Communicating over spiritual science
This page is about two aspects:
- the process of communicating spiritual science, the lecturing, attitude of soul, etc.
- the importance of the group process, and the essential exchange not of thinking but especially of feeling and willing. Hence communication to eachother in groups, and to others, a form of spreading the knowledge but also 'creating a new center'. Working in groups feeds up nourishment for the spiritual hierarchies so it can fructify the souls that incarnate in the next cultural age. This important principle underlies the workings of the Mysteries throughout the ages, and this way humanity advances by receiving the seeds in their astral body. (see 1915-06-15-GA159 and 1923-03-03-GA257 below, together with the schemas below)
- skills for lecturing as a holistic soul process from and to human beings, and not just talking pre-shewed intellectual knowledge
- the heart logic structure in which Steiner wrote and lectured (as analysed by O'Neil, Lowndes and Riccio, see 'Further reading' section below)
Other aspects of communication not covered here:
- communication and attitude to our fellow human beings and beloved ones around us, who are not open or even scorn us for studying, believing, or living spiritual science, see eg Journey in the astral world after death#1912-12-28-GA140
- communication towards non-incarnated souls between death and a new birth (to follow as part of Reincarnation).
When a Man has become convinced of the truth of the idea of Anthroposophy, he is impelled to do everything he can to spread them by the feeling of compassion for those who need these ideas at the present time — in other words, practically every human being with whom one comes into contact — compassion for men who need these ideas and without them will fall upon evil times.
… ‘And when you have recognized the truth, you are not allowed to keep it for yourself’ (quote from: Light on the Path). Those who feel themselves called to speak, must speak without respect to how they are received. … The call from the spiritual world is higher than anything else, once we have perceived it, and awakens in us a consciousness that is entirely different from any consciousness we may know in the sensory world. … when one has heard this call then one lets it sound forth, in the sense of the words of Solomon’s wisdom: ‘Therefore I prayed for insight and it was given to me; I called upon God and the spirit of wisdom came to me. I treasure the truth higher than anything living in the kingdom of the senses around me’.
.. in those words we are given a picture of what happens on earth, when the soul of the rock suffers pain until the coming of the state of 'Children of God'. It is enough to sadden one when those who should instruct others concerning the ancient religious documents just allow their fancy to run away with them, because they won't take the trouble to penetrate to the real meaning of what has thus been handed down.
This unwillingness to get to the heart of the ancient teachings is considered by the leaders of mankind to be an absolute violation of duty.
Paul, the Apostle, recognized what such processes on earth signify. In this later period of ours, spiritual science is destined to lead men into the depths of these old records. It is indeed sad when those whose very calling should entail the upholding of them, make no effort to study, and have no will to understand, their meaning.
Present-day arrogance, summed up in the words: “We have made such wonderful progress” — this must all go. How many people there are who believe that our forebears knew nothing! And there are those who expound the epistles of Paul, and all religious documents, quite arbitrarily, with a feeling of pride that they know more than their forefathers. But how then are we to take the words: “the whole creation groaneth in pain waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God”?
And what effect does it have upon us when we know how the soul of the stone suffers while awaiting that manifestation?
People of materialistic mind think that, there outside, they walk only through air, wind, mist, through oxygen and nitrogen. But those who have spiritual knowledge realize, everywhere, that they are breathing spiritual beings in and out, merging with them.
My dear friends, you must take this statement in its full weight and importance. The individual Man experiences his destiny. But as soon as two human beings are working together, something more arises, more than the working out of the individual destinies of the one and of the other. Something takes place as between the two, transcending the individual experiences of either.
Schema FMC00.393 illustrates the principle of working in groups on spiritual scientific contents filled with feeling and will, and how it represents a reverse ritual (on the basis of BBD of 1923-03-03-GA257), see also Reverse ritual
Schema FMC00.188 depicts how 'another center is created' by people who share ideals - see also Christ Module 7 - Cosmic dimension. This is a more 'technical' spiritual scientific coverage that explains (re lecture) how human beings that come together in the spirit of higher ideals, create something at a higher level that surpasses their Individualities and has a cosmic impact as it starts shining back from the center that gets thus created (see lecture and also Schema FMC00.266 on Christ Module 7 - Cosmic dimension).
An illustration of such can be seen in the German idealism, see for example the illustration with the network of some important souls (that carried this idealism) in Schema FMC00243 on Goethe.
Lecture coverage and references
The following are extracts from a contribution by Adelheid Petersen in Maximilian Rebholz' 'Studienhefte 1' which is inspiring as she explains her conversation with Rudolf Steiner about the work and lecturing of spiritual science.
She refers to the lecture below and explains that spiritual scientific work is a reality in the spiritual worlds that acts or intervenes there in the life of higher spiritual hierarchies. Through the right anthroposophical work, certain problems in the world can be balance out as the spiritual entities are constantly working into our world. Steiner insisted a lecture is held as if for five hundred people, even if only three show up, or if only two children are there.
See 1915-06-15-GA159 below.
