Paying Our Debts

Steiner often spoke of love. He advocated love, for which we must commend him. But our commendation needs to be tempered.

Often, Steiner’s discussions of love were abstract, hypothetical, or perfunctory. Religious leaders generally endorse love, sometimes equating Love with God. Steiner didn’t go that far — his polytheism didn’t allow him to do so. But he talked about love a lot, and he forecast love as the fulfillment of evolution. Gnostic wisdom will take us there, bringing us first to a Cosmos of Wisdom from which we will move up to a Cosmos of Love. [1] 

“For it is of the very nature of true spiritual knowledge to be transmuted into Love.” [2]

Steiner taught that love is crucial to us now, although we do not yet generally enact love in the correct, high form. This will come in the future, through a series of perfections stretching far beyond the limits of our current, earthly perspective. Our guide is Christ, the Sun God who incarnated in the body of a man named Jesus. That man became the model we should all emulate, although “fundamentally Jesus is only the external sign, making the path of the sun forces visible to the physical eye.” [3] Since, according to Steiner, most people misunderstand Christ and his host Jesus, the near-term guide we need to follow is — Steiner himself. [4]

Eventually, Love will produce interplanetary harmony. 

“[I]n the future the I of man will harmonize with the beings of Earth, Jupiter, Venus and Vulcan by virtue of the new force which Earthly evolution is implanting in the pristine Wisdom. It is the power of Love. In man on Earth it has to have its beginning.” [5] 

Wisdom is “pristine” in its spiritual purity, but we in our highly evolved state will add love to it. Man on earth will be central to this cosmic evolution — the transforming power of our loving influence will spread outward.

But what do we mean by "love"? What is this high virtue and force? Love is deep affection, surely. In a sense, it is selfless: You elevate the object of your love above yourself. You want to protect and serve the loved one; in extremity, you may even sacrifice your own life to save the loved one's life. On the other hand, love may be self-centered: You crave the loved one, you want to possess the object of your love, you yearn to receive affirming love from the achingly beloved. 

According to Steiner, love is an evolutionary mechanism. It is the repayment of karmic debt. If you wrong someone during one incarnation, you make amends in a future incarnation. 

“[E]verything we do out of love we pay off debts. From an occult point of view, what is done out of love brings no reward but makes amends for profit already expended. The only actions from which we have nothing in the future are those we perform out of true, genuine love. This truth may well be disquieting and men are lucky in that they know nothing of it in their upper consciousness. But in their subconsciousness all of them know it, and that is why deeds of love are done so unwillingly, why there is so little love in the world. Men feel instinctively that they may expect nothing...from deeds of love. An advanced stage of development must have been reached before the soul can experience joy in performing deeds of love from which there is nothing to be gained for itself. The impulse for this is not strong in humanity. But occultism can be a source of powerful incentives to deeds of love.” [6]

Love is the payment of debt. We don't enjoy acting out of love; we see no profit in it. But occultism can lead us to true, debt-repaying love. Only when, guided by occultism, we evolve to a higher level will we lean to actually enjoy love.

Some of these assertions may surprise you. But this is Steiner's view.

Of course, wisdom and love are not confined to the distant future. The perfected forms of these ideals are not available to us yet, but Steiner claimed to illuminate the path toward them. This raises some questions, however. Can we square Steiner’s ideas about these subjects with what we actually know about our lives and the universe? Do we really find no joy, today, in acts of love? Does love really revolve around karma and reincarnation (paying for former errors in this, our latest incarnation)? Is it even vaguely conceivable that occultism shows the way to love? 

We can, perhaps, get a handle on Steiner's view of love by considering his teachings about racial hierarchies. If we are to be loving creatures, surely we should love our neighbors — including our distant neighbors, including those who are at least superficially unlike ourselves. Steiner's followers have explicitly linked Steiner's teachings about love to his teachings about race. 

“Suffice it to say that, throughout his entire life of service to humanity, Rudolf Steiner stood for the ‘universal human,’ for the substance of the earth becoming love, and for the overcoming of racism and the concept of race.” [7] 

Converting the substance of the earth to love is the process of transmuting wisdom into love, moving "up to a Cosmos of Love." Well and good. And surely a world of love will be one in which racism has been overcome.

But there is a hitch. Steiner argued that we will not truly love one another until we are no longer different from one another — until "the concept of race" has been overcome. Today, he said, humanity is divided into racial and national groupings that are not merely different from one another, but that stand at different levels of evolutionary progress. Some races and nations are "higher" than others. 

