Steiner was the founder of the influential philosophy known as Anthroposophy. He kept these to himself, becoming increasingly introverted and lonely. He found within himself a spiritual world, separate from the physical, and yet just as real to him. Steiner developed an early interest in geometry and was a successful student, graduating from high school in He then enrolled at the Technical University as a student of geometry and physics.
A career in teaching was his ambition at that time.
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It was here that Steiner was introduced to the writings of Goethe, whose famous play Faust, in particular, fascinated him. Steiner was also an autodidact, reading widely in the areas of philosophy and the sciences. While traveling by train to Vienna, Steiner met the herbalist Felix Kogutzki , who shared his non-academic and spiritual knowledge of nature. Steiner also claimed to have been commissioned by his mysterious Master to re-spiritualize the Western world, which had fallen into nihilistic, scientific materialism.
Steiner was also charged with teaching a Christo-centric form of karma and reincarnation. Steiner was exposed to the writings of theosophy, alchemists, and Rosicrucians through the poet Friedrich Eckstein. In , Steiner moved to Weimar to work for the Goethe Archives as an editor. He used his spare time to further develop his philosophy, producing his doctoral dissertation and his opus magnum, Philosophie der Freiheit Philosophy of Freedom , in In , Steiner produced a book on Nietzsche.
However, this body of work was not enough for him to achieve his goal of becoming a professor. This provided him the opportunity to network with many prominent writers and artists in Berlin.
Derechos de Autor
He described the symbolism of sacrifice and transformation as representative of the development of the human soul in order to reach the higher spiritual realms. His autobiography describes a profound spiritual experience which occurred just before , where he had a vision he referred to as the Mystery of Golgotha. This inner encounter with Christ revealed to Steiner the truth about His death, burial, and resurrection and the implications for humanity. He shared this with his second wife, Marie von Sivers Steiner had become familiar with the works of Helena Blavatsky during this period and shared her enthusiasm for teaching of the ancient wisdom.
In , Steiner founded the journal Luzifer-Gnosis and his own publishing house, Philosophisch-Anthroposophischer Verlag. His book Theosophie Theosophy , published in , laid out his study of the nature of human being as body, soul, and spirit. According to Steiner, the physical and spiritual worlds are connected. Steiner also described the immortality of the human spirit which reincarnates into a new body.
Theosophy : An Introduction to the Spiritual Processes in Human Life and in the Cosmos
Steiner describes the path to obtaining spiritual knowledge as a three-stage process of developing imagination, inspiration and intuition. And from the spiritual world it flows back again, forasmuch as the human beings, when they reincarnate, bring with them what the Christ Impulse has become for them in the spiritual world between death and new birth. Steiner expounded further on his Christology over the next few years in a series of lectures on the New Testament. He also provided further instruction for students seeking to follow his spiritual path through his Esoterische Schule Esoteric School , based on the afore-mentioned development of imagination, inspiration, and intuition.
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Steiner also used art and drama to express his ideas, producing a number of plays along with his wife Marie von Sivers between and This artistic phase culminated in the construction of the Goethaenum named after Goethe , which was intended to be a representation of the Goetheanist ideal of a synthesis between religion, art, and science. Located in Donach, Switzerland, and finally completed in , the Goethaenum used wood in order to create an organic aesthetic rounded structure.
In , Steiner broke away from the Theosophical Society, having struggled with the leadership especially Annie Besant for several years. In this respect, anthroposophy has an emphasis different from that of contemporary teachings and practices that rely primarily on dreams, mediumship, channeling, and hypnosis.
Steiner's emphasis on the cultivation of higher thinking capacities is different as well from reliance on revelations of ancient wisdom to Blavatsky and to several other first-generation leaders of the Theosophical Society by mahatmas, or discarnate Himalayan teachers. One of the key claims of Steiner's spiritual science is that knowledge of the higher, or spiritual, world is made possible by the core of the self that he refers to as "Spirit," "Ego," or "I. Sensory perception is made possible by the physical body; imaginative knowledge, by the etheric body; inspirational knowledge, by the soul, or astral body; and intuitive or spiritual knowledge, by the I, Ego, or Spirit.