Adelheid Peterson however quotes Steiner literally, hereby freely translated and rephrased:
.. A ground rule for the right anthroposphical work is to only speak about the aspects of spiritual science that you have incorporated and have become inner life for you. Only this will really work into others. What people lecture purely from their head knowledge is abstract and doesn't affect people any other way that all the other abstract knowledge. Spiritual science is about building living substance from conviction. .. .. The one thing to write in your soul is: not what you say is decisive (of course it has to be true), but how you say it. How what you say lives inside of you, how you back it with inner earnestness and truthfulness, how your attitude and conscientiousness speaks .. that is what the eyes in the spirtutal world are watching.
And for lecturing
It's good to prepare the lecture in detail before the actual lecture, but then speak it freely. A read lecture is really an absurdity. .. .. Always be very alert and conscious of the sacred seriousness of the task that you have put before you. Always keep this in mind: this is about nothing less than the future of humanity. It is about the people who you are facing right in front of you: these people you need to watch and love.
In conclusion we read
Once I am no longer there, an intellectualization of the anthroposophical spiritual science will happen. This is a great danger, because that means the whole movement will stagnate. That is why the right care for the internal esoteric work is so important.
People don't realize and they don't want to hear it but it so: even when someone is sitting all by himself in a room, but with deep inner seriousness and full devotion of his heart is reading the Gospel of John or other spiritual scientific matters, he is thereby doing more for the good of the world than then people who make themselves important for themselves and others by all kinds of anthroposophical meddling [editor: what is meant is probably activities without heartfelt earnest soul content]
Working in Groups
Because of the importance of these topics, longer lecture extracts are given on this page.
(SWCC) a speech was given to the first annual meeting of the German section of the Theosophical Society, this was reported by Rudolf Steiner in Luzifer of November 1903. This in context of the seven secrets, see Book of Revelation#1903-10-18-GA088.
The quote is added here because it talks to the fact we are dispersed, not in one geographic location. This is related to: Spiritual minority in a materialistic world
A secret is handed out to each human race: we are in the fifth and have arrived at the fifth secret, which cannot yet be spoken. But we are currently involved in gradually living into that secret.The apostle Paul, who was an initiate, already pointed to it; it will be announced in the course of development in this epoch. ...
[continues on the danger of guessing, examples in Theosophical society]
Humanity must be prepared for the great truth .. a kernel of humanity is to be formed that understands this truth when it one days comes unveiled. It is to be a kernel dat truly grasps the significance of this secret and uses it not to curse but to bless humanity.
Earlier races were formed from existing suitable individuals or families, they were then led by Manu to a suitable landscape that was empty of people. With traffic and commerce extending all over the globe today, this way of proceeding is no longer viable or necessary. In its place today the education takes place through the cosmopolitan, international movement which forms this kernel [editor: the text says: 'Theosophical Society' instead of 'movement', but this has been replaced taking into account the nuances made by Rudolf Steiner more than 20 years later regarding the anthroposophical movement versus society]
What a person develops in his present life in the way of soul faculty through friendship of a purely soul nature, in Devachan is wisdom, the possibility of experiencing the spiritual in action. To the extent to which someone enters livingly into such connections he is well prepared for Devachan. If he is unable to form such relationships he is unprepared; for just as colour escapes a blind man, so does soul experience escape him. To the degree to which man fosters purely soul relationships do organs of vision develop in him for Devachan. So that the statement holds good: Whoever lives and moves here in the life of the spirit, will over there perceive just as much of the spiritual as he has gained here through his activity. Hence the immeasurable importance of life on the physical plane. In human evolution no other means of awakening the organs for Devachan exists other than spiritual activity on the physical plane. All this is creative and comes back to us as devachanic sense organs for the devachanic world. As preparation there is nothing better than to have a purely soul relationship with other human beings, a relationship whose origin is in no way based upon natural connections.
This is why people should be brought together into groups, in order to unite on a purely spiritual basis. It is the will of the Masters to pour life in this way into the stream of humanity. What takes place with the right attitude of mind signifies for all the members of the group the opening of a spiritual eye in Devachan. One will then see there everything which is on the same level with what one had united oneself with here. If on the physical plane one has attached oneself to a spiritual endeavour, this actually is among those things which retain their existence after death. Such things belong just as much to the dead as to the one who has survived him. He who has passed over remains in the same connection with the one still on earth and is indeed even more intensely conscious of this spiritual relationship.
Thus one educates oneself for Devachan. The souls of the dead remain in connection with those who were dear to them. The earlier relationships become causes which have their effects in Devachan.
Another source states that Rudolf Steiner said the following in his lecture in Berlin in November 1908 (exact reference to be checked)
At present people only agree about mathematical truths. Whoever has once accepted them knows that it has to be thus: 3 x 3 must equal 9. The only place where disagreement can occur is when truth is dimmed by passion, by sympathy and antipathy. A time is coming when mankind will more and more be taken hold of by a comprehension of the inner world of truth. When that time comes agreement will prevail over all individuality. Ever greater peace will be achieved when truth, as such, is understood.
