Rhythmical Thinking: “Think of the What – Think Still More of the How” Consciousness and Civilization - Macrocosm and Microcosm Vol.1 by G.A. Bondarev The Events in Ukraine and Possible Future Scenarios G. A. Bondarev – Organon of the New Cultural Epoch Vol. 1 & 2 About the Initiative for Anthroposophy The Anthroposophical Research WIKI G. A. Bondarev – Macrocosm and Microcosm Vol. 1 (selections) A Short Introduction to the Topic of Anthroposophical Methodology

G. A. Bondarev – Macrocosm and Microcosm Vol. 3 (selections)

27.

Having sat oneself on the “school bench” of self-creation, man thereby institutes within himself a kind of Mystery in which the hierophant and pupil appear as one person. This is a completely unique possibility which only Anthroposophy is able to present.

Only in it, for the first time in the history of the Mysteries, is it possible to receive higher knowledge from the first step of the spiritual path without having passed through special preparation and trials. In the epoch of the consciousness soul these latter have become ordinary logical thinking and that measure of self-consciousness which may be bestowed on man by the lower ‘I’.

In the doctrine of Anthroposophy a fundamental science of initiation is contained. It drew all of what is most valuable and healthy inherent in the Mysteries of the past into itself, and most importantly—it has been brought about in correspondence with the world constellation of the modern human being, which we do not find in a single one of the other esoteric directions and practices known today. This became possible through the individually deliberate co-thought of Rudolf Steiner with the cosmic intelligences. He is indeed  the founder of the Mysteries of modern times, and in them the main hierophant.

Rudolf Steiner clothed the science of initiation in the form of rational concepts, however, it would be mistaken to think that it is possible to attain everything in it through ordinary logical thinking. Very often in an anthroposophist the latter serves only as a kind of supervisory authority of the knowledge received by way of beholding or through the pythagorian method of thought, or even imaginatively. However, the intellectual understanding of the indications of Spiritual Science remains primary. Already on this level of knowledge the wisdom of the Teacher becomes the possession of the student and may be tested logically, united with life experience. Simply reading the works of Rudolf Steiner is undoubtedly already the beginning of pupilship in the esoteric sense of the word. Only we consider it necessary to add that in this the organization of the knowledge of Spiritual Science play a significant role.

Carl Unger, one Rudolf Steiner’s closest students, writes: “Anthroposophy is comprised of the questions of man and of the spiritual world’s answers (to them); it is only necessary to learn, ever and again, to pose the questions and to understand the answers.”[1] Many questions and very many, often complex, answers—this is the content that one cognizing Anthroposophy works with. And it often happens that someone reading anthroposophical books receives answers to questions he hasn’t yet posed, or posed foggily without fully understanding himself what he’d like to know. Besides that, the knowledge given by Rudolf Steiner isn’t reducible once and forever to formal concepts, does not lend itself to a strict, unchanging fixation in consciousness. Spiritual science is an extraordinarily living system of knowledge. And in it the ancient mystery principle of knowledge is observed, according to which, in order not to enslave the pupil, knowledge comes to him in the form of riddles. Solving them, it is as if we come to the knowledge ourselves; our thinking, in solving riddles, works freely.

Here one must take into consideration that the Teacher also received his knowledge in a similar fashion, only in the higher worlds where the mysteriousness of the received experience is incomparably higher than in ours. That which is cognized by us in the supersensible world, Rudolf Steiner tells us, does not have a label, and further—nor anything in common with the objects of the sensible world.

