STEINER AND HIS FOES
The Hero's Stand
Rudolf Steiner encouraged his followers to believe that they are surrounded by enemies. These include black magicians, stooges of the demon Ahriman, scientists, materialists, members of malign secret societies, demons in disguise, wrongheaded adherents of traditional religions, and so on. Anthroposophists must carry on their good work in the knowledge that implacable enemies are springing up on every side.
Does this strike you as slightly paranoid? Perhaps it is. But Anthroposophists have it on good authority.
Steiner proudly asserted that Anthroposophy was spreading and thriving, but he warned his followers of relentless opponents who threatened to destroy their movement.
“[O]ur enemies are springing up on every side...” — Rudolf Steiner, SECRETS OF THE THRESHOLD (Anthroposophic Press, 1987), “Words of Welcome”, GA 147.
Looking on critics as opponents or indeed enemies creates a mindset of fear, defensiveness, and hostility — which can make communication between Anthroposophists and the rest of the civic community extremely difficult. Be wary, Steiner said to his followers; don’t reveal our secret knowledge to wicked outsiders. We should trust, and speak openly to, only ourselves.
Steiner knew that his teachings could appall outsiders. So, he told the faithful, hush!
“I do not like to talk about such things since we have often been attacked even without them. Imagine what people would say if they heard that we say there are people who are not human beings ... [W]e do not want to shout that to the world.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 649-650.
The prohibition against public revelations was not absolute; Steiner published books revealing some inside knowledge, and his followers have published others. Finding the right balance has been hard for them. (I’ll return to this issue, below.)
Anthroposophists generally believe that they are quite literally on the side of the angels. They are good; non-Anthroposophists are benighted and, often, demonic. Members of cults often hold such views of themselves vis-å-vis others. For Steiner and his followers, the sense of persecution was heightened greatly when their first headquarters building, the original Goetheanum, was destroyed by fire. Although they never produced proof, they immediately decided that their building had been intentionally burned to the ground by foul enemies.
“[T]he Anthroposophical Movement is of a nature that attracts enemies ... [W]hat was cast in the mould of love has called forth bitter enmity. Our misfortune has unleashed a veritable hailstorm of ridicule, contempt and hatred, and the willful distortion of truth that has always characterized so large a part of our opposition is especially typical of the situation now, with enemies creeping out of every corner and spreading deliberate untruth about the tragedy itself. Our friends present at the scene of the fire did everything in their power to save what simply could not be saved. But ill-wishers have had the bad taste to say, for example, that the fire showed up the members for what they were, that they just hung about praying for the fire to stop of itself. This is merely a small sample of the contempt and ridicule we are being subjected to in connection with the fire.
“I have been warning for years that we will have to reckon with a constantly growing opposition, and that it is our foremost duty to be aware of this and to be properly vigilant. It was always painful to have to hear people say that our enemies in this or that quarter seemed to be quieting down. This sort of thing is due to people's willingness to entertain illusions, unfortunately all too prevalent among us. Let us hope that the terrible misfortune we have had to face will at least have the effect of curing members of their illusions and convincing them of the need to concentrate all the forces of their hearts and minds on advancing the Anthroposophical Movement ... [E]verything we now have can be wiped out by our enemies in no time at all if we are not more thoughtful about the problems I have laid before you today.” — Rudolf Steiner, AWAKENING TO COMMUNITY (Anthroposophic Press, 1974), lecture 1, GA 257.
Here are other statements made by Steiner about “enemies” and “opponents.” Note how often Steiner encouraged his followers to intensify their defensive efforts and to make other contributions to support Anthroposophy. The subject is distasteful, he said, but the forces of evil must be overcome by the forces of virtue. Our enemies lie, slander, contemplate lawsuits, and resort to all manner of wicked attack. Beleaguered Anthroposophists must fight back vigorously, even though their kindly nature makes this difficult for them.
