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Rudolf Steiner and the Masters of Esoteric Christianity

ANNOUNCING

AN EXTRAORDINARY AND INSPIRING NEW BOOK

BY SERGEI O. PROKOFIEFF

Rudolf Steiner and the Masters of Esoteric Christianity is a fitting and revelatory capstone to a life of extraordinary dedication to the beating heart—the very life—of Anthroposophy. It is also valedictory. Written in Sergei Prokofieff’s final years, it is clear, straightforward, luminous; it unfolds naturally, without haste, with magisterial clarity, and in perfect control of its material.

Prokofieff’s first book, Rudolf Steiner and the Founding of the New Mysteries, the first of more than forty books, in a sense already contains the seed of the last. For the New Mysteries brought into the world by Rudolf Steiner are in fact the Mysteries of Esoteric Christianity. Without this compass, Anthroposophy as Rudolf Steiner brought it into the world cannot be understood. To comprehend Rudolf Steiner as a Master of Esoteric Christianity, and Esoteric Christianity as the heart and life-blood of Anthroposophy, this is the essential book.

For those who may not know his name, Sergei Prokofieff, who died on July 26, 2014, was a true servant and, one might say, a Master of Anthroposophy, dedicated to revealing the true, esoteric Christianity by which, as he might put it, Anthroposophy lives. Russian born, but from the 1980s living in the West, in Dornach, Prokofieff brought to the research, study, practice, and interpretation of Rudolf Steiner’s teachings a deep, unwavering commitment to the task of unveiling the esoteric, living Christianity that is at the very foundation of Anthroposophy.

The story of the Masters begins in Berlin, at the turn of the twentieth century, when Rudolf Steiner is asked to give a lecture to the Theosophical Society on Nietzsche and then to follow it with two lectures of his own choosing. These two lectures already broached themes of esoteric Christianity and were, in fact, Christian and Rosicrucian in essence. They subsequently became the first properly anthroposophical/theosophical books, namely, Mystics at the Dawn of the Modern Age and Christianity as Mystical Fact.

All three lectures were very well received. Moreover, Rudolf Steiner, who was already familiar from his Vienna days with Theosophy, felt at home, perhaps unexpectedly, with the theosophists he met. The upshot was that he was asked to become the general secretary of the German Section.

Right away, he was faced with the reality that Theosophy, having first been Western (founded in New York) and Rosicrucian (Blavatsky’s first book, Isis Unveiled, was Rosicrucian in inspiration), was now explicitly Eastern (non-Christian) and showing signs of becoming anti-Christian. These signs, within a few years, would manifest in the proclamation of Krishnamurti as at once Christ and the Maitreya Bodhisattva.

It should not be forgotten that Rudolf Steiner was esoteric Christian and Rosicrucian from the beginning—from his days as an altar boy to his encounter with the Rosicrucian herb-gatherer Felix Kogutsky (who led him to M [the Master]), his Goethean studies, and his apprenticeship with the philosophies of Kant, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, as well as with those whom they had studied, namely, Meister Eckhart, Paracelsus, Jakob Boehme, and other Rosicrucians. More important perhaps, Rudolf Steiner had already undergone the initiatory Christ experience he describes in his Autobiography:

The Christianity that I had to find was not in any of the existing confessions. After the severe, inner struggles during that time of testing, I found it necessary to immerse myself in Christianity and, indeed, in the world where spirit itself speaks of it.

My relationship to Christianity should make it clear that my spiritual science cannot be attained through the kind of research ascribed to me by many people. They suggest that I have assembled a theory of spirit based on ancient traditions. They suppose that I have elaborated Gnosticism and other such teachings. The spiritual insight attained in Christianity as Mystical Fact is brought directly from the world of spirit itself. I examined the records of history and incorporated them into that work only because I wanted to demonstrate, both to the lecture audience and to the book’s readers, the harmony between history and what is perceived spiritually. But I took nothing from historical documents for the book’s content unless I had first experienced it in spirit.

