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

Cosmic New Year and the Burning of the Goetheanum, 1922/23 – A Picture

– R. Jacob Harlow

“Let me say in the first place that already for a long time now the Anthroposophical Movement has not coincided with the Anthroposophical Society, but that the Anthroposophical Society, if it would fulfill its task, must really carry the whole impulse of the Anthroposophical Movement.” (GA 219, 30.12.1922).

 

1-rose-window

  I behold the Building – The World Builds – and the Building becomes Man  

On the eve of the year 1923, the Goetheanum, a modern temple of the Mysteries, was set ablaze by an act of arson. Less than an hour before the fire was discovered, the anthroposophists had sat within its living, sculpted forms, its colored windows and painted double-cupolas which embodied the mysteries of the cosmos and man – macrocosm and microcosm. Rudolf Steiner gave a lecture where the entire path of anthroposophical cognition – from its epistemological roots to the fruits of supersensible Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition – was summed up as the genuine spiritual communion of the modern human being, having significance not only for the human ‘I’ itself, but for humanity, the earth and the cosmos as a whole: ‘Spiritual Knowledge is a True Communion, the Beginning of a Cosmic Ritual Suitable for Men of the Present Age’.

“Even as man must derive his reincarnation in another earth-life from that in him which is supersensible and invisible, since his dying physical and etheric bodies are powerless to confer it, so can no future arise for the Earth from the mineral and vegetable globe that surrounds us. Only when we place into the Earth that which she has not herself, only then can an Earth of the Future arise. And what is not there of itself on the Earth is principally the active thoughts of man[…]. If he brings these independent thoughts to a real existence, he confers a future on the Earth. But he must first have them” (GA 219, 12.31.22).

Such is the essence of the anthroposophical view of the human being’s present role in world evolution. This thought stood already at the heart of ‘The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (Freedom)’ (GA 4), Rudolf Steiner’s seminal philosophical accomplishment, published in 1894, where he demonstrated the spiritual reality of thinking as well as the possibility of freedom in man. Epistemologically (and thereby also contemplatively/meditatively), Rudolf Steiner fashioned the bridge whereby science and philosophy could rise to the spiritual via the human subject apprehending, through his own inner activity, the monistic essence of thinking – the basis of all knowing. This bridge is built of a thinking that has become dynamic and of the essence of pure will, and, furthermore, necessitates a qualitative-evolutionary change in the intellectual faculty itself. It is the transition from dialectic to ‘living’ or ‘beholding’ thinking (what Goethe intuited as ‘anschauende Urtielskraft’ – the logic of judgment in ‘beholding’). As a result of this change, the supersensible fruits of esotericism could then be expressed in living concepts involving the whole soul (consisting also of feeling and will) and befitting the modern, scientific consciousness, i.e. not merely a reversion into intellectualistic symbolism, theology, or dreamy mysticism. By forming thoughts that are not bound to the laws of sense-perceptible, natural phenomena, but rather to the laws of the higher worlds themselves, the thinker becomes capable of beholding spiritual reality through the idea, even before the achievement of higher, clairvoyant faculties. Thus, in the New Year’s Eve lecture, Rudolf Steiner characterized his early work by saying:

“Concerning these creative thoughts I once said in my book entitled ‘A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe’s World Conception’, that such thinking represents the spiritual form of communion among mankind. For as long as man gives himself up to his mirror-thoughts about external Nature, he does nothing but repeat the past. He lives in corpses of the Divine. When he himself brings life into his thoughts, then, giving and receiving communion through his own being, he allies himself with the element of Divine Spirit which permeates the world and assures its future” (ibid.).

By means of esoteric instruction this active life of thought can be transformed into higher modes of cognition, which furthermore necessitates the entire sensible/supersensible being of man to undergo a development, a metamorphosis.[1] Already in his early works, written at the beginning of the present Michael age[2], Rudolf Steiner demonstrated how, through the development of thinking, inwardly grasped, the human being can attain to an experience of his/her own active spirit and a life within a genuine spiritual world, even if not at first clairvoyantly in the sense of Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition. Later, Rudolf Steiner was continually at pains to point out how the seed of clairvoyance is found already within this living thinking: “… people do not recognize that what is described in the ‘Philosophy of Freedom’ is the very first degree of the new clairvoyance. This is not recognized because people still think that clairvoyance means plunging into something obscure and unfamiliar. Here it is just the familiar that is sought; here one goes out with a thinking that has become independent of matter. It is a thinking that sustains itself, so that, through this self-sustaining thinking, the world is grasped for the first time purely spiritually. Indeed, the world is grasped through the very purest spirituality” (GA 212, 7.5.1922).

After the end of Kali Yuga in 1900[3], Rudolf Steiner laid out publically the general guidelines whereby the further developments of a scientific clairvoyance – Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition – can be attained along the previously secret, Rosicrucian path (esoteric Christianity), primarily in his books ‘Knowledge of Higher Worlds: How is it Achieved’ (GA 10) and ‘An Outline of Occult Science’ (GA 13). Published in 1904 and 1910 respectively, Rudolf Steiner referred to these works, particularly the former, as the general outline of the modern path of supersensible cognition right up until his death (this never changed). The first and fundamental stage of this path is termed ‘Study’, for already in the earnest study of occult truths one comes in contact with higher realities through the sense of thought, i.e. intellectual intuition.[4] Again, in the New Year’s Eve lecture Rudolf Steiner emphasized:

“Thoughts that we make in our ordinary knowledge of Nature – thoughts about that which is dying away, are mere reflections – not realities. But thoughts we receive from spiritual research are quickened in Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition. If we accept them they become forms having independent existence in the life of the Earth” (GA 219, 12.31.22 – emphasis R.J.H.).

