Anthroposophy is a path of knowledge aiming to guide the spiritual in the human being to the spiritual in the universe.
From the Anthroposophical Society of America:
Anthroposophy is a source of spiritual knowledge and a practice of inner development. Through it one seeks to penetrate the mystery of our relationship with the spiritual world by searching for answers and insights that come through a schooling of one’s inner life. It draws, and strives to build, on the spiritual research of Rudolf Steiner, who maintained that every human being (anthropos) has the inherent wisdom (sophia) to solve the riddles of existence and to transform both self and society. Rudolf Steiner shared the results of this research in 40 books and in over 6,000 lectures now available in 300 volumes. He is increasingly recognized as a seminal thinker of the 20th century and one of humanity’s great spiritual teachers.
Anthroposophy is a modern spiritual path that cherishes and respects the freedom of each individual. It recognizes however, that real freedom is actually an inner capacity that can only be obtained by degrees according to the spiritual development of the individual. The striving for this capacity, and the corresponding spiritual development, can be greatly assisted through a scientific study of the spiritual nature of humanity and the universe. Such a study is available in the writings and lectures of Rudolf Steiner – an initiate of the twentieth century. Steiner called his study – spiritual research or Anthroposophy.
Anthroposophy is thus not only the spiritual path to freedom, it is also a scientific study of the spiritual knowledge gained on this path. For Steiner, Anthroposophy was the path that could ‘lead the spiritual in the human being to the spiritual in the universe’. And he showed that it is a path that is capable of inspiring many cultural innovations – in education, agriculture, medicine, architecture, science and the arts – and much else.
Spiritual Science is the Science of Becoming
A satisfying view can only be derived from what is in the process of becoming; it must act on the soul so that as we absorb it, it becomes unconscious, but in uniting with the soul stirs in us again questions concerning becoming.
In the world things exist and things become, but only what is in the process of becoming is alive; what is already in existence is always dead. What is in existence is the corpse of what was becoming. In nature all around us we find ‘existence,’ and spiritual science confirms that this existence has arisen because once it was in a process of becoming. The ‘becoming’ left behind its corpse. What is in the state of existence is dead; what is becoming is alive.
This has special significance for man’s inner life. We do not attain a satisfying view of things through concepts that are finished and complete, because they belong to what exists, not to what is becoming. A satisfying view can only be derived from what is in the process of becoming; it must act on the soul so that as we absorb it, it becomes unconscious, but in uniting with the soul stirs in us again questions concerning the becoming. This is also an aspect of the science of the spirit which causes difficulty for many because they prefer what is finished and complete. While the science of the spirit points to what will truly nourish the human soul, the inclination is towards the very opposite.
What people want today is to attain as quickly as possible a complete and finished view of the world. Much of what comes to expression as inner disturbances and dissatisfaction will be alleviated only when, instead of demanding finished truths, our interest awakens for participation in the coming-into-being of truth.
(Rudolf Steiner, GA 176, July 24, 1917)
Our Changing Consciousness
It is astonishing when we consider the enormous change in consciousness that has taken place in the Western world over the last 500 years. In 1500AD most Europeans lived in villages based around farming or trades and were embedded in a life shaped by the Christian Church. A new world was about to open up. America had just been rediscovered, Copernicus was soon to propose the revolutionary concept of a sun-centered (rather than earth-centered) solar system, the renaissance was underway in art and the Reformation would soon come to stir and shake the foundations of Christian faith that had been so all embracing in medieval life.
Since that time, the scientific paradigm has replaced religion as the dominant method through which we seek to understand our world. In many areas of knowledge and life, we seek proof to support new ideas and understanding; faith or belief on the basis of authority is no longer appropriate.
