Rudolf Steiner & The Evolution of Human Consciousness


#1

Right, I feel a need to write about all this stuff and expunge it from my mind , thus I can return to childlike naivety.

Two years ago I walked into a bookstore in London called Watkins, London’s premier esoteric bookstore since 1893!

Shelves upon shelves of the most occult literature you could hope to find, Alastair Crowley and his Sex Magick, Hermetic arts, Kabbalah, Tarot, Angels, Faeries, Ancient Aliens, UFOs, Yoga, Paranormal, Religion, Spiritually. Literally everything, literally.

I’d been through my conspiracy phase years before so was quite familiar with many of the more provocative titles and was looking for something that contained a summation of more ‘classical’ knowledge.

Many of the books were weighty specialist volumes, reprints of editions that dated back hundreds of years. ‘True and Faithful Relation of What Passed for Many Years Between Dr John Dee and Some Spirits’ circa 1659 certainly sounded interesting.

However, I was just looking for something I could fit in a satchel and accompany me to a coffee shop. Not something that required it’s own stand and a discernment of ye olde English.

With that in mind I spotted a rather more conventional looking paperback, one that wouldn’t of looked out of place in WHSmith or Waterstones (British versions of Barnes & Noble).

Only the title ‘The Secret History of The World’ belied it’s ordinary appearance. Oh and the big fucking all seeing eye.

A quick read of the preface and it sounded exactly what I was looking for;

“These days the scientific, materialistic view is dominant. Sadly, to talk about any form of spirituality is to risk being mocked…Yet there are many intelligent sincere people around who are passionately interested in it - angelology, alchemy, the Cabala, yoga, the chakras - and who are interested in groups like the Rosicrucians. I have written this book to try and show how all these things hang together, that they form a coherent, cogent view of the world…one that can be set against the current scientific, materialist one.”

I won’t go into exact details of the book, we’d be here all night but it’s fair to say I was transfixed. My Ni and Ti went into overdrive! A rough overview would be;

The world become magical again, patterns of depth and meaning were everywhere. Intuitive hunches and visions confirmed. Films such as The Lord Of The Rings, The Matrix and even Star Wars were now seen in a completely new light. I was aware of a much richer underlying subtext. The Prometheus films are very good for this also.

Historically I saw another side to characters such as Plato, Shakespeare, Pythagoras, Elijah, Francis Bacon and Issac Newton.

I learned about the long standing and ancient tradition of mystery schools that have quietly operated behind the scenes of civilization since the Egyptian courts of the Pharoah.

So fascinated was I that I furthered my field of research and bought the classic ‘Secret Teachings of All Ages’ by Manly P. Hall which goes into even more detail.

Anyways, one name that kept on cropping up in the footnotes was an Austrian fellow by the name of Rudolf Steiner. He was a member of the Theosophical society, founded by Helena Blavatsky in the late 19th century, but he left to create his own group, Anthroposophy.

Many people are familiar with the name Steiner because of Steiner Schools, an educational philosophy he created. He’s also behind bio-dynamic farming, the Camphill movement, the Weleda health company and some pretty radical architecture.

Much lesser known, he was a self-confessed clairvoyant mystic, philosopher and scientist with the most ridiculous treasure trove of knowledge I’ve ever come across. Whether you believe what he says or not, the sheer output of the man is pretty staggering. Books and lectures on everything from cosmology, farming, art, music, evolution, science, technology, history, philosophy, architecture, pedagogy and medicine.
On the more esoteric side, karma, Christianity, reincarnation, the apocalypse, elemental spirits, myths and legend, akashic records, world conception, consciousness, Lucifer, Ahriman, astral worlds, soul makeup, lots of stuff about Goethe plus some thoughts on Nietzsche. You can find it all in the link below.

Even If you don’t care for the spiritual stuff. I challenge you to read his ‘Philosophy of Freedom’ if anything, this was a man of fearsome intellect. Ti par excellence.

