As a religion, Anthroposophy prescribes 

a code of conduct for its adherents. 

An essential part of the code deals with 

the development of the proper mindset — 

the psychic powers needed to be a spiritual “scientist.” 

The process of this hypothetical development 

is wrapped up in the process of occult initiation. 

[See “Inside Scoop”.]

But Anthroposophy also includes the sort of 

moral guidelines one would expect in any religion. 

The moral principles Steiner laid out are pretty standard. 

Steiner advocated truthfulness 

(except in revealing truths to outsiders), 

charity (within limits), 

love (as a cosmic abstraction), 

and so forth. 

Here are some of Steiner’s moral preachments. 

"ENVY and FALSEHOOD [sic] have always been considered as a special moral failing. This special aversion may be seen in the fact that in the case of no other human error is the repugnance so strong and instinctive as in the case of envy and falsehood. This feeling may be found in great men and in insignificant people ... [E]nvy and falsehood are visibly an offence against a fundamental element of social life: they are an offence against the feeling of compassion. Compassion does not only imply sharing another's grief and pain, but it also implies experiencing his value. Compassion is a quality which is not greatly developed among men. It still contains a great amount of egoism ... Compassion is a fundamental element in the soul life which we share with others because all human soul experiences are connected with each other. Envy and falsehood in particular offend against the capacity of appraising another person's value. We damage our fellow man through envy and falsehood." — Rudolf Steiner, “Morality and Karma” (ANTHROPOSOPHICAL NEWS SHEET, No. 41/42, Oct. 15, 1944), no assigned GA.

The central problem with immorality,

Steiner indicated,  

is that it gums up your karma 

and thus impedes your spiritual evolution. 

You fall into the power of devils. 

"We know that the human soul passes through many incarnations and that there was a moment in the development of mankind when the tempters, Lucifer and Ahriman, crept into the human soul. In what form do Lucifer and Ahriman live within us today? This is not easy to discover without the aid of clairvoyant investigation ... Lucifer and Ahriman live in human nature. Ahriman lives in the etheric body and Lucifer in the astral body of man.

"Lucifer is a power that tempts the human soul by drawing it down morally and by leading it away from its origin. He casts us into the depths of earthly nature and we should beware of this. Lucifer is the power that draws us down into the depths of passion.

"Ahriman, on the other hand, is the spirit of falsehood and error and he falsifies our judgments.

Both Lucifer and Ahriman are powers which are hostile to human progress. Yet they get on very well with each other. Envy is a quality in which the Luciferic power comes to expression ... When a person first discovers that his soul is filled with envy, he begins to fight against Lucifer, the source of envy. What does Lucifer do in that case? He simply hands over the matter to Ahriman, and Ahriman darkens the human judgment ... People also feel a strong dislike for falsehood and they try to fight against it. When we try to overcome falsehood, we can see that Ahriman hands over the scepter to Lucifer, so that a quality creeps into the astral body which appears in the form of an extremely pronounced EGOISM. Egoism is restrained falsehood.

"These two qualities, falsehood and envy, are a crass expression of the way in which Lucifer and Ahriman work within the human soul." — Ibid.

Our morality must not be implemented 

only for our own benefit. 

We must work to assist others as 

they contend with their karmas. 

(But this works only if your karma 

and theirs are intertwined.) 

"Moral qualities in fact produce results; they bring about Karmic effects. They may change during one incarnation. But in the next incarnation they must descend right down into the physical organism ... [F]alsehood may change into timidity during one and the same incarnation, so that a person withdraws into himself ... What is the right attitude towards a person in whose case we must assume that he told many lies during his past incarnation? ...We must try to bring him fruitful and valuable truths. Those who are led together with him by Karma must try to penetrate into his soul with love and devotion. Falsehood must be recompensed by truth; these are two extremes which bring about a kind of compensation.

"The secret of the whole matter is that a favourable influence cannot be exercised upon him by anyone, but just by those who are karmically connected with him. Those who adopt this attitude will see what good results can be achieved if he brings him positive truths and has real understanding for him.

"Karma is a real law; its result will appear in a very peculiar way. If we lovingly penetrate into the weaknesses of such people, our influence upon them will be an immense relief to them and bring them freedom and health. If we can immerse ourselves completely in them, we shall have a rejuvenating influence upon such people." — Ibid.

Immorality impedes our evolution, 

and it also has effects on our health.

"Let us suppose that in one life a person manifests a particular tendency towards telling lies ... If a person is untruthful, the actions which proceed from untruthfulness will again arouse the most forcible feelings against himself in the life after death ... Spiritual Science shows that a fickle life which knows neither devotion nor love — a superficial life in one incarnation — expresses itself in the tendency to lying in the next incarnation; and in the third incarnation this tendency to lying manifests itself in incorrectly formed organs. Thus we can karmically trace the effects in three consecutive incarnations: superficiality and fickleness in the first incarnation, the tendency to lying in the second, and the physical disposition to disease in the third incarnation." — Rudolf Steiner, MANIFESTATIONS OF KARMA  (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1969), lecture 3, GA 120.

Some of Steiner’s moral teachings 

are rather ordinary, 

as occultist morality goes.

 “The demon of love lives in all this intellectualized talk about sexuality.” — Rudolf Steiner, WHAT IS ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 2002), p. 79. Intellect, bad. Sex, bad. 

Materialism is bad. 