When people voluntarily allow their feelings to flow together, then something will be formed which goes beyond humanity. When people share activities together in freedom, then they congregate about a centre. Human feelings which converge on a central point enable exalted beings to work like a group-soul. These exalted beings form a new kind of group-soul which is compatible with complete freedom of the individual, but their activity is dependent upon human unanimity.
It will lie in the capacity of human souls to determine how many of these higher beings will be able to descend. The greater the disparity in mankind, the fewer will be the number of higher beings who can descend. The more we can band together voluntarily into groups, the more will exalted beings be able to work among us and the quicker will planet earth become spiritualised.
In later times people will live in connection with one another in conditions which they themselves will have brought about. They will band together into groups according to their different points of view. There they will be able to develop their individuality in complete freedom, and there will be many such associations in future.
A person who would like to have that carried out might perhaps suggest:
- ‘Why does not the Anthroposophical Movement distribute as many copies as possible of a booklet containing these principal points of view, so that everyone might acquire a copy and be able to convince himself?
- Why does the Anthroposophical Society adopt the curious method of holding meetings week after week, assembling all those interested or likely to become interested for the purpose of constantly recapitulating what might comfortably be reduced to a sixty-page pamphlet?
- What can these Anthroposophists possibly have to say to their followers, week after week?’
There may be certain orders of mind of our day who would like to have a small outline of Anthroposophy which they could keep in their waistcoat pockets, and thus study what it is most important to know. We must, however, over and over again, bring to mind the fact that nothing can be done in this way with Anthroposophy. There can be no ‘tabloid-knowledge!’ Although Anthroposophy does depend both on knowledge and perception, it does not consist of mere ‘phrases,’ but of very definite knowledge. But it is not enough merely to acquire this knowledge as a general conviction according to present-day methods, and then rest satisfied. For the point in question is not merely that one should acquire the conviction and know that man lives many lives and that there are causal conditions which pass over from one life into another, that there is such a thing as reincarnation, as karma. The beneficial effects of Anthroposophy do not lie in the spreading of this knowledge, but are felt in the constant and repeated study of all the details connected with it, and in allowing the teaching to work upon one's soul. It does one no good simply to believe that man lives more than once and that there is such a law as that of reincarnation, karma, and so on. The mere belief in this will not carry one far. As regards the real depths of life there is not much difference between the soul of a man who knows of reincarnation and karma and one who knows nothing of it. In an anthroposophical sense our soul is only changed if we constantly study, not only the generalities, but the deeper things that Spiritual Science can teach us. That is why it is a good thing that we should over and over again consider how the various details of life appear in the light of the Anthroposophical conception. It is by no means sufficient merely to know that there is a great law of destiny establishing a connection between the past deeds, feelings and thoughts of a man and his present and future experiences. Anthroposophy will only become a life-factor when we can apply this general doctrine to the different experiences of life, when we become able to put our whole soul into such a position, that we obtain an entirely new outlook on life. That is why we will to-day give a little time to studying the law of karma, the great law of destiny, with reference to the details of life. Things will be spoken of to-day which are familiar to all; but they will be considered from the standpoint of karma.
Karma says in a general sense that there is a connection in the spiritual world between what takes place to-day and what has taken place in the past. It is not really a good thing to call karma the law of causality, and then to compare it with the law of cause and effect in the external world. If we wish to find a comparison for this great law of destiny, we must take care that the comparison is valid, that it really does represent this law. …
.. [later in the lecture] … We now come to an answer to the question: ‘Why do we meet together so often?’
We do so, because not only do we enrich our knowledge when we take in anthroposophical teaching, but also because, if it be given in the right way, it is able to make our life-kernel more and more strong and forceful. We pour a spiritual life-sap into all we do, by meeting together and occupying ourselves with Anthroposophy. Thus Anthroposophy is not a theory, it is a life-giving draught, an elixir of life which ever anew pours itself into our souls and of which we know that it will make them grow stronger and stronger. When Anthroposophy emerges from the position which now, through lack of comprehension, it occupies in the outer world, when it really intervenes in our whole spiritual life, people will then see how the salvation, even of the physical life, of the purely external life, will depend on the strengthening which can be acquired through the study of Anthroposophy.
The time will come when anthroposophical gatherings will be the most important sources of strength to man, from which they will go forth, saying: we are most grateful to these meetings, for we owe to them our health and strength and the fact that we are constantly able to strengthen anew our own life-kernel, the core of our being.
People will only realise what the mission of Anthroposophy is, when they feel that it furnishes us with the means of working forcefully on the physical body and making it sound and healthy. Those who are occupying themselves with Anthroposophy today, should regard themselves as pioneers for Anthroposophy as a means of strengthening life. Then only will it become what it ought to be, the right point of attack against something which in many cases is weakening life to-day. …
... We cannot hope that this should come about from one day to the next. But those who have the right understanding of things will gradually learn the anthroposophical view of phenomena in face of which man at first seems powerless. What is not equalised in one life is made good in the long run. If we contemplate a single life, as well as life from incarnation to incarnation, we shall see that rightly understood, karma is a law that no longer depresses us, but rather one which brings us comfort and force whereby to make ourselves stronger. The law of karma is a law of life, and we must understand it as such. The point is, not that we should know a few single abstract thoughts, but that we should study the life-truths of Anthroposophy in the details of life, and never weary of anthroposophical work, while we permeate ourselves with its different truths.
