Anthroposophy: The Wisdom of Being Human
For many years in 20th century Europe, those closely involved in spiritual issues witnessed the sophisticated spiritual activities of a very extraordinary man, Rudolf Steiner. Because of this intensive interaction with Steiner, a very valuable and profound “wisdom” was passed on to this day. Although Steiner presented this wisdom to the whole of humanity, it is unfortunately not well known by the majority yet. In today’s world, however, more and more people are becoming interested in the subject. Aside from being a scientist, Steiner was also an extraordinary tutor, researcher, writer, philosopher, and artist. Considering his outstanding activity and work, where he always put humanity at the center, one could easily call him a genius. Steiner had an infinite wisdom of this world, as well as a cosmic wisdom. Until his death in 1925, he continued his studies under the definition of anthroposophy (spiritual science). Considering how great his studies were, his numerous books, and most importantly the content of his wisdom, one can only admire and appreciate Steiner.
In addition to the skills mentioned above, Steiner was an initiate of a very high level. He was also endowed with clairvoyance. However, this ability in an initiate like Steiner should not be confused with the perceptions of a medium who channels doubtful knowledge, presumably from spiritual entities with uncertain motivations. Unlike an ordinary medium, Steiner had the capacity to use his clairvoyance with a clear consciousness. As an advanced initiate, Steiner possessed the occult knowledge that had been preserved at the center of mysteries throughout history. He also “read” the Akasha Chronicles (Spiritual knowledge that is ethereal and recorded in different layers of the Spiritual World according to its content.) meticulously and transferred the knowledge from the “spiritual world” to humanity with an objective approach.
In this respect, spiritual science (anthroposophy) thoroughly examines and explains the spiritual creations and processes related to humanity and the universe and the divine truths that have always existed within the universal eternity. Having been born with extraordinary talents, Steiner knew these spiritual truths behind existence from his early youth, and he tried to find a way to transfer them to humanity in a comprehensible way, preferring to not disclose anything until he figured out the right method. According to Steiner, just as science reaches certain knowledge using an objective approach and investigation, in anthroposophy an initiate could obtain accurate knowledge by making spiritual observations objectively with his clairvoyance and transfer these truths to humanity. Steiner adopted an objective scientific language and teaching method, which had emerged in the 19th century and become accepted later, while he conveyed the content of this spiritual wisdom.
Therefore, with the help of Steiner’s method, man would be able to comprehend the wisdom transferred by spiritual science directly to his ordinary thinking, logical mind that had developed over a long process of evolution. Although Steiner’s method has basic similarities with scientific methods, anthroposophy is not content with bare and inanimate observations like science is. It also aims to discover and improve human abilities such as imagination, inspiration, and intuition, because it focuses on spiritual matters rooted in the spiritual world.
Within the scope of anthroposophy, Steiner transferred the spiritual knowledge rooted in the spiritual dimension of the universe. On the other hand, he also presented other subjects in a spiritual way: education (Waldorf schools), alternative medicine and healing (anthroposophical clinics), music, painting, sculpture, architecture, history, and theatre. Studies of these subjects have continued in Europe for many years. Also, Eurythmy, a form of dance involving four years of study in Europe, is regarded as a reflection of anthroposophy with its contribution to improve spiritual consciousness.
Steiner warned humanity nearly a century ago about the unethical methods and chemical substances unwittingly used in agriculture and food production to increase profits. He also introduced the biodynamic farming technique, which has become increasingly recognized and embraced these days, as a solution to the problem. If his straight-to-the-point warnings were taken into consideration earlier and his methods applied worldwide, genetically modified foods would not exist to threaten and poison human nutrition.
Steiner also developed the concept of “The Three-Fold Social Order” (being free from all dogmatic beliefs and political opinions) to offer a solution to humanity’s social problems. However, Steiner’s solution has still not attracted the attention of humanity yet. He also wrote almost 50 books. Actually, Steiner’s biggest gift to humanity was his anthroposophical wisdom, which he delivered to the members of The Anthroposophical Society and many other people through over 6,000 lectures and conferences in numerous countries. All of his lectures were recorded by stenographers and are available to us in written form. What is more interesting about the compilations of his lectures is that they are indistinguishable from his own books. It is as if the books compiled from his lectures were originally written as books in their own right.
