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The Life, Nature, and Cultivation of Anthroposophy
GA 26

XIV. What is the Tone which should prevail in the Group Meetings?

25 May 1924

By learning to observe a man in the way spoken of in our last number, the presence and effect of soul and spirit within the physical and etheric being of man will be recognised as a fact. When it has become clear that what the senses perceive of man is a picture, it will readily be understood that something more is at work within the picture than is contained in the material substance of it. Recognising man as a ‘picture’, we shall approach him with quite a different attitude of soul than we would if we considered only his material nature and constitution.

There is an awakening force in this attitude of soul and feeling. Through a vivid realisation of this difference of feeling within himself, a man becomes aware that soul-forces are awakened which in ordinary life are slumbering. Much depends upon whether a man, in the very reception of Anthroposophy, already perceives that other powers of cognition are slumbering in the human soul than those of which he was conscious before coming into Anthroposophy.

When he knows that he has a picture before him, he fixes his mind on what is not perceptible to the senses. The result is that, as in the life of external perception he is affected by what is perceptible to the senses, so now he is affected by something which is not perceptible to the senses.

If members of the Anthroposophical Society who give lectures at the Group Meetings become attentive to such things as these, anthroposophical teaching will acquire a really anthroposophical tone.

This tone, called forth by the real facts, will be the chief means of producing the spirit which ought to prevail in the Group Meetings. Those who take part will then feel that Anthroposophy does not merely contain theoretical communications about the spiritual worlds, but that it is in itself something vigorous and real which leads to the experience of the spiritual.

It is for the active members to think out in every positive way how this experience of the spiritual life can be attained in the anthroposophical work.

For only by this means can those who take up Anthroposophy without themselves being capable of direct spiritual investigations, be helped to overcome the feeling that they are only allowing themselves to be told theoretically what others, more advanced, can experience. If communications about what is experienced in the spiritual world are given in the right way, those who listen are able to share in these experiences.

If in the Group Meetings there is this spirit of sharing in spiritual experiences then everything built up on an unjustifiable feeling of authority will be dispelled. The opponents of Anthroposophy continually contend that anthroposophists profess obedience to authority in what is imparted to them. If in the Anthroposophical Society the right spirit were maintained, this contention would lose its meaning: for those who come to our meetings would not get the impression that a thing is so merely because someone has said it. They would learn the fact that consent is not enforced in one's own soul but that it arises from the experience itself.

When one meets a well-disposed person, one does not get an insight into his character because of some authority, but because the soul feels immediately influenced by his kindly disposition. So too one can become aware of the truth of Anthroposophy by the way in which it is communicated, by perceiving its real character.

In order for Anthroposophy to be able to work in this way, the leaders of Groups should do what is necessary. They should keep alive the spirit so noticeable at Christmas — not by the summoning up of feelings that things are being discussed which are mysteriously secret; for this is not essential to the esoteric nature of an anthroposophical meeting. Esotericism depends on the above-described deepening in the communication of truths; in this deepening one should see something of the impulse that the Christmas Meeting wanted to bring into the Anthroposophical Society. The never-ceasing intention of keeping our will alive and watchfully in tune with that Meeting, will enable the blessings of those days to be showered more and more on the Anthroposophical Movement.