If you hold this as an ideal before you, you will be living an anthroposophical life in the true sense of the words. You will then know why it is that we do not satisfy ourselves with merely reading one or two books, but regard Anthroposophy as something in which our heart is concerned and which never ceases to occupy us; something to which we gladly return again and again, and of which we know that the oftener we return the more it will enrich our lives
The true reason why we come together in our Group-meetings is not that of learning in a theoretical way one or the other truth which spiritual science can reveal, but the true reason why we assemble is that everything that lives in our souls should be filled with the spirit that can flow out of spiritual science. The essential point is not WHAT we think, but HOW we think, feel and will. The smallest or the greatest things in the evolution of the earth may rise up before our soul's eye, yet everything shows us how necessary it is for the human beings of the future to become acquainted above all with the significance of the triad, Christ, Lucifer and Ahriman.
is the key lecture where the principle is explained. The lecture is called 'preparing for the sixth cultural age', and is about the importance of meeting and working in groups. Please read in full, only limited key extracts follow below.
Note this is related to the 'creation of a new center', as explained in Christ Module 7 on the Christ and the GA089 lecture where this principle is explained. This principle is iterated in other lectures: that a common ideal between a group of people is the development of, building of, a group soul, a new common center.
[Importance of spiritual science]
If this question is to be answered truly, we must realize that we make a distinction, even if only in thought, between the work we do in a group like this and our other work in the world. Those who are unwilling to enter deeply into more intimate truths connected with the spiritual progress of humanity, might ask if we could not cultivate spiritual science without forming ourselves into groups, but simply by finding lecturers and providing opportunities for people who may not know each other to come together and have access to the spiritual treasure of which we speak. We could, of course, proceed in this way. But as long as it is at all possible to establish, in the wider and narrower senses, associations of human beings who are known to one another and who come together in friendship and brotherliness within these working groups, we will continue to found them in full consciousness of the attitude of soul that is part and parcel of spiritual science. It is not without meaning that among us there are human beings who want to cultivate the more intimate side of spiritual knowledge and who sincerely intend to work together in brotherliness and harmony.
Not only are relationships and intercourse affected by the fact that we can speak quite differently among ourselves, knowing that we are speaking to souls consciously associated with us — not only is this so, but something else is also to be remembered. The establishment of individual groups is connected with the whole conception that we hold of our Movement if we understand its inmost nature. We must all be conscious that our Movement is significant not only for the existence known to the senses and for the existence that is grasped by the outward turned mind of man, but that through this Movement our souls are seeking a real and genuine link with the spiritual worlds. Again and again, in full consciousness, we should say to ourselves that by the cultivation of spiritual science we transfer our souls as it were into spheres that are peopled not only by beings of earth but also by the beings of the higher hierarchies, the beings of the invisible worlds. We must realize that our work is of significance for these invisible worlds, that we are actually within these worlds.
In the spiritual world, the work performed by those who know one another within such groups is quite different from work carried on outside such a group and dispersed about the world. The work carried out in brotherly harmony within our groups has quite a different significance for the spiritual world than other work we may undertake. To understand this fully we must remind ourselves of truths we have studied in many aspects during recent years.
Earth evolution in the post-Atlantean age was sustained in the beginning by the culture of the ancient Indian period of civilization. This was followed by the ancient Persian epoch — the designation is only more or less appropriate but we need not go into that now. Then came the Egypto-Chaldean-Babylonian period of culture, then the Greco-Latin, then our fifth post-Atlantean epoch. Each of these epochs has, on the one side, to cultivate a particular form of culture and of spiritual life primarily concerned with the external and visible world. But each epoch must at the same time prepare, bear within it in a preparatory stage, what is to come in the ensuing period of culture.
Within the womb, as it were, of the ancient Indian epoch, that of ancient Persia was prepared; within the ancient Persian culture, that of the Egypto-Chaldean epoch was prepared, and so on. Our fifth post-Atlantean epoch must prepare the coming sixth epoch of culture.
Our task in spiritual science is not only to acquire spiritual treasure for ourselves, for the eternal life of the soul, but to prepare what will constitute the content, the specific external work of the sixth epoch of culture. Thus it has been in each of the post-Atlantean epochs. The centers of the mysteries were the places in which the form of external life belonging to the next epoch of culture was prepared.
We may therefore picture to ourselves that by uniting in brotherliness in working groups, something hovers invisibly over our work, something that is like the child of the forces of the spirit self - the spirit self that is nurtured by the beings of the higher hierarchies in order that it may stream down into our souls when they are again on earth in the sixth cultural age.
In our groups we perform work that streams upward to those forces that are being prepared for the spirit self.