“A race or nation stands so much the higher, the more perfectly its members express the pure, ideal human type.” [8] 

Steiner said that two devils created racial havoc for mankind: 

“Lucifer and Ahriman preserved older racial forms that had developed, so that there was a coexistence of races rather than a succession.” [9] 

In brief, some humans evolved to higher racial levels as the gods intended, but Lucifer and Ahriman preserved older, less-evolved races that should have died out. The humans who evolved properly became modern whites; the others became blacks, browns, reds, and yellows. (If you have nonwhite skin, Steiner’s loving message to you is that you are a mistake.) The differences between races run much deeper than skin color, according to Steiner, but skin color is very important. 

“One can only understand history and all of social life, including today's social life, if one pays attention to people's racial characteristics. And one can only understand all that is spiritual in the correct sense if one first examines how this spiritual element operates within people precisely through the color of their skin.” [10]

If we had not been forced to coexist with one another, a single, beautiful, white human race would have existed: 

“In that case, a human race of Grecian beauty would have spread over the earth, and in our age we would already see humanity approaching more and more this beautiful Grecian type....” [11] 

The closest any race comes, now, to such an ideal can be found among Europeans. (Bear in mind that Greeks are Europeans.) Steiner taught that after Atlantis sank, one set of survivors evolved properly while others did not. 

“[I]t was the normal human beings that were...the most capable of evolving. [Abnormal] peoples...gradually wandered to the West and became...the Red Indians of America ... [Other abnormal] people...migrated to the East, and became the subsequent Negro population of Africa ... The human beings who had developed normally lent themselves best to progress.” [12] 

The “normal” humans went to Europe and became the vanguard of further human evolution.

The consequences of mankind’s racial misfortunes will persist for some time. In fact, “external diversity will increase more and more ... We will have to face calmly and courageously the increasing diversity of human nature....” [13] This will be unpleasant: lower humans will “strive to bring to the fore what is unique among various groups of human beings so as to exclude others.” [14] But our "external diversity" will be offset by internal unification. Through Christ, we will become inwardly more alike, until mankind’s lower soul elements have been overcome. 

“We have the right feelings for Christ only when we see in him the savior, rescuing humanity from dispersion and separateness ... In the future, it will not matter much whether what Christ is will still be called by that name. However, a lot will depend on our finding in Christ the spiritual uniter of humanity....” [15]

In becoming inwardly similar, we will evolve toward a single universal human type and our racial divisions will be behind us. “[T]he attainment of the unity of humanity from within” is the promise Steiner held out in the lectures comprising THE UNIVERSAL HUMAN. [16] The subtitle of that book is “The Evolution of Individuality.” Steiner says we will become individuals, free and unique, with racial diversity a thing of the past.

That’s Steiner’s vision. How loving is it? According to the Bible, Jesus told us to love one another as we love ourselves. He taught us to embrace one another in all our diversity. The parable of the good Samaritan deals with precisely this point. The Samaritans were the enemies of the Jews, yet a Samaritan helped his “enemy,” a Jew who had been wounded. [Luke 10: 25-37] Christ did not postpone the ultimate fulfillment of love to some theoretical future period. He urged it on us now, immediately, as we are. This is the Christian ideal.

What we find in Steiner’s teachings is something quite different. Coexistence among dissimilar peoples has been forced on us by a cosmic error. We must be courageous in facing the disagreeable consequences. Steiner’s premise is that humans are spiritually dissimilar now. We are unequal — some of us higher, some of us lower. This is the opposite of what love or morality — or, indeed, science — would teach us. In Steiner’s ideology, we will become equal only when we are essentially indistinguishable, when we are all “universal humans” rather than representatives of various branches of the human family. A more humane proposition is that all humans are equal already. This is what people mean when they say that we are all equal in the sight of God, and it is the only moral premise for our behavior toward one another. We are equally valuable, now, equally deserving of love and respect, now. Morally, politically, spiritually — we are all of equal worth, now. 

Steiner fundamentally misunderstood the ministry of Christ. Steiner’s solution to racial prejudice is not to end the prejudice but to end the races. This is not only backwards, but it is actually a confirmation of racism. The existence of more than one race is wrong, he said. Various races are inferior to the degree that they diverge from the racial “ideal,” he said. Inferior races constitute a drag on humanity’s progress, he said. The only hope he held out for us is that eventually we will remove the lower racial strains from ourselves and, cleansed, move toward a far-off promise of “Love.” [17] 

Without question, love is wonderful. To the extent that Steiner advocated love, we must commend him. Sadly, however, Steiner’s gnostic conception of love is such a pallid abstraction that is belied by many of his other doctrines. We’ve seen some of the unloving statements Steiner made about various groups, including his doctrine that whites must wage battle against colored humans. Human progress, he said, "
cannot happen differently than as a violent fight between white mankind and colored mankind in the most varied areas." [18]

