The Christmas Conference
Part II. The Proceedings of the Conference
III. Rudolf Steiner's Opening Lecture and Reading of the Statutes
We begin our Christmas Conference for the founding of the Anthroposophical Society in a new form with a view of a stark contrast. We have had to invite you, dear friends, to pay a visit to a heap of ruins. As you climbed up the Goetheanum hill here in Dornach your eyes fell on our place of work, but what you saw were the ruins of the Goetheanum which perished a year ago. In the truest sense of the word this sight is a symbol that speaks profoundly to our hearts, a symbol not only of the external manifestation of our work and endeavour on anthroposophical ground both here and in the world, but also of many symptoms manifesting in the world as a whole.
Over the last few days, a smaller group of us have also had to take stock of another heap of ruins. This too, dear friends, you should regard as something resembling the ruins of the Goetheanum, which had become so very dear to us during the preceding ten years. We could say that a large proportion of the impulses, the anthroposophical impulses, which have spread out into the world over the course of the last twenty years made their initial appearance in the books — perhaps there were too many of them — of our publishing company, the Philosophisch-Anthroposophischer Verlag in Berlin. You will understand, since twenty years of work are indeed tied up in all that can be gathered under the heading ‘Philosophisch-Anthroposophischer Verlag,’ that all those who toiled to found and carry on the work of this publishing company gave of the substance of their hearts. As in the case of the Goetheanum, so also as far as the external aspect of this Philosophisch-Anthroposophischer Verlag is concerned, we are faced with a heap of ruins. 24See Marie Steiner's Foreword. In Was in der Anthroposophischen Gesellschaft vorgeht 1926, No.39, she remarked in a footnote: ‘To avoid misunderstandings it should be said that the impression of a heap of rubble was gained entirely from the impossible tax burdens in Germany, the delays in customers' payments and the daily increase in the rate of monetary devaluation. Added to this was the sight of everything packed into a pile of crates. The company's intrinsic worth was such that under normal conditions it soon began to flourish once more.’ In this case it came about as a consequence of the terrible economic situation prevailing in the country where it has hitherto had its home. All possible work was prevented by a tax situation which exceeded any measures which might have been taken and by the rolling waves — quite literally — of current events which simply engulfed the publishing company.
Frau Dr Steiner has been busy over the last few weeks preparing everything anchored in this Philosophisch-Anthroposophischer Verlag for its journey here to the Goetheanum in Dornach. You can already see a small building 25See Erich Zimmer Rudolf Steiner als Architekt von Wohn- und Zweckbauten (Rudolf Steiner. An Architect of Dwellings and other Buildings with Specific Purposes), Stuttgart 1971. coming into being lower down the hill between the Boiler House and the Glass House. This will become the home of the Philosophisch-Anthroposophischer Verlag, or rather of its stock of books, which in itself externally also resembles a heap of ruins.
What can we do, dear friends, but link the causes of these heaps of rubble with world events which are currently running their course? The picture we see at first seems grim. It can surely be said that the flames which our physical eyes saw a year ago on New Year's Eve blazed heavenwards before the eyes of our soul. And in spirit we see that in fact these flames glow over much of what we have been building up during the last twenty years.
This, at first, is the picture with which our souls are faced. But it has to be said that nothing else at present can so clearly show us the truth of the ancient oriental view that the external world is maya and illusion. We shall, dear friends, establish a mood of soul appropriate for this our Christmas Foundation Conference if we can bring to life in our hearts the sense that the heap of ruins with which we are faced is maya and illusion, and that much of what immediately surrounds us here is maya and illusion.
Let us take our start from the immediate situation here. We have had to invite you to take your places in this wooden shed. 26It had been necessary to enlarge the carpentry workshop in order to accommodate the influx of participants. It is a temporary structure we have hurriedly put up over the last two days after it became clear how very many of our friends were expected to arrive. Temporary wooden partitions had to be put up next door. I have no hesitation in saying that the outer shelter for our gathering resembles nothing more than a shack erected amongst the ruins, a poor, a terribly poor shack of a home. Our initial introduction to these circumstances showed us yesterday that our friends felt the cold dreadfully in this shed, which is the best we can offer. But dear friends, let us count this frost, too, among the many other things which may be regarded as maya and illusion in what has come to meet you here. The more we can find our way into a mood which feels the external circumstances surrounding us to be maya and illusion, the more shall we develop that mood of active doing which we shall need here over the next few days, a mood which may not be negative in any way, a mood which must be positive in every detail. Now, a year after the moment when the flames of fire blazed skywards out of the dome of our Goetheanum, now everything which has been built up in the spiritual realm in the twenty years of the Anthroposophical Movement may appear before our hearts and before the eyes of our soul not as devouring flames but as creative flames. For everywhere out of the spiritual content of the Anthroposophical Movement warmth comes to give us courage, warmth which can be capable of bringing to life countless seeds for the spiritual life of the future which lie hidden here in the very soil of Dornach and all that belongs to it. Countless seeds for the future can begin to unfold their ripeness through this warmth which can surround us here, so that one day they may stand before the world as fully matured fruits as a result of what we want to do for them.