It is true that anthroposophical knowledge is also accessible to the ordinary intellectual understanding and may be presented, just like everything else in our age, in plain language. Rudolf Steiner has this to say on this subject: “Understanding, explanation and comprehension—this is all part of the task of our cultural epoch. It fulfills its task when it makes everything understandable that the intellect is capable of understanding. The leadership of our cultural epoch fulfills its task when they lead it to the point where the intellect begins to understand that which, in Christianity, used to be believed in … understand it such that it becomes possible to explain. … That which was simple belief remained sealed. But bit by bit the seven seals fall from the book which was previously the book of faith and thus closed to the intellect.”[2] Yet along with the simple there also exist, of course, more complex forms of cognition. For what meets us in spiritual-scientific—as in any other—knowledge from the very beginning is its organization, its method and even methodology. For this reason, as we’ve already said more than once, Rudolf Steiner repeatedly emphasizes the significance of the method in the cognition of Anthroposophy. Here is still another example: “… I want … to again and again direct attention to certain things of a methodical character. These methodical things are of the greatest importance in the field of spiritual-scientific knowledge, of which our time is in such need” (GA 186, p.23). We shall direct our attention to the fact that Rudolf Steiner here gives priority to the significance of the method of knowledge before spiritual knowledge itself. And this is not difficult to understand, knowing that methodologies define the character of whole cultural epochs and civilizations.

In Anthroposophy the mastery of its method of cognition signifies that the human being,  “develops certain capacities which are located higher than the sphere of normal soul life” (GA 73a, p.57). And this means that in the human being who becomes a methodologist in Anthroposophy there takes place a re-formation, a re-creation of the three-membered soul through the force of the ‘I’ which entails a metamorphosis of the form of consciousness: “These spiritual-scientific methods of beholding lead it (consciousness) beyond the borders of the individual human being, and (then) that enters which constitutes the inward beholding of the world-process” (ibid.). And then the whole process of cognition crosses into a different, higher plane.

Such are the tasks on the path of knowledge of Anthroposophy, and they are simultaneously tasks on the path of the new initiation. Ascension into initiation also becomes a socially important task, inasmuch as the metamorphosis of the form of consciousness should call forth a metamorphosis of the civilization. And from this follows that he who has accepted Spiritual Science takes an elevated obligation of development on himself along with it. Of people of this kind Rudolf Steiner says: “… it was only natural that a certain number of young colleagues with a good scientific education took upon itself the task of impressing this scientific character upon the anthroposophical Movement” (GA 255b, p.350f). However there are also other people in the anthroposophical movement who speak approximately so: methodology?—“that is something that does not interest us in the least”. (Rudolf Steiner is pointing this out.) No, they don’t deny the very fact of the particular significance of anthroposophical methodology, but maintain that occupying themselves with it would merely distract them, hold them back in their development. “On the inward path of spiritual understanding—they assert—we come more quickly to the knowledge that Anthroposophy may give” (ibid.).

One can’t say anything essentially opposed to such an approach to knowledge of Anthroposophy. But beyond its limits one exceptional requirement remains—one that bears a social character as well,—which stands before those who would make themselves into bearers of spiritual knowledge. It consists in raising a bridge between Spiritual Science and the scientific conceptions of the modern world.

Concerning this question Rudolf Steiner states with sadness that for the fulfillment of the task we lack colleagues, and those who are available “have no time for raising the bridge between that which the world requires of us: the scientific justification of Anthroposophy—and that which may be developed out of esotericism. … And it cannot be denied that due to this gulf our anthroposophical Movement turns out to be unhealthy in a certain sense, outwardly and inwardly unhealthy” (ibid., p.352f.). It is also necessary to know for those who are first coming to Anthroposophy or begin to criticize it looking at those who clearly prematurely call themselves anthroposophists. Practically speaking the matter stands no different with Anthroposophy than with any other important spiritual, scientific or cultural phenomenon. Slowly and only a very few rise to an understanding of its genuine meaning.

But the understanding of Anthroposophy is quickened if we begin to build that bridge, or even: if we turns ourselves into the bridge that the green Snake in Goethe’s Fairytale turned herself into, sacrificing herself.

 

28.