“[M]odern humanity suffers from two evils, both of which must be overcome in the [Anthroposophical] Society. One is fear of the supersensible. This unadmitted fear accounts for every enemy the Anthroposophical Movement has ... We are dealing with enemies who will not meet us on objective ground. It is characteristic of them that they avoid coming to grips with what anthroposophy itself is, and instead ask questions like, ‘How are anthroposophical facts discovered?’ or ‘What is this clairvoyance?’ or ‘Does so and so drink coffee or milk?’ and other such matters that have no bearing on the subject [sic], though they are what is most talked about. But enemies intent on destroying anthroposophy resort to slander, and samples of it have been turning up of late in phenomena that would have been quite unthinkable just a short while ago, before civilization reached its lowest ebb. Now, however, they have become possible. I don't want to go into the specifics....” —Rudolf Steiner, AWAKENING TO COMMUNITY, lecture 4.
“Let it be understood that I am not saying that this or that person is not giving all he has or, perhaps, does not have; it is not in the least my intention to go into such details. But, if our souls possessed the same enthusiasm for Anthroposophy which our opponents of all shades have today for anti-Anthroposophy, we should be very differently established. Then it would not be so difficult to collect the pennies, trivial in comparison with the wealth of the world — in spite of the impoverished world of today — to finish the Goetheanum.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE CONCEALED ASPECTS OF HUMAN EXISTENCE AND THE CHRIST IMPULSE (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Company, 1941), appendix, GA 218.
“[O]ur opponents are very well organized and know very well what they are doing ... [W]e have our opponents today...who are not afraid to make use of any lie and who know very well how to utilize it to best advantage. It is wrong to believe that it is somehow appropriate to pass over these things lightly with the argument that not only are they devoid of truth, but the lies are so crude no one will believe them. People who say that simply show that they are deeply unaware of the nature of contemporary western civilization, and do not recognize the powerful impulses to untruth which are accepted as true, I have to say, even by the best people, because it is convenient and they are only half awake.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE ANTHROPOSOPHIC MOVEMENT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993), lecture 7, GA. 258.
“You see, we already have enough enemies and they act in a quite peculiar way. I don't wish to speak of this now, perhaps you already know about it from reading the “Newssheet”. You also know the strange fact that there are people who have been saying for a long time now that what I teach is infected with all kinds of dogmatic Christianity, even with Jesuitism. Especially certain followers of the so-called Adyar-Theosophy talk in the worst way about this supposed Jesuitism, as well as many more hateful, unscrupulous things ... Well, that's enough! That is our enemies' method. We can look at these things not only calmly, but also with compassion – but we may not close our eyes to them. When such things happen, then care must be taken by those who for years indulged such people who acted without scruples. I would really prefer not to speak about such things....” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FIFTH GOSPEL (Anthroposophic Press), lecture 5, GA 148.
“[A]bove all we should not think that the sharpest powers of opposition are not active from all sides against what strives for the well-being of humanity. I have already indicated to you what is being done in the world in opposition to our movement, what hostility is activated against us. I feel myself obliged to make these things known to you, so that you should never say to yourself: We have already refuted this or that. We have refuted nothing, because these opponents are not interested in the truth. They prefer to ignore as much as possible the facts and simply aim slanderous accusations from all corners.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE HISTORY AND ACTUALITY OF IMPERIALISM (Southern Cross Review, 2011), lecture 3, GA 196.
“I believe, though, that in my own little book on the theory of knowledge, THE THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE IMPLICIT IN GOETHE'S WORLD CONCEPTION — it has just appeared in a new edition — that I have contributed something in this field which everybody can read. However, I do believe that it is not possible to carry out the principle of keeping something secret once it has been put into print. In practice it has proved impossible. After all, we now have a situation in which our enemies are far more quick to speak in public about a new publication than are the anthroposophists themselves. Facts such as these have to be taken into account.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE CHRISTMAS CONFERENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1990), lecture 9, GA 260.
This statement touches on a central problem for Anthroposophists. They possess what they think is occult “mystery” knowledge, which must be kept secret; yet they also want to spread the good word, if they can, as Steiner himself attempted. But putting out the word stirs up additional enemies.
Steiner said his enemies wanted to prevent him from doing his clairvoyant “research,” and he encouraged his followers to shoulder the responsibility for dealing with these enemies. This defensiveness continues today.
“Now we certainly have any number of opponents who simply do not know why they adopt a hostile stand; they just go along with others, finding it comfortable to be vague about their reasons. But there are a few leading figures among them who know full well what they are up to and who are interested in suppressing and stamping out truths about the spiritual world such as can alone raise the level of human dignity and restore peace on earth. The rest of the opponents go along with these, but the leaders do not want to have anthroposophical truth made available. Their opposition is absolutely conscious, and so is their effort to stimulate it in their followers.