Now more than ever before we may call to mind that a spiritual movement such as that encompassed by the name of Anthroposophy, with which we have endowed it, is not born out of any earthly or arbitrary consideration. At the very beginning of our Conference I therefore want to start by reminding you that it was in the last third of the nineteenth century that on the one hand the waves of materialism were rising while out of the other side of the world a great revelation struck down into these waves, a revelation of the spirit which those whose mind and soul are in a receptive state can receive from the powers of spiritual life. A revelation of the spirit was opened up for mankind. Not from any arbitrary earthly consideration, but in obedience to a call resounding from the spiritual world; not from any arbitrary earthly consideration, but through a vision of the sublime pictures given out of the spiritual world as a modern revelation for the spiritual life of mankind, from this flowed the impulse for the Anthroposophical Movement. 27See Rudolf Steiner Zur Geschichte und aus den Inhalten der ersten Abteilung der Esoterischen Schule 1904–1914 (On the History and from the Content of the Esoteric School 1904–1914). GA 264. This Anthroposophical Movement is not an act of service to the earth. This Anthroposophical Movement in its totality and in all its details is a service to the divine beings, a service to God. We create the right mood for it when we see it in all its wholeness as a service to God. As a service to God let us take it into our hearts at the beginning of our Conference. Let us inscribe deeply within our hearts the knowledge that this Anthroposophical Movement desires to link the soul of every individual devoted to it with the primeval sources of all that is human in the spiritual world, that this Anthroposophical Movement desires to lead the human being to that final enlightenment — that enlightenment which meanwhile in human earthly evolution is the last which gives satisfaction to man — which can clothe the newly beginning revelation in the words: Yes, this am I as a human being, as a God-willed human being on the earth, as a God-willed human being in the universe.
We shall take our starting point today from something we would so gladly have seen as our starting point years ago in 1913. 28See the lecture given in Berlin on 3 February 1913 ‘Das Wesen der Anthroposophie’ in Schickalszeichen auf dem Entwicklungswege der Anthroposophischen Gesellschaft to be included in the Complete Works in the series ‘Zur Geschichte der anthroposophischen Bewegung und Gesellschaft’. This is where we take up the thread, my dear friends, inscribing into our souls the foremost principle of the Anthroposophical Movement, which is to find its home in the Anthroposophical Society, namely, that everything in it is willed by the spirit, that this Movement desires to be a fulfilment of what the signs of the times speak in a shining script to the hearts of human beings.
The Anthroposophical Society will only endure if within ourselves we make of the Anthroposophical Movement the profoundest concern of our hearts. If we fail, the Society will not endure. The most important deed to be accomplished during the coming days must be accomplished within all your hearts, my dear friends. Whatever we say and hear will only become a starting point for the cause of Anthroposophy in the right way if our heart's blood is capable of beating for it. My friends, for this reason we have brought you all together here: to call forth a harmony of hearts in a truly anthroposophical sense. And we allow ourselves to hope that this is an appeal which can be rightly understood.
My dear friends, call to mind the manner in which the Anthroposophical Movement came into being. In many and varied ways there worked in it what was to be a revelation of the spirit for the approaching twentieth century. In contrast to so much that is negative, it is surely permissible to point emphatically here to the positive side: to the way in which the many and varied forms of spiritual life, which flowed in one way or another into the inner circles of outer society, genuinely entered into the hearts of our dear anthroposophical friends. Thus at a certain point we were able to advance far enough to show in the Mystery Dramas how intimate affairs of the human heart and soul are linked to the grand sweep of historical events in human evolution. I do believe that during those four or five years — a time much loved and dear to our hearts — when the Mystery Dramas were performed in Munich, 29Rudolf Steiner's four Mystery Dramas were first performed during the years 1910 to 1913. See Rudolf Steiner Four Mystery Plays, Steiner Book Centre, Toronto, 1973. a good deal of all that is involved in this link between the individual human soul and the divine working of the cosmos in the realms of soul and spirit did indeed make its way through the souls of our friends.
Then came something of which the horrific consequences are known to every one of you: the event we call the World War. During those difficult times, all efforts had to be concentrated on conducting the affairs of Anthroposophy in a way which would bring it unscathed through all the difficulties and obstacles which were necessarily the consequence of that World War.
It cannot be denied that some of the things which had necessarily to be done out of the situation arising at the time were misunderstood, even in the circles of our anthroposophical friends. Not until some future time will it be possible for more than a few people to form a judgment on those moods which caused mankind to be split into so many groups over the last decade, on those moods which led to the World War. As yet there exists no proper judgment about the enormity which lives among us all as a consequence of that World War. Thus it can be said that the Anthroposophical Society — not the Movement — has emerged riven from the War.
