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About Rudolf Steiner
Rudolf Steiner (Feb. 27, 1861-Mar. 30, 1925) was born in the small village of Kraljevec, Austria (now in Croatia) in 1861 and died in Dornach, Switzerland in 1925. In university, he concentrated on mathematics, physics, and chemistry. Having written his thesis on philosophy, Steiner earned his doctorate and was later drawn into literary and scholarly circles and participated in the rich social and political life of Vienna.
During the 1890s, Steiner worked for seven years in Weimar at the Goethe archive, where he edited Goethe's scientific works and collaborated in a complete edition of Schopenhauer's work. Weimar was a center of European culture at the time, which allowed Steiner to meet many prominent artists and cultural figures. In 1894 Steiner published his first important work, Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path: A Philosophy of Freedom, now published as one of the Classics in Anthroposophy.
When Steiner left Weimar, he went to Berlin where he edited an avant-garde literary magazine. Again he involved himself in the rich, rapidly changing culture of a city that had become the focus of many radical groups and movements. Steiner gave courses on history and natural science and offered practical training in public speaking. He refused to adhere to the particular ideology of any political group, which did not endear him to the many activists then in Berlin.
In 1899, Steiner's life quickly began to change. His autobiography provides a personal glimpse of his inner struggles, which matured into an important turning point. In the August 28, 1899 issue of his magazine, Steiner published the article "Goethe's Secret Revelation" on the esoteric nature of Goethe's fairy tale, The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. Consequently, Steiner was invited to speak to a gathering of Theosophists. This was his first opportunity to act on a decision to speak openly and directly of his spiritual perception, which had quietly matured since childhood through inner development and discipline. Steiner began to speak regularly to theosophical groups, which upset and confused many of his friends. The respectable, if often radical scholar, historian, scientist, writer, and philosopher began to emerge as an "occultist." Steiner's decision to speak directly from his own spiritual research did not reflect any desire to become a spiritual teacher, feed curiosity, or to revive some ancient wisdom. It arose from his perception of what is needed for our time.
Rudolf Steiner considered it his task to survey the spiritual realities at work within the realms of nature and throughout the universe. He explored the inner nature of the human soul and spirit and their potential for further development; he developed new methods of meditation; he investigated the experiences of human souls before birth and after death; he looked back into the spiritual history and evolution of humanity and Earth; he made detailed studies of reincarnation and karma. After several years, Rudolf Steiner became increasingly active in the arts. It is significant that he saw the arts as crucial for translating spiritual science into social and cultural innovation. Today we have seen what happens when natural science bypasses the human heart and translates knowledge into technology without grace, beauty, or compassion. In 1913, the construction of the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland began. This extraordinary wooden building took shape gradually during the First World War. An international group of volunteers collaborated with local builders and artisans to shape the unique carved forms and structures designed by Steiner. Steiner viewed architecture as a servant of human life, and he designed the Goetheanum to support the work of anthroposophy drama and eurythmy in particular. The Goetheanum was burned to the ground on New Year's Eve, 1922 by an arsonist. Rudolf Steiner designed a second building, which was completed after his death. It is now the center for the Anthroposophical Society and its School of Spiritual Science.
After the end of World War I, Europe was in ruins and people were ready for new social forms. Attempts to realize Steiner's ideal of a "threefold social order" as a political and social alternative was unsuccessful. Nevertheless, its conceptual basis is even more relevant today. Steiner's social thinking can be understood only within the context of his view of history. In contrast to Marx, Steiner saw that history is shaped essentially by changes in human consciousness changes in which higher spiritual beings actively participate.
We can build a healthy social order only on the basis of insight into the material, soul, and spiritual needs of human beings. Those needs are characterized by a powerful tension between the search for community and the experience of the human I, or true individuality. Community, in the sense of material interdependence, is the essence of our world economy. Like independent thinking and free speech, the human I, or essential self, is the foundation of every creative endeavor and innovation, and crucial to the realization of human spirit in the arts and sciences.
Without spiritual freedom, culture withers and dies. Individuality and community are lifted beyond conflict only when they are recognized as a creative polarity rooted in basic human nature, not as contradictions. Each aspect must find the appropriate social expression. We need forms that ensure freedom for all expressions of spiritual life and promote community in economic life. The health of this polarity, however, depends on a full recognition of the third human need and function ó the social relationships that relate to our sense of human rights. Here again, Steiner emphasized the need to develop a distinct realm of social organization to support this sphere one inspired by the concern for equality that awakens as we recognize the spiritual essence of every human being. This is the meaning and source of our right to freedom of spirit and to material sustenance.