He also designed and built this in Switzerland during the first world war.

When it burnt down in 1922 from suspected arson. He got straight back to work and built this;


It’s called the Goetheanum and was completed in 1928 and as you can see, designed to be a little more fireproof.
On the second picture you’ll see how the architecture moves front to back, from flowing curvature to more straight and angular forms. This is supposed to represent the descent of human consciousness from spiritual awareness into the more hardened material consciousness we are encased within today. It’s also why the building somewhat represents the shape of a skull.

I spent some time there last year, you should see the inside!

Why am I telling you all this again? Well because of the evolution of Human consciousness that’s why. Materialist science says consciousness is a product of matter, a freak occurrence, the end result of millions of years of a steady bit by bit construction of random particles to which we are the end product. Eventually through the 2nd law of thermodynamics, this play of particles will disband and decay into entropy and the universe will cease to exist.
One big meaningless, random, accident of creation brought to life and back again for no discernible reason. Yet while this fate may be true in a purely material sense, we can quite clearly see that for a random occurrence, the universe is governed by laws. Planets don’t just leave their positions to smash into each other, suns don’t suddenly burst into existence then disappear again, the subtle composition of our atmosphere is just right for us to breath, the nutrients that occur in natural foods are again, just right for the maintenance of our brains and bodies.
It’s clear that there are laws that govern both the heavens and the world that immediately surrounds us. Which makes the idea that this has all just happened by ‘accident’ including our consciousness, all the more peculiar. Even in theories of the most rational reductionist logic, the end answer is always the same, we are the product of the most unlikely series of events to have ever unfolded. Like rolling a six on a dice a million times over.

As for consciousness being the product of the brain, which by logic it would need to be if one is to believe in materialism. There is a big problem, none of the main characteristics of the mind can be seen, observed or proven to exist in physical matter alone. Whilst the structure of the brain is comprised of matter, the mind it’s self, which we believe to almost sit inside the brain is nowhere to be seen. Cognitive effects can be seen of course, such as when certain areas of the brain light up when a person is engaged in a particular thought or emotion. Neuroscience equates these ares of the brain as being responsible for the creation of such phenomena, people who suffer brain damage and experience impairments support this. However we could equally state that these areas of the brain are like programmed receiving channels on a television or radio. They are designed to receive a specific frequency of data that they are best able to decode. If that receiver is damaged, the information can no longer be ‘channeled’ and thus the resulting impairments become evident. Now many of these brain functions are supported via the exchanges of neurotransmitters and chemicals, yet the point still stands, just because you can remove or add chemicals and change the characteristics of the individual you still can’t derive the salient aspects of the mind to such chemicals. Were the works of Shakespeare contained within dopamine, serotonin or noradrenaline? A mix perhaps, he got lucky.

Take ‘Intentionality’ for example. Intentionality is the ‘aboutness’ or meaning of a mental state, the ability for a mind to refer to something outside of itself. Ink on paper has no meaning unless it is conferred by a mind which wrote or is reading it. These words I’m typing now only have meaning because you, a conscious mind are observing them and imparting a meaning to them. Matter can’t impart meaning, nor can meaning be observed in matter alone. A mind has to always be present. The meaning of matter can only be derived secondarily to it by a mind. Therefore matter can’t be the entire cause of the mind because matter isn’t the source of meaning.

Which leads me onto the alternate way in which to view the world, the view that has been long held throughout human history by some of the most influential and noteworthy of figures, and also many who you’ve never heard of. Make no mistake, this worldview is held and practiced by some very powerful people, right up to the present day.

This way of seeing the world is called Idealism and esoterically speaking it differs from the commonly accepted meaning.

Idealism is different from materialism by a single distinction. It might not seem like much, but the ensuing ramifications are pretty huge. Instead of thought being the result of matter, thought or an ‘idea’ has to first be present for matter to even exist.