The analogy between the anthroposophist’s school bench and the school bench of primary school goes extraordinarily far. Having begun to occupy himself with Anthroposophy in the spirit of the Mystery of self-development, man radically changes the character of his whole life. In it he develops three types of his own activity (we spoke about them above) as in early childhood, in which cosmic thinking appears. The difference between the adult and the child here consists only in the fact that the child, becoming upright, mastering speech and thinking, severs his connection with cosmic intelligence and stands on the path of the mastery of earthly intellectuality, while the adult takes the opposite path: from earthly to cosmic intelligence. His “uprightness” is the mastery of the methodology of Anthroposophy. The methodology, in activating the ‘I’, continues the uprightness of the physical body in spiritual uprightness which takes place along the vertical axis of the spirit. Man learns to orient himself in the world of cosmic intelligences still before his immediate, i.e. conscious entrance into it, to learn to move in the kind of thinking which takes place in the supersensible world.

Taking a seat on the school bench of Spiritual Science may even be likened to a certain kind of preparing oneself for yet another birth, only one taking place from the sensible into the supersensible.

The mastery of speech in the school of Anthroposophy signifies the mastery of the language of esotericism in which the initiates of all ages speak. In this language Rudolf Steiner also spoke. So how could we comprehend him in his essence, not fully understanding his language?

The mastery of thinking in the school of Anthroposophy consists in the development of the power of judgment in beholding. It, one could say, stands an equal distance away from reflective thinking as a child’s pictorial thinking does, except on the other side of it.

Such are the three tasks that each person needs to complete, who wishes to know Anthroposophy in its essence. It is, of course, also given to the simplest of souls who seek an answer to the questions which everyday life poses them. But in all of this there remains the task, colossal in its significance, of forming a new human being who acquires distinctions as a species from the present existing one, the task of the transition of civilization into a new level of consciousness. This can only happen in the event that a great enough number of people take up the path of the work of initiation. It can be accomplished by people who are capable of passing through the three preparatory steps of the path of initiation:

1)      mastery of the methodology of Spiritual Science,

2)      mastery of the language of esotericism which widens the possibilities and boundaries of cognition,

3)      practical development of beholding (perceptual) thinking.

All three of these steps are taken simultaneously, inasmuch as they are mutually conditioning, and at the same time they are different, also in the difficulty of mastering them. They fully prepare the human being for the acquisition of supersensible perceptions: at first imaginative, and then higher forms as well. The importance of these preparatory steps is impossible to overestimate, as it is impossible to overestimate the importance of primary school for higher education. They impart form and strength to man’s earthly intelligence, with the help of which it, canceling itself, is reborn as the intelligence of the higher world of the Hierarchies. And precisely on these steps man will learn, in various respects, to pass through the Goethean “die and become” in the course of an individual development which is directed by himself.

 

29.

Thus, the uprightness in the free individual movement of the spirit, the new language and new thinking—such are the three types of the proper activity of man which he masters on the bench of the primary school of Anthroposophy. Developing them, he re-creates his three-membered soul with its thinking, feeling and willing which appear in the diverse qualities of the soul that are rooted, as it is stated in the Philosophie der Freiheit, in its “conceptual” and “characterological” foundations. Then at the beginning the strengthening of the lower ‘I’ takes place, and later its canceling and the appearance of the higher ‘I’ in the individual soul.

Completing all this work, man does not only study Spiritual Science, he makes it his own. He becomes capable of creatively implementing it in practical life, to move within it further solving new problems, new riddles of consciousness and of being. He institutes in himself the Mystery of Anthroposophy. In the external expression it is utterly simple such that other people do not even guess that it is taking place within the human being. For man does this, as in all ages, not before people, but before God. And he judges the fruits that it brings forth in him with humility.

At the same time, the new science of initiation is no secret. It grows out of the entire spiritual, cultural and scientific heritage of mankind, and crowning it, presents itself as a social fact. “Anthroposophy,” Rudolf Steiner tells us, “… actually proceeded from scientific earnestness, scientific conscientiousness, developed precisely on the soil of natural science in the course of the last three-four centuries, and especially in the nineteenth century.”[3] And centuries of long natural scientific discipline had to go by, Rudolf Steiner continues, in order for thinking to be able to undertake something with itself within the development of humanity. Now such a possibility has arisen, and with it the necessity of adding the primary school of Spiritual Science to the higher school of natural science.

