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The Life, Nature, and Cultivation of Anthroposophy
GA 26

II. The Right Relationship of the Society to Anthroposophy

27 January 1924

Anthroposophy is there for human beings who are seeking the paths of the soul to conscious spiritual life and knowledge. The Anthroposophical Society, to fulfill its purpose, must be in a position to serve those who are seeking. It must itself, as a Society, find its true relationship to Anthroposophy.

Anthroposophy can only thrive as a living thing. Its fundamental character is life, for it is life flowing from the Spirit. Hence it wants to be fostered by the living soul, by the warm heart of man.

The basic form in which Anthroposophy can appear among men is the idea; the first door at which it knocks is that of insight. If this were not so, it would be without shape or substance — a mere feeling of rapture. The true Spirit does not ‘go into raptures’, it speaks a language precise and full of inner content.

But this language speaks to the whole human being and not only to the intellect. A man who would receive Anthroposophy with his intellect kills it in the very act. He may well come to the conclusion that it is ‘cold and scientific’. He does not see that it first lost warmth and life by the poor reception which he gave it in his soul.

Anthroposophy, to have existence in our time, must use the means which the civilisation of today provides. In books and lectures it must find its way to men. But in its nature it is not of the library shelf. It must be born anew in the human heart whenever a human being turns to the written book to learn of it. This cannot be unless the author looked into the hearts of his fellow-men while he wrote, in order to discover what he must say to them. A man can only do this if he is touched by the living Spirit as he writes. Then he will confide to the dead written word something which the soul of the reader, who is seeking for the Spirit, can feel like a resurrection of the Spirit from the word. Books that can come to life in the human being as he reads — these alone may be called anthroposophical.

Still less than the dead book can Anthroposophy abide the speaking book, where human speech wears the dead mask of life. It often happens in our civilisation that we feel no difference between the reading of a book or article and the hearing of a human being. When we listen to some speakers, we seem to make acquaintance, not with the human being, but with the thoughts he has thought out. We feel that he might just as well have written them.

To be presented in this way is incompatible with Anthroposophy. When we hear Anthroposophy from a fellow-man we want to have the man before us in the full originality of his nature. We do not want a spoken essay.

Therefore, while it must also live in written works, Anthroposophy can be born anew in every gathering of human beings where through the spoken word it finds its way into the souls of men. But this will only be, if it is really the man who speaks to his fellow-men — and not the mere thoughts he has absorbed.

Anthroposophy — for this very reason — cannot find its way through the world by ordinary agitation or propaganda, no matter how well meant. Agitation kills true Anthroposophy. Anthroposophy must come forward because the Spirit impels it to come forward. It must show forth its life because life cannot but reveal itself in existence. But it must never force its existence upon people. Waiting always for those to come who want it, it must be far removed from all constraint — even the constraint of persuasion.

Such is the frame of mind which I would fain bring home to members as a thing most needed. This indeed should grow out of our recent Christmas meeting. We have often met with resistance simply because this frame of mind did not live purely and clearly in our hearts. Often, though we strove to maintain it, we failed to express it in our words. Our very words must reflect, not the propagandist's attempt to persuade, but the pure and single-minded effort to express the Spirit.

Anthroposophy thus felt and practised will indeed be more of Anthroposophy than has often lived in our groups in the past. The Goetheanum itself would work in this spirit and in this alone. The building we have lost was a work of art whose very forms revealed it. Whenever a word went astray there with an agitating, propagandist sound, one felt a jarring discord against the forms of the building. The Goetheanum, when rebuilt, will only be a thing of truth, if the Anthroposophical Society everywhere will bear this living witness to its truth. We must not think — least of all in Anthroposophy — that that alone can be impressive which has purposely been made so. A thing that truly lives out of its own Spirit can wait until the world is ready to receive its influence.

When this frame of mind is alive in every Group of the Anthroposophical Society, then will the Spirit of Anthroposophy work out into the wide world, where it is our task to carry it and represent it. We must not wrap ourselves in tinsel of mysterious pretence; the time in which we live will not suffer it. This time calls for activity in the full light of public life. The true Mystery lies not in the affectation of it, nor the true secret in secretiveness, but in the inner earnestness of the new life which Anthroposophy must live in every heart. This cannot be transmitted by external means. It is only by inner experience that each soul can grasp it. Thus it becomes a secret which must be unsealed anew as we awaken to it, time and time again. When we understand this kind of secret we shall bear the true ‘esoteric’ feeling in our souls.