During the period when my statements about Christianity seemed to contradict my later comments, a conscious knowledge of real Christianity began to dawn within me. Around the turn of the century, this seed of knowledge continued to develop. The soul test described here occurred shortly before the beginning of the twentieth century. It was decisive for my soul’s development that I stood spiritually before the Mystery of Golgotha in a deep and solemn celebration of knowledge.

Against this background, Rudolf Steiner’s task in becoming the general secretary of the German Section was to ween it gradually from its Eastern sources, while at the same time infusing it with Western and Rosicrucian esoteric Christianity. From the beginning, he was led to understand from higher sources that Theosophy was the natural and appropriate spiritual vehicle for our age, but to fulfil this task its universal origins had to be recovered; a task esoteric Christianity could accomplish. Indeed, there were not two esotericisms, but only one; for, as Rudolf Steiner said in a lecture on April 12,1909: “There is no wisdom of the East that has not streamed into Western occultism; and in Rosicrucianism you will find absolutely everything that the great sages of the East have preserved…. The wisdom of the West must embrace all the teachings of the East … and—without allowing any of it to be lost—illuminate it with the light kindled within humanity by the Christ impulse.”

The great pivot in this task of returning Theosophy to its universal origins through the infusion of esoteric Christianity came with the Theosophical Congress of 1907 at which Rudolf Steiner was given permission to create his own “Western” Esoteric Section and teaching. And so, at the very first meeting of the Esoteric Section following the Congress, Rudolf Steiner announced: “At the head of our Western School there are two Masters: The Master Jesus and the Master Christian Rosenkreutz.…What is given through me on behalf of the Masters of the West goes independently alongside what Mrs. Besant teaches on behalf of the Masters of the East.”

The nature and mission of the five additional Masters—Mani, Scythianos, Gautama Buddha, the Maitreya bodhisattva, and Novalis—emerge in Prokofieff’s narrative in concert with his exposition of the great fruits of Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual research, including: Christ’s return in the etheric, the reality of and consequence of the two Jesus children, and the spiritual unveiling of the esoteric significance of the different Gospels. These are woven together with the other Christian Mysteries that open to us in our time, namely, the Michael Mysteries (Archangel Michael), the Sophia Mysteries (Divine Feminine Wisdom), and the Mysteries specific to Christ Jesus and the Mystery of Golgotha. These Mysteries, in some sense specific to Rudolf Steiner’s special mission, lead finally to a profound consideration of the spiritual individuality of Rudolf Steiner himself—to Rudolf Steiner as a true Master of Esoteric Christianity.

From this point of view, Prokofieff describes the “archetypal phenomenon” of Rudolf Steiner’s initiation as consisting of four aspects: First, “Not I, but the Christ in me,” exemplifying the highest stage of intuition, the receiving into himself the impression of the ‘I’ of Christ Jesus, which Prokofieff calls “the most important result of modern initiation.” Second, being overlighted by the Holy Spirit, whereby he was able to form a new connection to the cosmic sphere of the bodhisattvas. Third, the conscious experience of Sophia in her contemporary presence, enabling the spiritualization of the present Michaelic intelligence—the intelligence awakened in our time by the Archangel Michael that makes possible the entry into the spiritual world and the working with the etheric Christ. Fourth, the full spiritualization of the Michael intelligence through the path outlined in his Philosophy of Spiritual Activity. In Steiner’s words, “Michael wants a human being to become a free being who through the path of his concepts and ideas also finds an understanding of what comes to him from the spiritual world by way of revelation.” In this sense, the archetypal phenomenon of Rudolf Steiner’s initiation is available to anyone willing to undertake this path.

There is, of course, much more. What I have given here are only glimpses of what Prokofieff presents. Though this rich book is remarkably accessible, it requires deep reading and meditation to grasp its full significance. Every deep and life-changing book makes that demand of its readers. Reading this book with an open mind and an inner need to understand more deeply the significance of Anthroposophy as an esoteric Christian path and also—between the lines—Rudolf Steiner himself as a Master of Esoteric Christianity, the teacher of an esoteric Christianity of the present and the future, this book could be a life-changer.

Christopher Bamford

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What Forces are at Work in Waldorf Education?

