Thursday, September 19, 2019

Anthroposophy : Jñana Yoga : Joining together for the healing of the world

"That is the secret of real wisdom: that it is transformed in the soul into love through its own strength."  — Rudolf Steiner

Rudolf Steiner:  "The angels want to enable us to come to the spirit by way of our thinking, to bridge the abyss between the physical world and the spiritual realm with our thinking."

The words of Benedictus, from scene 7 of Rudolf Steiner’s Mystery Drama “The Portal of Initiation”:

You have been joined by destiny

together to unfold the powers
which are to serve the good in active work.
And while you journey on the path of soul,
wisdom itself will teach you
that the highest goal can be achieved
when souls will give each other spirit certainty,
will join together in faithfulness
for the healing of the world.
The spirit’s guidance has united you in knowledge;
so now unite yourselves for spirit work.
The rulers of this realm bestow on you,
through me, these words of strength:

Light’s weaving essence radiates

from person to person
to fill the world with truth.
Love’s blessing gives its warmth
to souls through souls
to work and weave the bliss of all the worlds.
And messengers of spirit
join human works of blessing
with purposes of worlds.
And when those who find themselves in others
join with each other
the light of spirit radiates through warmth of soul.

The Himalayan Institute's meditation shrine

Rudolf Steiner:  "Anthroposophy is especially equipped to lift us above what can happen on a material level in space and time."

"Knowledge should become the most heartfelt offering of soul."
— Rudolf Steiner

Not I, but Christ in me

"The Fundamental Social Law"
an excerpt from "Anthroposophy and the Social Question,"
a three-part essay by Rudolf Steiner published in 1905:

There is, then, a fundamental social law which Anthroposophy teaches us and which is as follows:

In a community of human beings working together, the well-being of the community will be the greater, the less the individual claims for himself the proceeds of the work he has himself done — that is, the more of these proceeds he makes over to his fellow workers — and the more his own requirements are satisfied not out of his own work done, but out of work done by the others.