The term “anthroposophy” comes from the Greek “anthropos” meaning “human” and “sophy” (sophia) meaning “wisdom.” Combined, it means “the wisdom of being human” and “the knowledge of the nature of man.” In order to reach this knowledge and wisdom, people should reach the deeper knowledge behind their beings; namely, they should know and comprehend themselves spiritually. In this respect, the sentence “Gnothi Seauton” (Know Thyself), which is inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, can only come true when a human being knows and understands his “real identity.”
Steiner realized that living and perceiving the world unilaterally with a materialistic perspective would drag people into an abyss, so humanity should possess a new and strong spiritual understanding to balance such a fate. Humanity had become deeply identified with the material world because of its perspective toward the world, and the world had completely changed during the transitory period beginning in the 15th century and continuing with the emergence of science and technology. Before this development, when humanity lost its connection with the Divine Spiritual World completely, they used to look toward a completely different world, which they saw as a reflection of the beings of the Spiritual World rather than a materialistic world and physical space.
Because of the change and transformation initiated by scientific improvements and followed by technological developments, humanity developed a way of life where everything relied on materialistic values. Being influenced by the age of science and technology and sinking into materialism, humanity drifted away from its true spiritual nature and gradually lost all its knowledge regarding spirituality.
As this happened over a very long period of time, we did not notice this very significant loss. However, this loss has made humans increasingly cold hearted with health breakdowns, both physically and spiritually. Becoming cold hearted affects the human etheric body (the life body), and this is the cause of many diseases. On the other hand, karmic factors should also be considered as causes of human diseases, so people should try to regain their spirituality to become truly healthy, rather than trying to cure their illnesses one after the other as they present.
Because the existence of the spirit enables a transformation within the human body as an opposing power (a therapeutic one) to becoming cold hearted, it brings with it permanent health in all respects. It turns from falling into “cold heartedness” to a more positive direction. Here we should remember that beforeits fall from Heaven, the most significant incident in humanity’s history, humanity had no illnesses. People were immortal in the Spiritual World they lived in. From this point of view, all issues covered by anthroposophy are handled in such a way that spirituality and health can be brought into the physical world of humans.
However, while focusing on the Spiritual World, humans should not sever their relationship with the physical world either as some unusual doctrines suggest or even impose. On the contrary, a person’s feet should be grounded firmly in the world and continue fulfilling the necessities of the physical world in accordance with “true spirituality,” focusing his high ideals and targets toward the “High Spiritual World” that will transform himself into a more real being. From this point of view, we can understand why anthroposophy, while explaining the highest level of cosmic spirituality, also gives much importance to issues regarding the human relationship with the materialistic world, such as biodynamic farming, education, and so on.
Steiner’s works are mainly based on a motivation to help people recognize the darkness they have fallen into and open the gates to spiritual development for the whole of humanity. Therefore, it is very crucial for the future of humanity, particularly with the help of anthroposophical knowledge, to internalize and protect this new spiritual perspective and be open to the facts of existence that we have forgotten over time.
With the help of anthroposophical wisdom, we can learn how and where humanity was first created, who the Spiritual (Divine) Entities were behind this creation, what their cosmic goals and their intentions for humanity are (in terms of spiritual evolution), and the spiritual knowledge of the “beginning of time.” On the other hand, spiritual science also speaks about “spiritual powers of darkness” in detail and informs us we should become aware of “their intentions” and the influence they have over the whole of humanity.
Anthroposophy also examines the reason for human existence in a material world within the universe, the facts about karma and reincarnation, the mysteries of life and death, the existence of diseases and their relationship to karma, and the after-death experiences of humans with the Divine Spiritual World. In that respect, the source of egoism and evil, as well as their influential effects on humans, is also explained. Furthermore, the spiritual facts behind all the religions and the impulse they have brought to human evolution is researched and explained thoroughly.
Spiritual science also speaks about the “phenomenon” (the spiritual impulse) that originated in the Divine Spiritual World and indicates when it first came to the world and how it became effective. This phenomenon is of crucial importance for humanity, because it has the power to completely change our destiny, which has become darker each day.
