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RudolfSteiner's Basic Books

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  • DRStarman2001@aol.com
    A. Introduction to the Work of Rudolf Steiner This is intended to serve as an introduction to Steiner s work. If you are already very familiar with it, you can
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 21, 2001
      A. Introduction to the Work of Rudolf Steiner

      This is intended to serve as an introduction to Steiner's work. If you are
      already very familiar with it, you can skip this and go on to "B".

      Many people reading this may have just recently come into contact with
      Steiner, and may not know a lot of the basics I'm going to put here. People
      who are more familiar with his work aren't always good at explaining it, so
      newcomers may feel lost. Sometime we'll make a web site to have all this on,
      but for now it's just this.
      Anthroposophy or spiritual science begins for most with the writings of
      Rudolf Steiner, so I'm going to describe them here. How I know them well is
      that, as a young man, I sought someone to help me understand my experiences
      of seeing & hearing "fairies", hearing people's thoughts before they spoke,
      etc. I read widely, and by the age of 21 I'd found Edgar Cayce and heard of
      Blavatsky & Steiner. At the A.R.E. (Cayce) library, I saw that "A Scientist
      of the Invisible" by A.P. Shepherd was a biography of Steiner, so I read that
      to get an idea of who he was & what his works were; in that book, I found out
      Steiner wrote an autobiography ("The Course of My Life"), so I read that
      next. When I read what he wrote of experiencing the spiritual world through
      geometry, I said to myself, "This is the man I've been looking for!"--
      because I'd had the same experience. I then used the A.R.E. Library, which
      has one of the largest collections of Steiner books in the U.S., and later
      the Steiner Library (now in Harlemville) to read just about everything he
      wrote, in chronological order.
      Steiner lived from 1861 to 1925, and wrote dozens of books; but most of
      the "books" you'll see are actually notes of lectures he gave. He was always
      clear that there's a big difference between books & lectures: he didn't want
      the lectures recorded at ALL, since they were given to a particular group of
      people at one time & place, while he put things differently in books intended
      for the general public. He lectured most of the time to audiences already
      familiar with what he'd written, so a knowledge of his books is essential for
      grasping what's in his lectures. In fact, he said he structured his books to
      be tools of initiation, to awaken psychic faculties by the reading of them.
      From the early 1880's until 1899, Steiner wrote philosophical works; about
      the turn of the century he joined the Theosophical Society and began writing
      books based on Theosophy; about 1913 the German section of the Society
      separated & became the Anthroposophical Society, and from then to the end of
      his life he was too busy to write much (until the last year, when he was
      dying). Most of his lectures were given from 1901 to 1924.
      In his "Theosophical" period, Steiner often pointed back to his
      philosophical works as a foundation for his spiritual-scientific work. They
      were written in the vein of German philosophical idealists, not well known in
      America today, similar to transcendentalism. (Many of the things
      anthroposophists associate only with Steiner were common ideas & sentiments
      amongst those Old World idealists.) The central point in his philosophical
      writings was that the doubt about objective knowledge of the world was
      unfounded: Man could have such knowledge through pure thinking, he
      argued---because Steiner, like the great poet and scientist Goethe he
      studied, experienced the spirit in his thinking. His first books were essays
      on Goethe's scientific works (gathered together as "Goethe The Scientist");
      on how Goethe showed by demonstration that there were no "limits to
      knowledge" ("A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World-Conception");
      Steiner's PhD thesis, "Truth And Knowledge"; then his master-work, "Die
      Philosophie der Freiheit" (sometimes translated as the "Philosophy Of
      Freedom", though Steiner said "freedom" was the wrong English word). Later he
      wrote "Goethe's Conception of the World", "Conceptions of the World and Life
      in the Nineteenth Century" (now called "The Riddles of Philosophy"), and a
      few other works. The older generation of anthroposophists took to heart
      Steiner's instruction to study the philosophic works, but in America at
      present I have seen only William Lindemann in Spring Valley working
      extensively with them.

      Steiner thus laid out the philosophical foundation for higher experience
      of the world in his early writings, particularly in his Philosophy of
      Freedom; then, about 1899, he described how he had a mystical "opening", and
      began receiving higher knowledge in the form we now know as anthroposophy. He
      gave a lecture on Goethe's Fairy Tale in which he first expressed himself in
      mystical terms, followed by lectures on famous mystics in Europe (revised &
      published as "Eleven European Mystics" and under some other names), then a
      series on ancient mystics and Christianity ("Christianity As Mystical Fact
      and the Mysteries of Antiquity"), which he also revised into book form. Then
      he wrote a basic book of Theosophical teaching, "Theosophy" (describing the
      parts of man, life after death & how reincarnation & karma work), followed by
      two series of articles for a Theosophical magazine, one on "Initiation" or
      psychic development ("Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment" and
      "The Stages of Higher Knowledge") and one of readings from the Akashic
      Records ("Cosmic Memory"). At this time, he began giving the extensive
      lecture-courses that are now so widely published. He gave a lecture & revised
      it into a book on how to use the 7 principles of Man in education, "The
      Education of the Child In The Light of Spiritual Science" (his only written
      work on what would later become "Waldorf" Education). Then, in 1909, he
      summed up all of what he had experienced since his 1899 "opening" in "An
      Outline of Occult Science", which has a section on Initiation, on the parts
      of man, on reincarnation & karma, and on the history of the world from the
      Akashic Records, from creation down to the present. This is the "Bible" of
      spiritual science.
      From 1910 on, Steiner wrote few books: he worked with the group he
      gathered around him in the arts, writing & producing 4 Mystery Plays &
      creating the art of movement, Eurythmy; he published his "Calendar of the
      Soul" of meditative mantrams, created a school of students whom he guided in
      Initiation, designed and supervised the building of the Society HQ and of
      course lectured daily. At the end of the First World War, he wrote a book on
      reorganizing society, "The Threefold Social Order", and began the Waldorf
      Schools; after the Society's HQ was burned down in1922, he worked intensively
      to see that the Society was organized to survive after he was gone; and all
      the impulses in agriculture, medicine, etc., were begun and/or tended in this
      time. He died in1925, leaving the Society to carry on his work.
      Now, one may approach anthroposophy in ways that have little to do with
      books: through eurythmy, or speech, or acting, or through practical work with
      farming or medicine or teaching. But as far as reading goes, the fundamental
      works to study are:
      1. Steiner's philosophic works, for instance Die Philosophy der Freiheit (The
      Philosophy of Spiritual Activity)
      2. Christianity As Mystical Fact And The Mysteries of Antiquity
      3. Theosophy
      4. Cosmic Memory
      5. Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment (and its sequel,
      The Stages of Higher Knowledge)
      6. The Education of the Child In The Light of Spiritual Science
      7. An Outline of Occult Science.
      (Many people in the U.S. leave Christianity As Mystical Fact & Cosmic
      Memory off the list, merely because for many years they were not published by
      the Anthroposophic Press in Hudson, N.Y.: but I consider them vital. Now that
      Mr. Garber, who had rights to them, has passed on, they hopefully all will be
      available through the Press again.)
      These are the fundamental works of spiritual science, and any discussion
      of the findings of this science should begin with being grounded in them.
      People can read any lectures that catch their eye, but the books are
      essential to go back to and study again and again.
      Dr. Starman
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