D00.001 - topics of gender and sexuality

From Anthroposophy

Introduction and background

This is a Discussion topic page, to capture and share notes in support of an online discussion on the broad subject.

In this case: gender and sexuality related topics in a context of spiritual science.

Scoping the discussion: what?

The following related topics, and mostly about their meaning in a spiritual scientific perspective and impact on soul development

  • sexuality
  • relation to love
  • homosexuality
  • gender confusion and transgender
  • pornography and sexual aberrations
    • link with creation of elementals (see eg IIH)
    • link with asuric influences?
  • birth control: the ethics of contraception, abortion, adoption, reproductive technologies such as IVF, selective embryo reduction
  • abstinence and celibacy


Physiological perspective:?

  • the formative forces in Man
  • the threefold soul or human I aspect

'Purpose, problem statement, aim or goal'

To come up with a written statement that provides some clarity and comprehensive views on the above, and brings together various perspectives that can help to raise our conscious understanding.

References

  1. previous online discussion threads
    1. 2011-02 - blogpost by Alicia Hamberg after discussion on yahoo forum waldorf critics
    2. 2018-02 - question by Alex Hemme started on the transgender phenomenon
    3. 2020-11-30 - question by Peter Fisher on gender
      1. Peter Heinze points to key lecture(s)
    4. 2021-01-04 - question by David Wansbrough
    5. 2021-07-08 - question by Niels-Peter Hammersholt Petersen on sexuality within anthroposophy
      1. invites to Mark Burnside and George Monoff
    6. 2021-08-28 - question by David Wansbrough
      1. invite to David W.
  2. relevant pages prepared and worked on this site
    1. Gender and sexuality
    2. Model for hereditary physical body
    3. Fall and redemption - original sin and grace
      1. see notes in Discussion section

Additional materials

Gender identity disorder' (GID) - influence of past-life memories

Jim B. Tucker and co-authors investigated the relationship between gender identity and past-life recall, analyzing 469 cases. It was found that children who remembered an opposite sex previous life were far more likely to exhibit gender non-conforming behaviours than children who reported past life personalities of the same sex, suggesting an influence on gender identity from past-life memories.

see more:

  • Marieta Pehlivanova, Monica J. Janke, Jack Lee and Jim B. Tucker: 'Childhood Gender Nonconformity and Children’s Past-Life Memories' (2018)

Also: on 'Gender identity disorder' (GID):

Another way to look at gender

Consider Schema FMC00.065 on Group souls of humanity, and the bottom rows, whilst considering the different spiritual influences, from the I, the astral, the etheric.

The Human races#1916-01-09-GA165

Our etheric body forms and molds the physical body. If only earthly forces worked on us, we would all be alike in our physical body. However, the influence of the etheric body makes us different. The astral body brings about further differences, such as those between male and female bodies, through forces it develops between death and a new birth, during the time when we prepare ourselves for the gender that karma requires us to have in the next incarnation.

Interactive discussion

Subtopics are separated here below for the clarity in the discussion

1 - Connection between the sexual energies and the abilities to transform what is lower within us to a higher state of being.

Mark (statement from forum):

The purification and illumination of the astral body, which results in the reformation of the astral body is fundamental to preliminary esoteric development.

This development is stunted and frustrated by desires of a physical or sexual nature and the forces required, for the purification, reformation and illumination of the astral body are corrupted and dissipated through the fulfillment of such thoughts, feelings and activities as those pertaining to our lower nature.

These forces of our lower nature are what we must sacrifice in order that higher forces might be enkindled within our nature.

This is the universal sacrificial animal, put to death upon the altar of the temple as a sacrifice to the Gods, we must sacrifice this animal self, and out of its force forge a new being.


The forces which become the generative forces are born out of the Astral body, they are light and become bound, corrupt by decent into generation and into body, they must be liberated and redeemed, by Will and Wisdom. When they are won and cultivated to refinement, through the methods of anthroposophy they become again a part of our spiritual vestment, they are woven into new formations within the Astral body.

These forces enliven and strengthen us.

Dr. Steiner tells us in plain english that we fashion the higher out of the lower forces. There isn't another interpretation, and yet people will choose to ignore such statements because it is uncomfortable, and conflicts with their beliefs.

He states clearly that actually when we resist an immoral thought and impulse we increase in strength, we are granted astral forces or increase.

Updated version: by Mark, edited by Dirk (and suggested edits between [ brackets] ) General introduction, see also: Man's transformation and spiritualization

PART 1 - The astral body as it exists today is composed of that part which has been acted upon and conditioned by the I, and that part which has not been acted upon and conditioned by the I. The part that has been properly conditioned and acted upon by the activity of the I is called spirit-self (or manas) , this is part of the astral body has been totally spiritualised or 'spirit filled', by the activity of the incarnate I- being or I.