These insights are the basis of Steiner's responses to the needs of today, and have inspired renewal in many areas of modern life. Doctors, therapists, farmers, business people, academics, scientists, theologians, pastors, and teachers all approached him for ways to bring new life to their endeavors. The Waldorf school movement originated with a school for the children of factory employees at the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory. Today, Waldorf schools are all over the world. There are homes, schools, and village communities for children and adults with special needs. Biodynamic agriculture began with a course of lectures requested by a group of farmers concerned about the destructive trend of "scientific" farming. Steiner's work with doctors led to a medical movement that includes clinics, hospitals, and various forms of therapeutic work. As an art of movement, eurythmy also serves educational and therapeutic work.
Rudolf Steiner spoke very little of his life in personal terms. In his autobiography, however, he stated that, from his early childhood, he was fully conscious of the invisible reality within our everyday world. He struggled inwardly for the first forty years of his life not to achieve spiritual experience but to unite his spiritual experiences with ordinary reality through the methods of natural science. Steiner saw this scientific era, even in its most materialistic aspects, as an essential phase in the spiritual education of humanity. Only by forgetting the spiritual world for a time and attending to the material world can new and essential faculties be kindled, especially the experience of true individual inner freedom.
During his thirties, Steiner awakened to an inner recognition of what he termed "the turning point in time" in human spiritual history. That event was brought about by the incarnation of the Christ. Steiner recognized that the meaning of that turning point in time transcends all differences of religion, race, or nation and has consequences for all of humanity. Rudolf Steiner was also led to recognize the new presence and activity of the Christ. It began in the twentieth century, not in the physical world, but in the etheric realm of the invisible realm of life forces of the Earth and humanity. Steiner wanted to nurture a path of knowledge to meet today's deep and urgent needs. Those ideals, though imperfectly realized, may guide people to find a continuing inspiration in anthroposophy for their lives and work. Rudolf Steiner left us the fruits of careful spiritual observation and perception (or, as he preferred to call it, spiritual research), a vision that is free and thoroughly conscious of the integrity of thinking and understanding inherent in natural science.
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Titles By Rudolf Steiner
This work constitutes a fundamental guide to the anthroposophical path of cognition or knowledge. In human consciousness, faculties are sleeping that, if awakened, lead to life-giving wisdom.
Steiner begins with the premise that “the capacities by which we can gain insights into the higher worlds lie dormant within each one of us.” Steiner carefully and precisely leads the reader from the cultivation of the fundamental soul attitudes of reverence and inner tranquillity to the development of inner life through the stages of preparation, illumination, and initiation.
With great clarity and warmth Rudolf Steiner details the exercises and moral qualities to be cultivated on the path to a conscious experience of supersensible realities. By patiently and persistently following his guidelines, new “organs” of soul and spirit begin to form, which reveal the contours of the higher worlds thus far concealed from us.
Steiner becomes a teacher, a counsellor, and a friend whose advice is practical, clear, and effective. The challenges we face in life require increasingly deeper levels of understanding, and Steiner’s text helps readers to cultivate the capacities for such insights and places them at the service of humanity.
"Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and its Attainment" is Steiner’s most essential guide to the modern path of initiation he advocated throughout his life. It has been translated into many languages and has inspired hundreds of thousands of readers around the world.
Published in 1904 (CW 10)
This is the classic account of the modern Western esoteric path of initiation made public by Steiner in 1904. He begins with the premise that “the capacities by which we can gain insights into the higher worlds lie dormant within each one of us.” Steiner carefully and precisely leads the reader from the cultivation of the fundamental soul attitudes of reverence and inner tranquility to the development of inner life through the stages of preparation, illumination, and initiation.
Steiner provides practical exercises of inner and outer observation and moral development. By patiently and persistently following his guidelines, new “organs” of soul and spirit begin to form, which reveal the contours of the higher worlds thus far concealed from us.
Steiner in this important work becomes a teacher, a counselor, and a friend whose advice is practical, clear, and effective. The challenges we face in life require increasingly deeper levels of understanding, and Steiner’s text helps readers to cultivate the capacities for such insights and places them at the service of humanity.