Our dear friend Herr Steffen has already pointed out a number of matters which then entered into our Anthroposophical Society and in no less a manner also led to misunderstandings. Today, however, I want to dwell mainly on all that is positive. I want to tell you that if this gathering runs its course in the right way, if this gathering really reaches an awareness of how something spiritual and esoteric must be the foundation for all our work and existence, then those spiritual seeds which are everywhere present will be enabled to germinate through being warmed by your mood and your enthusiasm. Today we want to generate a mood which can accept in full earnestness that external things are maya and illusion but that out of this maya and illusion there germinates to our great joy — not a joy for our weakness but a joy for our strength and for the will we now want to unfold — something that can live invisibly among us, something that can live in innumerable seeds invisibly among us. Prepare your souls, dear friends, so that they may receive these seeds; for your souls are the true ground and soil in which these seeds of the spirit may germinate, unfold and develop. They are the truth. They shine forth as though with the shining of the sun, bathing in light all the seeming ruins encountered by our external eyes. Today, of all days, let us allow the profoundest call of Anthroposophy, indeed of everything spiritual, to shine into our souls: Outwardly all is maya and illusion; inwardly there unfolds the fullness of truth, the fullness of divine and spiritual life. Anthroposophy shall bring into life all that is recognized as truth within it.
Where do we bring into life the teaching of maya and of the light of truth? Let us bring it into life above all during this our Christmas Conference. Let us during this our Christmas Conference make the shining forth of the universal light — as it shone before the shepherds, who bore within them only the simplicity of their hearts, and before the kingly magi, who bore within them the wisdom of all the universe — let us make this flaming Christmas light, this universal light of Christmas into a symbol for what is to come to pass through our own hearts and souls!
All else that is to be said I shall say tomorrow when what we shall call the laying of the Foundation Stone of the Anthroposophical Society takes place. Now I wish to say this, my dear friends. In recent weeks I have pondered deeply in my soul the question: What should be the starting point for this Christmas Conference, and what lessons have we learnt from the experiences of the past ten years since the founding of the Anthroposophical Society?
Out of all this, my dear friends, two alternative questions arose. In 1912, 1913 I said for good reasons that the Anthroposophical Society would now have to run itself, that it would have to manage its own affairs, and that I would have to withdraw into a position of an adviser who did not participate directly in any actions. Since then things have changed. After grave efforts in the past weeks to overcome my inner resistance I have now reached the realization that it would become impossible for me to continue to lead the Anthroposophical Movement within the Anthroposophical Society if this Christmas Conference were not to agree that I should once more take on in every way the leadership, that is the presidency, of the Anthroposophical Society to be founded here in Dornach at the Goetheanum.
As you know, during a conference in Stuttgart 30Meeting of Delegates at the end of February 1923. See Note 23. it became necessary for me to make the difficult decision to advise the Society in Germany to split into two Societies, one which would be the continuation of the old Society and one in which the young members would chiefly be represented, the Free Anthroposophical Society.
Let me tell you, my dear friends, that the decision to give this advice was difficult indeed. It was so grave because fundamentally such advice was a contradiction of the very foundations of the Anthroposophical Society. For if this was not the Society in which today's youth could feel fully at home, then what other association of human beings in the earthly world of today was there that could give them this feeling! Such advice was an anomaly. This occasion was perhaps one of the most important symptoms contributing to my decision to tell you here that I can only continue to lead the Anthroposophical Movement within the Anthroposophical Society if I myself can take on the presidency of the Anthroposophical Society, which is to be newly founded. You see, at the turn of the century something took place very deeply indeed within spiritual events, and the effects of this are showing in the external events in the midst of which human beings stand here on earth.
One of the greatest possible changes took place in the spiritual realm. Preparation for it began at the end of the 1870s, and it reached its culmination just at the turn of the century. Ancient Indian wisdom pointed to it, calling it the end of Kali Yuga. Much, very much, my dear friends, is meant by this. And when in recent times I have met in all kinds of ways with young people in all the countries of the world accessible to me, I have had to say to myself over and over again: Everything that beats in these youthful hearts, everything which glows towards spiritual activity in such a beautiful and often such an indeterminate way, this is the external expression for what came to completion in the depths of spiritual world-weaving during the last third of the nineteenth century leading up to the twentieth century. My dear friends, what I now want to say is not something negative but something positive so far as I am concerned: I have frequently found, when I have gone to meet young people, that their endeavours to join one organization or another encountered difficulties because again and again the form of the association did not fit whatever it was that they themselves wanted. There was always some condition or other as to what sort of a person you had to be or what you had to do if you wanted to join any of these organizations.
This is the kind of thing that was involved in the feeling that the
chief disadvantage of the Theosophical Society — out of which
the Anthroposophical Society grew, as you know — lay in the
formulation of its three tenets. 31The three objects of the Theosophical Society are:
1. To form a nucleus of the universal brotherhood of humanity without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or colour.
2. To encourage the comparative study of religion, philosophy and science.
3. To investigate unexplained laws of nature and the powers latent in man. You had to profess something. The way in which you had to sign a form, which made it look as though you had to make some dogmatic assertion, is something which nowadays simply no longer agrees with the fundamental mood of human souls. The human soul today feels that anything dogmatic is foreign to it; to carry on in any kind of a sectarian way is fundamentally foreign to it. And it cannot be denied that within the Anthroposophical Society it is proving difficult to cast off this sectarian way of carrying on. But cast it off we must. Not a shred must be allowed to remain within the new Anthroposophical Society which shall be founded. This must become a true world society. Anyone joining it must feel: Yes, here I have found what moves me. An old person must feel: Here I have found something for which I have striven all my life together with other people. The young person must feel: Here I have found something which comes out to meet my youth. When the Free Anthroposophical Society was founded I longed dearly to reply to young people who enquired after the conditions for joining it with the answer which I now want to give: The only condition is to be truly young in the sense that one is young when one's youthful soul is filled with all the impulses of the present time.