“What are they really intent on achieving? If I may refer to myself in this connection, they are trying to keep me so preoccupied with their attacks that I cannot find time for actual anthroposophical research....
“Now in a truly brilliant lecture that he gave in Stuttgart, Herr Werbeck called attention to the large number of hostile books written by theologians alone ... At least as many books have been written by people in various other fields. One is actually bombarded with hostile writings intended to keep one from the real work of anthroposophy. That is the quite deliberate intention ... [The Anthroposophical] Society should take over its responsibility in this area. It should take on the battle with opponents, for otherwise it will prove impossible really to keep up anthroposophical research.
“That is exactly what our opponents want. Indeed, they would like best of all to find grounds for lawsuits ... Yes, my dear friends, most of our opponents know very well indeed what they are about, and they are well organized. But these facts should be known in the Anthroposophical Society too. If the right attention is paid to them, action will follow.”
I will skip down several paragraphs:
“Our opponents are projecting a caricature of anthroposophy, and they are working hard at the job. Their writings contain unacknowledged material from anthroposophical cycles [i.e., Steiner’s teachings]. Nowadays there are lending libraries where the cycles can be borrowed, and so on. The old way of thinking about these things no longer fits the situation. There are second-hand bookshops that lend cycles for a fee, so that anybody who wants to read them can now do so. We show ourselves ignorant of modern social life if we think that things like cycles can be kept secret; that is no longer possible today. Our time has become democratic even in matters of the spirit. We should realize that anthroposophy has to be made known.” — Rudolf Steiner, AWAKENING TO COMMUNITY, lecture 10.
“Spiritual science is reproached for saying that Jesus was not always the Christ, but that Christ's life on earth began only when Jesus was thirty years old. Prejudiced humanity confronts spiritual science with one superficiality after another. The mere stating of the fact instantly invites prejudice. And the same holds true of almost everything that our opponents say regarding the position spiritual science takes on Christianity.” — Rudolf Steiner, ANTHROPOSOPHY AND CHRISTIANITY (Anthroposophic Press, 1985), a lecture, GA 155.
“[W]e find hardly anyone who has lived in the environment of an anthroposophist, however obstinate his opposition, who in his subconscious does not show a leaning towards spiritual science. It is precisely among the opponents of anthroposophy that one finds after death a sphere of wishes in which a passionate longing for spiritual science is manifest. This is why a practice that has become customary among us has proved to be so beneficial for the dead, that is, to read to those who during their lives were unwilling to receive much anthroposophy. This proves to be extraordinarily beneficial for the souls concerned. This should be done by vividly picturing the face of the person who has died as he was during the last period of his life on earth. Then one takes a book and quietly goes through it sentence by sentence with one's thoughts directed towards the dead person as if he were sitting in front of one. He will receive this eagerly and gain much from it.” — Rudolf Steiner, LIFE BETWEEN DEATH AND REBIRTH (Anthroposophic Press, 1968), lecture 6, GA 140.
If this weren’t absurd, it would be sweet. Sort of.
Steiner and his small band of adherents stand out in a world teeming with evil opponents, materialists who are creating a hellish future. The fight goes on, the angelic spiritualists against the hellish materialists, the good high races against the evil low races:
“A humanity that thinks materialistically will produce frightful beings in the future ... We have two streams today, a great [i.e., huge] materialistic one which fills the earth, and the small spiritual stream which is restricted to but few human beings ... All materialistically thinking souls work on the production of evil race-formations ... Just as older conditions which have degenerated to the ape species seem grotesque to us today, so do materialistic races remain at the standpoint of evil, and will people the earth as evil races. It will lie entirely with humanity as to whether a soul will remain in the bad race or will ascend by spiritual culture to a good race.” — Rudolf Steiner, ROSICRUCIAN WISDOM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), p. 150.
— Compilation and commentary by Roger Rawlings
To examine the Anthroposophical impulse
to demonize enemies, see
"Can't We All Just Get Along?"
Here are sketches of the first Goetheanum, based on
images on pp. 114-115 of
Rudolf Steiner, ARCHITECTURE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003.)