See Man's bodily principles, Man's higher triad, Human astral body

Each human being conciously or unconciously is already participating in this process, through spiritual science and initiation exercises we make this process concious, and it occurs more deeply and rapidly than would be the case if left to evolution (and the process of reincarnation).

This process of purification and 'ordering' of the astral body, which results in the transformation of the astral body is fundamental to esoteric development, and to the healthy development and growth of the total human being. This process of purification or Cartharsis means that through the activity of the I, certain thoughts, feelings and impulses that arise within the human being and his astral body, are in a sense corrected by the corresponding moral impulse. Each time the I conciously resists these lower impulses and acts to correct them, through what may be termed 'Strength of Will and Moral Thinking', he is strengthened.

During this process of purification of the astral body, the I must so act upon and face every single desire thought impulse that has been impressed and stored within the astral body [and is part of one's Individuality and karmic package]. Every desire or thought is faced again through this process of astral purging.

This is essentially the process of Karma Loka [kamaloka], that generally the human being experiences after death, whereby he experiences the 'burning out' or exhaustion of the forces which he has bestowed through his thinking, feeling and willing activity during life on Earth upon material desires and urges.

This astral bottle becomes the alchemical vessel within which the corrupt material or corrupt forces are cleansed by the fire, or a kind of astral combustion. As an I being, we inhabit this astral vessel, that this burning out of or combustion of the corrupt forces of the desire nature must occur within, and the greater the desire life of the individual, the more intensified this experience of astral purgation is. [re Purgatorio in Dante's Divine Comedy]

When we practice meditation and initiation excercises, this process of cartharsis is stimulated within us whilst we are incarnate in a body upon Earth. The exercises and anthroposophical literature are written with an exactly planned order and structure so as to stimulate the processes of cartharsis or astral purging).

Note: see oa Initiation exercises , Development of the chakras, Kundalini

Every time that, as I beings, we give our thoughts and forces to desires of a material nature, we are creating experiences that we must face during catharsis. And the greater force of the desire bestowed, the greater will be the intensity of the experience during the purging and cleansing of the astral body. The greater the force of the desire, the greater the 'will force and moral fortitude' that is required to redeem it.

This is one of the reasons why the individual is guided through religion, anthroposophy and philosophy to find constructive outlets for the forces that arise through his generative function.

See eg Charter of Compassion, Sources of spiritual science

When the life is correctly ordered, and these forces applied to constructive activities,

  • not only do we prevent the increase of corrupt astral content that we have to purge,
  • but we are in the process of purging the existing content stored within this Astral body, and strengthening our being through the reclaiming of the forces previously bestowed upon the world of desire by our previous thoughts, feelings and actions.


These forces are claimed through 'moral thinking and strength of will' and enobled through the contemplation of spiritual knowledge, through meditation and specific initiation excercises, through artistic expression, through character development and improvement, through moral thought and action, through meeting the responsibilites and necessities of our life pattern and karma, through self sacrifice and community participation, through any dedication which results in inner growth we raise these forces up within ourselves and build this vestiture of our I, which is our astral body. We gradually develop our purified astral body into what is termed the 'pure, chaste and wise Virgin Sophia'. This is the fulfilment of the processes of astral catharsis, it means it has been totally cleansed, enobled and correctly developed.

This entire process also develops the organs of supersensible cognition. At this stage we are enabled to cross the threshold of the invisible veil (that separates the astral plane from our view) and are initiated, by the illumination of our astral being by the inflowing of the Holy Spirit.

Contemplating the above, is it any wonder that there are not more human beings today endowed with Supersensible perception?

and then:

PART 2 - The above development is stunted and frustrated by desires of a physical or sexual nature and the forces required, for the purification, reformation and illumination of the astral body are corrupted and dissipated.

This occurs through the fulfillment of such thoughts, feelings and activities as those pertaining to the desires arising in our lower nature. These forces of our lower nature are what we must sacrifice, and offer up in order that higher forces might be enkindled within our nature. This is the sacrifice of the animal nature with us is the universal sacrificial animal, put to death upon the altar of the temple as a sacrifice to the Gods, we must sacrifice this animal self, and out of its force forge a new being.

see also: Sacrifice (and suffering)

The forces which become the generative forces and substances arise in the astral body. These forces act upon the etheric body to stimulate the generative processes through the nervous and endocrine glandular systems, they begin as astral and etheric force or light, and through the kind of overshadowing, activiating and stimulating the glandular structures, these forces become organised into the biochemical compounds that are involved in the generative process.

These intermingled astral and etheric forces forces which have been bound into formations as biochemical substances (various hormones and precursors) and those forces which, as a karmic heredity we have received as a generative endowment, are those which must be liberated and redeemed, by 'Will and Wisdom or Moral thinking'. When these forces are won and cultivated they enliven and strengthen us.