And, dear friends, how do you go about being old in the proper sense in the Anthroposophical Society? You are old in the proper sense if you have a heart for what is welling up into mankind today both for young and old out of spiritual depths by way of a universal youthfulness, renewing every aspect of our lives.
By hinting at moods of soul I am indicating what it was that moved me to take on the task of being President of the Anthroposophical Society myself. This Anthroposophical Society — such things can often happen — has been called by a good many names. Thus, for example, it has been called the ‘International Anthroposophical Society’. Dear friends, it is to be neither an international nor a national society. I beg you heartily never to use the word ‘international society’ but always to speak simply of a ‘General Anthroposophical Society’ which wants to have its centre here at the Goetheanum in Dornach.
You will see that the Statutes are formulated in a way that excludes anything administrative, anything that could ever of its own accord turn into bureaucracy. These Statutes are tuned to whatever is purely human. They are not tuned to principles or to dogmas. What these Statutes say is taken from what is actual and what is human. These Statutes say: Here in Dornach is the Goetheanum. This Goetheanum is run in a particular way. In this Goetheanum work of this kind and of that kind is undertaken. In this Goetheanum endeavours are made to promote human evolution in this way or in that way. Whether these things are ‘right’ or ‘not right’ is something that must not be stated in statutes which are intended to be truly modern. All that is stated is the fact that a Goetheanum exists, that human beings are connected with this Goetheanum, and that these human beings do certain things in this Goetheanum in the belief that through doing so they are working for human evolution.
Those who wish to join this Society are not expected to adhere to any principle. No religious confession, no scientific conviction, no artistic intention is set up in any dogmatic way. The only thing that is required is that those who join should feel at home in being linked to what is going on at the Goetheanum.
In the formulation of these Statutes the endeavour has been made to avoid establishing principles, so that what is here founded may rest on all that is purely human. Look carefully at the people who will make suggestions with regard to what is to be founded here over the next few days. Ask yourselves whether you can trust them or not. And if at this Foundation Meeting you declare yourselves satisfied with what wants to be brought about in Dornach, then you will have declared yourselves for something that is a fact; then you will have declared yourselves to be in tune with something that is a fact. If this is possible, everything else will follow on. Yes, everything will run its course. Then it will not be necessary for the centre at Dornach to designate or nominate a whole host of trustees; then the Anthroposophical Society will be what I have often pointed to when to my deep satisfaction I have been permitted to be present at the founding of the individual national Societies. 32See Note 2. Then the Anthroposophical Society will be something that can arise independently on the foundation of all that has come into being in these national Societies. If this can come about, then these national Societies will be truly autonomous too. Then every group which comes into being within this Anthroposophical Society will be truly autonomous.
In order to reach this truly human standpoint, my dear friends, we must realize that especially in the case of a Society which is built on spiritual foundations, in the way I have described, we shall come up against two difficulties. We must overcome these difficulties here, so that in future they will no longer exist in the way they existed in the past history of the Anthroposophical Society.
One of these difficulties is the following: Everyone who understands the consciousness of today will, I believe, agree that this present-day consciousness demands that whatever takes place should do so in full public view. A Society built on firm foundations must above all else not offend this demand of our time. It is not at all difficult to prefer secrecy, even in the external form, in one case or another. But whenever a Society like ours, built on a foundation of truth, seriously desires secrecy, it will surely find itself in conflict with contemporary consciousness, and the most dire obstacles for its continuing existence will ensue. Therefore, dear friends, for the General Anthroposophical Society which is to be founded we cannot but lay claim to absolute openness.
As I pointed out in one of my very first essays in Luzifer-Gnosis, 33See Rudolf Steiner's essay ‘Lebensfragen der theosophischen Gesellschaft’ (Existential Questions for the Theosophical Society) in Luzifer-Gnosis. Gesammelte Aufsätze 1903–1908. (Luzifer-Gnosis. Collected Essays 1903–1908). GA 34. the Anthroposophical Society must stand before the world just like any other society that may be founded for, let us say, scientific or similar purposes. It must differ from all these other societies solely on account of the content that flows through its veins. The form in which people come together in it can, in future, no longer be different from that of any other society. Picture to yourselves what we can shovel out of the way if we declare from the start that the Anthroposophical Society is to be entirely open.