If further evidence is needed, here are some more Steiner teachings: ◊ Jews are spiritually blind, [19] ◊ blacks are inherently childish, [20] and ◊ native Americans (“Red Indians”) are decadent. [21] ◊ Asians are generally incapable of original thought, [22] and ◊ they cannot evolve further. [23] Among Germany’s World War I enemies, ◊ the French “race” is declining, [24] ◊ Americans in general are the henchmen of Ahriman (aka Mephistopheles), [25] ◊ Russians/Communists are in league with Lucifer, [26] and ◊ the English have institutionalized their grasping selfishness. [27] ◊ Among the human population at large, some people are demons in disguise, [28] and ◊ some are, in effect, robots. [29] ◊ As a matter of fact, quite a number of “people” are not really human beings at all. [30]

Perhaps Steiner said such things dispassionately, “objectively,” without rancor. But does this matter? Try an experiment. Imagine Jesus making any of those statements. Imagine Mother Teresa doing it, or Martin Luther King, or Buddha, or... No one truly committed to love would make any one of those remarks, let alone all of them. But Steiner made them all, and more. Steiner’s brand of spiritualism lacks true charity — it is an ideology that gives only lip-service to love.

Here is a little scene showing Rudolf Steiner in action. Ask yourself if an apostle of love would act so. Steiner brings a small boy onto a lecture platform and uses him to illustrate some of Steiner's quack medical ideas:

"And now, if you will begin to observe the child for yourselves — [to the boy] Come here a minute! — [to the audience] you will find many things to notice. Let me draw your attention, first of all, to the strongly developed lower half of the face. Look at the shape of the nose and the mouth. The mouth is always a little open, which has an effect on dental development.* It is important to note these things, for they are unquestionably bound up with the whole soul-and-spirit constitution of the child... The formation you see here in the jaws — the jaws belong, of course, to the limb system — is wholly part of the head system ... (Look, he's amused! I think Fraulein B. was asking him why he keeps his mouth open, and his reply was: 'To let the flies come in.' This is a firmly fixed opinion of his.) 

"... Here (in the front) as we remarked, the head is pressed together. In all probability this points back to a purely mechanical injury, either at birth or during pregnancy, a mechanical injury in which we can see nothing else than a working of karma ... 

"[T]he whole breathing very little under control ... Hence the symptom that is so conspicuous in a child of this kind ... What ought to happen is that gradually, in the course of life, the whole system of movement in man should become a servant of the intellectual system. [To the boy] Stand still a minute.** And now come here to me and do this! (Dr. Steiner makes a movement with his arm as if to take hold of something; the boy does not make the movement.) Never mind! We mustn't force him. Do you see? It is difficult for him to do anything; he has not the power to exercise the right control over his metabolism-and-limbs system...." [31]

Steiner's behavior — using a child as a living specimen during a lecture, criticizing his body and mind in his presence — was perhaps considered less offensive in Steiner's day than in ours. But it is hardly the behavior anyone should expect from a wise and loving spiritual leader.

Steiner advocated love, and for this he should be commended. But there are many reasons to doubt that his conception of love has validity. We can, I submit, find better and truer conceptions of love. And, quite likely, we can find better guides than the occultist, R. Steiner.

* Another translation [CURATIVE EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972)] renders "dental development" as "the peculiar formation of the teeth": "The mouth is always a little open. With this symptom is connected also the peculiar formation of the teeth. It is important to note these things...."

** CURATIVE EDUCATION puts an exclamation point after this statement, which would be more consistent with the way Steiner addressed the boy:  "(To the boy) Stand still a minute! And now come here to me and do this! (Dr. Steiner makes a movement with his arm...." 

“Just think how dead the cosmos is when we look out there and see only burning bodies of gas that shine! Just think how alive it all becomes when we know: Those stars are expressions of love, with which the astral cosmos works on the etheric cosmos!” [32]

Steiner’s words were sometimes pretty, but did they convey anything real or true? Did his use of the word “love” carry real significance?

Actually, a statement such as the one above reveals the desires and fears motivating Steiner and his followers. Anthroposophists want a universe of love; they want it very much. But wanting something, even wanting it desperately, doesn't produce it. The stars are indeed balls of gas; they burn with atomic fire, not — so far as we can know — with love. This does not mean that the universe is cold and empty — although we may fear that it is, and this fear can lead us to develop alternative cosmologies that seem preferable to us. But our deep longings can never be truly satisfied by fantasies. We all want love; we would all like to live in a universe of love. But we must learn to distinguish between our dreams and reality. Perhaps we can create a universe of love, but does the real universe function now on the basis of love? Are the stars really "expressions of love"? We have little or no solid evidence to support such contentions.