The premise is easy enough to understand, If I want to create anything, I have to first hold the idea in my mind. Then I can get busy creating something in material form. In fact before I can do anything consciously, a thought has to first appear in my mind, where does that thought originate? Did I think it into existence or did I merely notice it?

The worldview of esoteric spirituality is that everything in material existence is a product of a spiritual thought that impresses itself into the material world. Therefore human thought itself has its origins in the spiritual. Big changes in human development arise from these thoughts being fed into our collective unconscious from immaterial origin. Its also why the imagination is more important than knowledge, as Einstein understood.

Human consciousness seems to slowly change over time and give rise to new civilizations and developments, not to mention attitudes.
2000 years ago it was perfectly normal to fill a Colosseum and watch other human beings hack each other to death, now that would be unthinkable, instead its to watch a ball being kicked around. It’s a gradual process.

This evolution of man is carefully governed by spiritual forces over epochs or ‘Yugas’ there are four yugas of development that a species goes through, this is referred to as a planetary cycle, and lasts over 4 million years. A species can go through several cycles until the desired evolution of consciousness is achieved, the planet can no longer can sustain life or the species destroys itself it some cataclysmic war or event.

The Yugas represent the cyclical descent of humanity from spiritually aware beings of perfection into materialism and spiritual decay and eventually back again. The reason for this? Its threefold, as everything spiritual seems to be, a trinity.

  1. The development of your soul
  2. The wider development of Humanity or whatever species
  3. The eventual journey back to the absolute or God, before doing it all over again.

If your an immortal soul you gotta do something to pass the time, oh and this development is not just limited to the physical, it continues in the spiritual universe too. It’s not as simple as Earth, Heaven and Hell.

Basically you get to both participate in and experience the cosmic creation as means for your soul to develop in a way it couldn’t in the spiritual realms alone. Part of this development involves becoming completely separated from spiritual awareness. This is the only way that man as a species can develop his own sense of “I” and use his free will upon this planet. Its during this period where we take our development into our own hands rather than waiting for signs from the Gods as ancient man would have done. Only ancient man had a radically different consciousness to ours, they saw the kinds of things that now you’d have to ‘trip out’ to see, hence why everything from a tree to a stream was attributed as having a spirit and considered sacred.

The first Yuga is the golden age, the age of Human perfection upon Earth. The garden of Eden if you like.

The Second Yuga is when things start to fall from grace somewhat, fractions develop, emperors rise, wars take place, the weather becomes more extreme.

The Third Yuga is where disease starts to appear and human lifespans start to radically decrease, although humanity is still vastly different from what it is today.

The Forth Yuga is the ‘Kali Yuga’ and is essentially ‘our age’ it started around 3000 BCE and lasts 432,000 years it is known as the dark age. Its where humanity is at its furthest point away from ‘God’ and at its most degenerate. Although it has to be said that even within a single Yuga there are smaller cycles of evolution, some negative, some positive. Some predict a mini golden age to happen at some point within this Yuga.

Here are some prophecies about the state of humanity during the Kali Yuga from the Mahabharata, an ancient Sanskrit account and source of the Bhagavad Gita.

-People will have thoughts of murder with no justification and will see nothing wrong in that.
-Lust will be viewed as socially acceptable and sexual intercourse will be seen as the central requirement of life.
-Sin will increase exponentially, while virtue will fade and cease to flourish.
-People will take vows and break them soon after.
-People will become addicted to intoxicating drinks and drugs.
-Gurus will no longer be respected and their students will attempt to injure them

Many people believe we are heading into the new golden age now, and that an awakening is happening. Others, such as Steiner paint a bleaker picture and identify mans increasing reliance on technology as the biggest hurdle in his spiritual evolution.
In fact it’s what he has to say about technology that interests me the most because it certainly makes you look at our ‘progress’ in a much different light, one that seems to become more evident by the day.

Anyways I’m not asking you believe in any of this, merely offering you a different point of view to consider.