Genuine knowledge of anthroposophy is therefore a creative, cosmic-human act, involving both the human subject as well as objective, spiritual realities (beings). It is, moreover, a living reality itself – what spiritual science points to as the being ‘Anthroposophia’. This being beckons to the human soul, entreating it to become aware of the spiritual foundations of existence – in the sense of the Mysteries: “O Man, know thou thyself!” By raising the science of cognition (epistemology) to the heights of genuine spiritual perception/experience, anthroposophy becomes capable of overcoming the abyss that has long separated science and religion. It was therefore this sacramental nature of anthroposophical knowledge, at its heart since its inception that Rudolf Steiner wanted human beings to awaken to.

“Spiritual knowledge is thus a veritable communion, the beginning of a cosmic ritual that is right and fitting for the man of today, who is then able to grow because he begins to realize how he permeates his own physical and etheric organism with his astral body and Ego, and how, as he quickens the spirit in himself, he charms it also into the dead and dying matter that surrounds him. And a new experience is then his.
When he looks upon his own organism in its solid condition, he feels that it links him to the starry universe. […] man is connected in his physical organism with these constellations in space. But by allowing his powers of soul and spirit to pour into this ‘form picture’ in space, he himself changes the world.
Man is also traversed in like manner by streams of fluid. […] It is the etheric body that causes the blood to circulate and that brings into movement the other fluids and juices in man. Through this etheric organism he is brought into touch, if I may so express it, with the deeds of the stars, with the movements of the planets” (ibid.).

The human being is truly a temple of the mysteries of the cosmos – a microcosm of the great macrocosm (“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the indwelling Holy Spirit in you?” – Corinthians 6:19). Such is the being of man and such also was the ‘Johannes-Bau’[5] – the building of the Goetheanum. Its organic forms were not merely natural, but entirely cosmic-human, bespeaking the creative forces in man. They were born out of the same sources from which man evolves his eternal soul and spirit and prepares his future incarnation in the life between death and a new birth – the planetary spheres and the zodiac. In its entirety and in its every detail – columns, colors, wood, architraves, capitals, the building’s axis, etc. – macrocosm and microcosm, the mysteries of the world rhythms, unfolding in the sevenfold ages of time as they manifest in planetary evolution (manvantara) and rest (pralaya), as well as the mysteries of space, were revealed. It was, as Rudolf Steiner called it, a ‘House of the Word’, of the Divine Logos, the creative source of the cosmos and Man.

1-goetheanum

But the Goetheanum was not only a summation of the spiritual sources of creation. With Christ’s deed on Golgotha, the Divine Word became Man. And at the back of the smaller dome in the east, directly behind the central point where the two cupolas intersected and the lectern was positioned, was to stand the ‘Representative of Man’, Rudolf Steiner’s ‘Group’ statue. 1-statue Striving between the adversarial powers of Lucifer and Ahriman, the statue embodied the transformative, future-oriented activity of the soul and spirit; the mystery of the free ego in the figure of Christ. Only a temple, fashioned in accordance with the creative forces of the cosmos and, in addition, the active, spiritual principle in Man (the ‘I am’), could be an adequate center for a truly spiritual science, and also a spiritual movement capable of manifesting these in word and deed. The latter, however, was not a given fact, but one which had to be accomplished through awakened ego-activity and the will for sacrifice.

That night in the Goetheanum – with prophetic overtones – Rudolf Steiner spoke of this fiery, transformative element of the ego, giving a description of how the human organization in waking and sleeping appears differently to clairvoyant sight.

“Let us picture man asleep. His physical and etheric bodies lie in the bed. Spiritual vision sees them as soil, as mineral matter, out of which plant life is sprouting […]. Above gleam the Ego and astral body like a flame, unable to approach the physical and etheric. […] And when man is awake? The mineral and vegetable portions are seen to be withering and collapsing, while the Ego and astral body gleam down into them, and as it were, burn them up. […] The mineral element of man crumbles during his waking hours. There is a sort of plant-like activity which, although quite different in appearance, gives a general and universal impression of autumn foliage, of drooping, withering leaves which are dying and vanishing; and all through this fading substance, big and little flames are gleaming and glowing. These big and little flames are the astral body and the Ego which are now living in the physical and etheric bodies. And then the question arises: What happens to these gleaming and glowing flames during sleep, when they are separated from the physical and etheric bodies? […] The power which drives away the flame and gleam of the Ego and astralbody, and which is then actively at work in the budding and sprouting vegetative life of the summer-like, sleeping physical body, and also in its mineral element, causing even that too to evolve a kind of life, so that in the course of its infinitesimal subdividing, it looks like a mass of melting atoms, a continuous mobile mass, everywhere active, fluid-mineral and yet airlike, at all points permeated by sprouting life – what is this inner power? It is the reverberating wave of our life before birth, whose pulsations beat upon our physical and etheric bodies during sleep. […] So long as the flame and gleam of the Ego and astral body are united with the physical and etheric bodies, we annul those impulses which spring from an existence preceding our earthly life and which we experience during sleep, we bring them to quiescence” (ibid. – emphasis R.J.H.).