Every institution in a community of human beings that is contrary to this law will inevitably engender in some part of it, after a while, suffering and want. It is a fundamental law which holds good for all social life with the same absoluteness and necessity as any law of nature within a particular field of natural causation. It must not be supposed, however, that it is sufficient to acknowledge this law as one for general moral conduct, or to try and interpret it into the sentiment that everyone should work for the good of his fellow-men. No — this law only finds its living, fitting expression in actual reality, when a community of human beings succeeds in creating institutions of such a kind that no one can ever claim the results of his own labor for himself, but that they all, to the last fraction, go wholly to the benefit of the community. And he, again, must himself be supported in return by the labors of his fellow-men. The important point is, therefore, that working for one's fellow-men, and the object of obtaining so much income, must be kept apart, as two separate things.
The self-styled “practical people” will, of course — the Anthroposophist is under no illusion about it! — have nothing but a smile for such “outrageous idealism”. And yet this law is more really practical than any that ever was devised or enacted by the practicians. For, as a matter of actual life, that every human community that exists, or ever has existed anywhere, possesses two sorts of institutions, of which the one is in accordance with this law, and the other contrary to it. It is bound to be so everywhere, whether men will, or no. Every community, indeed, would fall to pieces at once, if the work of the individual did not pass over into the whole body. But human egoism again has from of old run counter to this law, and sought to extract as much as possible for the individual out of his own work. And what has come about in this way, as a consequence of egoism, this it is, and nothing else, that from old has brought want and poverty and suffering in its train; which is as good as saying that a part of human institutions will always and inevitably prove to be unpractical which owes its existence to “practicians” who calculated either on the basis of their own egoism, or the egoism of others.
Now obviously with a law of this kind, all is not said and done when one has merely recognized its existence. The real, practical part begins with the question: How is one to translate this law into actual fact? Obviously, what it says amounts to this: Man's welfare is the greater, in proportion as egoism is the less. Which means, that for its practical translation into reality one must have people who can find the way out of their egoism. Practically, however, this is quite impossible, if the individual's share of weal and woe is measured according to his labor. He who labors for himself cannot help but gradually fall a victim to egoism. Only one who labors solely and entirely for the rest can, little by little, grow to be a worker without egoism.
But there is one thing needed to begin with. If any man works for another, he must find in this other man the reason for his work; and if any man works for the community, he must perceive and feel the meaning and value of this community, and what it is as a living, organic whole. He can only do this when the community is something other and quite different from a more or less indefinite totality of individual men. It must be informed by an actual spirit in which each single person has his part. It must be such that each single one says: The communal body is as it should be, and I will that it be thus. The whole communal body must have a spiritual mission, and each individual member of it must have the will to contribute towards the fulfilling of this mission. All the vague progressive ideas, the abstract ideals, of which people talk so much, cannot present such a mission. If there be nothing but these as a guiding principle, then one individual here, or one group there, will be working without any clear comprehension of what use there is in their work, except its being to the advantage of their families, or of those particular interests to which they happen to be attached. In every single member, down to the least, this Spirit of the Community must be alive and active.
Wherever, in any age, anything good has thriven, it has only been where in some manner this life of a communal spirit was realized. The individual citizen of a Greek city in ancient days, even the citizen too of a “Free City” in medieval times, had at least a dim sense of some such communal spirit. The fact is not affected because, in Ancient Greece for instance, the appropriate institutions were only made possible by keeping a host of slaves, who did the manual labor for the “free citizens”, and were not induced to do so by the communal spirit, but compelled to it by their masters. This is an instance from which only one thing may be learnt: namely, that man's life is subject to evolution. And at the present day mankind has reached a stage when such a solution of the associative problem as found acceptance in Ancient Greece has become impossible. Even by the noblest Greeks, slavery was not regarded as an injustice, but as a human necessity; and so even the great Plato could hold up as an ideal a state in which the communal spirit finds its realization by the majority, the working people, being compelled to labor at the dictation of the few wise ones. But the problem of the present day is how to introduce people into conditions under which each will, of his own inner, private impulse, do the work of the community.
No one, therefore, need try to discover a solution of the social question that shall hold good for all time, but simply to find the right form for his social thoughts and actions, in view of the immediate needs of the times in which he is now living. Indeed, there is today no theoretic scheme which could be devised or carried into effect by any one person, which in itself could solve the social question. For this he would need to possess the power to force a number of people into the conditions which he had created. Most undoubtedly, had Owen possessed the power of the will to compel all the people of his colony to do their share of the labor, then the thing would have worked. But we have to do with the present day; and in the present day any such compulsion is out of the question. Some possibility must be found of inducing each person, of his own free will, to do that which he is called upon to do according to the measure of his particular powers and abilities, But, for this very reason, there can be no possible question of ever trying to work upon people theoretically, in the sense suggested by Owen's admission, by merely indoctrinating them with a view as to how social conditions might best be arranged. A bald economic theory can never act as a force to counteract the powers of egoism. For a while, such an economic theory may sweep the masses along with a kind of impetus that, to all outward appearance, resembles the enthusiasm of an ideal. But in the long run it helps nobody. Anyone who inoculates such a theory into a mass of human beings, without giving them some real spiritual substance along with it, is sinning against the real meaning of human evolution.
There is only one thing which can be of any use; and that is a spiritual world-conception, which, of its own self, through that which it has to offer, can make a living home in the thoughts, in the feelings, in the will — in a man's whole soul, in short. That faith which Owen had in the goodness of human nature is only true in part; in part, it is one of the worst of illusions. It is true to the extent that in every man there slumbers a “higher self”, which can be awakened. But the bonds of its sleep can only be dispelled by a world-conception of the character described. One may induce men into conditions such as Owen devised, and the community will prosper in the highest and fairest sense. But if one brings men together, without their having a world-conception of this kind, then all that is good in such institutions will, sooner or later, inevitably turn to bad. With people who have no world-conception centered in the spirit it is inevitable that just those institutions which promote men's material well-being will have the effect of also enhancing egoism, and therewith, little by little, will engender want, poverty and suffering. For it may truly be said in the simplest and most literal sense of the words: The individual man you may help by simply supplying him with bread; a community you can only supply with bread by assisting it to a world-conception. Nor indeed would it be of any use to try and supply each individual member of the community with bread; since, after a while, things would still take such a form that many would again be breadless.
