Thursday, January 08, 2015


On several occasions in the past, I have called attention to a certain conversation between Rudolf Steiner and Friedrich Rittelmeyer as told in the latter’s autobiographical account (Meine Lebensbegegnungen mit Rudolf Steiner, 1928, translated as Rudolf Steiner Enters My Life). Of particular interest is the last part below, when Rudolf Steiner says, "If humanity does not accept what is now being offered, it will have to wait for another hundred years." 

In this brief excerpt, Rittelmeyer cites several conversations with Steiner, all of which apparently took place during 1915. One of the conversations about the Christ sculpture, The Representative of Man, took place “at Midsummer, in the year 1915, with the thunder of the cannons rumbling from neighbouring Alsace, and the searchlights playing over the countryside by night.” 

Another conversation about the sculpture, which Rittelmeyer calls “a grotesque happening” (concerning its alleged resemblance to the German Crown Prince) is not dated. Then he mentions a discussion about the Great War and how it may end – also not dated, but 1915 is most plausible. There is also a conversation about the need for grace in the context of Protestant Christianity (Rittelmeyer was a Lutheran minister), and then there is this:

"Did you always think of Christ as you think to-day, even in your scientific days?" I asked him. "I remember that in a conversation in the middle of my twenties I spoke of Christ like this," he answered. "But then of course it fell temporarily into the background. I had to pass through all those other phases. It was a karmic necessity." "Why was it that in spite of all you must have known even in those early years, you were so completely silent about occult matters until your fortieth year?" I asked. "I had to make a certain position for myself in the world first. People may say nowadays that my writings are mad, but my earlier work is also there, and they cannot wholly ignore it. And, moreover, I had to bring things to a certain clarity in myself, to a point where I could give them form, before it was possible to talk about them. That was not so very easy. And then - I admit it frankly - it needs courage to speak openly about such things. I had first to acquire this courage."

"Do you really think that Anthroposophy will succeed in becoming more than a strong impulse in our civilisation? Do you think it can really strike through as new culture?" - He became amazingly serious. "If humanity does not accept what is now being offered, it will have to wait for another hundred years," he said. He seemed to be deeply moved. It was not merely emotion, but something like the thunder of the Judgment. He said no more. Never before or since have I seen how the soul of a whole age can tremble in one man."

The first paragraph is relevant to the nonsense produced from certain quarters about Rudolf Steiner being an atheist in his younger years who “converted” to Theosophy at the turn of the century. Steiner was in his twenties in the 1880s, and in 1886 (at the age of 25), he wrote TheTheory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World Conception (GA 2), which is an overview of Goethe’s scientific epistemology. The conversation described by Rittelmeyer, which is a primary source, makes it clear that there was no change in Steiner’s world view or spiritual philosophy from his twenties to his fifties.

The second paragraph may be of tremendous significance if Steiner was a genuine ‘prophet’ in regard to his own movement and mission. Many aspects of humanity’s evolution still remain to be seen during the centuries ahead, such as the growth of the new, self-conscious clairvoyance. ‘Prophet’? Here is the rub: According to Rudolf Steiner, the age of prophets and revelations is over. What is needed today is not a new revelation but a new science; not prophets but spiritual investigators. The very paradigm of religion is in the process of becoming outmoded. Religious beliefs are becoming increasingly superstitious and fanatical, more and more divorced from reality. Atheists think that religion will be replaced by science. Those who truly understand anthroposophy think exactly the same; the difference is that while the former mean only materialistic natural science, the latter have spiritual science in mind – or to be more precise: Spiritually extended science enhanced by nothing less than the science of seership.

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