One of the reasons anthroposophy is difficult to summarize is that Steiner prescribes methods for growth on all levels of apprehension or, correspondingly, intended for the development of each of the four levels of the human being. Techniques for the increase of knowledge and the transformation of human beings include the study of natural science, projective geometry, sculpture, and painting as well as speech formation, music, eurythmy an artistic method of movement to sound , interpersonal relations, the experience of scriptures, and religious rituals.
Steiner worked in these and other endeavors as a way of to demonstrate the varied possibilities for the cultivation of imaginative, inspirational, and intuitive knowledge. According to Steiner, the supersensible knowledge that lies behind his discoveries and disclosures is a distinctive capacity of the present age just as, earlier, the thinking capacity of the classical Greek philosophers and early Christian thinkers was significantly different from that of more ancient seers, whether the rsis of India, Moses, or Homer.
In Steiner's elaborate account of the evolution of consciousness thinking has evolved in direct relation to the devolution of clairvoyance. Steiner attempted to show that the supersensible mode of perception he espoused combines conscious thinking with a spiritual or intuitive grasp akin to the clairvoyance characteristic of ancient times.
At the center of this double evolution Steiner saw the descent of the Christ, which made possible a reversal of a downward, materialistic trend in favor of an ascent toward an increasingly free, spiritual mode of thinking. Steiner conducted esoteric research into the afterlife of significant individuals and the secrets of life between death and rebirth. He spoke of Christ as the Lord of Karma. He also gave many lectures on the role of great spiritual beings such as Moses, Zoroaster, Krishna, Buddha, Plato, Socrates, the figures in the New Testament , Saint Francis , and Christian Rosenkreutz in the evolution of human consciousness.
In more than a dozen lecture cycles from to Steiner disclosed his research on those figures, particularly concerning Krishna, Buddha, and Christ, working collaboratively in the spiritual world on behalf of the evolution of humanity. He also lectured on a topic of significance in light of the current trend toward ecological devastation: the reappearance, beginning in the twentieth century, of the resurrected Christ in the etheric envelope of the earth.
Although few if any of Steiner's thousands of followers have attained the kind of supersensible perception he exhibited, they have applied his spiritual discipline and insights creatively. Among the works arising from Steiner's teachings have been the biodynamic method of soil cultivation, anthroposophically extended medicine, and the Waldorf School movement, currently the largest nonsectarian independent school system in the world.
Anthroposophists are also responsible for the Camphill movement, which consists of villages for children and adults who require special mental and emotional care. Drawing on Steiner's lectures on the arts and on his suggestions to artists with whom he collaborated, Anthroposophical artists have brought Steiner's artistic methods to bear on the visual and performing arts, especially painting, sculpture, architecture, speech, drama, and eurythmy.
Steiner intended spiritual science to supersede religion, but in response to a request from Protestant pastors and seminarians for help in fostering Christian renewal, he generated the sacramental forms and organizational structure of the Christian Community, a modern church that is not formally allied with the Anthroposophical Society but is part of the same Johannine esoteric Christian stream and clearly draws its inspiration and much of its teaching from Steiner's spiritual life and research.
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At the Christmas Foundation Meeting in , in addition to establishing the Anthroposophical Society as a resource for anyone wishing to gain a basic knowledge of the supersensible, Steiner established the School of Spiritual Science for members of the Anthroposophical Society who were willing to commit themselves to represent anthroposophy or spiritual science in and to the world. Members of the School of Spiritual Science, which Steiner intended to have nine classes but lived to found only the first class, strive to develop imagination, inspiration, and intuition in fields such as mathematics, medicine, pedagogy, agriculture, the social sciences, the visual arts, and the performing arts.
Research in those fields is centered in the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland, but also is conducted by members of the School of Spiritual Science working alone and in groups throughout the world. The publication of books and periodicals and the holding of conferences to explore research in these fields demonstrate the continuing vitality of Steiner's esoteric teaching and method of research. In the s and s conflicts between European countries adversely affected the working of the Anthroposophical Society. In recent decades the influence of Rudolf Steiner's teachings and the practice of anthroposophy seem to have been limited by a conservative tendency among some anthroposophists.
Endeavors such as biodynamic agriculture, Waldorf education, and anthroposophical medicine stand out as creative examples of thinking, feeling, and willing that advance the effort to re join the material and spiritual dimensions of human consciousness.
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Besant, Annie ; Blavatsky, H. Steiner's published writings total more than volumes, most of which consist of cycles of lectures.