The recognition of these principles, it is true, means the loss of many an illusion for various people, whose ambition it is to be popular benefactors. It makes working for the welfare of society no light matter — one too, of which the results, under circumstances, may only be composed of a collection of quite tiny part-results. Most of what is given out today by whole parties as panaceas for social life loses its value and is seen to be a mere bubble and hollow phrase, lacking in due knowledge of human life. No parliament, no democracy, no big popular agitation, none of all these things can have any sense for a person who looks at all deeper, if they violate the law stated above; whereas everything of the kind may work for good, if it works on the lines of this law. It is a mischievous delusion to believe that some particular persons, sent up to some parliament as delegates from the people, can do anything for the good of mankind, unless their whole line of activity is in conformity with this, the fundamental social law.
Wherever this law finds outward expression, wherever anyone is at work along its lines — so far as is possible for him in that position in which he is placed within the human community — there good results will be attained, though it be but in the one single instance and in ever so small a measure. And it is only a number of individual results, attained in this way, that together combine to healthy collective progress throughout the whole body of society.
There exist, certainly, particular cases where bigger communities of men are in possession of some special faculty, by aid of which a bigger result could be attained all at once in this direction. Even today there exist definite communities, in whose special dispositions something of the kind is already preparing. These people will make it possible for mankind, by their assistance, to make a leap forward, to accomplish as it were a jump in social evolution. Anthroposophy is well acquainted with such communities, but does not find itself called upon to discuss these things in public. There are means, too, by which large masses of mankind can be prepared for a leap of this kind, which may possibly even be made at no very distant time. What, however, can be done by everyone is to work on the lines of this law within his own sphere of action. There is no position in the world that man can occupy where this is not possible, be it to all appearance ever so obscure, nor yet so influential.
But the principal and most important thing is, undoubtedly, that every individual should seek the way to a world-conception directed towards real knowledge of the Spirit. In Anthroposophy we have a spiritual movement which can grow and become for all men a world-conception of this kind, provided it continues to develop further in the form proper to its own teachings and to its own inherent possibilities. Anthroposophy may be the means of each man's learning to see that it is not a mere chance that he happens to be born in a particular place at a particular time, but that he has been put of necessity by the law of spiritual causation — by Karma — just in the place where he is; he learns to recognize that it is his own fitting and well-founded fate which has placed him amidst that human community in which he finds himself. His own powers and capacities too will become apparent to him, as not allotted by blind hazard, but as having their good meaning in the law of cause and effect.
And he learns to perceive all this in such a way that the perception does not remain a mere matter of cold reason, but gradually comes to fill his whole soul with inner life.
The outcome of such understanding will be no shadowy idealism but a mighty pulse of new life throughout all a man's powers. And this way of acting will be looked on by him as being as much a matter of course as, in another respect, eating and drinking is. Further, he will learn to see the meaning in the human community to which he belongs. He will comprehend his own community's relation to other human communities, and how it stands towards them; and thus the several spirits of all these communities will piece themselves together to a purposeful spiritual design, a picture of the single, united mission of the whole human race. And from the human race his mind will travel on to an understanding of the whole earth and its existence. Only a person who refuses to contemplate any such view of the world can harbor a doubt that it will have the effects here described.
At the present day, it is true, most people have but little inclination to enter upon such things. But the time will not fail to come, when the anthroposophic way of thinking will spread in ever-widening circles. And in measure as it does so, men will take the right practical steps to effect social progress. There can be no reason for doubting this on the presumption that no world-conception yet has ever brought about the happiness of mankind. By the laws of mankind's evolution it was not possible for that to take place at an earlier time which, from now on, will gradually become possible. Not until now could a world-conception with the prospect of this kind of practical result be communicated to all and every man. All the previous world-conceptions until now were accessible to particular groups of human beings only. Nevertheless, everything that has taken place for good as yet in the human race has come from its world-conception. Universal welfare is only attainable through a world-conception that shall lay hold upon the souls of all men and fire the inner life within them. And this the anthroposophic form of conception will always have the power to do, wherever it is really true to its own inherent possibilities.
To recognize the justice of this, it will of course not do to look simply at the form which such conceptions have so far assumed. One must recognize that Anthroposophy has still to expand and grow to the full height of its cultural mission. So far, Anthroposophy cannot show the face that it will one day wear, and this for many reasons. One of the reasons is that it must first find a foothold. Consequently, it must address itself to a particular group of human beings; and this group can naturally be no other than the one which, from the peculiar character of its evolution, is longing for a new solution of the world's problems, and which, from the previous training of the persons united in it, is able to bring active interest and understanding to such a solution. It is obvious that, for the time being, Anthroposophy must couch the message it has to deliver in such a language as shall be suited to this particular group of people. Later on, as circumstances afford opportunity, Anthroposophy will again find suitable terms in which to speak to other circles also. Nobody whose mind is not rootedly attached to hard and fast dogmas can suppose that the form in which the anthroposophic message is delivered today is a permanent or by any means the only possible one. Just because, with Anthroposophy, there can be no question of its remaining mere theory, or merely gratifying intellectual curiosity, it is necessary for it to work in this way, slowly. For among the aims and objects of Anthroposophy are these same practical steps in the progress of mankind. But if it is to help on the progress of mankind, Anthroposophy must first create the practical conditions for its work; and there is no way to bring about these conditions except by winning over the individual human beings, one by one. The world moves forward only when men WILL that it shall. But in order for them to will it, what is needed in each individual case is inner soul-work; and this can only be performed step by step.

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