At the beginning of the twentieth century the school of natural science reached the limits of its possibilities as the driver of man’s individual progress. Since then it merely reproduces one and the same type of personality in which, by reason of lack of spiritual inner movement, a dangerous simplification can be observed. This tendency can be overcome only through the organic confluence of the primary school and the school of natural science with the primary school of Anthroposophy. A new school of the knowledge of the world and man should arise which extends its roots into the depths of initiation, into the Mysteries of spiritual evolution. Anthroposophy with its methodology, with its principles of instruction and upbringing should enter into primary school and higher education, should become a university discipline. Then one will be able to hope that humanity will escape the existing crisis in one piece.

The soundness of the school of Anthroposophy is due to the knowledge in it of the reality of two worlds: the sensible and the supersensible. This is the principle merit of its methodology as well. Using it, it is possible, on the path of self-development, to raise up a higher personality within oneself.

We will not repeat what we’ve already said about the essence and content of anthroposophical methodology, but will merely touch upon yet another of its particularities which impedes its understanding. It consists of the fact that in this methodology the subject of cognition constitutes its essential element, that in it there is no clear division between knowledge and the one who receives it. In abstract-conceptual expression this methodology shows itself only preliminarily and in the most outward form. The cognizing human being should give it embodiment in his own being, give embodiment, essentially, to the Divine Wisdom that descends to him. And in this case the concept of “knowledge” merges within itself science, religion and art as a unity.

A stark and utterly extraordinary manifestation of this unity in Anthroposophy was the first Goetheanum which we can confidently call the earthly home of Sophia. Rudolf Steiner said the following of it: “Not in order to marvel or in order to give an appraisal of the building (the Goetheanum) have you been called (R. Steiner is addressing the anthroposophists who have built the Goetheanum), but rather that you would be able to become the further material in which works the world Spirit itself (emphasis G.A.B.), in which He, being accepted freely by you, in today’s social need, in the present decisive moment in world history, will do for the world development of mankind that which will not lead to barbarism, but to a new, light-filled ascension in mankind’s development”.[4]

With his intellect man is capable of understanding and should understand much in the methodology of Anthroposophy. But he will master it to the extent that he is able to work with it practically, transforming the existing world, merely having become a part of its being, indeed, the “material”, which implies the use of the whole strength of individual consciousness as well, seeing as the world Spirit cannot work in the fifth, human kingdom proper with the other, unconscious material.

One must trust this Spirit, for “all spiritual beings of the various Hierarchies which we may come to know in connection with human nature integrate their goals in order, from the whole Cosmos, to raise up man as the meaning of the whole Cosmos” (GA 153, 1914.4.11).

Much is requires of man in this. Whatever activity he may engage in, merely by inwardizing himself in it he enables the progressive development of his epoch. He should enter the center of all his strivings with his inner divine-spiritual being. “However,” warns Rudolf Steiner, “he (the human being) kills this inner impulse of his striving in the new times, if he does not hold himself in development in a completely living way,”[5] if he does not experience himself as a living part of that development, whether it takes place in his cognition, in his artistic activity or in his religious creation of himself. For this reason man is the methodology’s component part, the material with which the world Spirit, the Divine Sophia works, from man’s integration with Which arises Man-Sophia, i.e. Anthroposophia.

Anthroposophy brings man into a world which consists only of realities in which everything is personified. And Anthroposophia herself in her supersensible reality is a mighty hierarchical being. When people receive her on Earth, she realizes herself in them and in this realization acquires a fullness, becoming Man-Sophia, i.e. the Divine Wisdom that has come into connection with man, incorporated in man, co-thinking, co-feeling and co-willing with him. The human being is not her unconscious or simply submissive instrument. Man comes into individual conscious connection with Sophia through Methodo-Sophia. And, of course, this latter cannot be merely intellectual.

On the bench of the primary school of Spiritual Science the mastery of Anthroposophy should grow into the mastery of Methodo-Sophia, who has her own language and her own form of consciousness. She shows her truths with particular expressiveness in works of art.