This is the dual aspect of the human being: a wisdom filled organization given out of the past and a nascent soul and spirit who assert themselves, burning up the former. The life-wisdom of the world brings the human organization to the starting point, to the possibility of freedom. Between the head and the limbs, between the nerves and the blood – where Rudolf Steiner, earlier in the lectures, described how the nature forces of summer and winter are held in balance within the human being – between every polarity a ‘quiescent’ middle zone is created so that the human being may come to freedom and assert his fiery spirit.

“Man is a part of Nature, but since the natural forces oppose each other in his organism they cancel one another and it is as though he were a part of Nature no longer. But for that very reason, man is a free being” (ibid.).

Into this free space of the present, created by the wise regulation of the natural forces of the past, the human being brings, through his soul and spirit (astral and ego), the future.

“It may be said that we see in man past and future side by side. In Nature on the other hand, so far as she is mineral or vegetable, we see only the past. That element which already functions as future during man’s present, is the element that confers freedom upon him; and this freedom is not to be found in external Nature” (ibid.)

Thus, the active human soul-spirit (the ‘I’-organization) in union of knowledge with the spiritual world is the only entrance for the positive, forward moving impulses of world-evolution in our time.

These things were spoken of on that fateful night, not only as a purely esoteric consideration but, above all, as a call for the anthroposophists to awaken, to fulfill the mighty tasks of the age; for in 1922, the western World, particularly Middle Europe, was in a state of deep crisis encompassing all societal spheres: cultural-spiritual, political, and economic. Engulfed in the aftermath of the First World War, all around in human life the forms of the past were crumbling, proving themselves insufficient. Humanity was in desperate need of the insight and spiritual means which only anthroposophy could provide. But the brief window through which Germany could have taken up the threefold social order idea had already closed.[6] With the economic turmoil resulting from the “peace treaty” of Versailles and the rising tide of occult-political manipulation, the preconditions for further chaos and tragedy (WWII) were growing rapidly. Failing a spiritual-cultural renewal, middle Europe and all of western civilization faced catastrophe and eventual moral ruin. The very thinking which had led to the then prevalent conditions remained institutionally entrenched. Many people, particularly the younger generation, sought new answers. Real solutions, however, required that human beings have the will to change themselves from within, on the grounds of individual cognition. Without this the materialistic mindset would only march forward on its destructive path. A powerful renewal of the cultural-spiritual life was the only authentic solution.

Rudolf Steiner worked like never before, both at the center – the Goetheanum in Dornach – and at the periphery, in all the anthroposophical institutions and initiatives. That year he crisscrossed Europe and traveled to England twice. He gave over 350 lectures – some to crowds of over 2,000 people – showing how anthroposophy could fructify every sphere of human life and enable Central Europe to fulfill her mission as a cultural-spiritual center between the conflicting impulses of East and West.

But for all Rudolf Steiner’s efforts, the Anthroposophical Society and its daughter institutions – i.e. the membership –were unable to adequately embody the true spiritual substance, the spiritual Movement of Anthroposophy (cf. p.1, first quote).Whether it was the threefold social order, various scientific endeavors, the development of anthroposophical medicine, the movement for religious renewal or the Anthroposophical Society itself, Rudolf Steiner had to witness anthroposophy made ineffective by the variety of ‘all too human’ egoisms and rigidities. The flame of the ego was not strong enough to burn through the dross of the past.

Both idle mysticism (“couch spirituality”, as Rudolf Steiner once termed it) and impotent intellectualism were rampant. In the Society the bureaucratic element had grown over-strong. Conflict was growing between the older and younger members, making harmonious collaboration difficult to impossible. Many of the ‘sister movements’ were erring or stagnating. The newly created movement for religious renewal, founded by Friedrick Rittlemeyer and a group of theologians in September 1922, had been intended for “circles of people in the population who are not within the Anthroposophical Movement, and who, from the whole tenor of their mind and heart, do not immediately find their way to [it]” (GA 219, 30.12.1922). But mystical tendencies were strong amongst the anthroposophists and the congregations were quickly filled-up by those eager to drink in the latest thing ‘Steiner’. On Dec. 30th 1922, one night before the burning, Rudolf Steiner had to explain: “What I have been able to give to these people out of the conditions pertaining to spiritual knowledge at the present time, I have given as a man to other men. What I have given them has nothing to do with the Anthroposophical Movement. I have given it to them as a private individual, and in such a way that I have emphasized with the necessary firmness that the Anthroposophical Movement must not have anything to do with this Movement for Religious Renewal; above all that I am not the founder of this Movement, and I rely upon this being made quite clear to the world; to individuals who wished to found this Movement for Religious Renewal I have given the necessary counsels – which are consonant with the practice of an authentic and inwardly vital cult, filled with spiritual content, to be celebrated in a right way with the forces out of the spiritual world. When I gave this advice I never performed a ritualistic act myself; I only showed, step by step, to those who wished to enact the ceremonies, how they have to be performed. That is necessary. And today it is also necessary that within the Anthroposophical Society this should be correctly understood” (ibid.). The Movement for Religious Renewal must not “…make proselytes within the ranks of the Anthroposophists. Were it to do so, it would be doing something that would inevitably lead to the destruction of both Movements” (ibid.). In medical endeavors, the doctors were stagnating in their work. In 1920, Rudolf Steiner requested of them[7] that a medical Vademecum (handbook) be compiled based on all he had given them, in order to build up and advance an anthroposophical approach to medicine. By December 1922 this had still not happened. Enterprises such as Futurum, which involved many anthroposophical initiatives and businesses, were set up and managed badly. At critical points Rudolf Steiner’s consultation was not heeded; nevertheless, responsibility was laid at his door when such ventures brought financial instability on the Society and its members. At the same time, hyperinflation was eating away at the healthier, more ‘anthroposophical’ ventures, like ‘Der Kommende Tag’[8], driving them toward bankruptcy. From all sides, opposition was mounting in the outer world; not only from academia, the press and political movements (Nazism, Bolshevism, etc.) but indeed from occult sources – namely, Jesuit and Freemasonic brotherhoods. Opponents organized mobs to disrupt Rudolf Steiner’s lectures. Assassination attempts were made. By the middle of 1922, even the event coordination company ‘Wolff und Sachs’, one of the largest in Germany, had to inform that it could no longer manage the widely attended lectures as it could not assure Rudolf Steiner’s safety.