It is essential for us to stand firmly on a foundation of reality, that is on the foundation of present-day consciousness. This will mean, dear friends, that in future we shall have to handle our lecture cycles in a manner that differs greatly from that to which we have been accustomed in the past. The history of these lecture cycles represents a tragic chapter within the development of our Anthroposophical Society. They were first published in the belief that they could be retained within a given circle; they were printed for the members of the Anthroposophical Society. But we have long been in a situation in which our opponents, so far as the public declaration of the content is concerned, are far more interested in the cycles than are the members of the Society themselves. Do not misunderstand me; I do not mean that the members of our Society do not work inwardly with the lecture cycles, for they do. But their work is inward, it remains egoistic, a nice Society egoism. The interest which sends its waves out into the world, the interest which gives our Society its particular stamp in the world, this interest comes towards the cycles from our opponents. It has been known to happen that as little as three weeks after its publication a lecture cycle is already being quoted in the worst kind of publication brought out by the opposition. To continue in our old ways as regards the lecture cycles would be to hide our head in the sand, believing that because everything is dark for us everything must be dark in the outside world too.
That is why I have been asking myself for years what can be done about the cycles. We now have no alternative but to put up a moral barrier in place of the physical barrier we tried to erect earlier on, which has meanwhile been breached at all manner of points.
In the draft of the Statutes I have endeavoured to do just this. In future all the cycles, without exception, are to be sold publicly, just like any other books. But suppose, dear friends, there was a book about the integration of partial differential equations. For a great many people such a book is very esoteric indeed. I am probably not wrong in assuming that among those of you gathered here in these two rooms today there is only an extremely small esoteric circle of individuals who might fruitfully concern themselves with the integration of partial differential equations, or of linear differential equations. The book, however, may be sold to anybody. But supposing someone who knows nothing of partial differential equations and is incapable of differentiating or integrating anything at all, someone who knows nothing about logarithms, were to find a textbook on the subject belonging to one of his sons. He would look inside it, see rows and rows of figures but not understand a thing. Then suppose his sons were to tell him that all these figures were the street numbers of the houses in every city in the world. He might well think to himself: What a useful thing to learn; now if I go to Paris I shall know the street number of all the different houses.
As you see, there is no harm in the judgment of someone who understands nothing of the matter, for he is a dilettante, an amateur. In this instance life itself draws the line between the capacity to judge and the lack of capacity to judge.
Thus as regards anthroposophical knowledge we can at least try to draw the line morally and no longer physically. We sell the cycles to all who wish to have them but declare from the start who can be considered competent to form a valid judgment on them, a judgment by which we can set some store. Everybody else is an amateur as far as the cycles are concerned. And we also declare that in future we shall no longer take any account of judgments passed on the cycles by those who are amateurs. This is the only moral protection available to us. If only we carry it out properly, we shall bring about a situation in which the matters with which we are concerned are treated just as are books about the integration of partial differential equations. People will gradually come to agree that it is just as absurd for someone, however learned in other spheres, to pass a judgment about a lecture cycle as it is for someone who knows nothing of logarithms to say: This book about partial differential equations is stuff and nonsense! We must bring about a situation in which the distinction between an amateur and an expert can be drawn in the right way.
Another very great difficulty, dear friends, is the fact that the impulses of the Anthroposophical Movement are not everywhere thoroughly assessed in the right way. Judgments are heard here and there which absolutely deny the Anthroposophical Movement by seeing it as something that is parallel to the very things it is supposed to replace in human evolution. Only a few days ago somebody once again said to me: If you speak to such and such a group of people about what Anthroposophy has to offer, even those who work only in the practical realm accept it so long as you don't mention Anthroposophy or the threefold social order by name; you have to disown them. This is something that has been done by a great many people for many years, and it could not be more false. Whatever the realm, we must stand in the world under the sign of the full truth as representatives of the essence of Anthroposophy. We must be aware that if we are incapable of doing so we cannot actually further the aims of the Anthroposophical Movement. Any veiled representation of the Anthroposophical Movement leads in the end to no good.
Of course everything is individual in such matters. Not everything can be made to conform to a single pattern. Let me give you a few examples of what I mean.
Take eurythmy. As I said yesterday before the performance, eurythmy is drawn and cultivated from the very depths of Anthroposophy. We have to be aware that, imperfect though it still is, it places something in the world which is entirely new, something original which can in no way be compared with anything else that may seem to resemble it in the world today. We have to muster enough enthusiasm for our cause to enable us to exclude any external, superficial comparisons. I know how a sentence like this can be misunderstood, but nevertheless I say it to you in this circle, my dear friends, for it expresses one of the fundamental conditions required for the prospering of the Anthroposophical Movement within the Anthroposophical Society.
Similarly, I have sweated much blood lately — I speak symbolically, of course — over the new form of recitation and declamation which Frau Dr Steiner has developed in our Society. As with eurythmy, the nerve-centre of this form of declaiming or reciting is what is drawn and cultivated from the very depths of Anthroposophy, and it is with this nerve-centre that we must concern ourselves. This nerve-centre is what we have to recognize and there is no point in believing that the result can be improved by taking on board any bits and pieces which might also be good, or even better, belonging to similar methods elsewhere. It is of this absolutely new, this primary quality that we must be aware in all the realms of Anthroposophy.
Now a third example: A realm in which Anthroposophy can be especially fruitful is that of medicine. Yet Anthroposophy will quite definitely remain unfruitful in the realm of medicine, especially therapy, if the tendency persists to represent matters within the field of medicine in the Anthroposophical Movement in a manner which meets with the approval of those who represent medicine in the ordinary way today. We must carry Anthroposophy courageously into every realm, including medicine. Only then will we make progress in what eurythmy ought to be, in what recitation and declamation ought to be, in what medicine ought to be, not to mention many other different fields living within our Anthroposophical Society, just as we must make progress with Anthroposophy itself in the strict sense of the term.