 

30.

The fundamental meaning of the three classes, or, if you prefer, the three steps of the primary school of Anthroposophy for the individual development of the modern human being, and through him also for the fate of his civilization, for the approaching fate of mankind has been elucidated and substantiated by Rudolf Steiner with, it may be said, the entirety of his life’s work. And it is not his fault, if, acting through its adherents, Anthroposophy cannot occupy its rightful place in the world. This problem had arisen in the time when Rudolf Steiner was working on the physical plane. He spoke of this: “The Anthroposophical Movement finds itself in the difficult situation for the reason, of course, that many people who experience a passionate desire to spiritualize their worldview would also like to cognitively easily and comfortably come to their knowledge, and not how Anthroposophy gives it to them (emphasis G.A.B.)” (GA 345, 1923.7.12). Here is why the “how” of Anthroposophy in the work with it is decisive.

Anthroposophy imparts its knowledge simultaneously in a complex and in a simple way. But also its “simple” way contains in itself the generally known and generally accepted: any non-superficial knowledge requires this or that organization. Due to this principle also anthroposophical knowledge cannot be simply a chaotic conglomeration of various indications, a “quantity of information”, etc.

And further still another principle needs to be incorporated: if it is a large and complex system of knowledge, it must necessarily be organized methodologically. And even in the merely intellectual approach to anthroposophical knowledge, it is preferable to be in possession of the fundamentals of its methodological organization.

* * *

In one of his lectures, in describing the character of meditative practice Rudolf Steiner, practically speaking, also describes the tasks we have in our exercises. He says: “We abandon this abstract thinking (which we do in our exercises in the fourth element.—G.A.B.). We transition to meditative life so that we rest on a representation, on an idea, something we ordinarily do not do in abstract thinking. We dwell with it, call up a certain inner concentration on it. We, in other words, surrender ourselves to the life flowing in the exercise of thinking, similar to how the ancient Hindu surrendered himself to breathing exercises (this is an exact description of what one should do in the fourth element.—G.A.B.). We turn directly to thoughts. We bring more of the rhythmical into our thinking, whereas in ordinary consciousness we have more of the logical in it. We gradually attain to what I characterized as the endowing of thinking with life. Indeed, with our soul exercises we turn directly to thinking…”[6]

A living thought does not move like an ordinary thought where I do not feel the thought. “A living thought penetrates the entire human being all the way to the bodily nature. And the experience in this remains in the soul (realm). And this is an experience of suffering. And it is necessary to overcome this suffering, to overcome this pain. Only then does that appear in the human being which completely guarantees supersensible knowledge … thus we become an organ of perception as a whole human being when we overcome the experience of pain which is connected with living thinking. … With this sensory organ which we become as whole human beings we perceive the spiritual world around us similar to how we perceive the physical sensible world with our ordinary sensory organs.”[7]

Our exercises with thinking do not lead so far, but what is important in them is that they carry us, so to speak, halfway up that path, make us capable of continuing further on it and guarantee our psychical and spiritual steadiness that is absolutely necessary in the High School of Anthroposophy.

Now concerning the primary school, in it the spiritual world heralds itself to man as to an organ of spiritual perception through moral intuitions, with the acquisition of which the authentic freedom of man begins. To prepare such a simultaneously moral and free personality as the creator of a new culture and civilization is indeed the principle task of the primary school of Anthroposophy, the school of the knowledge of Spiritual Science.

 

 


[1] From the yearly Anthroposophie, 1929, № 42, p.329.

[2] Second lecture from November 1st , 1904 in Berlin. (From a private archive.)

[3] Das Wesen der Anthroposophie. Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach, 1998, p.11. Lecture from the 24th of January 1922.

[4] Lecture from the 16th of October, 1920. (In the collection Der Baugedanke von Dornach”. Phil. — Anthr. Verlag. Dornach, 1942, pg. 30.)

[5] ibid., p.42.

[6] Lecture from the 18th of May, 1922 in Cologne. (From a private archive.)

[7] ibid.

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