The Life, Nature, and Cultivation of Anthroposophy
XVI. Something more about the Results of the Christmas Meeting
6 July 1924
As one of the results of the Christmas Foundation Meeting, those who take upon themselves to work actively in the Society should make increasingly plain in the eyes of the world the real nature of Anthroposophy, what it is and what it is not. The following is frequently heard: Ought not this or that anthroposophical truth to be introduced here or there without frightening people by saying it is Anthroposophy? So long as such a question is still a matter for discussion, much in the Society will fail to have the effect it should.
Now it is most important to strive for clarity in this matter. There is a difference between advancing, in a sectarian spirit, something which one has laid down for oneself as dogmatic Anthroposophy, and the straightforward, open, unconcealed and unembellished standing for the knowledge of the spiritual world which has been brought to light through Anthroposophy in order that men may be able to reach a relation to the spiritual world, worthy of humanity.
It is the task of the Executive at the Goetheanum, unceasingly to carry on the work of Anthroposophy with this understanding. Moreover this task in its peculiar nature must be fully understood by those members who undertake to work actively in the Society. As a result of the Christmas Foundation Meeting, Anthroposophy and the Anthroposophical Society should become ever more and more united. This can never be the case as long as the seed continues to flourish which has been disseminated through continual distinction being made in anthroposophical circles between what is ‘orthodox’ and what is ‘heretical’.
Above all one must know what the true standard and content of Anthroposophy should be. It does not consist of a sum of opinions which must be entertained by ‘anthroposophists’. It ought never to be said amongst anthroposophists, ‘We believe this’, ‘We reject that’. Such agreement may arise naturally as the result of our anthroposophical study, but it can never be put forward as an anthroposophical ‘programme’. The right attitude can only be: ‘Anthroposophy is there. It has been acquired by persistent effort. I am here to represent it, so that what has thus been acquired may be made known in the world.’ It is still much too little felt in anthroposophical circles what a difference — indeed as between day and night — exists between these two standards. Otherwise the grotesque remark would not be heard continually: ‘The Anthroposophical Society holds this or that belief.’ A remark of this sort is absolutely meaningless, and it is most important that this should be realised.
Were a person to ask — with the intention of obtaining a clear idea of Anthroposophy — let us say, the following question: ‘What is the opinion or standard of life of some particular member of the Anthroposophical Society?’ he would be taking quite a wrong direction to arrive at the nature of Anthroposophy. Yet many would-be active members act in such a manner that this question is bound to arise. Rather should the thought arise: ‘Anthroposophy really exists in the world, and the Anthroposophical Society provides opportunity to become acquainted with it.’
Each one entering this Society should have the feeling: I enter simply in order to learn about Anthroposophy. The normal development of this feeling can be effected by the attitude of the would-be active members. But as things are, something quite different is often produced. People are afraid of joining the Society because, from the attitude of the would-be active members, they receive the impression that they must subscribe with the inmost core of their soul to certain dogmas. And naturally they shrink from this.
The good-will must be developed to efface this impression. Many would-be active members think that if people are received into the Society merely in order that they may become acquainted with Anthroposophy, they will leave again when they have learned what they desired, and we shall never have a compact Society.
But this will never happen if the Anthroposophical Society is rightly comprehended by its would-be active members. It will however come about if we try to make membership of the Society depend upon the acknowledgment of even the smallest dogma — and in this connection every point in a ‘programme’ is a dogma. If the members of the Anthroposophical Society are simply directed to become acquainted with Anthroposophy by virtue of their membership, then, whether they remain in the Society or not will depend upon something entirely different, namely on whether they feel they can hope to continue learning more and more in the Society.
That again will depend upon whether the kernel of the Society is really alive or dead, and whether in the circles of the Society the conditions exist for the living kernel not to die away when it tries to expand into the Society. It is the concern of the Executive at the Goetheanum that the kernel should be alive. The Executive does not administer dogmas; it feels itself solely as the vehicle of a spiritual possession, of the value of which it is fully aware, and it works for the spreading of this spiritual possession. It is happy if anyone comes and says, ‘I wish to share in what you are doing’. As a result of this, the Anthroposophical Society will have a living form. And this will be kept alive if the general attitude and way of working of all the would-be active members is in unison with the Executive of the Goetheanum.
All that one is justified in calling ‘confidence’ in the Society can only flourish on such a foundation as this. If this foundation exists it will not happen again and again that the Anthroposophical Society appears to the world as something quite different from what it really is.
I know quite well the judgment that will be passed by many would-be active members when they read the above. They will say: ‘This we cannot understand; now we really do not know what is wanted.’ But to say this is the worst prejudice of all. The above words only require to be read exactly, and it will then be found that they are neither indefinite nor ambiguous. To catch their spirit does indeed require a certain sensitiveness of feeling; but this ought surely not to be absent in those who wish to be active in the Anthroposophical Society.