Submitted by John Ralph on Fri, 07/06/2007 - 7:24pm.
Anthroposophy Group

Rudolf Steiner


Anthroposophy is a spiritual philosophy that reflects and speaks to the basic deep spiritual questions of humanity, to our basic creative needs, to the need to relate to the world out of a scientific attitude of mind, and to the need to develop a relation to the world in complete freedom and based on completely individual judgments and decisions. One way of characterizing anthroposophy is to point to four basic aspects and levels:

1. Philosophy of Freedom
Anthroposophy is a spiritual philosophy, mainly developed by Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. It is born out of a philosophy of freedom, living at the core of anthroposophy.

2. Spiritual Science
From another perspective, anthroposophy can be called spiritual science. Anthroposophy as spiritual science seeks to attain in its investigations of the spiritual world the precision and clarity of natural science's investigations of the physical world. The central organization for the cultivation of this in connection with anthroposophy is a School of Spiritual Science, having a center at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland.

3. Nurturing The Life Of The Soul
Anthroposophy also is an impulse to nurture the life of the soul in the individual and in human society, meaning among other things to nurture the respect for and interest in other people on a purely human basis independently of their origin and views. The main organization for this is the Anthroposophical Society, which exists in a world wide form, as national Anthroposophical Societies, and as groups formed on the basis of subject.

4. Applied Anthroposophy
While rooted in a philosophy of freedom, developed as a method of spiritual research and an impulse to nurture a purely human interest in other people, it also has possible practical implications and as such lives as applied or practical anthroposophy in various "daughter movements" of anthroposophy. The most developed of these daughter movements of anthroposophy are biodynamic farming, Waldorf schools, anthroposophical curative education and anthroposophical medicine.

What is Anthroposophy? in the words of Rudolf Steiner...

Anthroposophical ideas are vessels fashioned by love, and man's being is spiritually summoned by the spiritual world to partake of their content. Anthroposophy must bring the light of true humanness to shine out in thoughts that bear love's imprint; knowledge is only the form in which man reflects the possibility of receiving in his heart the light of the world spirit that has come to dwell there and from that heart illumine human thought. Since anthroposophy cannot really be grasped except by the power of love, it is love-engendering when human beings take it in a way true to its own nature. That is why a place where love reigned could be built in Dornach in the very midst of raging hatreds. Words expressing anthroposophical truths are not like words spoken elsewhere today; rightly conceived, they are all really reverential pleas that the spirit make itself known to men.
- from Awakening to Community, Lecture I, Stuttgart, January 23, 1923


21st Century Enlightenment

Submitted by John Ralph on Tue, 02/22/2011 - 11:05am.

I recommend this animated video of a talk by Matthew Taylor at the RSA.


A Thought for a New Year

Submitted by John Ralph on Wed, 01/05/2011 - 9:41am.

This was sent to me as a New Year's gift.  "A seed is a very small thing." I have no idea who wrote it but it rings true.


A seed is a very small thing.

You plant it, and in that secret place under the earth, if feeds from the soil, it breaks, and then a shoot comes up from the ground.

This small shoot seeks the light as it grows, and in time, it turns into a large tree. If you had not been told, you would not believe this tree came from such a small thing that once was hidden in the depths.

We cannot see what happens under the soil, because it is hidden from our eyes. Only the seed is present when the change happens. But eventually we see a tree, which cannot be ignored.

We do not consider the strength that resides within the seed because it is such a small thing. But we cannot ignore the tree.

This is an illustration of a certain belief that we fall into very easily, because it makes sense when we first think about it. It is the idea that our private lives should not matter to anyone but ourselves.

We look at our private lives as hidden from view, and we think they add no meaning whatsoever to the lives we live in public.

We say things like "whatever a man does in his private life is nobody's business."

Even more so, whatever a man thinks in his own head, in the deepest recesses of his mind, has little or no influence on the way that he behaves in public.

The truth is that those things which we do in private, even our thought life, matter more than anything else we do in life.

Because our private thoughts are like seeds.