All our methods, all our ingenious, formed, outer methods of education, are of little value in this respect. Answers to the question —how can this or that be achieved? — are of little use. What is of the greatest importance, however, is for a person to have enthusiasm in his work and to be able to develop this enthusiasm to the full if he is to be a true teacher. This enthusiasm is infectious, and it alone can work miracles in education. The child eagerly responds to enthusiasm, and, when there is no response on his part, it usually indicates a lack of this enthusiasm in the teacher. - Rudolf Steiner

Forces Leading to Health and Illness in Education

We can say, of course, that the outer life within which human beings stand, making it possible for them to earn a living, requires them to have capacities that they cannot have yet as children. We must impart such capacities to them. The behavior proper for adults is also, perhaps, something that the child cannot acquire by himself; it must be imparted to him through education. - Rudolf Steiner

This weekend, I am fortunate to witness the burning fire of education, as I meet early childhood teachers from around the country at the WECAN Early Childhood Educators Conference. As I watched a workshop led by Dr. Adam Blanning, I could see this infectious enthusiasm that Steiner spoke about, the great humility of the task of a teacher and physician, and the experience of a former Waldorf student as he now stood as the teacher of teachers.

This is the magic I have witnessed within the Waldorf education community, a place that nurtures the enthusiasm and love for children and the reserved task of education. As we share lectures and books each Sunday on this blog, it is my hope that it will invite you into this magical world of education that has as its focus a reverence for what it means to be human. A place where human development and the nurturing of each soul is of the highest importance.

As I spoke to Dr. Blanning after his workshop, he shared that as a child in a Waldorf school it was this underlying intention that energized his schooling years. As you read the complete lecture take time to sit with it and take it into your work with children as a neighbor, community member, or family member. Our world’s children need us to share our gifts with enthusiasm to kindle their own light for the world. - Kathy Donchak

Forces Leading to Health and Illness in Education by Rudolf Steiner

How to Achieve Existence in the World of Ideas

Two Lectures Cycles, Followed by Two Christmas Lectures Dornach, October 3–7 
and December 12–20, 1914; Dornach, December 26 and Basel, December 27, 1914 (CW 156)

The first lectures expand on the idea of inner “reading” and “hearing” as the path to spiritual knowing. The spiritual world gives something and we, as spiritual researchers, receive and then read or interpret it. Spiritual knowledge is not a matter of will, desire, or intention on our part, but a gift from the spiritual world for which we must prepare ourselves by silencing our desires, emptying ourselves, and presenting ourselves in humility and devotion to the spiritual world. Then we become aware of the reality that the spiritual world is nowhere else but here, all around us; and if we dissolve the sense of being skin-bound, we can become open to it, reflect its images in our astral bodies, and then learn to read them by identification. Steiner describes this complex, subtle, existential and living process, in which ultimately we can become one with the universe, in a masterful way from which anyone who meditates, or wishes to begin to meditate, will gain a great deal.

The second lecture cycle, “How to Achieve Existence in the World of Ideas,” deepens the themes developed in the first cycle, so that the two together provide a useful guide to the processes underlying meditation or learning to know the spiritual world. At the same time, because work was just beginning on the building that would become the Goetheanum, Steiner connects the esoteric principles of its design with the overall theme of the suprasensory human being in relation to meditation and spiritual knowing.

The volume closes with two wonderful lectures in celebration of Christmas. Here Steiner has a threefold emphasis: Christ, supraearthly, glorious, and divine, fully united with humanity and the Earth and born in each human heart. To celebrate Christmas truly means that we recognize all three of these as one in the spiritual world, in the earthly world, and in ourselves. Learn more

The Language of the Consciousness Soul: A Guide to Rudolf Steiner’s “Leading Thoughts”

The impulses of the consciousness soul tend toward isolation and separation if not practiced anthroposophically. This can be seen as a tragedy for humanity. Nevertheless, it is exactly this inner solitude of contemporary human beings that awakens a great longing for community. Anthroposophy needs to be experienced in the stillness of the soul, but it gives rise to community most significantly when, through the cooperation and unified efforts of many, something higher can take shape.
— Rudolf Steiner

In The Language of the Consciousness Soul, Carl Unger unfolds and expands Rudolf Steiner’s “leading thoughts” to help the reader comprehend the deeper meaning behind the words. Unger lets us see how Rudolf Steiner created a mandala-like image of Anthroposophy, revealing an ever-expanding cosmology and epistemology that goes far beyond mere philosophy or a belief system to a practical path of spiritual investigation and knowledge for modern humankind.