Rudolf Steiner tells us in plain english [well actually it was German] that we fashion the higher out of the lower forces, and it occurs in somewhat the manner described above.

Comments/questions by Dirk/Derek:

2 - Celibacy - abstinence

Mark:

Celibacy is an almost universal expectation amongst the mystery schools of old, and the true ones of today.

Initiates slay the dragon as the archangel Michael, plunging the serpent into the abyss, with a lance through its heart.

It seems as though Dr. Steiner wished to direct the minds of his pupils towards that which is true (Spirit and spirit knowledge) more so than to focus the attention upon that which is not true (the knowledge of maya, or illusion, which is knowledge if the bodies of things).

Everything that is a physical occurance has as its source of animation and existence a spiritual reality, without which it cannot exist.

Anthroposophy pertains to the religious inclinations of the human being and towards that which is moral.

That which is immoral, of which the unrestrained impulses of the lower nature are.. do not pertain to the religious impulse in man and in fact are its antithesis.

In the above sense I also feel compelled to make the distinction that I believe all people can gain from the practice and study of Anthroposophy, Religion, Philosophy etc even those who do not practice abstinance and chastity, however the deeper teachings relating to them and the true path of Esoteric initiation and development is definitely a distinct and different story altogether and these do teach and require abstinence and chastity of the candidate.

Edited version:

The topic of chastity, and how it relates to the average individual, is an important one, and there is no 'one size fits all' pattern or universal recommendation.

However one can say it is safe to start with the encouragement of the gradual enobling of the tought, feeling and will life of the individual - from whatever stage in their overall development that they are currently at - through whatever branch of channel of moral teaching: be it religion, philosophy, or the love that comes through wisdom via spiritual science.

[When we open up ourselves and commit to spend emotional and mental energy on this, we listen to and let ourselves be guided by the voice of our own conscience. A voice that becomes ever clearer once one finds one's higher self with meditation and initiation exercises].

Comments/questions by Dirk/Derek:

  • regarding 'renunciation', see the quote 1908-10-26-GA107 on Astral world

With the smallest renunciation that we take upon us, we make a step forwards in the sense that we evolve upwards to the good side of the astral world on the path of sacrifice. When one renounces the most insignificant thing, it is an inculcation of something that contributes essentially to experiencing the good side of the astral world. Hence, in esoteric traditions so much weight is laid on the test carried out by the pupil of denying oneself this or that, the exercise of renouncing.

  • an important aspect is that suppression of desires does not really work, because the elementals will resurface. Rather the process requires starvation of elemental energies, and this is best done by transmutation: to put something better in place of an old urge or habit. See Bardon's IIH step 2 astral.

3 - Discussions on topics of sexuality within a spiritual scientific context and community

Furthermore .. Here is a thought that might not be entirely accepted in the wider community, but worthy of consideration none the less.

Anthroposophy which is intended to enoble, inspire and spiritualise the human being .. what exactly does it have to do with the teachings regarding sexuality?

That which is related to the enkindling of desire and to the fulfillment of the impulses of the desire nature, which anthroposophy is supposed to metamorphose within the the human being and enoble, is essentially the antithesis of Anthroposophy or of religious instruction.

It really seems to me to be an absurdity, quite obscene. These peddlers of corruption ought to have their tables in the temple upturned, and be expelled, as Christ did in the Gospels to the money changers. Let us think about it this way.. would we expect to see the pornographers in their houses of corruption and in their visual gospels of lust and depravity to encourage morality and biblical virtue? Such a thing is as absurd as intermingling the ideas of sexuality with anthroposophy.

.. none of this is said in a sense of judgement against those who hold contrary view or opinions, or against those who live in a different manner .. but I believe there is a great risk for a kind of cancerous corruption of ideaology to enter into the last sacred institutions that we have in this world, and the anthrophosophical movement is one of those sacred institutions that must be preserved from this corruption, in my humble opinion.

Response on the last statement

My view is that sexuality, just like anything which is part of human nature and experience, is to be positioned and understood from a spiritual scientific perspective. This is useful and required for education, and so that every individual can give sexuality 'the right place' based on such understanding.

I agree that today this intention and perspective does not always come across as pure as this intention, when the topic is raised, because of how our souls and minds are influenced and maybe already corrupted by mainstream culture and media in this respect.

Hence, sexuality is enlarged to a much bigger and more important topic than it should be, given its right place in the context of the whole human being and it's task for spiritualization.

Also, in a way the more (mental) energy one gives to a topic, the larger it becomes. And in that sense it is a bit perverse to focus tremendously on matters of the lower astral and physical bodies, only .. without placing them immediately in context of the whole, because they can not be considered on their own.

What do you think, does that make sense?