And consider this. Science — real science, intellectually honest science — is fully as heartfelt as fantasy creeds such as Anthroposophy. Real scientists can have the same profound aspirations as mystics and false "spiritual scientists." The chief difference lies in the degree of honesty, not in the degree of love sought or offered. Here is a statement by a real scientist, describing a genuine inquiry into the deep core of nature: 

"The state of mind which enables a man to do work of this akin to that of the religious worshipper or the lover; the daily effort comes from no deliberate intention or programme, but straight from the heart." — Albert Einstein. 

The chief difference lies in the degree of honesty. Fantasized love is only a heart-rending illusion. The "astral cosmos," the "etheric cosmos" — these are illusions. We live in the real universe, on a real planet — where we can find and create love if we have the wisdom, and decency, and blessedness to do so. Steiner's delusions — whether or not he believed them — are false. They can never lead us to our true hearts' desires.

— Roger Rawlings

For a close look at Steiner's essay, 

"The Universal Human", see "Universal".

For Steiner's affirmation of occultism,

see "Occultism".

Rough sketch of a rough sketch

Steiner made, planning a window

for the Goetheanum.

[R.R., 2009; see e.g., rudolfsteinerweb.]

The window was completed and can

be seen today at the western end of the building.

[Rudolf Steiner, ART (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), p. 127.]

It depicts the abyss and the evil creatures in it.

A conventional image of divine mercy and assistance. 
Steiner's version is indicated below.
(The dark area at the bottom is the cavern of the unredeemed.)

[R.R., 2010.]

Ahriman, as conceived by Steiner.

Here we see a Hindu image of androgyny: Ardanari-Iswara, standing on a lotus blossom. Steiner said we have evolved from uniformity toward individuality. The division into sexes was an advance, but our evolution requires moving beyond the backward female principle. 

"We have reached the period at which the earlier androgynous organism, representing a kind of group-soul, divided into male and female ... We see in our stage of evolution the female as the principle which still preserves the old conditions of folk and race, and the male that which continually breaks through these conditions, splits them up and so individualizes humanity ... [H]uman beings will become more and more different from one another ... That is the course of human evolution." — Rudolf Steiner, ROSICRUCIAN WISDOM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), p. 128.

We will become more and more different from one another as individuals. But as a totality, as humanity generally, we will evolve to a post-racial unity. [See, e.g., "Universal" ] We will become individually more diverse while we become ethnically more unified. And ultimately, in the far future, we will evolve to a final, supreme, spiritual unification as we perfect our apotheosis. [See, e.g., "The Tenth Hierarchy".]

Painting by a Waldorf student.

[Courtesy of People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools.]

How can anyone take Steiner’s teachings seriously?

“It was a collective world-womb in which the light-plant man lived at that time, feeling himself one with the light-mantle of the earth. In this refined vaporous plant-form, man hung as though on the umbilical cord of the earth-mother and he was cherished and nourished by the whole mother earth. As in a cruder sense the child of today is cherished and nourished in the maternal body, so the human germ was cherished and nourished at that time. Thus did man live in the primeval age of the earth ... We must not forget, however, that in what remained behind after the separation of the sun other forces, the Moon-forces, were present. The earth had to separate these forces from itself. Here we have a period during which only the sun was withdrawn, when the plant-man had to descend gradually into the water-earth. This stage, at which man had then arrived in his body, we see preserved today in a degenerated form in fishes. The fishes that we see in the water today are relics of those men, although naturally in a decadent form. We must think of a goldfish, for example, in a fantastic plant-form, agile, but with a feeling of sadness because the light had been withdrawn from the water. It was a very deep longing that arose. The light was no longer there, but the desire for the light called up this longing. There was a moment in the earth's evolution when the sun was not yet entirely outside the earth; there one can see that form still permeated with light — man with his upper part still at the sun-stage, while below he is already in the shape preserved in the fishes.” — Rudolf Steiner, EGYPTIAN MYTHS AND MYSTERIES (Anthroposophic Press, 1971), lecture 5, GA 106. 

Lest there be any confusion: What Steiner says, here, is not to be found in Egyptian myths. It is Steiner's own version of the truth about human evolution. Neither good sense nor real love can put down roots in such phantasmagoria. 

[R. R. sketch, 2010, with thanks to Spirogiro.]