Till next time!

Helix


#2

Watkins is neat! Treadwell’s is great too, I like the vibe and selection there even more.

It’s cool when a single book opens up a whole new way of looking. Two that really did it for me were Ioan Culianu’s Eros and Magic in the Renaissance, and Ted Hughes’ (yes that Ted Hughes) Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being.

I think the big risk with idealism is that of setting up a kind of dualism or “materialism of the spirit world” where you take a particular system model as being true. I.e. the Renaissance vision of some totalising kabbalah that can harmonise all experiences of the world is a mirage.

Have you read Patrick Harpur at all? I found The Secret Tradition of the Soul provided a very elegant map for the reams of Ni-Ti material one might otherwise stagger under. A lot of undigested ideas “clicked in” when I read it. And Daimonic Reality, I think, presents a good way of relating idealist models to the tricksterish quality of experience that can otherwise unseat them.


#3

You are speaking my language here, @Helix!

I love all this stuff and have been studying the esoteric sciences for years. You’ve written an extensive and comprehensive summary of this alternate way of looking at reality and I am suitably impressed!

Like any other discipline, the serious student must learn to:

a) Discriminate between the small number of profound and robust esoteric systems and associated “gurus” from all the mountains of silly (or dangerous!) fluff and associated charlatans or madmen.

b) Recognise that even the most coherent and practical esoteric schema are still just maps or approximations of certain aspects of reality (as are all of the “accepted” modern sciences).

Rudolf Steiner was one of the giants of the esoteric sciences; my partner’s sister actually works as a teacher in a Steiner school in Queensland, Australia, and I’ve been consistently impressed with the methodology and outcomes of his alternate educational system. Both of her kids were educated in Steiner schools, and they emerged with an unusual level of maturity and wisdom for such young people. And yet neither of them would be considered particularly “successful” by the standards of our conventional Western education system; whose function and purpose seems to have been gradually eroded over time into little more than a factory production line for churning out good little capitalists who won’t question or challenge the staus quo.

My personal explorations in this area are centred around the Western Mystery Tradition and its foundation in the ancient Jewish Qabalah. My shortlist of profound, insightful and reliable occultists and writers in this field include:

Dion Fortune (whose Mystical Qabalah is a must-read for any serious student)

Her protege, Gareth Knight (his seminal A Practical Guide to Qabalistic Symbolism is another essential reference work)

Israel Regardie and his books The Tree of Life, The Middle Pillar, and A Garden of Pomegranates

Aleister Crowley is probably the most entertaining and provocative Western Mystery Tradition occultist and author, but he was a notorious Trickster and his works are littered with traps and blind-alleys for the uninitiated or overly credulous reader. His masterwork, however, was the Book of Thoth, an extraordinary Tarot deck he co-created with the talented artist Lady Frieda Harris; it has been my preferred deck for many years.


#4

I echo @Stewart’s endorsements of writers in the field, particularly Fortune and Knight. I would add John Michael Greer, whose serious works on the Western Mystery Tradition can add clarity and practicality for a present-day reader without subtracting any robustness. (He also edited a recent edition of Regardie.)


#5

Ahha! That is a very interesting point! I’d have to ponder that some more, yes I see the danger.

As for the other books, no I haven’t come across them. I’m taking a bit of break from it all to be honest , time to balance myself out a bit. In yoga you could say its Pingala time baby!


#6

Thanks

I’m familiar with Israel Regardie and have dipped my toes into Crowley.

However of late I’ve swung back towards the East and have been revisiting Paramahansa Yogananda. His two volume reflection on ‘The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You’ is the best account of the gospels I’ve read and ties a lot of esoteric wisdom back into Christianity. Which I know is something Rudolf Steiner saw as integral for maintaining a morally pure yet experiential stream of spirituality alive in the west for years to come.