Materialism and Spirituality—Life and Death

Materialism and Spirituality— Life and Death Berlin, February 6 , 1917

Rudolf Steiner

Let us turn our thoughts, dear friends, as we continually do, to the guardian spirits of those who are absent from us, taking their place where the great destinies of the time are being fulfilled:

Spirits ever watchful, Guardian of their souls!

May your vibrations waft

To the Earth human beings committed to your charge

Our souls’ petitioning love:

That, united with your power,

Our prayer may helpfully radiate

To the souls it lovingly seeks!


And to the spirits of those who have passed through the gate of death:


Spirits ever watchful, Guardians of their souls!

May your vibrations waft

To human beings of the spheres committed to your charge

Our souls’ petitioning love:

That, united with your power,

Our prayer may helpfully radiate

To the souls it lovingly seeks!


And that Spirit, Who for the healing of the Earth and for her progress,

and for the freedom and salvation of humankind, passed through

the Mystery of Golgotha;

The Spirit whom in our spiritual science we seek,

to whom we would draw near,

May he be at your side in all your difficult tasks!

Let me first express the deep satisfaction I have in being able to be once more in your midst. I would have come earlier, but for an urgent need, that kept me in Dornach until the work on “The Group” had reached a point at which it could be continued without me. You have often heard me speak of “The Group,” which will stand in the east end of the Goetheanum and presents the Representative of Humanity in relation to ahrimanic forces on the one hand, and on the other to luciferic forces. These days, one needs forethought for the future, and it seemed to me absolutely necessary, considering what may happen, to make that progress with “The Group” before leaving Dornach, which has now been possible. Furthermore, the times are certain to bring home to us with particular intensity the fact that meeting with one another here on the physical plane is not the only thing that sustains and strengthens us in the impulse of spiritual science. Rather, we must be born up through this difficult time of sorrow and trial by coming together in our anthroposophic efforts, even if together only in spirit. And indeed, this very thing is to be the test for our anthroposophic efforts.

Since we were together here previously, we have had to lament the loss from the physical plane of our dear Ms. Motzkus, as well as other dear friends who have left the physical plane because of the current terrible events. It is especially painful to see Ms. Motzkus no longer among the friends who have shared our anthroposophic efforts here for so many years. She had been 1 These meditations were repeated at the beginning of each lecture in the series. Materialism and Spirituality—Life and Death 3 a member of our movement since its beginning. From the first day, from the first meeting of a very small circle, she always showed the deepest and most heartfelt devotion to our movement and participated intimately and earnestly in all the phases it went through, in all its times of trial and testing. Above all, through the events and changes through which we had to pass, she preserved an invincible loyalty to the movement in the deepest sense of the word—loyalty through which she set an example to all those who would wish to be worthy members of the anthroposophic movement. Thus, with our gaze we follow this beloved and pure soul into the spiritual worlds to which she has ascended, still feeling toward her the bond of trust and confidence that has grown stronger and deeper over the years, knowing that our own souls are linked with hers forever. . . . Read more


A Christmas Address by Rudolf Steiner to the Children of the First Waldorf School

Address at the Christmas Assembly,
December 21, 1919

Rudolf Steiner

 

Dear children!

Several weeks ago, when we all came to this school for the first time, I visited you more often. Then there were a few weeks when I had to be quite far away from here, but each morning when I got up and went to work, I wondered, “What are my dear Waldorf children and their teachers doing now?” This thought came to me often during the day. And now, in the festive Christmas season, I have had the privilege of being able to visit you again. I went into all your classes and asked many of you, “Do you love your teachers?” [“Yes!” shout the children.] And you see, you answered me warmly, just like that. And then I said to you, “That is an especially nice Christmas gift for me!”