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 Jupiter column:

[R.R. sketch, 2010, based on the one in Steiner's 

MYSTIC SEALS AND COLUMNS (Health Research, 1969).]

"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 [the Anthroposophical headquarters]." — George Adams, in Rudolf Steiner's VERSES AND MEDITATIONS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), pp. 227-228.

And the Venus column:

[R.R. sketch, 2010, based on the one in Steiner's 
MYSTIC SEALS AND COLUMNS (Health Research, 1969).]

Venus: planet of love?

Steiner's conception of love was unusual.

His doctrines mix religious piety with astrology and fantasy.

Here is an Easter prayer he wrote:

"Being sprung from worlds, thou in thy form of light,

Given strength from the Sun in the Moon's might,

Thou art endowed by Mars' creative resounding

And Mercury's wings bring movement to thy limbs,

Thou art illumined by Jupiter's shining wisdom

And by the beauty of Venus, bearing love.

May Saturn's world-old spirit-inwardness

Consecrate thee for space being and time's change."

— Rudolf Steiner,

GOLDEN BLADE (Hawthorn Press, 1988).

The mystic emblem of Venus,
as promoted by Steiner.
(Mercury Arts Publications, 1987), p. 199. R.R. sketch, 2010,
based on the one in the book.]

“[W]e find certain beings who in their own way are also of a mild, peaceable nature and who in a certain respect are extraordinarily clever. These beings...have their actual home on the planet Venus, as the other beings [have homes] on the moon and Mars. On Venus too we find yet a second species of beings who — in contrast to the gentle, amiable kind — present a wild and furious vitality, and whose principal occupation consists in mutual fighting and plunder." — Rudolf Steiner, THE INFLUENCE OF SPIRITUAL BEINGS ON MAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1961), lecture 1, GA 102.

For information on good, moral, loving behavior
— as prescribed by Steiner —
please see "Morality".

To visit other pages in this section of Waldorf Watch, 
use the underlined links, below.



An examination of Steiner’s central text

Steiner’s extraordinary, sci-fi-like narrative of human evolution.
The tale of our ancient past and our distant future, as told by Steiner. It continues in:


Surprising violence in Steiner's kindly vision

And badder, and baddest

America, Germany, and Waldorf

How to, he said


Steiner’s occult conspiracy theories


Back-room maneuvers

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.




[1] Steiner's teachings on these matters are somewhat complex. [Concerning Gnostic wisdom, see "Gnosis".] Steiner presented himself as the foremost conveyor of gnostic or occult knowledge in the modern world; the roots of such knowledge extend back to former stages of cosmic evolution. The transition from Cosmos of Wisdom to the Cosmos of Love is a work in progress:
“The Cosmos of Wisdom is...evolving into a Cosmos of Love. All that the I [i.e., the spiritual ego] of man brings to development [i.e., growth or evolution] within him[self] will grow into Love. It is the sublime Sun Being...who at His revelation stands forth as the all-embracing prototype of Love. Into the innermost depth of man’s being the seed of Love is thereby planted. Thence it shall grow and spread until it fills the whole of cosmic evolution.” — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1979), p. 311.
Generally, Steiner said that we have already passed through the Cosmos (or "Planet") of Wisdom — it was the Old Moon phase of evolution. The Cosmos (or Planet) of Love is the Present Earth phase, although we have certainly not yet perfected love and thus we have not yet truly realized the Cosmos of Love. We will do this (if things work out) by the end of the Present Earth phase, and love will subsequently be manifest, fulfilled, and universal during the coming Future Jupiter phase of evolution. For more on all this, see the relevant entries in THE BRIEF WALDORF / STEINER ENCYCLOPEDIA.


[3] Rudolf Steiner, THE UNIVERSAL HUMAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1990), p. 66.

[4] Christ’s earthly embodiment and crucifixion — the “Christ-Event” — set in motion the “Christ Impulse” that permits humans to evolve toward Wisdom and Love. The “Christ Event” is the Mystery of Golgotha, i.e., the mystic meaning of Christ's mission on Earth. [See, e.g., Rudolf Steiner, HOW TO KNOW HIGHER WORLDS (Anthroposophic Press, 1994), p. 234.] But the meaning of Golgotha has not yet been fulfilled; other events must occur: 

“This Christ Event is not limited to one point in time ... [T]here is [i.e., will be] no second physical incarnation of Christ ... Now, however, with the higher faculties human beings will be able to see the ether body [or life body] of Christ ... That is what one can call the mighty event that lies ahead of us — the Reappearance of Christ — taking place gradually, at first only for a few, then for more and more human beings ... A number of human beings who are incarnated today will also still be incarnated at the time when this Christ Event takes place ... [T]he Event of Golgotha was not only an event for the physical world, but it carried its effect over into spiritual will the Christ Event, which will present itself in our century [i.e., the twentieth], have its effect also in the world between death and a new birth [i.e., reincarnation, not born-again salvation].”  — Rudolf Steiner, COMPILED LECTURES (Anthroposophic Press, 1944, pp. 44-45. 