I’ve also been doing more active and cathartic work with the ‘emotional body’ thanks to Osho’s dynamic meditations.
It certainly gets ‘stuff’ moving and frees up a lot of energy. I think it’s a good starting point for many westerners and if combined with Steiner’s teachings on intuitive thinking, would provide a good holistic approach more suitable to the modern mind, which needs to simultaneously free itself from emotional tension yet exercise it’s freedom of individual thought.

That’s what I respect about Steiner, his understanding that modern man needed a method to approach spirituality that utilized his thinking capacities . Rather than throwing them away completely, something that is usually inferred by those who follow the more traditional eastern paths. Whether it’s actually possible I’m not so sure as I’m still trying to grasp the concept of ‘higher thinking’ myself.

Oh what fun


#7

IMO, Krishnamurti did fulfill his destiny in teaching the world the truth of theosophy and its derivatives.

Anyone want to address Steiner’s racism?

Biodynamic gardening seems interesting.


#8

Sure,

http://www.waldorfanswers.org/ARacistMyth.htm

I’m not an Anthroposophist but having looked into the same issue myself. The above is pretty much in line with my personal understanding, and I used to make a point of challenging others on it also.


#9

Thanks, yes there are counter arguments and I don’t think Steiner was evil or genocidal, but he was a racist and misguided (IMO). I plowed through some heavy reading on anthrosophy and theosophy back in the 90s and found some of it intriguing, some straight up whacka-doo, and the racial bits were troubling indeed. The whole movement should be taken with a great lump of salt and spiritually is a dead end- but Krishnamurti wasn’t.

For Western ritual magic, I like Franz Bardon’s Initiation into Hermetics or Draja Mickaharic for foundational stuff that will probably be more boring to INFJs than the esoteric practices that will be probably ineffective and possibly quite harmful without them.

I like John Michael Greer a lot too. Has anyone read any of Christopher Warnock’s work on astrology?


#10

@Helix

I just wanted to go back and correct something here-- I meant to recommend Harpur’s Philosophers’ Secret Fire, not The Secret Tradition of the Soul. Not that there’s something wrong with the latter, but it’s the former that gave me the big mental click.


#11

I have to completely disagree with you there.

Of course nothing is perfect and I have many grievances with Anthroposophy as a society. In much the same way I do with almost every religion and spiritual movement.

Yet therein lies the problem. As the case so often tends to be when trying to disseminate knowledge that is highly complex, it becomes deeply misconceived, even by those who most align themselves to it.

In relation to Steiner himself, yes it’s easy to write off much of his insights as ‘whacka-doo’ but when much of it is almost beyond comprehension that’s not especially hard to do. How can you ever prove or disprove a man who claimed to have clairvoyant senses of spiritual perception? You could say the same for every other self proclaimed ‘seer’ and ‘prophet’ who has ever lived. Unless you posses the same abilities, you can’t. So many simply write him off as an eccentric in possession of a wild imagination.

I don’t believe in everything he said nor do I take it as verbatim. For the reason @Sparrow mentioned above, when you take any second hand knowledge as ‘truth’ your in danger of creating a restricted and closed conceptual system of belief that you have no experience of yourself. This is the exact reason why traditionally, spiritual knowledge was carefully guarded and Gurus or teachers would only reveal it to those they thought capable and ready to understand. The most important part of this process being the ability of the initiate to have a direct experience of said knowledge themselves. Wisdom is only achieved when knowledge is ‘known’.

Knowledge alone is akin to footprints left in the sand. You can follow them for a while in the hope you’ll arrive to the destination of the person who left them behind, yet they eventually fade from view. Thus, you have to find your own way in the end.

Steiner always emphasized this, he goes into detail explaining methods by which to begin this journey in ‘How to Know Higher Worlds’ Do these methods work? It depends on what works for who. However, only the individual who rigorously and studiously applies them will discover that. In much the same way that only the individual who persistently meditates and practices non-attachment will discover if liberation from suffering as taught by the Buddha is also possible.