And it is a nice Christmas gift for me. You see, dear children, I have to think about how you have been spending your days since Herr Molt gave us the gift of this Waldorf School. After resting from evening until morning in the divine spirit that watches over your souls from the time you go to sleep until the time you wake up, and after you have washed and dressed and gotten all ready, you come up here to this beautiful schoolhouse. And I believe that many of you, maybe even all of you, look forward to everything that will be here for you in this beautiful schoolhouse. [“Yes!” shout the children.]

Dear children, you have reason to look forward to it. You see, while I was away from you I thought of you often, and in my thoughts I wondered, “What are my dear Waldorf children doing?” And I also said to myself, “They will be doing just fine, because they have nice capable teachers, and these nice capable teachers approach them with real love and are working very hard so that something good will come of the children.” And then I had to think of how you look forward to coming up here and of the love you show for your teachers. These teachers have to work long and hard to be able to teach you all the good and beautiful things that will make good and capable people out of you.

And you know, my dear children, I was especially pleased when I was in the classes and some children would come in playing the part of Ruprecht [Ruprecht: in the European tradition, the Moorish helper of St. Nicholas, who carries a black sack and administers symbolic punishments to children who have been bad during the past year.] or of little angels, and they sang and talked about the child Jesus, about the holy Christ Child. It was beautiful and grand that you could speak about the Christ with such love, and that you could listen with such love.

And do you know where your teachers get all the strength and ability they need so that they can teach you to grow up to be good and capable people? They get it from the Christ, whom we think about at Christmas. We think about how He came into the world to bring joy to all people, and you gave some beautiful presentations about Him today.

You see, my dear children, there are beings on earth that are not like human beings — for example, the animals around us — and we might often think that we should envy these animals. You can look up and see the birds flying, and perhaps then you might say, “Oh, if only we could fly, too! Then we would be able to soar into the air.” We human beings cannot fly like the birds because we have no wings. However, dear children, we can fly into the element of the spiritual, and we have two wings to fly there. The wing on the left is called “hard work,” and the other wing on the right is called “paying attention.” We cannot see them, but these two wings — hard work and paying attention — make it possible for us to fly into life and become people who are really ready for life. If we work hard and pay attention as children, and if we have teachers that are as good and capable as yours, then what makes us fit for life will come to us, and on the wings of hard work and paying attention we will be able to fly into life, where the love of our teachers carries us.

You know, you can sometimes think that there are things that are more fun than learning. But that is not really true; there is no greater joy than learning. You see, when you enjoy something that lets you be inattentive and does not make you work hard, then the joy is over immediately. You enjoy it, and then the joy is gone. But when you enjoy what you can learn, when you are flying on the wings of hard work and paying attention, then my dear children, something stays behind in your souls. (Later on you will know what the soul is.) Something stays in your soul, and you can enjoy that over and over again. When we have learned something good and proper, it comes back again and again; we enjoy it again and again with a joy that never stops. But the other fun things, the ones that come only from inattentiveness and laziness, they come to an end.

You see, because many of you — all of you, I would like to believe — want to work hard and pay attention to what your nice teachers are giving you, I was so glad to see your love for your teachers streaming out of your eyes when I saw you again. And so that you do not forget it, I would like to ask you again, “Don't you all sincerely love your teachers?” [“Yes, we do!” shout the children.] Now, that is what you should always say. That is what you should always feel, and then the spirit whose earthly life and birth we remember at Christmas time, the Christ spirit, will take joy in you.

Now, my dear children, when you have felt your teachers' love all day long up here, then you can go home again and tell your parents about what you have learned, and your parents will be glad and say to themselves, “Well, our children are going to grow up to be good and capable people.”

Make sure to write that in your souls, for now is a good time to do that. When we think of the great festival that reminds us that the Christ entered our world to bring comfort and joy to all human beings who turn their hearts and souls toward Him, then we can also inscribe in our souls the intention to become good human beings. Because the power of Christ is helping you, you will become what you write in your souls today, what you seriously intend to become. And when I come again and see that you have made even more progress, when I come again and see that you can once again show me that you have taken love for your teachers into your hearts and kept it there, then I will again be very glad. My warmest Christmas wish for you today is that this love will grow ever more perfect in you, and that you may continue to unfold the left wing of the human soul, which is hard work, and the right wing, which is paying attention.