The Anthroposophical Movement in 1922

In the end Rudolf Steiner would characterize the essential crisis in the Anthroposophical society by repeatedly drawing attention to two particular areas, forming, as it were, a polaric picture. The first area was the growing schism which had developed between the older and the younger members of the Society, while the second was that of the spiritualization of the sciences. (The latter also stands opposite the pitfalls of the religious impulse mentioned above. As this was distinct from the anthroposophical Movement, Rudolf Steiner did not place it in juxtaposition to the scientific issue.)

After the war, a great many youth were looking for deeper insights and the inner resources to meet the cultural decay they saw around them. But the universities were unable to provide these. Born around the turning point of 1900 – the end of Kali Yuga – these youth felt the light of the new spiritual revelations stirring deep within themselves, even in their very life forces. When they came upon anthroposophy, many found what they had been searching for. But when they encountered the dead, bureaucratic forms of the Society, “the contrast between the Anthroposophical Society and anthroposophy […] startled them” (GA 257, 2.3.1923). This had to do with the ‘older’ members. Many had been members of the Theosophical Society and had studied anthroposophy for years. They had experienced the Mystery Dramas, the lecture cycles on the Gospels, the spiritual Hierarchies, amongst others; some had even been members of the Esoteric School which Rudolf Steiner led, with its three ‘sections’, from 1904-1914. But, with a few exceptions, the old theosophical and mystical habits,[9] intellectualism and bureaucratic rigidities[10] pervaded the membership, preventing anthroposophical knowledge from becoming truly manifest – the substance of life itself. The youth of course, instinctively rebelled against this, but, although full of energy, many were vague and unsure of what lay within them. Nor did all of them respect the cognitive accomplishments of their elders (e.g. Unger, Arenson, Bauer, Polzer-Hoditz, to name only a few). The youth had not yet made the cognitive steps to act with surety of knowledge or fully grasp the esoteric for itself. Many (though not all) sought only for ‘practical’ indications ‘for living’, and cared little for genuine occultism. The freedom of the moment, however, lay in the harmony of both groups, young and old. Rudolf Steiner’s words, from the ‘Philosophy of Freedom’ 28 years before, echoed forth, summing up the moment: “… unfortunately, we have torn asunder into two parts that which is an inseparable whole: Man. The agent has been divorced from the knower, whilst he who matters more than everything else, viz., the man who acts because he knows, has been utterly overlooked” (GA 4). The luciferic illusions of freedom which so easily surround group leadership and initiative obscured the true freedom of the moment, which in fact lay in the harmony of the two groups. Steiner would later characterize them: “The first group [the older members] understands immediately, but does nothing. The second category understands nothing; they only give promise of eventually understanding everything; they are full of energy and feeling, but they do the things at once. They do everything without understanding it” (GA 257, 2.3.1923).