They are planted in our heads. During that time, no one but we are able to

John Dewey and Rudolf Steiner on Education

Submitted by John Ralph on Wed, 07/07/2010 - 5:44am.
What would John Dewey and Rudolf Steiner have said to one another about education? 
Although they were contemporaries, they never met. Jacque Ensign (Department of Education Studies, University of Virginia) has concocted a lively fictional conversation about education between John Dewey and Rudolf Steiner here, courtesy of the ever-surprising online anthroposophical journal from Argentina, The Southern Review.  
Jacque Ensign writes:
John Dewey and Rudolf Steiner were contemporaries who each launched radical worldwide educational approaches: Progressivism and Waldorf schools. Each wrote and spoke about his philosophy and formulated concrete ways to put it into practice in schools. Steiner wrote over sixty books and 6,000 essays, lectures, and articles. Dewey was such a prolific writer that whole books have been published as Dewey bibliographies. In many respects, Dewey and Steiner differed greatly in their philosophies and methods, but they also shared some common premises about education. With many professional parents sending their children to Waldorf schools, it is time to look at Waldorf education from a Deweyan perspective. Read on…

Handbook of all Rudolf Steiner’s lectures and books in German

Submitted by John Ralph on Sun, 07/04/2010 - 5:49am.

German readers may not realize that there is an indexed handbook by Christian Karl in PDF format (65MB) covering all Rudolf Steiner’s lectures and books. 

Empathic Civilisation

Submitted by John Ralph on Wed, 06/30/2010 - 11:29am.

How many anthroposophical tenets can you identify, that the speaker Jeremy Rifkin seems to accept as fact, in this animated video from the Royal Society of Arts?

Introspection and the Phases of Life

Submitted by John Ralph on Tue, 02/23/2010 - 3:42am.

Hermann Hesse in The Southern Cross Review

Submitted by John Ralph on Fri, 11/06/2009 - 2:48am.

 In its tenth anniversary issue The Southern Cross Review has some beautiful poems by Hermann Hesse among other contributions that are worth a look.

Picture from Aberdeen PoF Study Group

Submitted by John Ralph on Thu, 06/11/2009 - 9:21am.
Picture from Aberdeen PoF Study Group

Picture from Aberdeen PoF Study Group - see the report here.

Sound Spiritual Experience (ALT005)

Submitted by John Ralph on Wed, 05/20/2009 - 8:50am.
Is self-knowledge about our true self --beyond the experience of our self in ordinary everyday life-- possible?

One individual’s knowing is another’s belief (ALT004)

Submitted by John Ralph on Sun, 02/22/2009 - 4:44am.

Anthroposophical Leading Thought (4)

Mental Fight by Ben Okri

Submitted by John Ralph on Fri, 02/13/2009 - 5:54am.

I would like to share these inspiring words from the author and poet, Ben Okri.
Mental Fight (selected extracts)
By Ben Okri

Rudolf Steiner Archive offline

Submitted by John Ralph on Tue, 11/11/2008 - 7:04am.

Some of you will have noticed that the Rudolf Steiner Archive is offline at the moment.  I have received the following explanation and request for support.

Please consider making a donation to the The site is down, the server has been damaged by a power surge. James Stewart is struggling financially to replace it. If you live in the US donations are tax deductable. They can be sent to The e.Lib, Inc. P.O. Box 293 Fremont, MI 49412-0293 US or made through Paypal to The e.Lib. Thank you.

A Michaelmas Thought

Submitted by John Ralph on Mon, 09/29/2008 - 6:16am.

As a contribution to this festival day, I offer a reminder of the mighty task before us: to hold the wellbeing of the world (and its environment) within our self-aware activity. 
Mother Nature, your sustaining presence
I bear deep within my will               
And my will’s fiery vigour
Can temper my impulsive mind,                 
Evoking self-awareness  
To hold me wholly in me.
-- Rudolf Steiner, Calendar of the Soul: 26 (trans. JR)--end

The Lucifer Effect - Beyond Good and Evil

Submitted by Tim Bourke on Sun, 09/21/2008 - 12:51am.