This is something that is indeed apparent in threads and discussions on matters of sexuality, they are put forth as relevant. For sure they are, as example children are strugging with gender confusion - to give just one example. But at the same time media and culture is allmost promoting the sensation of the current transgender phenomena, as if feasting on it. Whether that is judged as perversion or ignorance is a matter of perspective, imho, because contemporary culture is blind and ignorant in many ways and on many or most matters, and this is no different.

One could say that the sensational aspects do speak to the lower drives of the audience and population worldwide. And those people are withheld, or not ready or interested, in the bigger picture. This is no different than pornography, or other additions such as alcohol which is also societally embedded (and culturally promoted) whereas it is a force working against spiritual development.

Another thought that occured, thinking about the above threads on anthro forums, was the question: what are people really after, or looking for. Is it a moral ethical judgement, a physiological understanding from a spiritual scientific perspective, an explanation so as to understand and accept (by 'giving it its place')?

Maybe our task, or the position in general, could be to draw the big rectangle of the whole frame, point out what matters most, and then include the physical sexuality in that bigger frame, so it has its place.

4 - Contemporary gender confusion and transgender

Before putting forth some though lines on the matter, it's good to organize the various points and perspectives in an orderly fashion, in support of further discussions.

Three points

The premise put forth here is that two different effects can be distinguished:

  • [a] - societal and cultural factors influencing gender confusion with children
  • [b]- children genuinely 'born in the wrong body'


Furthermore,

Discussion

Regarding [a]

Facts from witness reports: in primary schools in Europe, children of 8 and 9 years old receive lessons on transgenders in the classes of religion. At that age children are developing their etheric body, not even their astral body. These are children, they are influenced with these matters long before puberty.

One angle of perspective is: this is part of the reality in the world, so it's normal children are educated 'in time' about this. Maybe this takes place with the right intentions, but it is probably also caused by the attention given in the media.

Another angle of perspective is: this is the next step after the rise of porn for adults.

  • Pornography pollutes and infects the astral body with elementals of sexual nature that pull the human being down. There are forces that are actively working to pull humanity down, rather than to pull it up (eg with ideals, spiritualization, etc). These ahrimanic and asuric influences are working in the world amongst us, they are not vague ghostly effects but societal realities. It is a fact that alcohol, drugs, pornography are socially established and accepted as part of our culture.
  • Could it be that these influences attack the younger generations of transgenders.


Regarding [b]

Hypothesis: this is a new development that was definitely less apparent, less visible, but the assumption is that it was also less a reality say half a century ago. What could be a spiritual scientific explanation for this? This has been the subject of discussions in the anthro community, but very little light has been shed on the matter.

Here are a few lines of thoughts:

[b1] - influence via The double, which enters Man at birth with subconscious influences. Children's feelings with regards to 'gender confusion' are very strong and felt as part of their own identity.

It is known about the Double that "they directly affect human beings and can cause diseases as well as influence human thinking. Especially America is an area where those magnetic forces are rising up that bring the human being into relationship with his double." America is also the source of the social media influences that have an immense cultural impact on the world at large, especially for the young generation (re youtube, tiktok, instagram, ..)

However in this case one has to include the pure sexual aspect of this subconscious influence, in a context of media and mobile phone culture that strongly cultivates egotism, just considering how many pictures children take every day of themselves whereas this was totally inexistent just two decades ago. Both elements point to soratic influences in the third component of the double.

Indeed Rudolf Steiner pointed out that "in the age now approaching .. the asuras will creep into the consciousness soul" causing "cultural death and cultural illness" (see Asuras page)

The argument of subconscious influences is supported by the following statement by Rudolf Steiner (see the 1915-01-03-GA275 extract on Embryo in the womb), our bold and italic:

.. these beings .. seize hold of the evolution of the human being before he makes his physical entry into the world. They attack Man during the embryonic period and share his existence between conception and birth.

These things play a great part in Earth evolution as a whole, and they bring us into contact with deep secrets of human existence. This is often the cause of people acquiring certain prejudices and points of view before they are born into earth existence. And people are tormented by doubts and uncertainties in life and all kinds of other things, because of these demonic parasites.

There is not much more these beings can do with the human being once his I has entered and made itself felt, but they prey on him all the more before he is born or during his earliest years.

...

If you think about it, you will find a great number of things that are connected with these subconscious impulses; in fact, there are far more of these subconscious impulses in materialistic humanity of modern times, than there were in bygone ages when people were less materialistic.

Regarding [c]

One may say that this connects to what Rudolf Steiner laid out about the opposing forces and influences, and "what it is that is really battling in the world today" .. as these "seek to enlist a great number of men all over the world as a kind of army in the service of these principles" (reference: quote 1917-11-25-GA178 on Contemporary worldview war)