The second area which exemplified the crisis was the lack of progress on anthroposophy’s own grounds by the scientists, scholars and doctors – both old and young. Here the battle with the spirit of materialism and death (Ahriman) was at its fiercest. Science, academia and medicine were all veritably infected with this spirit. Ita Wegman, a medical doctor and one of Rudolf Steiner’s closest pupils, recalled the following conversations: “…an attempt was made [in 1920] to allow the various sciences which had been fructified by Anthroposophy to speak (e.g. the ‘Hochschule’ – University – course). This attempt was unsuccessful, said Dr.Steiner. It had not been possible to fashion the sciences out of Anthroposophy. What surfaced again and again when the scientists lectured was old knowledge; Anthroposophy had not been able to break through. That which was truly anthroposophical had not been brought into science. This filled Dr. Steiner with real sorrow. He often spoke of it. Then the terrible thing happened, the Goetheanum burned down. The fire happened in midst of a course on the history of the natural sciences[11]. Shortly before this course was to start, a conversation took place between Dr. Steiner, Steffen and myself, in which Dr. Steiner expressed his worry that it would not do for the sciences to be lectured on so unanthroposophically, as was still customary. Thinking was still too abstract; anthroposophical truths were not absorbed concretely enough, not placed at the core in such a way as to enable scientific research to be directed toward proving what had been researched through spiritual science. Something else had to happen as well, an inner attitude had to develop in the human being, so that he could perceive and utterly affirm the spirit underlying matter. Dr. Steiner spoke about affirming the spirit, and about the courage that is needed to stand up for this spirit without compromise, regardless of persecution or attack.” Things were further complicated when some anthroposophists entered into fruitless (and even erroneous) polemics against mainstream academia, turning many vehemently against the movement. During the concurrent December 1922/23 lecture course, ‘The Origins of Natural Science’, Rudolf Steiner was brought to say: “The scientific world view must be taken seriously, and for this reason I was never an opponent of it; on the contrary, I regarded it as something that of necessity belongs to our time. […] On this occasion let me state emphatically that I do not wish to be regarded as in any way an opponent of the scientific approach. I would consider it detrimental to all our anthroposophical endeavors if a false opposition were to arise between what anthroposophy seeks by way of spiritual research and what science seeks — and must of necessity seek in its field — out of the modern attitude. I say this expressly, my dear friends, because a healthy discussion concerning the relationship between anthroposophy and science must come to pass within our movement. Anything that goes wrong in this respect can only do grave harm to anthroposophy and should be avoided. I mention this here because recently, in preparing these lectures, I read in the anthroposophical periodical Die Drei that atomism was being studied in a way in which no progress can be made. Therefore, I want to make it clear that I consider all these polemics in Die Drei about atomism as something that only serves to stultify the relations between anthroposophy and science.” (GA 326, Dec. 27, 1922)

The way forward lay in a free center of spiritual activity and cultural life. Toward the renewal of all activities of the human spirit, the Goetheanum, as center of the Anthroposophical Movement, was intended to be a true ‘High School of Spiritual Science’.[12] The ‘High School’ or ‘University’ courses that had been held there so far, Rudolf Steiner characterized as failures. Furthermore, he was careful to distinguish between the courses held at the Goetheanum and the esoteric opening/inaugurating of the Goetheanum itself. In the preparations for the above mentioned 1920 course, Rudolf Steiner had said: “It is not our Goetheanum but only our High School course which will be opened on 26 September [1920]. The opening of the Goetheanum lies in the far distant future. The world will have to muster a far more intense understanding of what goes on here if the Goetheanum is truly to be inaugurated one day. […] We are simply going to use the unfinished Goetheanum as a place in which to hold our High School courses.”[13] By 1922, 21 years after the beginnings of the anthroposophical movement, the unfinished Goetheanum stood as a living a question to the anthroposophists, a picture of the precarious state of the movement. The statue, ‘Representative of Man’, therefore, remained unfinished, uninstalled.

The weakness of the Society and its institutions were rebounding upon the center. But not only spiritually: by autumn 1922, it became clear that funding for the Goetheanum and other central activities in Dornach would dry up by the end of the year. While lecturing in Holland in November, Rudolf Steiner depicted the situation to the Dutch members who, due to the stability of their currency, were in an advantageous position to help. Reading the address, one can sense how it pained him to bring attention to things which others ought to have awakened to in freedom. But on a deeper, occult level, Rudolf Steiner bore the cross of the entire movement. In this unique depiction, he portrayed the movement’s duress, making reference to his own esoteric union with the Goetheanum, calling the “anxieties”, which clearly ought to have belonged to the entire movement, conspicuously his own.

“And now, my dear friends, after these explanations permit me to add some remarks to today’s lecture which are, to a certain degree, connected with the lecture itself. Pardon me for speaking of my own anxieties. These anxieties of my own, to be brief, have to do with the possibility of being able to go on with the building of the Goetheanum, in Dornach. My dear friends, the fact is that since the building of the Goetheanum has been begun, and it is in large part completed, it must be continued to completion. What if this could not be done? This is bound up with the very fact that this Goetheanum is a symbol today for that spiritual movement which is to be born into the world through Anthroposophy. […] Today the building of the Goetheanum cannot simply be discontinued without damage. And it is this, my dear friends, that weighs heavily on my soul; for, if the results of what I have said in this regard remain the same as they have thus far, it will not be months, but only weeks for the moment to arrive when we shall come to a complete stoppage in Dornach. [This was in November.] […] the worry weighs heavily on my soul over the fact that we shall not be able to continue with the building of the Goetheanum unless we receive abundant help on the part of a greater number of our friends, and that this Anthroposophical Movement, which has been active these last years at all possible points of the periphery, will die without a center. […] the enemies of truth have made their appearance. And these, my dear friends, are well organized. Among them exist strong international ties. The enemies of Anthroposophical work are as well organized as our Anthroposophical Movement – pardon me for saying this – is badly organized! This is something we have yet to realize. How is it that we have to say today that, in a few weeks, the Goetheanum may be without any means for its progress toward completion? You may have everything possible on the periphery – Waldorf Schools, etc. – all this is naturally void of power if there is no center. But for this center the right heart is lacking among the membership! […] if our souls possessed the same enthusiasm for Anthroposophy which our opponents of all shades have today for anti-Anthroposophy, we should be very differently established. Then it would not be so difficult to collect the pennies, trivial in comparison with the wealth of the world – in spite of the impoverished world of today – to finish the Goetheanum. But the right heart for this is really lacking, my dear friends; yet we cannot do otherwise than to save this symbol in Dornach from failure. It can be saved from ruin if we can combine a strong enthusiasm with all our longing for Anthroposophical knowledge. In these remarks I am not referring to any individuals. But, on the whole, the prevalent spirit within our circles is to start things with great apparent enthusiasm. The building of the Goetheanum was begun with enthusiasm. This enthusiasm has vanished, particularly in those who in the beginning displayed great enthusiasm. And these very persons have left this problem of going on to me alone. It has in many instances become characteristic, my dear friends, that people cannot remain enthusiastic; that something flares up – and those who shared in this sudden blaze leave the fire and do not keep feeding it. The warmth of heart dies out. […] It is greatly to be desired that the center in Dornach shall not crumble, but that friends shall be found who will give us help. There is, for instance, the wonderful possibility of gradually achieving significant results in the field of medicine, of therapeutics through the discoveries of remedies, based on spiritual science. But all this depends on the existence of the center in Dornach. The moment the Dornach center breaks down everything breaks down, and it is this that I want our friends to be conscious of, for it has in many instances disappeared from their consciousness. And I must say, it has really become an extremely heavy burden for me, a crushing burden. I am saying this for the reason, my dear friends, that you may find the opportunity to think with me about these things in your good heart; for these things have to be thought out.” (Emphasis R.J.H.)