[Context of associations and groups]
But we must look still more deeply into the course of human evolution if we are fully to understand the real tasks of our associations and groups.
- In the first Postatlantean cultural age, too, in communities that in those days were connected with the mysteries, men cultivated what subsequently prevailed in the second epoch. In the associations peculiar to the first, the ancient Indian epoch, men were concerned with the cultivation of the astral body, which was to be the specific outer task of the second epoch.
- It would lead much too far today to describe what, in contrast to the external culture of the time, was developed in these associations peculiar to ancient India in order to prepare for the second, ancient Persian epoch. But this may be said that when those men of the ancient Indian age came together in order to prepare what was necessary for the second age, they felt: We have not yet attained, nor have we in us, what we shall have when our souls are incarnated in the next age. It still hovers above us. It was in truth so. In the first cultural age, what was to descend from the heavens to the earth in the second age still hovered over the souls of men. The work achieved on Earth by men in intimate assemblies connected with the mysteries was of such a nature that forces flowed upwards to the spirits of the higher hierarchies, enabling them to nourish and cultivate what was to stream down into the souls of men as substance and content of the astral body in the second ancient Persian age. The forces that descended at a later stage of maturity into the souls incarnated in the bodies of ancient Persian civilizations were like little children in the first cultural age. Forces streaming upwards from the work of men below in preparation for the next age were received and nurtured by the spiritual world above. So it must be in every epoch of culture.
see also PDF ‘The Foundations of Human Experience’, positions the founding of the Waldorf School as a 'ceremony in cosmic order' based on the moral spiritual aspect of teaching
We can accomplish our work only if we do not see it as simply a matter of intellect or feeling, but, in the highest sense, as a moral spiritual task. Therefore, you will understand why, as we begin this work today, we first reflect on the connection we wish to create from the very beginning between our activity and the spiritual worlds. With such a task, we must be conscious that we do not work only in the physical plane of living human beings.
In the last centuries, this way of viewing work has increasingly gained such acceptance that it is virtually the only way people see it. This understanding of tasks has made teaching what it is now and that the work before us should improve. Thus, we wish to begin our preparation by first reflecting upon how we connect with the spiritual powers in whose service and in whose name each one of us must work. I ask you to understand these introductory words as a kind of prayer to those powers who stand behind us with Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition as we take up this task.
It is our duty to see the importance of our work. We will do this if we know that this school is charged with a particular task. We need to make our thoughts very concrete; we need to form our thoughts so that we can be conscious that this school fulfills something special. We can do this only when we do not view the founding of this school as an everyday occurrence, but instead regard it as a ceremony held within Cosmic Order.
In this sense, I wish, in the name of the good spirit whose task it is to lead humanity out of suffering and misery, in the name of this good spirit whose task it is to lead humanity to a higher level of development in education. I wish to give the most heartfelt thanks to this good spirit who has given our dear friend Mr. Molt the good thoughts to do what he has done for the further development of humanity at this time and in this place, and what he has done for the Waldorf School. We are united with him in feeling the greatness of the task and of the moment in which it is begun, and in feeling that this is a festive moment in Cosmic Order, he will be able to work in our midst with the necessary strength.
We wish to begin our work with this in mind. We wish to see each other as human beings brought together by karma, who will bring about, not something common, but something that, for those doing this work, will include the feeling of a festive Cosmic moment.
explains that human beings now receive spiritual instructions during death and a new birth, in the process of their descent between the Midnight Hour and incarnation. Man today experiences something akin to the old Mystery instruction, before he descends from the spiritual world into his physical body.
And Rudolf Steiner adds: "That is a factor with which anyone must reckon, who through spiritual knowledge, stands in reality today. We must not think of a Man born today as he was thought of in olden times."
For the full quote, see: Planets hosting beings at various stages of evolution#1921-01-22-GA203
is called 'awakening to community'
Now this called attention to a fact of the greatest importance in this most recent phase of the Society's development. It pointed out that anthroposophists must acquire an understanding of community building.
[explaining cultus ritual]
For what is intended with the cultus? Whether its medium be words or actions, it projects into the physical world, in an entirely different sense than our natural surroundings do, an image of the super-sensible, the spiritual world. Every plant, every process in external nature is, of course, also an image of something spiritual, but not in the direct sense that a rightly presented verbal or ceremonial facet of the cultus is. The words and actions of the cultus convey the super-sensible world in all its immediacy. The cultus is based on speaking words in the physical world in a way that makes the super-sensible world immediately present in them, on performing actions in a way that conveys forces of the super-sensible world. A cultus ritual is one in which something happens that is not limited to what the eyes see when they look physically at ritualistic acts; the fact is rather that forces of a spiritual, super-sensible nature permeate ordinary physical forces. A super-sensible event takes place in the physical act that pictures it.
Man is thus directly united with the spiritual world by means of the physically perceptible words and actions of the cultus. Rightly presented, its words and actions bring to our experience on the physical plane a world that corresponds to the pre-earthly one from which we human beings have descended. In just the same sense ... does a person who joins others at the celebration of a genuine cultus feel himself transported back into a world he shared with them before they descended to the earth. He is not aware of this; it remains a subconscious experience, but it penetrates his feeling life all the more deeply for that very reason.