I'm reading a recent book called "The Lucifer Effect" by Philip Zimbardo, who carried out a well-known experiment called the "Stanford Prison Experiment" in the early 1970s.  See for more details.  To quote from that site:

The Lucifer Effect raises a fundamental question about the nature of human nature: How is it possible for ordinary, average, even good people to become perpetrators of evil? In trying to understand unusual, weird or aberrant behavior, we often err in focusing exclusively on the inner determinants of genes, personality and character, as we also tend to ignore what may be the critical catalyst for behavior change in the external Situation or in the System that creates and maintains such situations.

After narrating his experiences during the running of the Stanford Prison Experiment, he spends a lot of time discussing its connection to other situations including the recent well-publicised Abu Ghraib prison abuses.

I find it interesting that this book reflects the perspective of an academic of long experience in experimental psychology with no interest in or familarity with Anthroposophy - he seems familiar with mainstream Christian and English literature, twentieth century existentialism etc. but if you look at the index you will find no reference to Jung or Freud, let alone Steiner or Goethe.  Literary quotes are usually taken from John Milton (of all people), Dante or twentieth century authors.  Yet I think he comes to a very similar standpoint to Steiner in the Philosophy of Freedom - that both external and internal determinants make us unfree, make us "evil" or potentially "evil".  And it may be that someone who appears "good" could just as well become "evil" if the right external conditions were brought to bear.

Again, Friedrich Nietzsche, who had so much to say on the topic of so-called Good and Evil, and whose spiritual striving Steiner felt so close to in one sense (see for example "Friedrich Nietzsche, Fighter for Freedom" for more details), is not even mentioned.  But I believe I can almost hear things in line with something of the spirit of Nietzsche's "Beyond Good and Evil", for example, in some of what is said in the Zimbardo book.

I haven't finished the book properly yet (it's quite long) but Zimbardo does finish on a positive note that again seems to be to be in fundamental agreement with the tone of all of Steiner's work and especially the Philosophy of Freedom - the last chapter is entitled "Resisting Situational Influences and Celebrating Heroism".  And I think Nietzsche's Zarathustra might breath a sigh of relief also that others are striving towards his mountaintop.

Again, all this leads me to think along with others here on this website that it is the Philosophy of Freedom that is still the most contemporary of Steiner's works.  While personally I find all of Steiner's works wonderful, I can understand that someone like Prof. Zimbardo, with all of his own gathered wisdom and life experience and with his prominent position in the mainstream psychological community, would be unlikely to find much of interest in "Occult Science", for example, let alone be able to make reference to it in a work like "The Lucifer Effect" (despite the remarkable synchronicity of the title!).  --end

Do I know you, Rudolf Steiner? (ALT003)

Submitted by John Ralph on Tue, 06/24/2008 - 10:54am.

Tim recently posted this extract from Occult Science – an Outline: Chapter 1.

In the spirit and true sense of the word, no real scientist will be able to find a contradiction between his science built upon the facts of the sense world and the method by which the supersensible world is investigated. The scientist makes use of certain instruments and methods. He produces his instruments by transforming what “nature” offers him. The supersensible method of knowledge also makes use of an instrument. This instrument is man himself. This instrument, too, must first be made ready for higher research. The capacities and forces given to man by nature, without his assistance, must be transformed into higher capacities and powers. Man is thereby able to make himself the instrument for research in the supersensible world.

I have come to ‘know’ Rudolf Steiner from reading his writings and lectures that have been translated into English. I have never met him face to face although I have seen photographs. He died before I was born. Do I really have any knowledge of the good doctor?

Spirit Knowledge (ALT002)

Submitted by John Ralph on Mon, 03/24/2008 - 5:00am.

How can we best communicate spiritual truths? 

A Path from the Heart (ALT001)

Submitted by John Ralph on Sat, 01/05/2008 - 6:24am.

A Study on the Etheric Heart

Submitted by John Ralph on Sat, 12/22/2007 - 9:49am.

Goethe's Fairy Tale

Submitted by John Ralph on Fri, 11/23/2007 - 11:12am.
Image by David Newbatt Schiller, with his thinking, grasped the idea of a way forward. Goethe transformed it through phantasy into the feeling life of pictorial imagination. Rudolf Steiner transforming the Fairy Tale into a Mystery Drama, performed on the stage; he brought it into the will."


