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Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts
GA 26

How the Leading Thoughts are to be Used

Those who want to take an active part in the Movement may find in the Leading Thoughts that are given out from the Goetheanum, an impulse and stimulus that shall enable them to bring unity and wholeness into all anthroposophical activity.

They will find in them, as they receive them week by week, guidance for deepening their understanding of the material that is already at hand in the Lecture-Courses and for putting it forward in the Group meetings with a certain order and harmony.

It would without doubt be more desirable for the lectures given in Dornach to be carried at once in all directions to the individual Groups. But one has to remember what complicated technical arrangements such a course would necessitate. The Executive at the Goetheanum are making every possible effort in this direction, and still more will be done in the future. But we must reckon with the possibilities that exist. The aims that found expression at the Christmas Meeting will be realised. But we need time.

For the present those Groups that have members who visit the Goetheanum, hear the lectures there and can bring back the substance of them into the Group meetings, have an advantage. And Groups should recognise that the sending of members to the Goetheanum in this way is a very good thing to do. On the other hand, however, the work that has already been achieved within the Anthroposophical Society and that is embodied in the printed Courses and Lectures, should not be undervalued. If you take up these Courses and call to mind from the titles what is contained in this one and in that, and then turn to the Leading Thoughts, you will find that you meet with one thing in one Course, another in another, that explains the Leading Thoughts more fully. By reading together passages that are found separated in different Courses, you will discover the right points of view for expounding and elaborating the Leading Thoughts.

We in the Anthroposophical Society are wasting opportunities all the time if we leave the printed Courses quite untouched and only want always to hear ‘the latest’ from the Goetheanum. And it will readily be understood that all possibility of printing the Courses would gradually cease if they were not widely made use of.

Another point of view also comes into consideration. In spreading the contents of Anthroposophy, a strong sense of responsibility is necessary in the first place. What is said about the spiritual world must be brought into a form such that the pictures of spiritual facts and beings which are given are not exposed to misunderstanding. Anyone who hears a lecture at the Goetheanum will receive an immediate and direct impression. If he repeats the contents of what he heard, this impression can echo from him; and he is able so to formulate them that they can be rightly understood. But if they are repeated at second or third hand, the possibility of inaccuracies creeping in becomes greater and greater. All these things should be borne in mind.

The following point of view is, however, probably the most important. The point is not that Anthroposophy should be simply listened to or read, but that it should be received into the living soul. It is essential that what has been received should be worked upon in thought and carried into the feelings; and the Leading Thoughts are really intended to suggest this with regard to the Courses already printed and in circulation. If this point of view is not sufficiently considered, then the nature of Anthroposophy will be constantly hindered from manifesting itself through the Anthroposophical Society. People say, though only with apparent justice: ‘What use is it to me to hear all these things about the spiritual worlds if I cannot look into those worlds for myself?’ One who speaks thus does not realise that such vision is promoted when the working out of anthroposophical ideas is thought of in the manner indicated above. The lectures at the Goetheanum are so given that their contents can live on and work freely in the minds of the hearers. The same applies also to the contents of the Courses. These do not contain dead material to be imparted externally, but material which, when viewed from different aspects, stimulates the vision for spiritual worlds. It should not be thought that one hears the contents of the lectures and that the knowledge of the spiritual world is acquired separately by means of meditation. In that way one will never make real progress. Both must act together in the soul. And to think out anthroposophical ideas and allow them to live on in the feelings is also an exercise of the soul. A person grows into the spiritual world with open eyes if he uses Anthroposophy in the manner we have described.

Far too little attention is paid in the Anthroposophical Society to the fact that Anthroposophy should not be abstract theory but real life. Real life, that is its nature; and if it is made into abstract theory this is often not at all a better but a worse theory than others. But it becomes theory only when it is made such—i.e. when one kills it. It is still not sufficiently realised that Anthroposophy is not only a conception of the world, different from others, but that it must also be received differently. Its nature is recognised and experienced only when one receives it in this different way.

The Goetheanum should be looked upon as the necessary centre of anthroposophical work and activity, but one ought not to lose sight of the fact that the anthroposophical material which has been worked out should also be made use of in the Groups. What is worked out at the Goetheanum can be obtained gradually by the whole Anthroposophical Society in a full and living sense, when as many members as possible come from the Groups to the Goetheanum itself and participate as much as possible in its activities.

But all this must be worked out with heart and mind; the mere imparting of the contents of the lectures each week is useless. The Executive at the Goetheanum will need time and will have to meet with sympathetic understanding on the part of the members. It will then be able to work in accordance with the intention of the Christmas Meeting.

Further Leading Thoughts issued from the Goetheanum for the Anthroposophical Society

76. To call forth an idea of the First Hierarchy (Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones) we must try to create pictures in which the Spiritual—i.e. that which can be beheld only in the Supersensible—reveals its working, in forms that come to manifestation in the world of sense. Spiritual being, portrayed in sense-perceptible imagery: such must be the content of our thoughts about the First Hierarchy.

77. To call forth an idea of the Second Hierarchy (Kyriotetes, Dynamis, Exusiai) we must try to create pictures in which the Spiritual reveals itself—not in sense-perceptible forms—but in a purely spiritual way. Spiritual being, portrayed not in sense-perceptible but in purely spiritual imagery: such must be the content of our thoughts about the Second Hierarchy.

78. To call forth an idea of the Third Hierarchy (Archai, Archangeloi, Angeloi) we must try to create pictures in which the Spiritual reveals itself not in sense-perceptible forms, nor yet in a purely spiritual way, but in the way in which Thinking, Feeling and Willing come to expression in the human soul. Spiritual being, portrayed in the imagery of a life of soul: such must be the content of our thoughts about the Third Hierarchy.