The cultus is designed with this intent. It is designed with a view to giving Man a real experience of something that is a memory, an image of his pre-earthly life, of his existence before he descended to the earth.
The members of congregations based on a cultus feel especially .. They feel transported into a world where they lived together in the super-sensible. This accounts for the binding ties created by a cultus-based community, and it has always been the reason why it did so.
Where it is a matter of a religious life that does not have an atomizing effect because of its stress on preaching but instead emphasizes the cultus, the cultus will lead to the forming of a true community or congregation. No religious life can be maintained without the community building element. Thus a community based in this sense on common memories of the super-sensible is a community of sacraments as well.
It is the most natural development imaginable for when people come together for a communal experience of what anthroposophy can reveal of the super-sensible, the experience is quite a different one from any that the individual could have alone. The fact that one wakes up in the encounter with the soul of the other during the time spent in his company creates an atmosphere that, while it may not lead one into the super-sensible world in exactly the way described in Knowledge of the Higher Worlds, furthers one's understanding of the ideas that anthroposophical spiritual science brings us from super-sensible realms.
There is a different understanding of things among people who share a common idealistic life based on mutual communication of an anthroposophical content, whether by reading aloud or in some other way. Through experiencing the super-sensible together, one human soul is awakened most intensively in the encounter with another human soul. It wakes the soul to higher insight, and this frame of mind creates a situation that causes a real communal being to descend in a group of people gathered for the purpose of mutually communicating and experiencing anthroposophical ideas. Just as the genius of a language lives in that language and spreads its wings over those who speak it, so do those who experience anthroposophical ideas together in the right, idealistic frame of mind live in the shelter of the wings of a higher being.
Now what takes place as a result?
If this line (drawing) represents the demarcation between the super-sensible and the sense world, we have,
- here above it, the processes and beings of the higher world experienced in the cultus; they are projected by the words and ritualistic acts of the cultus into the physical world here below the line. The cultus brings the supersensible down into the physical world with its words and actions.
- In the case of an anthroposophical group, experience on the physical plane is lifted by the strength of its genuine, spiritualized idealism into the spiritual world. The anthroposophical group raises the thoughts and feelings of the assembled individuals into the supersensible, and when an anthroposophical content is experienced in the right frame of mind by a group of human beings whose souls wake up in the encounter with each other, the soul is lifted in reality into a spirit community.
It is only a question of this awareness really being present. Where it exists and groups of this kind make their appearance in the Anthroposophical Society, there we have in this reversed cultus, as I shall call it, in this polar opposite of the cultus, a most potent community building element.
If I were to speak pictorially, I would put it thus:
- the community of the cultus seeks to draw the angels of heaven down to the place where the cultus is being celebrated, so that they may be present in the congregation,
- whereas the anthroposophical community seeks to lift human souls into super-sensible realms so that they may enter the company of angels.
In both cases that is what creates community.
But if anthroposophy is to serve Man as a real means of entering the spiritual world, it may not be mere theory and abstraction. We must do more than just talk about spiritual beings; we must look for the opportunities nearest at hand to enter their company.
The work of an anthroposophical group does not consist in a number of people merely discussing anthroposophical ideas. Its members should feel so linked with one another that human soul wakes up in the encounter with human soul and all are lifted into the spiritual world, into the company of spiritual beings, though it need not be a question of beholding them.
We do not have to see them to have this experience. This is the strength-giving element that can emerge from groups that have come into being within the Society through the right practice of community building. Some of the fine things that really do exist in the Society must become more common; that is what new members have been missing. They have looked for them, but have not found them.
The transmutation of the earthly deeds of men into the heavenly deeds of souls. When two human beings are working together something takes place as between the two, transcending the individual experiences of either. The connection of what happens in the human world on earth with what goes on in the spiritual worlds above is at most established for the ordinary consciousness when sacred spiritual actions are brought into the physical world of sense. The heavenly deeds and consequences of certain happenings fall like a fine rain into the mirror-images of thought on earth.
My dear friends, you must take this statement in its full weight and importance. The individual Man experiences his destiny.
But as soon as two human beings are working together, something more arises, more than the working out of the individual destinies of the one and of the other. Something takes place as between the two, transcending the individual experiences of either. Ordinary consciousness perceives no connection of what happens between Man and Man, with what goes on in the spiritual worlds above. For ordinary consciousness the connection is at most established when sacred spiritual actions are brought into this physical world of sense, — as when in sacred cult or ritual men consciously transform their physical actions so as to make them actions of the spiritual world at the same time.