And now that I have spoken to the children, let me still say a few words to those who have accompanied them here. What I just said to the children flows from a deeply satisfied heart, because I really have received the most beautiful Christmas greeting from them. When I came into the school, what wafted toward me was something I would like to call the good spirit of this school. It was the really good spirit, the good and unifying spirit, that brings teachers and children together here.

You see, in these days a Christmas mood was resting on all the serious teaching that was taking place, and it was deeply satisfying to perceive this Christmas mood, into which the revelation of Christ speaks, if I may put it like that, in all the corridors and especially in the classrooms. This was no mere supplement to the regular lessons. You could feel that our faculty managed to warm and enlighten everything that was being presented to the children's souls and hearts and understanding with the real, true spirit of Christ. Here, in accordance with the wishes of the divine spirit, we do not speak the name of Christ after every sentence — for “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain!” — but it is nonetheless true that this spirit of Christ is with us in all our individual subjects and in every teaching activity. This is something that can readily be felt, especially at this time of year. Perhaps you too have been able to feel it in what came to meet you out of this Christmas assembly.

And finally, to conclude my Christmas greeting, I would like to appeal to the children whom you have sent here. I hope their progress pleases you.

Children, when you enter these rooms with the other boys and girls, recall that you are meant to love each other warmly, to love each and every other one. If love prevails among you, you will thrive under the car e of your teachers, and your parents at home will have no concerns and will have loving thoughts of how you are spending your time here.

There is something we may say today, ladies and gentlemen, which should resound, as the spirit of this school, from every word and glance the children bring home to you who have sent them here, as an echo of what is meant to permeate all of our human journeying on earth since the mystery of Golgotha took place, to permeate all human work and activity, and especially all activity in which the spirit has work to do. May the words that ring in our souls today weave through everything that human beings do out of self-understanding, weave like a warming breath of air or beam of sunlight:

The revelation of the divine from heavenly heights,
And peace to human beings on earth who are of good Will
!
                                  [Luke 2:14.]

Our great ideal is to cultivate this good will in the children of the Waldorf School. Our concern must be to find the governance of the spirit of the world in our work, in everything we do. May the Christmas message, “The revelation of the spirit of God from the heavenly heights, and peace to human beings on earth who are of good will,” trickle down into all the work of the Waldorf School as well. May the school's working strength be governed by brotherly love and by the peace that inspires and supports all work! That, dear ladies and gentlemen, is my Christmas greeting to you today.

 
 

SteinerBooks at the 2018 Biodynamic Conference

2018 Biodynamic Conference

SteinerBooks visit to the beautiful city of Portland, Oregon and the 2018 Biodynamics Conference is right around the corner. There is still time to make plans to attend.

Come by the bookstore and see us!

Your Friends at SteinerBooks

November 14-18, Portland, Oregon (July 10, 2018) - Hundreds of farmers, gardeners, vintners, educators, researchers, activists, and enthusiasts—from the Pacific Northwest, across North America, and around the world—will gather November 14-18 in Portland for the Biodynamic Association’s 2018 North American Biodynamic Conference. This year’s theme, Transforming the Heart of Agriculture: Soil. Justice. Regeneration., illustrates how agricultural transformation means considering how we think and work with the soil, the nature of our human relationships, and the diversity of tools that can help us regenerate our earth, our communities, and our spirits. The conference is grounded both in the local culture of the Pacific Northwest and the global culture of biodynamics, which has been practiced around the world for nearly a century.

Biodynamics is a holistic, ecological, and ethical approach to farming, gardening, food, and nutrition. Biodynamics is rooted in the work of philosopher and scientist Dr. Rudolf Steiner, whose 1924 lectures to farmers opened a new way to integrate scientific understanding with a recognition of spirit in nature. Biodynamics has continued to develop and evolve since the 1920s through the collaboration of many farmers and researchers. Around the world, biodynamics is alive in thousands of thriving gardens, farms, vineyards, ranches, and orchards. The principles and practices of biodynamics can be applied anywhere food is grown, with thoughtful adaptation to scale, landscape, climate, and culture. Learn more