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Sometimes I step back, breathe deeply, and dismiss Steiner from my mind for a while. The result inevitably is that I'm shocked and amazed when I return — Anthroposophists believe what? Waldorf teachers do what? Renewing this sense of shock can be productive. Steiner made many, many bizarrely loony statements, and some people like what they hear from him. "Sounds good to me," they say. "Yes indeed, I'll buy that." Wow.
Here are some more examples.
64) [How People Become Lowly Nature Spirits] Imagine a human who becomes too fully involved in the things of the physical world. The Earth and its meritorious occupants will keep evolving toward spirituality and away from physical existence, but this delinquent won’t evolve upward with the good people and their planet. So, eventually, after everyone else has risen to a higher level, he will find himself stranded, unable to keep reincarnating because there will be no more lowly, physical bodies remaining for him to incarnate into. Thus, he will cease to be human at all but will become a subordinate nature spirit — that is, a subhuman wretch trapped inside the forces of the physical universe. He and other, similar wretches will later show up during humanity's next condition of consciousness, Future Jupiter, making selfish, destructive demands for love. (Didn't you know this?)
“The earth does not wait for him, the earth goes forward and he finally arrives at a point where he can no longer incorporate in a human body, for none are in existence. There will be no more bodies in which souls that have grown too much involved in their bodily nature can incarnate. Such souls lose the possibility of incarnation and find no other opportunity ... They must cut themselves off entirely from the progress of evolution ... Beings that stay behind at such stages appear in a later epoch...as subordinate nature-spirits. In fact the human race will furnish a whole number of such new nature-spirits ... [T]here will appear upon [Future] Jupiter the destructive forces of love from beings who have remained behind. Into the midst of the general tapestry of the Jupiter existence will be set the hideous forms of the retarded beings with egoistic demands for love....” — Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), p. 70.
This is certainly a serious problem. Those retarded Jovians with their egoistic demands for love are gonna be a trial for the rest of us, no doubt about it.
Nature spirits have no true spiritual essence — they are nonphysical and invisible, like real spirits, but they are inferior beings. [See "Neutered Nature".] The main types of nature spirits are sylphs, undines, fire-beings, and gnomes. Some of these seem quite nice — sylphs, for instance, fly around through the air like little winged pixies. But other nature spirits are more clearly problematic. Gnomes, for instance, are also known as goblins. Steiner had a lot to say about goblins, much of it fairly surprising, Did you know, for instance, that the Moon will eventually meld with the Earth? (Science says not, but Steiner said so.) Goblins are eager for this to happen.
Goblins are eager for this to happen because it will give them access to lunar forces that will enable them to destroy the Earth as a physical globe:
65) [Goblins and the Moon]
“[A]t the present time the moon is continually approaching nearer ... Each year the moon is actually nearer the earth ... And to this coming nearer of the moon the attentiveness of these goblins is quite specially directed ... They await with intense expectation the epoch when the moon will again unite with the earth...for they will then use the moon substance gradually to disperse the earth, as far as its outer substance is concerned, into the universe. Its substance must pass away ... [W]hen one looks at this process from the aspect of the gnomes, one gains a...picture how our earth would appear if all the water were taken away from it ... [O]ne receives the impression that this is really the united gnome-world of the old Moon. The predecessors of our Earth-gnomes, the Moon-gnomes, gathered together their Moon-experiences and from them fashioned this structure, this firm structure of the solid fabric of the Earth, so that our solid Earth-structure actually arose from the experiences of the gnomes of the old Moon.” — Rudolf Steiner, MAN AS SYMPHONY OF THE CREATIVE WORD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1970), lecture 9, GA 230.
The Moon goblins created the rocky, waterless structure of the Earth. But now the Earth goblins want to disperse the Earth. A word of reassurance: Don’t worry about it. According to astronomers, the Moon is actually drawing farther away from the Earth, and it has been doing so for millennia. Our point here is just to note how bizarre some of Steiner's teachings are. Gnomes pieced together the physical Earth (thanks, guys), and eventually they will disassemble it (thanks, guys — humans at that stage won't need it any more). Gnomes are good guys, in a sense. But not so very good. They are, at best, amoral:
(65a — replaying 25c): “There are beings that can be seen with clairvoyant vision at many spots in the depths of the earth ... If you dig into the metallic or stony ground you find beings which manifest at first in remarkable fashion — it is as if something were to scatter us. They seem able to crouch close together in vast numbers, and when the earth is laid open they appear to burst asunder ... Many names have been given to them, such as goblins, gnomes and so forth ... What one calls moral responsibility in man is entirely lacking in them ... Their nature prompts them to play all sorts of tricks on man....” — Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), pp. 62-63.
66) [True Dreams] Moving right along...
How did Steiner "know" all the astonishing things that he "knew"? And how can we acquire such "knowledge"? Steiner said that his main tool was clairvoyance. He claimed to possess very high powers of clairvoyance — he called his abilities "exact clairvoyance" (meaning his clairvoyant "findings" are essentially unquestionable, since they are so precise). [See, e.g., "Clairvoyance" and "Exactly".] Steiner preached that others can develop similar powers, by following his instructions. [See "Knowing the Worlds".] He outlined some of the necessary exercises and methods in a book that has been published under such titles as KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT and HOW TO KNOW HIGHER WORLDS. In this text, he explains that other sources of supernal wisdom blossom once we make sufficient progress. Dreams, for instance, become coherent and accurate: We can then accept our dreams as true reports from the great beyond:
"[C]hanges...occur in our dream life when we undertake the ascent to higher knowledge. Our dreams lose their meaningless, disorderly, and disconnected character and begin to form an increasingly regular, lawful, and coherent world. As we evolve further, this new dream-born world not only becomes the equal of outer sensory reality with regard to inner truth, but also reveals facts depicting, in the full sense of the word, a higher reality." — Rudolf Steiner, HOW TO KNOW HIGHER WORLDS (Anthroposophic Press, 1994), p. 163.
Many of Steiner's followers think they have made plenty of progress, and they consequently think their dreams are reliable sources of wisdom. They are mistaken, of course. Steiner's system is, in reality, a methodology of self-deception. People who believe in their dreams are dangers to themselves and to others; they no longer see the dividing line between reality and fantasy. Think of a Waldorf teacher who dreams about your child and then, starting the next day, uses this dream as a basis for assigning classwork and other activities for your children. Think about that awhile.
Other components of Steiner's system include astrology, numerology, and even phrenology. It would be nice, perhaps, if some of these things worked — if the universe were a magical place of wondrous powers that we can learn to control. But although we may want the universe to be that way, it isn't. The real universe is quite wonderful, but not in ways that boil down to fantasy and delusion. Yet all of us, in various ways, wish for magic and marvels. [To probe into this a bit, see, e.g., "Fooling (Ourselves)" and "Why? Oh Why?".]
66a) [True Horoscopes] Steiner's system includes astrology, including — on at least some occasions — the use of horoscopes. [See "Astrology" and "Horoscopes".] Think about that awhile.
Think about that awhile.
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