“[T]he spirit was squeezed out of human life, and in its place there appeared the demon of materialism.” — Rudolf Steiner, SOCIAL ISSUES (Anthroposophic Press, 1993), p. 100. 

Love is good (obviously). 

But the spiritual reason for evincing love 

may surprise you a bit. 

In everything we do out of love, we pay off debts! Seen esoterically, what is done out of love brings no reward, but compensates for value already expended. The only actions from which we gain nothing in future are those we perform out of true, genuine love ... [T]hat is why deeds of love are done so unwillingly, why there is so little love in the world ... An advanced stage of development must have been reached before the soul can enjoy performing deeds of love ... To spread love over the Earth to the greatest degree possible, to promote love — that alone is wisdom. — Rudolf Steiner, UNDERSTANDING THE HUMAN BEING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993), p. 86.

Morality should be selfless, 

but it is also based in definite self-service. 

If we are immoral, we may make ourselves ill; 

we also will evolve downward, 

away from our goal of spiritual apotheosis, divinity. 

In this, Anthroposophy is much like other religions: 

It requires certain kinds of conduct 

performed in a certain spirit. 

If one complies, one is promised spiritual 

rewards. If one strays, there may be hell to pay. 

All of this is, of course, related to the 

Anthroposophical concept of sin. 

To dig into that subject, 

please use this link: “Sin”

“An immoral action not only implies a subsequent karmic punishment; it is rather in the most fundamental respect an action that one definitely ought not to do ... If [for example] one steals, one plants into the essential human being the seed that will cause one to develop a slimy, repulsive substance and to surround oneself with pestilent odors in the future  ...  In stealing, man places into himself something that amounts to the same thing as a flaying of the human being. If man knows this he will no longer be able to do an immoral deed; he will not be able to steal.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SPIRITUAL RESEARCH FOR MORAL ACTION (Anthroposophic Press, 1981), a lecture, GA 127.

Spiritual, religious, and moral teachings 

as represented in Anthroposophy 

are more or less standard stuff. 

But some of them may 

sometimes surprise you. 

“Souls previously incarnated in quite subordinate races, raised themselves to a higher level and could incarnate in the bodily descendants of the leaders in Europe [i.e., good souls rose up and became white people] ... This was the reason that the lower races had fewer and fewer descendants, while the higher races had more and more [i.e., as good souls moved upward to higher racial forms, there were fewer souls left in lower racial forms].” — Rudolf Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION OF MORALITY (SteinerBooks, 1995), p. 30. 

Note the title of the book in which this quotation appears. We are glimpsing Steiner's concept of morality and its foundation — its "spiritual" foundation. Can you spot any morally questionable concepts in it?

To consider this question further,

see "The Moral View".

Waldorf teachers often take upon themselves the spiritual and moral education of their students. [See, e.g., "Waldorf Priests" and "Schools as Churches".] Here is one Waldorf teacher explaining, for instance, how Waldorf students are taught to think about human beings in comparison to animals. Note that the book I quote from here is a Waldorf teachers' guide.

"[W]e try to teach the child to look at the animal always in comparison to the human being ... [T]he thing which lifts man above the beasts is his upright walk, which frees his hands, and by the things we do with our hands we serve not only our own needs but also the needs of our fellow human beings ... [W]e can bring the child an objective, rational understanding of nature, but at the same time strengthen the social and moral element in the child ... [This] is an important step in the moral education of the child." — Charles Kovacs, THE HUMAN BEING AND THE ANIMAL WORLD, Waldorf Education Resources (Floris Books, 2008), p. 11.

There are many things one could quarrel with in this passage. Are humans the only earthly beings who walk upright, for instance? Think of pelicans, kangaroos, certain lemurs, even tyrannosaurus rex. Is walking on two legs truly what "lifts man above the beasts?"

But setting that question aside, let's concentrate on the moral issue Kovacs raises. Should the moral education of children be undertaken by school teachers, or should this be the provence of parents and clergy?

What qualifications do Waldorf teachers, in particular, have to guide the moral education of their students? Have typical Waldorf teachers completed courses in moral philosophy, attended seminaries, or made any other genuine, extensive study of human morality? What do they mean by "morality"? What sort of moral standards do they uphold? What do they mean by right and wrong, moral and immoral, virtue and sin? They generally formulate their views relying on the mystical preachments of Rudolf Steiner supplemented by their own intuitions. Rudolf Steiner's followers dwell in a mist of fantasy, dream, and self-deception. Their judgments about matters in the real world are often extremely flimsy. Some Anthroposophical teachings about morality are more or less unexceptionable, as we have seen. But others wander far into realms of mysticism and falsehood, as we have seen. And some must be judged morally objectionable, as we have seen.

When thinking over such matters, you my want to remember that one of the chief complaints made against Waldorf faculties is that they often behave immorally, deceiving families about their real intentions. Far too often, they lure children into mysticism without receiving permission from the children's parents for doing anything of the sort. [See, e.g., "Our Experience," "My Life Among the Anthroposophists", and "Summing Up".]

Naturally, we all want children to learn the difference between right and wrong. But we should exercise great care in selecting the moral guides for children. Whether Waldorf schools are the right place to seek moral education is certainly open to question.


 — Compilation and commentary by Roger Rawlings

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

also see "Evil, Perdition"

abnormal : off

moral view : Anthroposophical ethics II


sin : Steiner on

sphere 8 : the wages