Anthroposophical wisdom passes on information about the Macrocosm and Microcosm while explaining the mission of humanity on Earth, how far its future could possibly go, and what the cosmic meaning of “being human” is. Anthroposophy also explains the deeper meaning of human evolution in relation to each individual and highlights that the spiritual evolution we are experiencing now cannot be comprehended unless it is associated with the fact that humanity should “become eminent.” Accordingly, it also explains how we can improve our higher selves and reach the Higher Spiritual World with this higher state.
However, it is impossible to mention all the main subjects that anthroposophical wisdom covers in a short article like this. Nevertheless, it is essential to highlight that this wisdom can answer any question regarding spiritual matters and that it also solves some mysteries that a human mind could never imagine.
It would be sufficient to indicate that humanity is surrounded by a spiritual darkness in its current stage of evolution because of its “Fall” from heaven in the beginning. Anthroposophical knowledge, in this respect, not only provides reasons for the “Fall” and the darkness we live in, but it also explains everything endangering our future evolution and guides us toward a way out by providing tangible solutions to urgent matters. While doing this, anthroposophy does not try to persuade or make anyone believe in anything. Actually, the whole content of this wisdom is presented to humanity in the most objective and unbiased way because the freedom of spiritual belief lies at the base of anthroposophy.
We might embrace some so-called teachings while searching for the truth, and these might turn out to be useless because they are unable to give real answers or even impair someone’s individual evolution because they are misleading. In contrast, comprehending and internalizing the wisdom of anthroposophy can help us realize our spiritual responsibilities as human beings and begin a significant spiritual transformation in our souls.
Humans, with the comprehension offered by anthroposophy, can find the spirituality and the “Divine” they seek in their own physical world rather than seeking it in another dimension. Thus, they can compensate for the things they, and the beings of the other three worlds (minerals, plants, and animals), lost after “The Fall.”
Spiritual Science leads the way to a positive spiritual improvement that is compatible with the targets set by the High Entities of the Spiritual World regarding humanity’s future goals.
While anthroposophical knowledge is permanently internalized in the higher layers of our spirit, we also feel they are keys to open the gates between us and the spiritual world.
Anthroposophy passes on the knowledge from the supersensory world (the Spiritual World) in an objective way beyond beliefs and dogmas and enables every single person—no matter what religion, culture, or nationality—to comprehend it with his or her normal faculty to think logically.
Humanity is always at the center of anthroposophy. Anthroposophy is a wisdom that belongs to the whole of humanity without discrimination.
Questions and Answers
Where and when was Rudolf Steiner born? When you look at his life, which was completely occupied with spiritual subjects, you would expect him to have been a theologian, whereas you indicated he was a scientist. Was the knowledge he passed on not contrary to his education?
Steiner was born in Austria in 1861. He attended the Vienna Institute of Technology. In this respect, he could easily be regarded as a scientist. If he was solely a theologian, he might not have been able to present the anthroposophical wisdom to humanity in such an objective manner. Earlier in the article, I mentioned that Steiner was a high initiate. A person cannot rise to the level of a high initiate in only a single incarnation. This means Steiner gained this special ability from his several previous incarnations. Therefore, we could say that karmic factors affected Steiner’s choice of education deliberately in order to transfer his spiritual wisdom to humanity in the most efficient way.
We know Steiner conveyed his anthroposophical knowledge in German. So how has this knowledge reached us today without any loss or deterioration in meaning?
Yes, this knowledge was communicated in German, but when Steiner started to pass on this wisdom, he wanted to ensure that the things he explained could reach the whole of humanity. Therefore, in addition to lectures in Germany and Austria, he also travelled frequently to other European countries and shared his anthroposophical knowledge with the spiritual societies in those countries through his lectures. All his lectures and conferences were meticulously recorded by stenographers and archived. Also, these lectures, in which specific spiritual subjects were covered in detail, were published as books later on. These lectures and his own books were translated into many different languages over the subsequent years. Steiner was always very careful about the terminology he used so as not to cause any semantic shifts in the wisdom he explained. Therefore, every special term he used has a very specific meaning and context. For instance, Steiner specified and explained every term related to anthroposophy to the translators working on translating his books and lectures into English.