Along with an expanding awareness of our environment, both inner and outer, has come a strengthening of our experience of ourselves as individuals and an emancipation from traditions and dogma that once held us to certain ways of doing and seeing. But the cost for most Western people has been the loss of a sense of a divine, cosmic order in which we feel embedded. Many indigenous peoples still have a connection to their spiritual heritage. This has taken place over a longer time than just this millennium and if we compare ancient cultures to the world today we see an even greater expression of this. In ancient times humanity was guided out of the wisdom of the Mystery Schools. Many people today cannot find a connection to a spiritual home, nor do they necessarily seek one. We live now in a world where human intelligence is seen as the source of ever increasing knowledge. We feel a freedom never before experienced and individuality is paramount. We exercise individual rights and freedoms in a way not known before and it brings with it a great diversity of choice. At times such choice can be overwhelming and we look for a guide to find a way through or we may avoid the area altogether. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the field of spirituality where a veritable smorgasbord of techniques and paths to self-development can be found.Rudolf Steiner 1861 – 1925
Seeking the Spirit
Many people today are longing to understand more deeply and truly both themselves and their relationship to the world. We search for meaning in our relationships with others and in the life and work we share with them. To many the world of the spirit is a reality, although its landscape and dimensions are not yet so clear. We seek to find our own answers as we travel a path of self knowledge, discovering and developing both soul and spiritual capacities that we may then place in the service of humanity and the earth.
Early this century Rudolf Steiner founded the Anthroposophical Society as a place where people seeking to find their connection to the spiritual world, to discover their own spirituality, could come together. He brought anthroposophy into the world, not as something totally new; but the eternal wisdom that has guided humanity through all ages of our time on earth was recast into a form suited to our present day.
Rudolf Steiner, (1861 to 1925), was a spiritual researcher who had developed his faculty for perception in the spiritual world to a high degree. He was able to give insight into the nature of the human being and the world in which we live and to place it in the context of past and future evolution of the world. In the books that he wrote and the many lectures he gave, Steiner elaborated among other things the means by which the modern person may find their path to the spirit, and difficulties commonly encountered along the way. Anthroposophy lives as seed within each human being, providing a methodology that can lead to a new relationship to our inner life as well as to technology, the environment and most of all to our fellow human beings. It also places our modern times in the much larger context of human and world evolution, the main purpose of which is the development of individual human spiritual capacities through consciousness, leading to freedom and love. Thus it meets the deep human yearning for understanding and connection.
Anthroposophy has opened the door to new approaches in a wide range of different spheres of life and work. The fields of education, curative education (for people with disabilities), agriculture, healing, the sciences, economic endeavors, the arts, the social life, religion and psychology have all received fresh impulses from people working out of anthroposophy. Today, in almost every country around the world, initiatives based on the insights arising from anthroposophy are to be found.
More Steiner Quotes:
The path that leads into Anthroposophy consists firstly, then, in changing the direction of one’s will; secondly, in experiencing supersensible knowledge; lastly, in participating in the destiny of one’s time to a point where it becomes one’s personal destiny. One feels oneself sharing mankind’s evolution in the act of reversing one’s will and experiencing the supersensible nature of all truth.
Sharing the experience of the time’s true significance is what gives us our first real feeling for the fact of our humanness.
The term “Anthroposophy” should really be understood as synonymous with “Sophia,” meaning the content of consciousness, the soul attitude and experience that make a person a full-fledged human being.
The right interpretation of “Anthroposophy” is not “the wisdom of the human being,” but rather “the consciousness of one’s humanity.”
In other words, the reversing of the will, the experiencing of knowledge, and one’s participation in the time’s destiny, should all aim at giving the soul a certain direction of consciousness, a “Sophia.”
(Rudolf Steiner, Awakening to Community, Feb., 1923)
Why do we occupy ourselves with Spiritual Science? It is as though we were learning the vocabulary of the language through which we approach the Christ. If we take the trouble to learn to think the thoughts of Spiritual Science, and make the mental effort necessary for an understanding of the Cosmic secrets taught by Spiritual Science, then, out of the dim, dark foundations of the Cosmic mysteries, will come forth the figure of Christ Jesus, which will draw near to us and give us the strength and force in which we shall then live. The Christ will guide us, standing beside us as a brother, so that our hearts and souls may be strong enough to grow up to the necessary level of the tasks awaiting humanity in its further development.
Find links to various biographies of Rudolf Steiner here.