The I Knows Itselfâ€ â€“ in the Light of Michaelic World Affirmation
Reprinted from the Goetheanum website
The arc from Society to individual is continued with the theme for the year: The I Knows Itselfâ€ â€“ in the Light of Michaelic World Affirmation. Like the Society, the individual confronts the same challenges as other contemporaries and must also find a connection to the worldâ€”as a basis for self-knowledge.
From the question of the Anthroposophical Societys identity to the foundation stone laying for the first Goetheanum, an event focused on the I in its developmentâ€”this describes the path we have tried to follow over the past two years. In our time each aspect is affected by two perspectives that represent important questions and context for the Anthroposophical Society.
Between Abyss and Renewal
One is the question about the I in contention with the world as it stands amid the events of our time: the peril for the I, the challenge of life in changing, complex timesâ€”fateful for manyâ€”and a growing opportunity to understand humanity in a new way and make it real. That we are contemporaries is more than just something we all share; it is the point where mighty abysses and immense possibilities for renewal begin.
On the other hand, for the Anthroposophical Society these themes exist in the context of 100th anniversariesâ€”in a historical as well as a contemplative light from which fresh and renewing impulses for the great questions and challenges of our time can arise.
Both perspectives raise questions for us as contemporaries. Where does a self-knowledge connected with world events begin? The motto: The I knows itselfâ€ is a lens of knowledge for the consciousness soul, the start of a turn toward the spirit in the human being and the world born out of the human beings deep entanglement in matter and out of a thinking that has united itself with the conditions of material phenomena in the world while also creating them.
Understanding for Life
We are still at the beginning of the Michael age that dawned at the end of the 19th century. The path to spirit knowledge and a cosmopolitan existence in the world is being traveled under conditions that are often oppressive, conditions into which we have placed ourselves as humanity and in which new capacities can nonetheless be found. Many people are taken hold of by a deep concern: we know and feel that we increasingly share a deep-rooted bond.
The human being possesses capacities for a knowledge that serves life and must do justice to it. Concepts and ideas cited as natural scientific law prove inadequate for understanding the element of life. This understanding arises in an active turn toward the other person. It is no longer a picture of the world, but a compassionate existence in the world, a thinking that brings us into relationship, into connection and an experience of interrelationship. The quality of interrelationship is the human quality. Rudolf indicates that we belong to the earth only when our relationship to other people is felt, that our connection with the earth is contingent on our connection with the human being.1 The humanity of the human beingâ€”so often doubted today!â€”arises in his connection with the world: Man grows ever more Man, as he grows to be an expression of the World. He finds himself, not by seeking himself, but by uniting himself to the World with Will in Love.â€2
This sensitivity makes great possibilities apparent, but great thresholds also appear: The will to make a decision, to act, often becomes a challenge. There is reluctance to make decisions and carry them out because we sense the unpredictable results of acting.
Hope and Expectation
Uniting oneself to the World with Will in Loveâ€ requires affirmation of our world. This affirmation is not just needed; it is done in a knowledge that wills to include the fullness of realityâ€”its spiritual dimensionâ€”as well. Rudolf Steiner contrasts the Michaelic mood of affirmation to Ahrimans mood of world negation condensed entirely into Ahrimans own being: One of the Imaginations of Michael is as follows:â€”He reigns through the course of Time, bearing the light of the Cosmos as living being of his being, fashioning the warmth of the Cosmos as revelation of his own being. He wends as one Being like a Worldâ€”affirming himself inasmuch only as he affirms the Worldâ€”as though from all stations of the universe guiding forces to the earth below.â€3
Of course, we can experience world affirmation in different ways. The human quality of birth, the fact the human being decides to be born, the fact the will to live on the earth is so powerful that the human being unites with the physical and creates a bodyâ€”that is perhaps our greatest expression of affirmation.
In his address to youth in Breslau 90 years ago, Rudolf Steiner spoke of a Michael festivalâ€”the future rings forth from a shared experience of hope and expectation: We really need to reach the point where the sprouting life of the future we can feel in its embryonic form finds expression in festivals of hope, in festivals of expectation.â€¦There should not merely be a vague exaltation through the Michael idea; there should be the consciousness that a new world of soul must be founded among human beings. The Michael principle is actually what leads us. A shared experience is part of working toward a Michael festival in which the spirit of hope, the spirit of expectation, can live.â€4
Affirmation Based on Spirit Knowledge
Hope and expectation as an expression of world affirmationâ€”we would like to place the theme for the year into this context: The I that unites with the world in knowledge, an esoteric life that can serve the human being and world affirmation.
Spirit knowledge as the basis for affirmation of a world that has forgotten the spirit but wills to be known in its spiritual elementâ€”we wish you a good year of working with this theme!
Constanza Kaliks, Goetheanum Leadership
1. Christ descended for all human beings and only through our feeling related to everyone else do we belong to the earth. The deeper understanding of the Christ derives from our effort to attain a full and complete connection with them.â€ (Rudolf Steiner, The Karma of Vocation [GA 172], lecture, November 27, 1916, Spring Valley,, 1984, pp. 201â€“202).
2. Rudolf Steiner: The Michael Mystery, World-Thoughts in Michael, and World-Thoughts in Ahrimanâ€, November 16, 1924, London, 1956, p. 56
3. Ibid. p. 55. The continuation reads: And, in contrast, an Imagination of Ahriman: Ahriman, in his course, from Time would wring Space. Around him is darkness, into which he projects the rays of his own light. The more he achieves his ends, the keener grows the frost around him. He moves like a world contracted into one single beingâ€”his own; affirming himself only by negating the world; he moves as though he brought with him uncanny forces from the dark caverns of the earth.â€
4. Rudolf Steiner, lecture, June 9, 1924, in Die Erkenntnis-Aufgabe der Jugend (GA 217a)
We recommend the following reading for this theme:
Address at the Laying of the Foundation Stone for the First Goetheanum, Rudolf Steiner: The Gospel of Knowledge and its prayer. Address of 20 September 1913, in: Rudolf Grosse, The Christmas Foundation, Beginning of a New Cosmic Age, Great Barrington 1984.
The Michael impulse, Rudolf Steiner: Approaching the Mystery of Golgotha, Lectures of 18 and 20 May, in Stuttgart, CW 152, Great Barrington 2007
The age of the consciousness soul, its challenges and endangerments,
Rudolf Steiner, From Symptom to Reality in Modern History, Lectures of 20, 25 and 26 October 1918 in Dornach, CW 185, Forest Row 1976.
The Fifth Gospel, Rudolf Steiner, The Fifth Gospel: From the Akashic Records. Lectures of 17 and 18 December 1913 in Cologne, CW 148, Forest Row 2012
Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts: Anthroposophy as a Path to Knowledge. The Michael Mystery, CW 26.