Saturday, August 13, 2022
What the world needs now is anthroposophy
Anthroposophical knowledge of the supersensible worlds has not the slightest tendency to be remote from the world, to be unpractical. It does not wish to lead human beings in their egotism into vapid castles in the air; on the contrary, it holds that to alienate a man from the world would be to sin against the Spiritual. The Spirit is only truly within our grasp when the flow of its power makes us practical and capable human beings.
The Spirit is creative; the mission of the Spirit is to permeate, not to escape from, material existence. Anthroposophical knowledge of the supersensible worlds is therefore at the same time a power in practical life. Hence — as I shall show in other lectures here in Christiania — Anthroposophy strives to enrich the several sciences, the life of art, as well the domains of practical life, with all that knowledge of the reality of higher worlds can add to the things of the material world.
As we have heard, Imaginative Knowledge reveals the ether-body, the body of formative forces. When, in the light of this knowledge, we understand the nature of the human bodily organization, when we understand how the astral body, which has descended from worlds of soul-and-spirit, works in man as an earthly being, in lung, liver, stomach, brain, and so forth — then we understand the nature of health and illness. When this point is reached, our realization of the higher worlds will have succeeded not merely in satisfying a need of knowledge, but actually in enriching medicine and therapy. In Stuttgart and in Dornach we already have clinics and institutes engaged in the practical application of the contributions which anthroposophical knowledge can make to medicine, to therapy — especially to therapy — but also to pathology.
Anthroposophy strives, too, to make this knowledge of higher worlds bear fruit in the realm of art. In the Goetheanum Building at Dornach, in the High School for Spiritual Science, a new style of architecture was created [See: Ways to a New Style in Architecture (with 12 illustrations of the first Goetheanum), by Rudolf Steiner.] out of anthroposophical principles. This new style of architecture has no sort of tendency toward the symbolic or the allegorical. Not a single symbol, not a single allegorical form, will be found there; everything is the product of creative art in the truest sense. Spiritual Science is not theory, it is not a matter merely of the intellect. The element of intellect dragged down into art would produce nothing but barren, allegorical symbolism, Spiritual Science leads to actual perception, to concrete understanding, of the spiritual world. The content of the spiritual world can then be woven into the material world. In the highest degree we strive to fulfill Goethe’s demand, namely, that Art should be a manifestation of secret laws of Nature which, without her, could never bear fruit. And we are also endeavoring to develop an art of movement founded on the reality of the formative forces working supersensibly within the human being. This is Eurythmy, a performance of which is to be given here next Sunday.
Eurythmy is not an art of dancing, nor anything in the nature of mime; it is an art that has been brought down from the supersensible into the material domain of man’s being; it gives expression to the intimate connection of the human being with the Cosmos and its laws, showing how, in a ‘visible speech,’ secrets of the life of soul and spirit can be made manifest, as well as in audible speech or song.
Similarly, Spiritual Science can flow into the social life, the moral and ethical life. I have tried to show this in my book The Threefold Commonwealth. The problems of the social life of men can never be adequately solved by Marxian or other materialistic theories. In his innermost existence man is a spiritual, supersensible being, and as a social being, too, it is his task to give expression to the supersensible in the domain of his social life. Failing this, the burning social questions of our time can never be fruitfully solved.
Finally, the path to higher worlds which anthroposophical Spiritual Science strives to tread by means of genuine research — and not through mere belief — this path is connected with man’s deepest and most inward quest, with the bonds he tries in devotion and piety to forge with the Divine-Spiritual foundations of the Universe. In short, Spiritual Science is bound up with the deepest religious feelings arising in the human heart, with the religious life that must unfold if the true dignity of manhood is to be attained. And so anthroposophical knowledge of the supersensible worlds is at the same time a quickening, an enrichment of the religious life, of which, as every unprejudiced mind will admit, we stand in dire need today.
It is well-nigh incomprehensible to me that again, quite recently, anthroposophical Spiritual Science should have been accused by theological circles of destroying the religious life. It has been said, for example: the life of Anthroposophy betokens the death of religion! Now, the life of Anthroposophy is indissolubly bound up with that life of the soul in which the very deepest forces of religion unfold. This search for supersensible realities cannot betoken the death of religion — at most it might betoken the end of something that is merely regarded as religion and is already dead. If, indeed, this is what has happened to religion, Anthroposophy would simply be opening up a vista of death. By its very nature, however, being a living path to the supersensible realities, Anthroposophy is a means whereby the religious feelings, the whole-hearted devotion of human beings to the supersensible worlds, may be enhanced, quickened, pervaded with warmth.
The goal of Anthroposophy is to work fruitfully in all the different spheres of life, from the secular to the most sacred. In the noblest sense — however far off achievement still lies today — the goal and ideal of Anthroposophy is to promote and be a real factor in the advancing evolution of mankind. And every unprejudiced person who has passed with alert consciousness through the catastrophic period of the second decade of the twentieth century will admit that many, many spheres of existence today are calling out for new and vitalizing impulses.
What I have put before you in such brief outline is connected with the eternal concerns of human life. Anthroposophy can be cultivated in the forum of life, where man does not always seem to demand that inner security which can only be found in consciousness of his eternal being; and it can be cultivated in quietude, away from the hubbub of the forum of life. The human being of every epoch must be in contact with the Eternal within him, if he would be truly Man. Thus Anthroposophy is of universal, vital interest to all human beings because it concerns the things that are Eternal in human existence. In our days, when the signs of decline are to be seen on every hand, it must surely be admitted, too, that there is need to counter the forces of decline with impulses for the ennobling of Western civilization. Anthroposophy is worthy of attention today not only because it pays heed to the Eternal but also because of the difficult tasks confronting our times.
In conclusion, let me say this: Unlike the current tendency to lead the human being to mystical castles in the air and thus to estrangement from the world, the aim of Anthroposophy is to lead him to the reality of the supersensible worlds in such a way that, having seized the Spirit, he may take a real hand in the affairs of practical and material life. In very truth man must lay hold of the Spirit, for the reason that if his life is to rest upon sure foundations, contact with the supersensible worlds and with the eternal part of his being is all-essential. And nowadays, above all, man needs the Spirit for the solving of the hard and heavy problems which surround him in these catastrophic times.
Source: November 25, 1921. GA 79