This is Steiner’s most essential guide to the modern path of initiation he advocated throughout his life. It has been translated into many languages and has inspired hundreds of thousands of readers around the world. How to Know Higher Worlds has been admired by some of the most brilliant minds of our time.
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Foreword by Arthur Zajonc
Prefaces by Rudolf Steiner
1. How to Know Higher Worlds
2. The Stages of Initiation
4. Practical Considerations
5. Requirements for Esoteric Training
6. Some Effects of Initiation
7. Changes in the Dream Life of the Esoteric Student
8. Achieving Continuity of Consciousness
9. The Splitting of the Personality in Esoteric Training
10. The Guardian of the Threshold
11. Life and Death: The Great Guardian of the Threshold
Afterword by Arthur Zajonc
This volume is a translation from German of the written work Wie erlangt man Erkenntnisse der höheren Welten? (GA 10).
In the age of the internet and the proliferation of 'conspiracy theories', the idea that secret groups are seeking to gain control over humanity is no longer uncommon. This was not the case in 1917, however, when Rudolf Steiner spoke on this theme in these extraordinary lectures. His unique contribution to this controversial topic is no abstract theory, but arose from his specific research methodology involving the use of advanced forms of perception and cognition. With the firsthand knowledge available to him, Steiner takes us behind the scenes of external events, revealing the dark world of secret, elitist brotherhoods working to control the masses through the forces of economics, technology and political assassinations. These hidden groups, he explains, seek to gain power through the use of ritual magic and suggestion.
Among the many other topics tackled here, Steiner speaks on the geographical quality of the American continent and the forces that proceed from it; the nature of the double (doppelganger) and the dangers of psychoanalysis; the spiritual origin of electromagnetism; the abuse of inoculations and vaccinations; the meaning of Ireland for world development; the confusion of angels with higher beings and the divinity; and, above all, the need for clear insight into world events based on spiritual knowledge. Never before available in English as a complete volume, the text of this book has been freshly translated for this edition.
The founding of the Anthroposophical Society in 1913 marked a major change in Rudolf Steiner’s work. Although Steiner had always been an independent spiritual researcher, the break with the theosophists removed all constraints, allowing for a full flowering of anthroposophy. These lectures are filled with a freshness and vitality that reflect this new beginning, providing intriguing glimpses of great themes that Steiner was to develop in the years ahead.
Are we free, whether we know it or not? Or is our sense of freedom merely an illusion?
Rudolf Steiner tackles this age-old problem in a new way. He shows that by taking account of our own activity of thinking, we can know the reasons for our actions. And if these reasons are taken from our world of ideals, then our actions are free, because we alone determine them. But this freedom cannot be settled for us by philosophical argument. It is not simply granted to us. If we want to become free, we have to strive through our own inner activity to overcome our unconscious urges and habits of thought. In order to do this we must reach a point of view that recognises no limits to knowledge, sees through all illusions, and opens the door to an experience of the reality of the spiritual world. Then we can achieve the highest level of evolution. We can recognise ourselves as free spirits.
This special reprint, featuring the acclaimed translation by Michael Wilson, is being made available in response to public demand.
Modern science can speak with authority regarding only a tiniest fraction of the earth's interior. We have, quite literally, scratched just the surface of our planet. Can we truly know what lies beneath our feet, in the unimaginably deep depths of the earth? Can the phenomenon of spiritual investigation add to this question?
In this comprehensive volume, with notes and an introduction, Rudolf Steiner's utterances on this theme have been brought together for the first time under one cover. His unique overview gives a picture of the nine layers of the earth as they become visible via the research of the spiritual scientist. The layers range from the familiar 'mineral' on which we live, to the innermost core which Steiner connects to human and animal powers of reproduction. In between are layers such as the 'Mirror Earth', which represents qualities of extreme evil, and the 'Fire Earth', which is connected to natural catastrophes.
The information Steiner conveys is never abstract or theoretical, but intimately related to the human being. The Fire Earth, for example, is acutely affected by people's will. When the human will is chaotic and untutored, says Steiner, it acts magnetically on this layer and disrupts it, leading to volcanic eruptions. He also describes other natural catastrophes - such as extreme weather and earthquakes - in connection to the interior of the earth and karma.