But in a far wider sphere, all that happens between man and man is more than what the individual man experiences as his destiny. All that is not merely the destiny of individual men, but that is brought about by the feeling-together and working-together of men on earth, is for ever in connection with the deeds of Seraphim and Cherubim and Thrones above. Into the latter there flow the deeds of men in their mutual connection with one another, as well as the individual earthly lives of men.
hereby a description from von Keyserlingk who recalls Rudolf Steiner's talk (re: 'Birth of a new agriculture')
He spoke about angel choirs which congregate above the places where people form communities, to prepare for the in-streaming of exalted spiritual beings willing to help mankind. By forming such communities one would be able to gain access to those hierarchies which are served by the nature spirits, which would in their turn be able to exert a healing influence on the life of plants.
And then there is 1924-GA026 with
- 9. Individual Formulation of Anthroposophical Truths (1924-03-16)
- 10. On how to present Anthroposophical Truths (1924-03-23)
- 11. On the Teaching of Anthroposophy (1924-03-30)
- 12. Concerning Group Meetings (1924-04-06)
- 14. What is the Tone which should prevail in the Group Meetings? (1924-05-25)
By learning to observe a man in the way spoken of in our last number, the presence and effect of soul and spirit within the physical and etheric being of man will be recognised as a fact. When it has become clear that what the senses perceive of man is a picture, it will readily be understood that something more is at work within the picture than is contained in the material substance of it. Recognising man as a ‘picture’, we shall approach him with quite a different attitude of soul than we would if we considered only his material nature and constitution.
There is an awakening force in this attitude of soul and feeling. Through a vivid realisation of this difference of feeling within himself, a man becomes aware that soul-forces are awakened which in ordinary life are slumbering. Much depends upon whether a man, in the very reception of Anthroposophy, already perceives that other powers of cognition are slumbering in the human soul than those of which he was conscious before coming into Anthroposophy.
When he knows that he has a picture before him, he fixes his mind on what is not perceptible to the senses. The result is that, as in the life of external perception he is affected by what is perceptible to the senses, so now he is affected by something which is not perceptible to the senses.
If members of the Anthroposophical Society who give lectures at the Group Meetings become attentive to such things as these, anthroposophical teaching will acquire a really anthroposophical tone.
This tone, called forth by the real facts, will be the chief means of producing the spirit which ought to prevail in the Group Meetings. Those who take part will then feel that Anthroposophy does not merely contain theoretical communications about the spiritual worlds, but that it is in itself something vigorous and real which leads to the experience of the spiritual.
It is for the active members to think out in every positive way how this experience of the spiritual life can be attained in the anthroposophical work.
For only by this means can those who take up Anthroposophy without themselves being capable of direct spiritual investigations, be helped to overcome the feeling that they are only allowing themselves to be told theoretically what others, more advanced, can experience. If communications about what is experienced in the spiritual world are given in the right way, those who listen are able to share in these experiences.
If in the Group Meetings there is this spirit of sharing in spiritual experiences then everything built up on an unjustifiable feeling of authority will be dispelled. The opponents of Anthroposophy continually contend that anthroposophists profess obedience to authority in what is imparted to them. If in the Anthroposophical Society the right spirit were maintained, this contention would lose its meaning: for those who come to our meetings would not get the impression that a thing is so merely because someone has said it. They would learn the fact that consent is not enforced in one's own soul but that it arises from the experience itself.
When one meets a well-disposed person, one does not get an insight into his character because of some authority, but because the soul feels immediately influenced by his kindly disposition. So too one can become aware of the truth of Anthroposophy by the way in which it is communicated, by perceiving its real character.
- 15. Something more about the Tone which is necessary in the Group Meetings (1924-06-01)
Lecturing and communicating spiritual science
Note: some useful tips about lecturing are in the volume 1921-GA338 Communicating Anthroposophy (the course for speakers, to promite the idea of threefolding). Specifically hereby some extracts from the synopsis by way of reference:
advice to speakers, do not start with logic, but from the experiences and observations of concrete relationships
three recommendations for themes to take up in public lectures, advice on methodology ... Suggestions of methodology for speakers
from the synopsis:
suggestions for forming a public speech, the necessity of avoiding the repetition of particular expressions when a theme is treated multiple times. How every speech should be felt as something altogether new. On devotion to the material. The significance of rhythm and repetition, and how the speaker arrives at a proper relationship to repetition. The feeling of responsibility that speakers must develop in themselves. The necessity of sketching out a speech in key sentences or ideas rather than key words or slogasn. Forming the beginning and end of a speech. Why it is senseless to write out speeches and read them word for word. Avoiding pedantic definitions in favor of descriptive characterizations. On the use of nouns.
five pages (p223) from the Notebook archive: Rudolf Steiner's notes on the training course for speakers.
called 'the art of lecturing'
- Repetition in varied formulations helps the listener to comprehend. The use of questions gives the audience a moment to breathe in.
- Logical trains of thought put the audience to sleep. Unusual formulations and word order keep the listeners attentive.
- Illustrations and pictures convince and are remembered.
- The speaker must be fully immersed in his topic. He must have thorough knowledge of the events of the time.
Such techniques are what lead essentially to the pictorial quality of a speech.
In connection with the formal aspect of speaking, you could learn a great deal from the Jesuits. They are very well trained. First, they use the components of a speech well. They work not only on intensification and relaxation but, above all, on the image.