The Event was a “Mystery” and/or it is taking place for only a few Initiates now. This is gnosticism, and Steiner — the main Initiate of his time — points the way to “true” gnostic knowledge. [See "Gnosis".]

[5] OCCULT SCIENCE, p. 311.

[6] Rudolf Steiner, "Love and Its Meaning in the World" (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), a lecture, GA 143.

[7] Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 559.

Anthroposophists today often try to distance themselves from Steiner’s racism. Some make efforts to be especially kind to members of nonwhite races. But unless they repudiate every vestige of the racism preached by their guru — which would blow a gaping hole in the body of Steiner’s teachings — such treatment may be little more than condescending patronization.

[8] Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Rudolf Steiner Publish Co. & Anthroposophic Press, 1944), p. 149.

Steiner often spoke in such terms.

“Races would not stay behind and become decadent if there were not people who wish to stay behind and are obliged to stay behind ... Older races only persist because there are people who cannot or will not move forward to a higher racial form.” — Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), p. 69. 

A person who evolves properly moves upward through racial forms: 

“By striving forward...he is drawn up from race to race to ever higher stages.” — Ibid., p. 69. 


Ahriman is the devil of Zoroastrianism. Steiner taught that, contrary to Biblical doctrine, there are two great demons: 

"For Rudolf Steiner, Ahriman was synonymous with the biblical Satan — although distinct from Lucifer, whom he relates to the being referred to as 'the devil.'" — Sevak Gulbekian, introduction to Rudolf Steiner's THE INCARNATION OF AHRIMAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2006), p. ix.

[10] Rudolf Steiner, VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE - ÜBER DAS WESEN DES CHRISTENTUMS (Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1993) p. 52. Translation provided by Peter Staudenmaier.


[12] Rudolf Steiner, THE BEING OF MAN AND HIS FUTURE EVOLUTION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1981), pp. 118-119.


Steiner suggests that external differences between humans will be significant, even if we will move toward unification: Different people will actually have different types of human nature, at least as long as external differences persist. Such thinking epitomizes racism. External differences that rationally must be considered minor, such as differences in skin pigmentation, are taken as reflections of deep qualitative differences. Steiner's racism is all the more abhorrent precisely because it is "spiritual." This is, obviously, the opposite of what one might expect if "spiritual science" is considered a force for morality and love. But in Steiner, much is inverted and corrupted. Steiner saw spiritual significance in all things. Anything physical is a reflection of a spiritual reality, he taught. Thus, members of different races are not just superficially different, but they represent different soul states. They are, in other words, profoundly different. This is not just deplorable thinking, it is divorced from scientific truth. Scientists decoding the human genome have discovered that all human beings "are more than 99.9% genetically identical" proving that "race has almost no biological validity." White skin, for example, "involves a change in just one letter of DNA code out of 3.1 billion letters in the human genome." — Rick Weiss, “Scientists Find a DNA Change That Accounts for White Skin,” THE WASHINGTON POST, Dec. 16, 2005, p. A01. Differences that Steiner considered serious and deep are actually extremely superficial.

[14] Ibid., p. 90.

[15] Ibid., pp. 89-90.

Steiner generally paints much of evolution as a process leading toward increased individuality, but here he deplores “separateness” (diversity).

[16] Ibid., p. 85.

[17] Steiner’s followers sometimes pretend that divisions among humans will soon be resolved. This is not, however, what Steiner said. Even after our immediate racial divisions are behind us, many humans will fail to evolve properly. In the following passage, Steiner is “looking” very far into the future. (Reading a lengthy Steiner quotation is a chore. You may want to skip ahead to the sections I have italicized and/or my interjected explanations.) 