The Society was failing its mission and the organism for the incarnation of the Movement was dying. Rudolf Steiner was above all calling for people to carry these things in consciousness, to value the spiritual rightly with an awakened, courageous heart (gamut). These failures and limitations, however, had nothing to do with Anthroposophy itself, rather, it was the lack thereof. Since its beginnings Anthroposophy had presented a clear path of effective esotericism, capable of transforming the human being completely and, in self-possessed ego-consciousness, developing new organs of perception in of those of steadfast striving.[14] The means and forces for this development had been made available to general humanity with the dawn of the current Michael Age and the end of Kali Yuga; specifically, by the supersensible deeds of Christ and Michael in the ‘black sphere’ of materialism which enveloped the earth in the 19th century (cf. GA 152, particularly 2.5.1913, 18.5.1913 and 20.5.1913) and won philosophically in the stream of human history by Rudolf Steiner’s Philosophie der Freiheit. Having led at the beginning of the Michael age, pure, scientific/philosophic thinking into the realm of genuine spiritual experience, Rudolf Steiner then presented the fully self-conscious, modern esoteric path of Anthroposophy as initiation through the ‘I’-principle. By casting the results of supersensible investigation into intelligible thought-forms, intelligible to healthy modern reason, he created a thought language of the Logos for all humanity. For those of good will, this signified the end of the age of spiritual darkness. New revelation could come to mankind – but in a way that left it free – and preparation for conscious participation in Christ’s future deeds (His ‘reappearance’ in etheric form – ‘Behold, He cometh with clouds’, Rev. 1:7) could be made for the 20th century.

What is more, it was not ‘only’ knowledge that anthroposophy was offering. The practical application – the living of anthroposophy – had been emphasized from its very beginnings: “We are not setting up a system that is applicable in theory only; we are speaking of teachings which can be put to use in practical life by anyone who desires to know the foundations of the science of worlds and to allow the spiritual truths to flow into everyday life. Rosicrucian wisdom must not stream only into the head, nor only into the heart, but also into the hand, into our manual capacities, into our daily actions. It does not take effect as sentimental sympathy; it is the acquisition, by strenuous effort, of faculties enabling us to work for the well-being of humanity” (GA 99, 22 May, 1907). Already in 1906, Rudolf Steiner gave lectures introducing his insights on education. Summarizing these in a 1909 essay, ‘The Education of the Child’, he said: “Anthroposophical Science, when called upon to build up an art of education, will be able to indicate all these things in detail […]. For Anthroposophy is realism, it is no grey theory; it is a thing for life itself” (GA 34). It wasn’t, however, until 1919, with the founding of the Waldorf School[15], that others took him up on the offer. By 1922, twenty-one years after the anthroposophical movement’s beginnings (and twenty-eight years since the publication of the ‘Philosophy of Freedom’), the steps taken to incarnate the spiritual movement within human society were proving to be ‘too little, too late’.[16]

Now more than ever, Rudolf Steiner was calling on the anthroposophists – yet in a manner that left them entirely free – calling on them as if upon all of humanity, not merely to reflect on anthroposophical truths, but to transform themselves in living knowledge and in deed.

“Surrendering himself to the supreme direction of the universe that is all around him, he can carry out in living consciousness the act of transubstantiation in the great temple of the Cosmos – standing within it as one who is celebrating a sacrifice in a purely spiritual way.
What would otherwise be mere abstract knowledge achieves a relationship of will and feeling to the world. The world becomes the Temple, the House of God. When man as knowing man summons up also powers of will and feeling, he becomes a sacrificing being. His fundamental relationship to the world rises from knowledge into cosmic ritual.
The first beginning of what must come to pass if Anthroposophy is to fulfil its mission in the world is that man’s whole relationship to the world must be recognized to be one of cosmic ritual or cult” (ibid.).