- I must continually refer to a striking Jesuit speech I once heard in Vienna, where I had been led by someone to the Jesuit church and where one of the most famous Jesuit Fathers was preaching. He preached on the Easter Confessional, and I will share the essential part of his sermon with you. He said: "Dear Christians! There are apostates from God who assert that the Easter Confessional was instituted by the Pope, by the Roman Pope; that it does not derive from God but rather from the Roman Pope. Dear Christians! Whoever would believe that can learn something from what I am going to say: Imagine in front of you, dear Christians, there stands a cannon. Beside the cannon there stands a cannonier. The cannonier has a match in his hand ready to light the fuse. The cannon is loaded. Behind the cannonier is the commanding officer. When the officer commands, 'Fire,' the cannonier lights the fuse. The cannon goes off. Would any of you now say that this cannonier, who obeyed the command of his superior, invented the powder? None of you, dear Christians, would say that! Look now, such a cannonier was the Roman Pope, who waited for the command from above before ordering the Easter Confessional. Thus, no one will say the Pope invented the Easter Confessional; as little as the cannonier invented the gunpowder. He only carries out the commandments from above." All the listeners were crushed, convinced! Obviously, the man knew the situation and the state of mind of the people. But that is something that is an indispensable precondition for a good speech and has already been characterized in this study. He said something which, as an image, fell completely outside the train of thought, and yet the listeners completed the course of the argument without feeling that the man spoke subjectively.
- I have also called to your attention the dictum by Bismarck about politicians steering by the wind, an image he took from those with whom he was debating, but which nevertheless frees one from the strictness of the chain of thought under discussion.
These sorts of things, if they are rightly felt, are those artistic means which completely replace what a lecture does not need, namely, sheer logic. Logic is for thought, not for speaking; I mean for the form of speech, not the way of expression. Naturally, the illogical may not be in it. But a speech cannot be put together as one combines a train of thought. You will find that something may be most acute and appropriate in a debate and yet really have no lasting effect.
What does have a lasting effect in a speech is an image which grabs, that is, which stands at some distance from the meaning, so that the speaker who uses the image has become free from slavish dependence on the pure thought-sense.
In 'Rudolf Steiner - Recollections by some of his pupils', F.W. Zeylmans talks about his conversation with Rudolf Steiner in 1922 (they had just met first time in Dec 1920) where Zeylmans says he feels too young and lacking sufficient knowledge of anthroposopy.
References and further reading
- Volume GA338 'Communicating Anthroposophy' (the course for speakers to promote the idea of threefolding)
Writing style and structure
- Florin Lowndes: 'Das Erwecken des Herzdenkens' (Wesen und Leben des sinnlichkeitsfreien Denkens in der Darstellung Rudolf Steiners. Umriß einer Methodik) (2002)
- review from amazon:
Florin Lowndes offers the more advanced reader of Rudolf Steiner's works a completely new, hitherto unnoticed but very profitable perspective on how to analyze these texts, experience them internally and meditate. Unlike most exegetes or critics Rudolf Steiner's, Lowndes does not superficially consider the directly given conceptual content of Steiner's works, but rather seeks to discover a meta-level in Steiner's work, roughly comparable to an energetic structure, a form of thought, by means of the qualities of the content and to lead the reader to the viewing experience of these mental forms hidden behind the texts. As a result, the reader not only learns about the structure and operating principle of the thought forms that Steiner uses in all his works, but he also gets the tools to gain his own view of these forms. Gradually, the original, effective and life-giving force in Steiner's work, the essentials behind his statements, enters the reader's consciousness as an inner experience, and the reader notices that this purely spiritual content, the lively, “intuitive” thoughts in Steiner's work, are becoming aware of can actually only “pronounce” through the characterised thought forms, that is, these forms need to be “effective” in the reader's inner experience. The reader who has stepped through such experiences will then also want to give his own thinking the shape of the living, even in artistic-meditative activity, in order to express his own spirit as an effective, living force corresponding to the world. A path of initiation into spiritual worlds hidden in Rudolf Steiner's writings and its effectiveness is thus clearly demonstrated by Lownde's work.
- review from amazon:
- Mark Riccio:
- 'A study guide for Rudolf Steiner's heart-thinking' (2006)
- The logik of the heart (The organic templates of spiritual writers, Rudolf Steiner, and The Philosophy of Freedom) (2016)
Working in groups
- Adelheid Petersen (1878-1966): 'Rudolf Steiner über Vortragstätigkeit und Zweigarbeit' (published by Maximilian Rebholz in 1949)
- Paul Margulies (1935-2014): 'Guidelines for a study group', see also on Steinerbooks website
- Henry Barnes (1912-2008): 'Anthroposophical group life', Chapter 56 (p 555-563) in 'Into the heart's land' (2005)
- Stephen and Beth Usher: 'How does one cultivate an anthroposophical study group'
- 'Handbook for groups and branches of the anthroposophical society in America' (available in PDF online) also contains links to articles for group and branch building