"If you look at the Goetheanum you will see that it has two domes ... [T]his double dome is an expression of the living element. If there had been one dome then in essence our building would have been dead." — Rudolf Steiner, ART AS SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF MYSTERY WISDOM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 154.
Sketch of the large west window
in the Anthroposophical headquarters building,
Beneficence, ascension, and the abyss.
Steiner sometimes indicated that all will be redeemed,
Sometimes he suggested otherwise.
The panel on the left depicts the abyss and its demonic denizens.
[R.R., 2014. For other depictions of this window, see, e.g.,
THE GOETHEANUM GLASS-WINDOWS
(Philosophisch-Anthroposophischer Verlag am Goethanum, 1972),
pp. 18-19, and
THE GOETHEANUM CUPOLA MOTIFS OF RUDOLF STEINER
(SteinerBooks, 2011), p. 179.]
Waldorf-style art, more or less.
A transcendent passage.
The second Goetheanum
along with associated structures.
[Renderings, 2013, based on
photos on p. 10 and p. 12 of THE GOETHEANUM
(Philosophical-Anthroposophical Press, 1961).]
Cross section: erupting volcano.
Dangers abound. Science misunderstands,
but Steiner sees:
“Now let me tell you, gentlemen, how a phenomenon like fire-spewing mountains is usually considered in science ... [T]he learned gentlemen [i.e., scientists] are always looking for the reasons why water vapor rises from a volcano and even bombs fly out; they look for the reasons — yes, they look for them below ground. But that is not where they are ... [I]f the stars above Vesuvius [a volcano] are in a particular position relative to each other...through the position of the stars, with the astral element above thinning out...things are forcibly pulled up from below." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM MAMMOTHS TO MEDIUMS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), pp. 27-30. [R.R. sketch, 2010, based on sketch on p. 26.]
The stars manifest the will of the gods,
which in turn reflect the spiritual realities
created by human will.
“The fate of hundreds and thousands of people may be affected by an earthquake or a volcano. Does the human will influence these things, or is it all a matter of chance? Do dead, natural laws act with blind fury, or does some connection exist between these events and the human will?” — Rudolf Steiner, THE INTERIOR OF THE EARTH: An Esoteric Study of the Subterranean Spheres (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), p. 29.
If evil spirits, including malevolent humans,
did not will disasters, there would be no disasters.
Steiner designed mystic columns
for use in "spiritual science" buildings.
There are seven column designs, representing
the seven classical planets of astrology
(Saturn, Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus).
Here you see the design for the Venus column:
"In the year 1907 Rudolf Steiner published the collection OCCULT SEALS AND COLUMNS ... The pictures, based on his sketches and instructions, have been drawn and re-drawn by a number of artists ... [T]he seven Seals and Columns decorated the Lecture Hall at the Congress of European Sections of the Theosophical Society, held in 1907 in Munich, where Rudolf Steiner and his pupils were responsible for the arrangements ... The designs of the seven Columns were afterwards reproduced in fully plastic form in the great wooden pillars supporting the large dome of the first Goetheanum." — George Adams, note in VERSES AND MEDITATIONS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), pp. 227-228.
The seals are the occult messages that will be opened and understood during the Apocalypse. Mighty combats lie ahead. The best may transcend them; the rest will fight, tooth and claw. See, e.g., "All vs. All".
“Only those who turn to a spiritual life will survive the catastrophe, which, in this case, means the war of all against all, just as only a small group of people escaped from the catastrophes of Lemuria and Atlantis. The war of all against all will be still more terrible for those involved in it than were those of fire and water, however terrible we may picture them to have been. Those who are now turning towards a spiritual life should feel it their duty to do all that is possible to rescue the good seed of our age and carry it over into the sixth age, which will follow the present one. This age is made up of great subdivisions; the ancient Indian, the Persian, the Egyptian, the Greco-Latin, and the present one, which will be followed by the sixth and the seventh right on to the time of the war of all against all.” — Rudolf Steiner, UNIVERSE, EARTH AND MAN (Collison, 1931) lecture 10, GA 105.
“Consider that through evil separating from good, the good will be immeasurably strengthened, and that after the great War of All against All the good [humans] will....” — Rudolf Steiner, EVIL (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 194. But the evil ones won’t...
