Steiner taught that Anthroposophy is only the most recent form of human spiritual wisdom. From the start of time, he said, some initiates knew deep truths about the spirit realm. Early initiates knew less than later ones, and no one so far has known more than (ahem) Steiner himself — but all initiates have basically been in agreement, all have been on the same track (leading to Anthroposophy).
Likewise, Steiner taught, all religions have basically been in agreement, although again there has been an evolutionary progression from primitive forms — that were less attuned to the deepest spiritual realities — to later, more evolved forms. The peak of all religions, the one all the previous ones were pointing toward, is Christianity — although by this Steiner meant his own heretical variant, involving reincarnation, multiple gods, and so on.
Anthroposophy today aims to be the “testamentary executor” for Christianity. In the future, still higher forms of spiritual science will unfold, and humans will evolve to higher and higher states of spiritual fulfillment.
"[O]nly when we reach the highest wisdom, in which there are no differences, no personal opinion and no personal standpoint, but ONE VIEW only, will men agree. If they were to remain as they are at present, following their different standpoints, they would become more and more disunited. The highest wisdom always produces a unanimous view among all men. Real wisdom is ONE, and it unites men again, whilst leaving them as free as possible, without any coercive authority. Just as the members of the great WHITE [sic] Brotherhood are always in harmony with one another and with humanity, so all men will one day be one, through this wisdom. Only this wisdom can establish the true idea of brotherhood. Spiritual science therefore has only one task: to bring this idea to men, by developing now the Spirit-Self and later on the Life-Spirit. The great goal of the spiritual-scientific movement is to make it possible for man to attain freedom and true wisdom; its mission is to let this truth and wisdom flow into men.
"The modern movement of spiritual science began with the most elementary teachings. Many important things have been revealed in the years which have passed since the founding of this movement, and much that is even more important will be revealed. The work of the spiritual-scientific movement, is therefore to allow a gradual flowing out of wisdom of the great white brotherhood that had its origin in Atlantis. Such work has always been prepared for through long periods of time. The whole activity of the great founders of religions was a preparation for the ONE great event, for the appearance of Christ-Jesus.
"Spiritual science seeks to be the testamentary executor of Christianity. And so it will be. When the Mysteries of the Father have been fulfilled, that is, when the development of Budhi is accomplished in every individual human being, then each one will discover within himself his own deepest being — ATMAN, the Spirit-Man." — Rudolf Steiner, “The Adept-School of the Past”, ANTHROPOSOPHIC NEWS SHEET 31/32, Aug. 10, 1941, GA 97.
"We need only remember how the ancient religions arose. All initiates had the same primal wisdom of mankind. But when this wisdom was brought to individual human beings, they received it in various forms with particular characteristics from the sate, the clergy, and so forth. Buddhism and Zoroastrian teachings arose in this way.
"...In this way wisdom flowed to all of humanity. Wisdom is something unitary. And so we see that we have in this wisdom, in this knowledge, what has been distributed to individual, fragmented human beings ... [W]isdom is one." — Rudolf Steiner, THE CHRISTIAN MYSTERY (SteinerBooks, 1998), pp. 82-83.
Here, in very brief outline, is Steiner’s account of the evolution of human spiritual knowledge and worship during the period after Atlantis sank — that is, during our own evolutionary period:
"At the time of the Mystery of Golgotha, and even in later centuries, people called the human being living on earth “the natural man,” following the ancient Mystery wisdom ... They differentiated between this natural human being and the pneumatic or spiritual human being and believed that a person was a true human being only after death ... Initiation did not give them the feeling that they were fully human ... Instead, pupils were made to feel that they were merely candidates for true humanity.
"...Thanks to their intellectuality and freedom, the ancient Greeks and the civilizations under their influence eventually sensed that the true human essence was streaming from the life after death into human beings on earth ... All this changed in the more recent phase of human evolution ... Through such a higher consciousness — an imaginative, inspired, and intuitive consciousness — we can see ourselves apart from the intellect as members of the supersensible world." — Rudolf Steiner, EARTHLY KNOWLEDGE AND HEAVENLY WISDOM (SteinerBooks, 1990), pp. 9-11.
"Anthroposophy is an occult science arising out of deep Initiation-Knowledge that has been attained during many centuries, and which is pre-eminently given in the form that is right and suitable for our modern age." — Eleanor Merry, "The Anthroposophical World-Conception: An Introductory Outline", ANTHROPOSOPHY, A QUARTERLY REVIEW OF SPIRITUAL SCIENCE, 7, 1932, p. 293.
In establishing this linkage between his own teachings and those of prior sages, gurus, or initiates, Steiner unintentionally equated himself with the ignorance and superstition of the past. By this accounting, Steiner was merely a modern mystic, another in the long, long line of self-appointed, phony prophets and seers. Indeed, if Steiner’s teachings were to prevail, the result would be to plunge mankind back into the darkness of prior times. This is not how Anthroposophists see the matter, of course, but it is how enlightened humans must see it.
Here is a somewhat different description of human progress over the last many centuries. The author is discussing the Big Bang theory: “The Big Bang model of the universe was developed over the last hundred years, and this was only possible because twentieth-century breakthroughs were built upon a foundation of astronomy constructed in previous centuries. In turn, these theories and observations of the sky were set within a scientific framework that had been assiduously crafted over two millennia. Going back even further, the scientific method as a path to objective truth about the material world could start to blossom only when the role of myths and folklore had begun to decline. All in all, the roots of the Big Bang model and the desire for a scientific theory of the universe can be traced back to the decline of the ancient mythological view of the world.” — Simon Singh, THE BIG BANG (Fourth Estate, 2004), p. 4.
Steiner would reverse this progress and return us to the time of myth and fallacy, cloaked as “spiritual science.” And here we come upon the key difference between real science and Steiner’s fantasies. There is no objective evidence supporting Steiner’s views, whereas such scientific theories* as General Relativity and the Big Bang are firmly supported. Indeed, the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to scientists whose work confirmed the Big Bang. Famed physicist Stephen Hawking called their work the greatest discovery of all time: This is how the universe began; we now know; the evidence is overwhelming. [See, e.g., “Big-Bang Work Brings Big Prize”, www.nasa.gov/audience/.../k.../F_Big_Bang_Big_Prize.html.]
And the evidence for Steiner’s views? Where is it? It cannot be found. It doesn’t exist.
Sample Anthroposophical art:
by Arild Rosenkrantz.
* Anthroposophists sometimes argue that the natural sciences are unreliable because they consist of mere theories. But this is a misunderstanding. Whereas in ordinary discourse the word "theory" may be taken to mean a guess, a hunch, a mere speculation, in science the word has a very different meaning. A scientific theory is a carefully thought-out explanation of phenomena. Importantly, a scientific theory is based on objective, confirmed knowledge. The prevailing scientific theories of any period represent the best, most solid explanations available for well-established information about the real world. Later theories may improve upon or overturn earlier theories, but in no case does the word "theory" mean, in this context, loose or unsubstantiated guessing.
There is a vast amount of evidence supporting the prevailing scientific theories of today; there is little or none supporting Anthroposophy.
- Compilation and commentary by Roger Rawlings
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◊◊◊ 14. PULLING IT ALL TOGETHER ◊◊◊