Herewith I have at least hinted at the fundamental conditions which must be placed before our hearts at the beginning of our Conference for the founding of the General Anthroposophical Society. In the manner indicated it must become a Society of attitudes and not a Society of statutes. The Statutes are to express externally what is alive within every soul.
So now I would like to proceed to the reading 34Rudolf Steiner had had the suggested Statutes printed and distributed to every participant. See Facsimile 2, Page V–VIII. of the draft of the Statutes ASee facsimiles of the manuscript draft and also the printed Statutes given to each participant (See facsimile 1, facsimile 2, pages I–VIII which go in the direction I have thus far mentioned in brief.
STATUTES OF THE ANTHROPOSOPHICAL SOCIETY’
‘1. The Anthroposophical Society is to be an association of people whose will it is to nurture the life of the soul, both in the individual and in human society, on the basis of a true knowledge of the spiritual world.’
‘2. The persons gathered at the Goetheanum in Dornach at Christmas, 1923, both the individuals and the groups represented, form the nucleus of the Society. They are convinced that there exists in our time a genuine science of the spiritual world and that the civilization of today is lacking the cultivation of such a science. This cultivation is to be the task of the Anthroposophical Society. It will endeavour to fulfil this task by making the anthroposophical spiritual science cultivated at the Goetheanum in Dornach the centre of its activities, together with all that results from this for brotherhood in human relationships and for the moral and religious as well as the artistic and cultural life in the human being.’
Note, my dear friends, how we are thus building not on principles but on human beings, on those human beings who are gathered together here. And what will those who join later declare? That they are essentially in agreement with these people as regards what is stated here. So all abstractions are avoided and the Anthroposophical Society is built on human beings.
‘3.The persons gathered in Dornach as the nucleus of the Society’— you see how it is the individual people who are important — ‘recognize and endorse the view of the leadership at the Goetheanum: “Anthroposophy, as fostered at the Goetheanum, leads to results which can serve every human being as a stimulus to spiritual life, whatever his nation, social standing or religion. They can lead to a social life genuinely built on brotherly love. No special degree of academic learning is required to make them one's own and to found one's life upon them, but only an open-minded human nature.” ’
This means that the results can be understood by all human beings who approach with an open-minded soul.
The matter is different — this is expressed next — as regards the research which leads to the results in question. A strict distinction must be made as regards this research. So the text continues:
‘ “Research into these results, however, as well as competent evaluation of them, depends upon spiritual-scientific training, which is to be acquired step by step. These results are in their own way as exact as the results of genuine natural science. When they attain general recognition in the same way as these, they will bring about comparable progress in all spheres of life, not only in the spiritual but also in the practical realm.” ’
‘4. The Anthroposophical Society is in no sense a secret society, but is entirely public. Anyone can become a member, without regard to nationality, social standing, religion, scientific or artistic conviction, who considers as justified the existence of an institution such as the Goetheanum in Dornach, in its capacity as a School of Spiritual Science.’
As you see, even here, where the requirements for becoming a member are exactly defined, we have been careful to make it clear that someone desiring to become a member must consider as justified the existence not of the Goetheanum, but merely ‘of an institution such as the Goetheanum in Dornach, in its capacity as a School of Spiritual Science.’ You must thoroughly consider every turn of phrase in these draft Statutes. They are brief. Statutes ought to be brief, and not fill a whole tome. But you will see that the effort has been made to phrase every sentence in a manner which speaks out of direct consciousness.
‘The Anthroposophical Society rejects any kind of sectarian activity. Party politics it considers not to be within its task.’
We need this sentence because numerous misunderstandings were brought about during the years when we were promoting the idea of the threefold social order. The misunderstandings arose out of a lack of clarity in the attitude of many of our members. The impression was frequently given that Anthroposophy wanted to become involved in the political affairs of the world — something that has never been and never can be the case — because many of our friends approached the political parties regarding the threefold idea. This was an error on their part right from the start.
‘5. The Anthroposophical Society sees the School of Spiritual Science in Dornach as a centre for its activity. The School will be composed of three classes.’
Please do not be alarmed by these three classes, my dear friends. These three classes existed originally in the Anthroposophical Society, 35See Note 27. though in a different form, up to the year 1914.
‘Members of the Society will be admitted to the School on their own application after a period of membership to be determined by the leadership at the Goetheanum. They enter in this way the First Class of the School of Spiritual Science. Admission to the Second or Third Class takes place when the person requesting this is deemed eligible by the leadership at the Goetheanum.’
‘6.Every member of the Anthroposophical Society has the right to attend all lectures, performances and meetings arranged by the Society, under conditions to be announced by the Vorstand.’
‘7. The organizing of the School of Spiritual Science is, to begin with, the responsibility of Rudolf Steiner, who will appoint his collaborators and his possible successor.’