[Anthroposophic Press, 1987]
"The hypercritical people of our time who denounce anthroposophy certainly belong to those described by the poet: 'The devil's never noticed by some folk, even when he has them by the neck!' We can judge these opponents of anthroposophy a bit by what Ahriman [says] while he prowls around." — Rudolf Steiner, THE SECRETS OF THE THRESHOLD, lecture 1.
“The enemies of anthroposophy differ greatly from one another. When the Jesuits speak against anthroposophy, it differs from what the Benedictine monks say against anthroposophy. Nowadays the Church suppresses a science that reaches beyond the earth...spiritual science ... Today’s scientists [i.e., natural scientists who oppose Anthroposophy] are, in a certain sense, truly Benedictine or Jesuit pupils.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM COMETS TO COCAINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), p. 299.
“The opponents of Anthroposophy can be quite funny at times. There was once an article in a Hamburg newspaper in which Anthroposophy was insulted from all possible sides; and there, it is true, I was actually seen as an imp or devil, and in that case indeed it was meant very seriously, as if I myself were not just an imp but the devil’s own helper....” — Rudolf Steiner, LEARNING TO SEE IN THE SPIRITUAL WORLD (SteinerBooks, 2000), GA 350.
"A question is asked regarding the opponents of anthroposophy.
"Dr. Steiner: 'These rumors [i.e., slanderous attacks on Anthroposophy] are always coming up. You see it everywhere in Switzerland. We are now trying to trace all the different variations of these despicable things with the goal of wiping away all traces of their machinations....'” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, pp. 186-187.
“We need to see that people pay more attention to us and learn more about our way of thinking ... The situation in Berlin [where Steiner gave a presentation] was impossible. A discussion of barely an hour. There was sufficient time for many people to say really dumb things, but not enough time to defend yourself ... We should not leave our people out on a limb ... We cannot allow only our opponents to be heard. The situation there was the best possible for those who want to hurt anthroposophy." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 319.
“People worked together until the end of the war. [The tendency to separate] from one another arose only since 1919 ... That is the reason for what has unfortunately occurred in the Anthroposophical Society, namely, that the Society has divided into a number of cliques ... A harmonious cooperation should arise from the admonitions of our opponents .... Learn from our opponents! Our opponents know things very exactly, and they know, at least from their perspective, how to take them seriously....” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 497.
“Modern people...get furious when they hear that certain circles [i.e., Anthroposophists and their allies] want a very different understanding of the world ... It is only on this basis that we can understand the peculiar developments among the opponents of anthroposophy ... [A]fter the tragedy of the burning of the Goetheanum our opponents think it justified and proper to oppose us with even more scorn and derision.” — Rudolf Steiner, EARTHLY KNOWLEDGE AND HEAVENLY WISDOM (SteinerBooks, 1991), pp. 134-135.
“It is precisely among the opponents of anthroposophy that one finds after death...a passionate longing for spiritual science....” — Rudolf Steiner, LIFE BETWEEN DEATH AND REBIRTH (Anthroposophic Press, 1968), p. 111.
“[W]e spoke this morning a good deal about the opponents of Anthroposophy. I could say much that would be for their good, though certainly not in their favor.” — Rudolf Steiner, MAN IN THE PAST, THE PRESENT AND FUTURE AND THE SUN-INITIATION OF THE DRUID PRIEST AND HIS MOON-SCIENCE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), pp. 60-61.
Perhaps we should end by circling back
to view again, in slightly different form,
a quotation we saw previously:
“I do not like to talk about such things since we have often been attacked even without them. Imagine what people would say if they heard that we say there are people who are not human beings. Nevertheless, these are facts. Our culture would not be in such a decline if people felt more strongly that a number of people are going around who, because they are completely ruthless, have become something that is not human, but instead are demons in human form.
"Nevertheless, we do not want to shout that to the world. Our opposition is already large enough." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 650.
To visit other pages in this section of Waldorf Watch,
use the underlined links, below.
◊◊◊ 13. RUDOLF STEINER ◊◊◊
WHAT A GUY
Seeing Steiner through his followers’ eyes; includes brief chronology of Steiner's life
What he prescribed, and — perhaps — why
The coming, epoch-ending war
Some illustrations on each page here at Waldorf Watch
are closely connected to the essay on that page;
others are not — they provide general context.