Where are the headquarters of The Anthroposophical Society? Are there any requirements to becoming a member of the society?
The headquarters of the Anthroposophical Society are located in Dornach, Switzerland and called Goetheanum. Because Steiner was very modest, he wanted this place to be named after Goethe rather than himself. Steiner drew up the exterior and interior architectural plans of both the original and current buildings all by himself. The spiritual impulse that was effective in Egyptian and Greek monuments in ancient times, as well as later in medieval cathedrals, was reflected in the first Goetheanum as “the spiritual impulse of modern times.” Unfortunately, the original building was burned in 1922 by an organization that would later follow the Nazi views.
There are no requirements to becoming a member of The Anthroposophical Society. There are no dogmas or beliefs that prospective members should adopt either. The only thing uniting the members is the effort to reach the knowledge of the spirit, which existed in humans and the universe once but disappeared as humans identified more with the material world. Any willing person can make this effort freely without guidance from someone else. On the other hand, it is not necessary to become a member to believe in an anthroposophical worldview. Understanding what anthroposophy conveys is enough.
In what way was Steiner related to Goethe?
When Steiner was 23 years old, the Goethe Archives in Austria were opened for him to research, interpret, and explain, as well as to be the editor of the archives. Because of his research, he discovered Goethe also had a spiritual philosophy similar to his own. He then wrote a book about Goethe’s spiritual aspect and his own research into the subject.
Are Steiner and The Anthroposophical Society connected with The Theosophical Society in any way?
The Anthroposophical Society had not been established by the early 20th century. The Theosophical Society, which already existed, wanted Steiner to open a branch in Germany and give lectures. Steiner did this, but in his lectures, he didn’t mention the knowledge and concepts rooted in the Eastern doctrines that had deeply influenced The Theosophical Society. Instead, he always explained, from the beginning, the wisdom of anthroposophy, which had a totally different content. Later in 1912, Steiner and other members who agreed with him left The Theosophical Society because they didn’t want to be part of a misguided spiritual plan, although some leading members of the Theosophical Society persisted in their beliefs. In 1913, Steiner and his friends established The Anthroposophical Society. Thus, the differences between anthroposophical wisdom and The Theosophical Society’s knowledge became clear.
Is it necessary to believe in what Anthroposophy says in order to walk the spiritual path?
Anthroposophical knowledge can certainly be very useful to all of us in terms of spirituality. However, we should also bear in mind that we are not obliged to believe in this knowledge, because anthroposophy does not try to persuade anyone in what it communicates. It only aims to draw our attention to objective spiritual knowledge. The important thing is to understand what has been imparted to our mind and logic, and we need to approach this knowledge without prejudice to comprehend and perceive it correctly. However, in time, we should be able to transform the level of intellectual understanding to a conscious perception. As the principle of “freedom of spiritual belief” lies at the core of anthroposophy, we cannot embrace and internalize this knowledge by merely believing without any effort to comprehend it thoroughly, even though it refers to truths of existence that interest everyone.
How can we adapt anthroposophy to our daily lives? In this respect, what can we do for the futures of our children
Besides being a body of wisdom, anthroposophy is also a worldview and a way of living that develops itself independently. This differing perception enables us to develop an awareness, turning every possible moment of life into meditation. In other words, people who believe in the anthroposophical wisdom do not retreat into a monastery or an ashram. On the contrary, anthroposophy emphasizes that people should carry on with their lives in the material world.
As soon as we comprehend the anthroposophical wisdom and it becomes effective in our souls, our capacity to differentiate between right and wrong improves, and specific changes in our souls start taking place and grow stronger, such as an increasing understanding of ethics, kindness, mercy, compassion, fairness, and real spiritual love. These are expressions we can observe in people correctly affected during their individual evolutionary periods. We should enable our children to possess spiritual features by teaching them not just a bare and solid materialistic worldview but also a dispositional and spiritual depth. This way, they may be happier in their future lives with their inner prosperity, because they understand that real happiness doesn’t exist just in worldly things. After a certain age, children can be taught the anthroposophical worldview gradually, so they can realize how essential it is to have a spiritualized personality. It is no doubt vital for children and young people to acquire this perspective in the current state of the world, where the events taking place are quite worrying.
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