Submitted by John Ralph on Wed, 11/21/2007 - 2:30pm.
Ubuntu (pronounced "oo-BOON-too") is a traditional African idea that means rather more than humanity toward others and I am because you are also the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity.


Submitted by John Ralph on Wed, 11/14/2007 - 5:13am.


Another new conversation group has been inaugurated on the PoF website: Anthroposophia.

Foundation Stone Group

Submitted by John Ralph on Mon, 11/12/2007 - 1:35am.

Subscribers to this group may be interested in the new new conversation group on this site on the Foundation Stone Meditation.

Communicating Anthroposophy

Submitted by John Ralph on Mon, 11/05/2007 - 2:06pm.
Today I was asked to contribute to a conversation in a couple of weeks on the theme How can anthroposophy be effectively communicated to non-anthroposophists?

Essentials of Anthroposophy

Submitted by John Ralph on Sun, 11/04/2007 - 9:12am.
I have made a list of elements that may be considered essential to anthroposophy. They may not be unique to anthroposophy, but collectively they build a picture that may be useful in delineating this spiritual path in relation to others.

What distinguishes Anthroposophy?

Submitted by John Ralph on Fri, 10/19/2007 - 10:16am.

What does anthroposophy offer that differentiates our efforts from other spiritual endeavours?

What marks it out as distinctive, and why?

New Adult Learning Movement

Submitted by John Ralph on Fri, 10/12/2007 - 1:03pm.

Will to Think

Submitted by John Ralph on Wed, 10/10/2007 - 9:37am.

Ideals and Archetypes

Submitted by John Ralph on Thu, 10/04/2007 - 12:42pm.

Emancipation of the World

Submitted by John Ralph on Tue, 10/02/2007 - 3:25am.

When we see artistic expressions of the Archangel Michael, we are reminded in so many ways that here be dragons.

Victory of St Michael, Coventry

Submitted by John Ralph on Sat, 09/29/2007 - 9:48am.
Victory of St Michael, Coventry

St Michael and the Dragon by Durer

Submitted by John Ralph on Sat, 09/29/2007 - 9:35am.
St Michael and the Dragon by Durer

World Participation

Submitted by John Ralph on Sun, 09/23/2007 - 1:59am.

There are many ways in which we participate in world events, both actively and passively.

Unfamiliar voices in familiar territory

Submitted by John Ralph on Wed, 09/12/2007 - 8:52am.

I found two articles that I am sure will interest students of living thinking.

The Humility of the Teacher

Submitted by Tim Bourke on Wed, 09/05/2007 - 7:33am.

On being a teacher...

Is Motion Real?

Submitted by Tim Bourke on Wed, 09/05/2007 - 7:31am.

John and Carl have started an interesting discussion on the nature of movement, is it only an illusion, or are objects really in motion as they appear to be.  Here are some thoughts on movemen

What is the Meaning of Life?

Submitted by John Ralph on Sun, 09/02/2007 - 7:54am.

The latest online issue of Southern Cross Review includes 2 lectures by Rudolf Steiner on The Meaning of Life.

Threefold Conversation

Submitted by Tim Bourke on Thu, 08/30/2007 - 4:06am.

A contribution of thoughts about conversation and society.  This was prompted by a comparison of conversation with the economic life and specifically thinking of conversation as a kind of flow of currency.

What is an Anthroposophist? Traditional or Progressive?

Submitted by Tom Last on Thu, 08/23/2007 - 3:04pm.

Working with a broad definition of an anthroposophist I have found the Traditional anthroposophist who is more concerned with the traditions of the Anthroposophical Society as an institution and Progressive anthroposophists who are more concerned with anthroposophy today and how it relates to the present world.

Anthroposophy and eurythmy

Submitted by John Ralph on Wed, 08/22/2007 - 4:38am.

Steiner is often quoted as saying that eurythmy is a child of anthroposophy. What are the implications of this idea today?

What is an Anthroposophist?

Submitted by Jay Harms on Mon, 08/20/2007 - 10:41am.

I have been reading on the site lately some attempts at providing a definition of the term 'anthroposophist'.