I can tell you now that I intend in future to divide this School of Spiritual Science into separate Sections under the leadership of suitable persons whom I shall appoint. These suitable persons, who will be the leaders of the Sections of the School of Spiritual Science, will at the same time be advisory members of the Vorstand which is to be formed and about which I shall be speaking shortly.
‘8. All publications of the Society shall be public, in the same sense as are those of other public societies. The publications of the School of Spiritual Science will form no exception as regards this public character;’ — in future, the lecture cycles will be entitled: Publications of the School of Spiritual Science — ‘however, the leadership of the School reserves the right to deny in advance the validity of any judgment on these publications which is not based on the same training from which they have been derived. Consequently they will regard as justified no judgment which is not based on an appropriate preliminary training, as is also the common practice in the recognized scientific world. Thus the publications of the School of Spiritual Science’ — this is what the cycles will be in future — ‘will bear the following note: “Printed as manuscript for members of the School of Spiritual Science, Goetheanum, ... Class.” No one is considered competent to judge the content, who has not acquired — through the School itself or in a manner recognized by the School as equivalent — the requisite preliminary knowledge. Other opinions will be disregarded, to the extent that the authors of such works will not enter into a discussion about them.’
Everyone can buy the works. But valid judgments can only be made by those who belong to the Class mentioned in the note ‘Printed as manuscript for members of the School of Spiritual Science, Goetheanum, ... Class’.
‘9.The purpose of the Anthroposophical Society will be the furtherance of spiritual research; that of the School of Spiritual Science will be this research itself. A dogmatic stand in any field whatsoever is to be excluded from the Anthroposophical Society.’
‘10.The Anthroposophical Society shall hold a regular General Meeting at the Goetheanum at the beginning of each year, at which time the Vorstand shall present a full report with accounting. The agenda for this meeting shall be communicated by the Vorstand to all members, together with the invitation, three weeks before the meeting.’
Resolutions can of course be made about this.
‘The Vorstand may call special meetings and fix the agenda for them. Invitations to such meetings shall be sent to members three weeks in advance. Motions proposed by individual members or groups of members shall be submitted one week before the General Meeting.’
We shall have to add a passage here stating that special meetings may also be called at the request of the membership.
‘11. Members may join together in smaller or larger groups on any basis of locality or subject.’
From the point of view of the General Society this paragraph encompasses every group, including each national group. The General Society is neither international nor national but simply human in the widest sense; all the subdivisions are therefore groups. By this means we can bring into the Anthroposophical Society a life that is genuinely based on freedom, and also, wherever it wants to come into being, a life that is autonomous. We cannot make progress in any other way.
‘The headquarters of the Anthroposophical Society is at the Goetheanum. From there the Vorstand shall bring to the attention of the members or groups of members what it considers to be the task of the Society.’
My dear friends, this sentence is especially important because it expresses what the Vorstand considers itself to be. It does not consider itself to be an elected body. It considers itself to be a group of people which says: Here at the Goetheanum we want to do something and we shall communicate about the different things we do with those who so wish, either individuals or groups; we shall recognize as a member every individual or every group who can accept these Statutes and be in agreement with them.
In doing this, the Vorstand declares that it places itself within the Society in the freest manner possible: it wants nothing else but to be a group of people with initiative for the cause of Anthroposophy. To live fully in initiative for the cause of Anthroposophy will have to be the heart's blood of this Vorstand. It is not a representative of people in the abstract; it is a representative of the anthroposophical cause here at the Goetheanum. Its task is to represent the cause of Anthroposophy here at the Goetheanum. And to declare one's membership of a society for which this Vorstand wants to have meaning means to join in the promotion of the cause of Anthroposophy. The membership and the Vorstand, and their relationship with one another, is thought of as being quite generally human in an entirely free way in the future. We have not achieved this as yet; we must make it obvious to all the world. Then there will be no more criticisms like that expressed by Leisegang 36This refers to criticism of Anthroposophy expressed by Hans Leisegang (1890&8211;1951), lecturer at Leipzig University, in his book Die Geheirnwissenschaften (The Occult Sciences), Stuttgart 1924. to the effect that a self-appointed Vorstand, not accountable to anybody, not elected anywhere, has been in existence for the last ten years. From the start we must stress forcefully that an election as such is impossible in the Anthroposophical Society and that only initiative is possible. Let us return to the Vorstand:
‘The Vorstand communicates with officials elected or appointed by the various groups.’
How these come into being is a matter for the statutes of the different groups. For us here it will merely be a matter that on a basis we shall create we shall want to communicate with trust with these officials.
‘Admission of members will be the concern of the individual groups; the certificate of membership shall, however, be placed before the Vorstand in Dornach, and shall be signed by them out of their confidence in the officials of the groups. In general, every member should join a group. Only those for whom it is quite impossible to find entry to a group should apply directly to Dornach for membership.’
‘12. Membership dues shall be fixed by the individual groups; each group shall, however, submit ... for each of its members to the central leadership of the Society at the Goetheanum.’