The problem for many modern day minds is trusting the ‘faith’ that is first required to fully commit to such paths of self inquiry. We want ‘evidence’ and we want it now, with an official stamp of approval. Only then will we consider such self propelled forays into the unknown permissible.

That’s why I find Steiner interesting because he was the first to truly realize that in the age of reason and scientific materialism modern man would reject notions of the super-sensible unless he could first grasp them on the intellectual planes of his thinking life. An understanding of highly esoteric subject matter in a more logically formulated manner of comprehension might then begin to develop the requisite faith to fully devote oneself to cultivating more intuitive perceptions of reality. Hence Steiner’s epistemology of intuitive thinking as being the starting point for modern man to re-approach the elusive spheres of spiritual experience. I believe it’s something we are steadily going to see more and more of, as a much needed response to the current atheistic rationalism that rules the airwaves.

Alternatively, there’s always DMT.


#13

Since your post, I’ve been reading a lot of Greer’s online articles and yes, he does have a way of bringing clarity and robustness to many esoteric subjects. One article in particular stuck out for me, where he discusses his take on astrology and how it might actually exert subtle physical effects. It was a bit spooky as my own ideas on this subject are pretty much identical. I’ll have to see if I can find the article again and post a link to it here.


#14

Jung himself said much the same thing; that true individuation has to come from within by transcending the grip of the personal ego and connecting with the greater Self instead. This requires a sincere belief in a higher power (doesn’t really matter what form that takes) and a wiilingness to see ourselves more truthfully and objectively, accepting that we contain dark as well as light and have the capacity for great “evil” as well as “good”.

This is a very hard thing to face up to for most people, as our natural psychic defense is to project our less desirable qualities outwards onto others. The world at large is currently going through a regressive phase, so these projections are happening on a massive scale in the collective consciousness. Trump’s bombastic pronouncements on North Korea and that rogue nation’s increasingly militant counter-reaction is just one example, as is the nightmarish ideology of ISIS vs the West.


#15

I saw your post. And I believe it was your last sentence…which I am in agreeance with.


#16

Yes completely agree, everything is coming up to the surface and is the reason why the world seems to be going ‘nuts’.

The only way to move through it all is for us to acknowledge the dark stuff inside of ourselves and support others in doing the same. In fact it’s not just the dark stuff, it’s all the parts of our Human nature that have been rejected, including our personal power and joy.

For me it always comes down to the same thing, we still haven’t accepted the irrational experience of being human. Yet it’s really the only thing we all share in common regardless of beliefs, culture, race etc.

Whether the people who seem intent on starting WW3 want to acknowledge such things remains to be seen. Even if 99.9% of the world does, it only takes one push of a button to put paid to such aspirations.

Which really leads you to come around to the idea that this place (Earth) is not and can never be your true home. Opening up to a ‘higher power’ then becomes much more accessible, not from blind fear, but rather an acknowledgement of humility that this whole ‘Game’ is much bigger than you are.


#17

I presume it’s this one? I think there are one or two others where he gives a précis.

Wave forms in the astral light, yes. Certainly the best “sciency” model for how it could work, with wave propagation and phasing cycles and so on.

I had another thought, inspired by the (speaking loosely) indigenous Australian idea that space is unconsciousness rather than distance. So the planets and stars are profoundly separate from our conscious life-- and yet, their light still reaches us. How mighty they must be. And perhaps sometimes the unconsciousness lessens, material effects can manifest, whether by unseen pattern or deliberate attention… what would it be like for a star spirit to kiss the earth in some tiny semblance of its true blaze?

It can sort of sit alongside the astral light model, I think. And it’s maybe more immediately accessible to the poetic imagination, so one could sit and gaze and wonder about opening a channel. I got an immediate screaming alien energy when I tried it in an offhand way-- there was form in it but it was too intense for me to process. Probably not a great idea to mediate it directly anyhow.