The human being permeating his every word and deed with the flame of his eternal spirit, in union with the Spirit of the World – this is what Anthroposophy and the great initiate Rudolf Steiner were offering to the world at that time: a genuine ‘resurrection’ spirituality via the free, inner activity of human beings, i.e. a culture of free-humanity (homo liber) which could take root even in the midst of the materialism and chaos of civilization in the 20th century. Rudolf Steiner continues:

“It is our great task this day to observe how in the world around us it is New Year’s Eve – all is passing and disappearing and dying away; but how in the hearts of men who are conscious of their real manhood, of their divine humanity, there must be the mood of New Year, the mood of the beginning of a new era, of the uprising of new life. Let us not merely turn with a superficial festiveness from a symbolical New Year’s Eve to a symbolical New Year’s Day; but let us so turn our thoughts that they may indeed grow powerful and creative, as evolution requires them to be. Let us turn our thoughts away from the dying phenomena which confront us everywhere in modern civilization, like old graves, away from New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Day, to the day of the Cosmic New Year.
But that day will never dawn till man himself decides to bring it to pass” (ibid.).[17]

Like a cosmic conscience, Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophia, – the Spirit of the Goetheanum– were calling out to the anthroposophists gathered in the great hall. To fulfill the movement’s tasks, to finish and inaugurate the Goetheanum, to bring the esoteric, the essence of anthroposophy to the fore; all this depended upon the will of the anthroposophists to rise to creative, spiritual action – both inwardly and outwardly. Less than an hour after the anthroposophists had left the hall, the fire was discovered. During the lecture, the Goetheanum had been burning.


[1] The physical body, etheric body, and astral body are transformed into the higher spiritual members of Spirit man, Life spirit, and Spirit self, respectively. Related to this development, but lesser known, is Rudolf Steiner’s indication of how the ego itself is developed via the transformation of the Consciousness soul into the Imaginative soul, the Intellectual soul into the Inspiritive soul, and the Sentient soul into the Intuitional soul (see GA 145).

[2] The ‘Archangelic Periods’ or ‘Ages’ are spans of time of approximately 350 years, wherein certain archangelic consciousnesses rise to the guiding rank of Time Spirit (Archai). During the time of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, the last ‘Michael Age’ was in effect. When Christ was on earth it was the time of Oriphael (Saturn), then followed Anael (Venus), Zachariel (Jupiter), Raphael (Mercury), Samael (Mars), Gabriel (Moon), and, since 1879, Michael (Sun).

[3] Kali Yuga, the 5000 year spiritual dark-age stretching from 3100-1900.

[4] This ‘intuition’ – not to be confused with the common parlance for a vague or guiding feeling – is described in ‘The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (Freedom)’ (Wilson trans., chapter 5),as follows: “Rooted most deeply in the naïve consciousness of mankind is the opinion that thinking is abstract, without any concrete content; it can at most give us an “ideal” counterpart of the unity of the world, but never the unity itself. Whoever judges in this way has never made it clear to himself what a percept without the concept really is. Let us see what this world of percepts is like: a mere juxtaposition in space, a mere succession in time, a mass of unconnected details — that is how it appears. None of the things which come and go on the stage of perception has any direct connection, that can be perceived, with any other. The world is thus a multiplicity of objects of equal value. None plays any greater part in the whole machinery of the world than any other. If it is to become clear to us that this or that fact has greater significance than another, we must consult our thinking. Were thinking not to function, the rudimentary organ of an animal which has no significance in its life would appear equal in value to the most important limb of its body. The separate facts appear in their true significance, both in themselves and for the rest of the world only when thinking spins its threads from one entity to another. This activity of thinking is one full of content. For it is only through a quite definite concrete content that I can know why the snail belongs to a lower level of organization than the lion. The mere appearance, the percept, gives me no content which could inform me as to the degree of perfection of the organization. Thinking offers this content to the percept, from man’s world of concepts and ideas. In contrast to the content of percept which is given to us from without, the content of thinking appears inwardly. The form in which this first makes its appearance we will call intuition. Intuition is for thinking what observation is for percept. Intuition and observation are the sources of our knowledge. An observed object of the world remains unintelligible to us until we have within ourselves the corresponding intuition which adds that part of reality which is lacking in the percept. To anyone who is incapable of finding intuitions corresponding to the things, the full reality remains inaccessible. Just as the color-blind person sees only differences of brightness without any color qualities, so can the person without intuition observe only unconnected perceptual fragments. To explain a thing, to make it intelligible, means nothing else than to place it into the context from which it has been torn by the peculiar character of our organization as already described. A thing cut off from the world-whole does not exist. All isolating has only subjective validity for our organization. For us the universe divides itself up into above and below, before and after, cause and effect, thing and mental picture, matter and force, object and subject, etc. What appears to us in observation as separate parts becomes combined, bit by bit, through the coherent, unified world of our intuitions. By thinking we fit together again into one piece all that we have taken apart through perceiving. The enigmatic character of an object consists in its separateness. But this separation is our own making and can, within the world of concepts, be overcome again.” ‘Intellectual intuition’ is not the same as clairvoyant Intuition (capitalized for distinction), although it is deeply related. For more on the sense of thought and the twelve senses, see the GA 45 (‘Anthroposophy – a Fragment’), and lectures in GA 169, GA 170 and GA 206.

