Monday, February 7, 2011
"Ecce Homo" — Alfred Heidenreich on Rudolf Steiner
From the Introduction to Growing Point by Alfred Heidenreich:
I had accepted the universities unquestioningly as the sources of learning which offered the key to the mastery of life. But I became aware that this had been an illusion. It might be that the universities still held the key to jobs in the Establishment. But had not the Establishment miserably and ignominiously collapsed all around? Instinctively I realized that the traditinal academic approach to the world had a great deal to do with the Decline of the West, of which it was fashionable to speak. It dawned on me that the...universities...were in a large measure the intellectual fathers of a way of life which had been discredited by the verdict of history. I could not have put it so bluntly or precisely at the time. But at bottom this is what I felt and this was the cause of my malaise.
In this condition I met Rudolf Steiner. It was at the beginning of the first Conference for University Students which he conducted in Germany....in February 1921...I took part in every session. I understood little of what Steiner said. But after a week I knew I had found my university; and after a fortnight I took a number of friends with me to him for a personal interview. From that moment none of us ever turned back.
Looking back today over nearly half a century, I can only testify that Steiner and his work has fulfilled a hundred times and more the unspoken promise of that first encounter....I have had the good fortune in the course of my activities to see a fair portion of the globe, and to read a good deal in the process. But wherever I went it was Steiner to whom I would finally turn in my mind. He was the best guide....
On my journeys I have also had the privilege of meeting other great men — Gandhhi, Albert Schweitzer, Archbishop Temple. Steiner was and remained in a class by himself. There simply wasn't anybody one could compare him with. He was truly extraordinary. Quiet, humble, dignified, immensely alert, he touched every subject with the unassuming assurance of a master and the originality of genius. In a word: in him the evolution of human consciousness had reached a new stage. While we ordinary mortals sit in the Platonic cave with our backs to reality painfully deciphering the shadows cast against the inner wall, Steiner achieved the spiritual feat of turning around. Eventually he saw reality face to face.
From Chapter One:
It will for ever be difficult to convey the quality of such meetings with Rudolf Steiner. Even the greatest parallels break down. The most astounding feature was the concentration and singlemindedness with which Rudolf Steiner conducted such meetings. He gave the impression as if the subject in hand were his one and only object in life, as if he had never done anything else. And yet one knew that on the same day he would conduct probably two or three other meetings, on entirely different subjects, with the same application and mastery.