassing historical
      perspective. Anthroposophy does not subordinate one culture's experience
      of the meaning of life to another's, because this would be a pointless
      exercise. Acknowledging this, however, does not erase the fact that
      there are elements of western and eastern philosophical traditions which
      are mutually exclusive, because they developed to meet the requirements
      of very different cultures with unique ways of experiencing the world.
      We live in a time in which we don't understand this. All our babble
      about multiculturalism notwithstanding, we are so egocentric that we
      don't have a clue how very differently people from other cultures and
      times experience(d) the world. Nowadays, people seem to think they can
      just decide to adopt whatever philosophy and practices they choose, but
      the truth is that these beliefs and practices aren't chosen. They arise
      from the world-historical needs of a particular time and place, as well
      as the requirements for personal development which one shares with the
      other members of one's culture. A modern western person, for example,
      can choose to live in a teepee, learn American Indian rituals and
      dances, paint his body and wear a loin cloth, mouth Indian religious
      sayings, attend sweat lodges, etc., but that doesn't mean that he can
      change himself in the fundamental ways which would allow him to
      clairvoyantly see his ancestors, be immersed in the living spiritual
      presences within common objects, or derive his sense of himself entirely
      from tribal affiliation. The basic quality of our experience is defined
      and bounded by the time, place and culture in which we are born, and
      these have unique gifts and lessons to offer. Ours are as appropriate
      for us as the experiences of those in other times, places and cultures
      were or are for them. It does not serve us well, therefore, nor is it
      really possible, to escape the challenges or failures of one's own
      culture by adopting the trappings of another.

      When I said that a person should acknowledge that there are fundamental
      elements in the eastern and western philosophical viewpoints which are
      mutually exclusive, the sense in which I made that statement is that we
      in the west are are engaged in developing individuality, which is not
      the present task of eastern cultures. It is an appropriate challenge for
      westerners today to strive to reconnect with a living spiritual world
      while retaining our experience of ourselves as individuals. It is
      therefore also appropriate for us to add to the eastern articulation of
      the reality of reincarnation and karma the idea that the evolutionary
      progress of our spiritual selfhood, and the spiritual world as a whole,
      are fostered through our individual efforts to acknowledge, and become
      responsible to, spiritual reality. An eastern religion demonstrates a
      limited picture of the significance of reincarnation for the human
      being, or the significance of human spiritual development for the
      spiritual world as a whole, when it asserts that a human being could
      come back in a future life as an insect or animal.

      The only "wrong" is when a person or culture either holds onto belief
      systems and practices which are no longer able to provide sufficient
      impulses for progress, or pursues spiritual development unevenly or
      prematurely. An example of the first kind of "wrong" is patriotism. This
      was once a healthy impulse. It challenged people to extend their sense
      of community beyond the bounds of their nuclear families or close-knit,
      homogenous cultural units. However, this once-healthy impulse is now
      regressive, because it has served its purpose. At its most benign, you
      will now find the patriotic impulse used as a tool for political
      manipulation or indoctrination. At its most virulent, it provides a
      rationale for the activities of separatist or hate groups.

      Is this an adequate clarification? Do these ideas strike you as having
      validity? There are a lot of ways in which a person can find reasons to
      be offended by anthroposophical assertions about the characteristics of,
      and relationships between, various cultural impulses. If an individual
      immediately starts creating comparative hierarchies in his or her mind
      (a definite western mental tendency), it is very easy to misread
      anthroposophy and lose the perspective on human development, through an
      analysis of history, which it can uniquely provide.

      I just glanced at the clock on my browser and realized that I've just
      edged into Monday morning. Good thing I've got a week off before summer
      school starts! Thanks for sharing your thoughts -

      Lorraine
    • Sena Fernando
      Thanks,Lorraine. I accept that there are elements of Western and Eastern philosophical traditions which are mutually exclusive , but I feel that we should try
      Message 2 of 2 , Jun 5, 2000
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        Thanks,Lorraine.

        I accept that "there are elements of Western and Eastern
        philosophical traditions which are mutually exclusive", but I feel
        that we should try our very best to find common ground.
        I would like to quote from one of Steiner's lectures,
        on "The Ahrimanic Deception" (October 17,1919):
        "The Ahrimanic powers use all that is derived from old
        circumstances of heredity in order to set men against each other in
        conflicting groups. All that comes from old differences of family,
        race, tribe, peoples, is used by Ahriman to create confusion." This
        rings very true to me when I think of my beloved Sri Lanka, which is
        being torn apart by the war between the Sinhalese who are Buddhist
        and the Tamils whose religion is Hinduism. I know that Steiner does
        not in this passage mention the divisions caused by religious
        conflict, but I feel that his remarkable insight and foresight does
        apply to that situation as well.
        I don't want to give the impression that I am defending
        Buddhism against Anthroposophy.
        I feel that I have moved on from Buddhism, and that Steiner
        has given me an understanding of the Christ which I never had before.
        I agree with you that Steiner's ideas on reincarnation and
        karma are a great advance from the Buddhist viewpoint. It has always
        seemed to me that the Buddhist view of Rebirth defies common sense as
        it is combined with denial of the existence of an Ego or Soul.
        I hope that whatever disagreements we have in this forum will
        only help us to clarify our thoughts and increase understanding, and
        not play into the hands of Ahriman! I have found your messages very
        helpful indeed in clarifying my thoughts.
        Regards,
        Sena

        --- In steiner@egroups.com, Jarvi <ljarvi@p...> wrote:
        > Dear Sena and Steiner group,
        >
        > It is of course true that Steiner "incorporated the ideas of
        > reincarnation and karma into his system". I certainly didn't mean to
        > imply that anthroposophy has not stood on the shoulders of the
        > traditions which came before it. Anthroposophy is unique, however,
        in
        > that it acknowledges the value and importance of all of the major
        > religious and philosophical impulses within an encompassing
        historical
        > perspective.
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