“When the seventh epoch has run its course, another great convulsion will overwhelm the Earth, comparable to the catastrophe between the end of Atlantean and the beginning of post-Atlantean time. Under the altered conditions following upon this event the life of man will once again evolve through a succession of seven epochs. The souls who will then be incarnated will experience in an enhanced degree the community with spiritual worlds enjoyed by the Atlanteans on a lower level. But among human beings not everyone will without more ado prove equal to the new conditions then prevailing [i.e., some people won’t make the grade]. It will only be those in whom souls are incarnated who have duly benefited by the influences of the Graeco-Latin and the succeeding fifth, sixth and seventh post-Atlantean epochs [i.e., the only ones to evolve properly will be those whose souls have benefited from all the recent cultural epochs]. Their inner life will be in harmony with what the Earth will have become. The others will perforce remain behind, while formerly they had been free to choose whether they were making themselves fit to go forward with the world's progressive evolution or were neglecting to do so [i.e., laggards will have only themselves to blame; they chose their fate]. For the conditions that will prevail after the coming cataclysm, those above all will be well fitted who, in their incarnations between the fifth post-Atlantean epoch and the sixth, succeed in integrating the supersensible wisdom and their own human powers of intelligence and feeling [i.e., the humans most fit for evolution will be those who incorporate Steiner’s teachings into their lives]. The fifth and sixth are the decisive epochs. In the seventh, the souls who have reached the evolutionary goal of the sixth [epoch] will go on evolving. For those who have not, even the surrounding world will be too greatly altered; they will find little opportunity to recover their lost ground, and must await a more distant future when the conditions will again be favorable [i.e., there will be no place for the laggards — they will have to wait a very long time for another chance].” — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE, p. 308. 

The emergence of the “universal human” will not resolve all problems, nor will Love absolutely prevail for millennia to come.

[18] Rudolf Steiner, DIE GEISTIGEN HINTERGRÜNDE DES ERSTEN WELTKRIEGES {The Spiritual Background of the First World War} (Dornach: Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1974), p. 38.

[19] “The Jews have a great gift for materialism, but little for recognition of the spiritual world.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM BEETROOT TO BUDDHISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 59.

The problem for Jews, according to Steiner, is that they are spiritually stuck in a form of thought that is appropriate only for human fetuses: 

“This was the essential characteristic...of the ancient Jewish people that, in the world in which we live between birth and death, they did not wish to learn anything in addition to what the human being brings with him as a capacity because of the fact that he was an embryo up to the time of his birth.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE CHALLENGE OF THE TIMES (Anthroposophic Press, 1941), p. 28. Note that like the laggards discussed above, the Jews chose their fate, according to Steiner. 

[20] “[A] centre [sic] of cosmic influence [is] situated in the interior of Africa. At this centre are active all those terrestrial forces emanating from the soil which can influence man especially during his early childhood ... The black or Negro race is substantially determined by these childhood characteristics.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 75.

[21] Concerning Native American Indians, Steiner said, 

“If you look at pictures of the old American Indians the process of ossification is evident in the decline of this race. In a race such as this everything pertaining to the forces of the Saturn evolution has become realized in a special manner; then Saturn withdrew into itself, abandoned man to his bony system and thus hastened his decline....” — Ibid., pp. 108-109.

Steiner taught that Amerindians failed to evolve significantly beyond the Saturn stage of evolution, which was the first such stage. (Steiner’s comment, here, is at odds with the descriptions of the Saturn stage we saw earlier. Steiner frequently contradicted himself.)

Steiner associated Amerindians with the “bony system” because photos of some Amerindians showed prominent cheekbones. Truly, this is how profound his thinking could be.

[22] “This sort of independent thinking which Europeans develop in dealing with their surroundings, the Asians do not have this. The Japanese will therefore follow all the European inventions, but they will never think up something on their own.” — Rudolf Steiner, VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE, p. 59.

[23] “The sixth and seventh races of Atlantis allowed themselves to become hardened and therefore became stationary. As we have said, the Chinese civilization is a remnant of that. The old Chinese possess a wonderful Atlantean heritage, but they could not progress beyond this zenith.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE APOCALYPSE OF ST. JOHN (Anthroposophic Press, 1993), p. 140.

In general, it has been essential for Europeans to resist inferior Asiatic consciousness, Steiner said: 

“If the Asian way of thinking had been victorious then, a great spiritual darkness would have descended on Europe....” — Rudolf Steiner, in LIGHT FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997), p. 273. Steiner claimed that he received this statement psychically from a dead German general. More likely, of course, the words are Steiner’s.

[24] “The French are committing the terrible brutality of moving black people to Europe ... The French as a race are reverting.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 558-559.

[25] “America was discovered under the influence of the greed for gold, under the influence of a purely materialistic culture ... This is the region where, through the prevailing external conditions, above all a relationship is developed with the mephistophelian-ahrimanic nature.” — Rudolf Steiner, SECRET BROTHERHOODS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), pp. 67-69.

Steiner’s statement hardly accounts for the motivation of the Pilgrims and other immigrants who yearned for freedom to live and worship as they chose.

[26] “Lucifer-Bolshevism should not be allowed to do the only deed.” — LIGHT FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM, p. 230.