[5] This was the original and, in a certain sense, the esoteric name of the Goetheanum; connected on the one hand with the character ‘Johannes’ from Rudolf Steiner’s Mystery Dramas, but also to that leading representative of esoteric Christianity, the apostle St. John (Lazarus-John), who’s Gospel begins by describing the descent of the Cosmic Word, the Logos: “In the beginning was the Word…” (John 1:1).

[6]Karma arranged that the Threefold idea was able to be present at the critical moment along with the political inroads needed to become definitive for Germany, but tragedy gained the upper hand. In ‘Toward Social Renewal’, chapter 4, Rudolf Steiner stated plainly, “… to the nullity of German policy at the beginning of the war was added the nullity of 1918; the terrible spiritual capitulation came, brought on by a man [von Baden] in whom many in the German lands had placed something like a last hope” (GA 23). The karmic connections to the occult leadership of Central Europe of the von Badens are recording in history with the enigma of Kaspar Hauser.

[7] See p.120-121 ‘Who was ItaWegman’ by J.E. Zeylmans van Emmichoven, Mercury Press 1995.

[8] ‘The Coming Day’ was a joint-stock company with branches throughout Europe and even America. It was created to put into practice the economics inherent in the Threefold idea.

[9] Andrei Belyi, the Russian writer, recalled: “He had stormed against such ‘exalted spirituality’ in Dornach: ‘It just won’t do – to have you running about constantly with such blissful faces and meditating, meditating, meditating! You could at least organize a group to further your education! Or simply sit down together and laugh a little and parody each other!’” (‘Reminiscences of Rudolf Steiner’, Adonis Press, 1987).

[10] Referring to what he called the “Stuttgart System”, Rudolf Steiner once remarked: “Let’s call it the conservative, the traditional party, the neatly-filed members […], the party that occupies the curule seats. People in this party have titles: president, vice president, and so on, and administer the Society. They sit there and have a routine procedure for everything” (GA 257, 2.3.23).

[11] There were two lecture courses held in Dornach around Christmas/New Years time, 1922/23, when the Goetheanum was burned. These formed, as it were, the Joachim and Boaz pillars of the conference (as well as the tragedy): ‘The Origins of Natural Science’ (GA 326) and ‘Man and the World of the Stars’ (GA 219) – science and religion.

[12] The building association was earlier called ‘Johannesbau Verein’ in relation to the early purpose of it being the home of the Mystery Plays, but was renamed by Rudolf Steiner and the board ‘Verein des Goetheanum, der Freien Hochschule für Geisteswissenschaft’ (Association of the Goetheanum, Free High School for Spiritual Science) to include this most central impulse. “Anthroposophy had already found scientifically trained and working members in a whole variety of fields at the time when construction was started; and as there was, therefore, the prospect of applying the methods of spiritual science in the individual sciences, I was able to propose that the building should be given the additional designation “School for Spiritual Science” (Der Goetheanumgedanke inmitten der Kulturkrisis der Gegenwart. GA 36, p.309) .
“The idea of a School for Spiritual Science is the necessary consequence arising from the provision of the spiritual knowledge that our time has been privileged to receive…” October 1911 (GA 337a, Soziale Ideen – Soziale Wirklichkeit – Soziale Praxis Dornach 1999, p.324.).

[13] R. Steiner: Ansprache an die Mitgliedervom 12. September 1920. Printed in the English edition of in Rudolf Grosse’s ‘The Christmas Conference – Cosmic Turning Point of Time’, Steiner Book Centre, 1984.

[14] “There are no obstacles other than those which a person places in his own path and can avoid if he so resolves. This must be continually emphasized, because many people form an entirely false idea of the difficulties of the esoteric path” (‘Knowledge of the Higher Worlds – How is it Achieved?’, GA 10, p.100, Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993)

[15] The Waldorf School in Stuttgart was one of the shining examples of the practical application of Anthroposophy, though it required Rudolf Steiner’s constant advice and guidance.

[16] Some anthroposophists see this impulse for living-out-of anthroposophy as something that only came later with the younger generation, a kind of “new” anthroposophy that developed after WWI. It can be argued that much of the crisis and failures within the Society could have been avoided if the spirit of ‘living anthroposophy’ had been practiced as Rudolf Steiner taught from the beginning, because this is exactly what Steiner’s later analysis repeatedly points to.

[17] The idea of the ‘Cosmic New Year’ is a study in itself but it is also the main idea at the heart of this essay. Surveying the literature, one finds that Rudolf Steiner turned to the idea repeatedly, especially from WWI onward. A great deal of confusion can be cleared up when his similar, later comments at the Christmas Conference 1923/24 are viewed in this context as some (e.g. Grosse, Prokofieff) have made the mistake of mystically associating its archetype exclusively with the Christmas Conference thereby attributing the Christmas Conference with the inauguration of a “New Cosmic Age”. In a similar sense, the lecture of 30.12.1922, quoted extensively in this essay, is seen by others, including Lievegoed, for example, to be the announcement of a “new path”, a new anthroposophical esotericism – the “reverse ritual” is seen to be some kind of “new mystery”, not the heart of anthroposophy that it has always been (which is the real point of the lecture in question). Such illusory conceptions will be covered in greater detail in forthcoming writing.

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