Steiner attributed this statement, like many others we find in the same book, to the dead German general, Helmuth von Moltke.

In general, Steiner associated Lucifer with Eastern spiritual strengths and weaknesses, and Ahriman with more modern, Western, materialistic strengths and weaknesses. The Slav/Russian soul receives light, which is both good and bad. 

“We must think of this Slavonic soul as being able to see entities in natural phenomena ... [T]he Slavonic soul conceived of a vast number of beings in this strange spiritual world which we can best compare with the world of the Elves of Light.” — THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS, pp. 164-165. 

Elves of light, in Norse mythology, are good elves; but Lucifer (Latin: light-bearing) is the son of the dawn, and Ahriman represents the misleading light of intellect. The Sun gives us both Christ and the Antichrist. The receptivity of the Slav soul has been a mixed blessing. 

"[T]he Eastern European expresses his natural receptivity to pure Spirit by assimilating Western European culture with great devotion.....” — Ibid., p. 165. 

This receptivity enabled evil conspiratorial Westerners to foist Communism on Russia, planning thereby to ensnare humanity in a combination of Luciferic and Ahrimanic forces. 

"What are they trying to attain in the civilization of Eastern Europe? An attempt is being made to do away with everything human...and to harness together Lucifer and Ahriman....” — Rudolf Steiner, THE COSMIC NEW YEAR (Kessinger, 2007), p. 103. 

The Russian Revolution was actually beneficial to German military aims in World War I, since the new Russian government withdrew from the war. For more about Russian Bolshevism, see THE CHALLENGE OF THE TIMES, p. 42ff. The coming cultural epoch will be the Russian Age (3573 to 5733 A.D.) when cosmic light will help us to combat the conspiracies against us (“The Slavonic Folk Spirit works in this vibrating light....” — THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER, p. 41). That period will be followed by the American Age (5733 to approximately 7900 A.D.). [Ibid., p. 54ff.]

[27] “Among the English-speaking people self-seeking and political goals simply coincide.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE CHALLENGE OF THE TIMES, p. 197.

England stands at the hub of English-speaking peoples, but the foul characteristics of the English extend far and wide. 

“The British-American impulse toward world empire...manifests itself as a nightmare....” — Ibid., p. 19.

Steiner’s criticism of various national and racial groups was almost universal, extending even to Germans — or, at least, to those Germans who failed to follow him. All people who harbor conceptions of humanity that differ from the doctrines of Steiner’s “spiritual science” harbor, deep in their souls, distorted visions of human nature.

“Even if the American, Briton, Frenchman, German, Chinese, Japanese or Russian speaks to you of the human being, expressing quite unsatisfactory conceptions and ideas, there yet dwells in his subconsciousness something more comprehensive ... [T]he image of the human being lurking instinctively in human souls varies greatly in people belonging to the West and those belonging to the East ... Now, the situation is such that those instincts living in the West, as constituting the image of the human specters. The image of the human being living in the people of Eastern Europe with its Asiatic hinterland, manifests itself as a nightmare.” — Ibid., pp. 10-14. In LIGHT FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM and elsewhere, Steiner portrays Germany as standing as buffer between East and West. The image of humanity found in German culture is sound: “No other mythology gives a clearer picture of evolution than Northern mythology. Germanic mythology in its pictures is close to anthroposophical conception of future evolution.” — THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS, p. 17.

For those who remember Germany’s war aims in two world wars, the notion that any part of Asia is a European hinterland is chilling.

[28] “Quite a number of people have been born [who] are not reincarnated but are human forms filled with a sort of natural demon.” — FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINERp. 649.

[29] “It is also possible that something like an automaton could occur. The entire human organism exists” but it is automated, soulless. — Ibid., p. 650.

[30] “Imagine what people would say if they heard that we say there are people who are not human beings. Nevertheless, these are facts ... Such things are really shocking to people. I caused enough shock when I needed to say that a very famous university professor, after a very short period between death and rebirth, was reincarnated as a black scientist.” — Ibid., p. 650.

He “needed” to say that. The statement caused a “shock” because a black scientist would be, according to racist belief, an incompetent scientist.

[31] Rudolf  Steiner, EDUCATION FOR SPECIAL NEEDS (Rudolf  Steiner Press, 1998), pp. 106-110. 

I have excerpted from a long passage. You can find the entire passage, in a slightly different translation, at

[32] Rudolf Steiner, BLACKBOARD DRAWINGS 1919-1924 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), p. 150. [My sketch of Steiner's sketch, 2009.]

[R.R., 2017.]