I have put dots here, though I already have an opinion which I may well voice if it comes to it. But for the moment I have put dots so that the matter may be as broadly considered as possible before tomorrow's discussions. For money is something we shall need here too. I have often indicated that idealism cannot take the form of saying: Oh, horrible ahrimanic money; let us not contaminate our ideals with it; our ideals should be as free from it as they possibly can be! The left fist clutches the purse-strings while the right hand is raised on high for the ideals. Alas, the uncomfortable gesture of putting that right hand into the left pocket is sometimes necessary; if the ideals are to be upheld, small sacrifices are necessary.
‘13. Each working group formulates its own statutes, but these must not be incompatible with the Statutes of the Anthroposophical Society.’
‘14. The organ of the Society is Das Goetheanum, which for this purpose is provided with a Supplement containing the official communications of the Society. This enlarged edition of Das Goetheanum will be supplied to members of the Anthroposophical Society only.’
This paragraph is of particular concern to me because wherever I go members with a good capacity to judge have been saying to me: We never seem to hear what is going on in the Anthroposophical Society. By instituting this journal we shall be able to conduct a careful correspondence which will more and more come to be a correspondence belonging to each one of you, and through it you will be able to live right in the midst of the Anthroposophical Society.
Now, my dear friends, in case after due consideration you should indeed come to agree with my appointment as President of the Anthroposophical Society, I still have to make my suggestions as to the membership of the Vorstand with whom I should actually be able to fulfil the tasks which I have indicated very briefly here.
So that the affairs of Anthroposophy can be truly and properly administered, members of the Vorstand must be people who reside here in Dornach. So far as my estimation of the Society is concerned, the Vorstand cannot consist of individuals who are situated all over the place. This will not prevent the individual groups from electing their own officials autonomously. And when these officials come to Dornach, they will be taken into the meetings of the Vorstand as advisory members while they are here. We must make the whole thing come to life. Instead of a bureaucratic Vorstand scattered all over the world there will be officials responsible for the individual groups, officials arising from amongst the membership of the groups; they will always have the opportunity to feel themselves equal members of the Vorstand which, however, will be located in Dornach. The work itself will have to be taken care of by the Vorstand in Dornach.
Moreover, the members of the Vorstand must without question be people who have devoted their lives entirely, both outwardly and inwardly, to the cause of Anthroposophy. So now after long deliberations over the past weeks I shall take the liberty of presenting to you my suggestions for the membership of the Vorstand:
I believe there will nowhere arise even the faintest hint of dissension but that on the contrary there will be in all your hearts the most unanimous and fullest agreement to the suggestion that Herr Albert Steffen be appointed as Vice-president. (Lively applause)
This being the case, we have in the Vorstand itself an expression of something I have already mentioned today: our links, as the Anthroposophical Society, with Switzerland. I cannot express my conviction more emphatically than by saying to you: If it is a matter of having a Swiss citizen who will give all his strength as a member of the Vorstand and as Vice-president, then there is no better Swiss citizen to be found.
Next we shall have in the Vorstand an individual who has been united with the Anthroposophical Society from the very beginning, who has for the greater part built up the Anthroposophical Society and who is today active in an anthroposophical way in one of the most important fields: Frau Dr Steiner. (Lively applause)
With your applause you have said everything and clearly shown that we need have no fear that our choice in this direction might not have been quite appropriate.
A further member of the Vorstand I have to suggest on the basis of facts arising here over recent weeks. This is the person with whom I at present have the opportunity to test anthroposophical enthusiasm to its limits in the right way by working with her on the elaboration of the anthroposophical system of medicine: Frau Dr Ita Wegman. (Lively applause)
Through her work — and especially through her understanding of her work — she has shown that in this specialized field she can assert the effectiveness of Anthroposophy in the right way. I know that the effects of this work will be beneficial. That is why I have taken it upon myself to work immediately with Frau Dr Wegman on developing the anthroposophical system of medicine. 37See Rudolf Steiner/Ita Wegman Fundamentals of Therapy. An Extension of the Art of Healing through Spiritual Knowledge, Rudolf Steiner Press, London 1983. GA 27. It will appear before the eyes of the world and then we shall see that particularly in members who work in this way we have the real friends of the Anthroposophical Society.
Another member I have to suggest is one who has been tried and tested in the utmost degree for the work in Dornach both in general and down to the very last detail, one who has ever proved herself to be a faithful member. I do believe — without intending to sound boastful — that the members of the Vorstand have indeed been rightly selected. Albert Steffen was an anthroposophist before he was even born, and this ought to be duly recognized. Frau Dr Steiner has of course always been an anthroposophist ever since an Anthroposophical Society has existed. Frau Dr Wegman was one of the very first members who joined in the work just after we did in the very early days. She has been a member of the Anthroposophical Movement for over twenty years. Apart from us, she is the longest standing member in this room. And another member of very long standing is the person I now mean, who has been tried and tested down to the very last detail as a most faithful colleague; you may indeed be satisfied with her down to the very last detail: Fräulein Dr Lili Vreede. (Applause)
We need furthermore in the anthroposophical Vorstand an individual who will take many cares off our shoulders, cares which cannot all be borne by us because of course the initiatives have to be kept separate. This is someone who will have to think on everyone's behalf, for this is necessary even when the others — again without intending to sound boastful — also make the effort to use their heads intelligently in anthroposophical matters. What is needed is someone who, so to speak, does not knock heads together but does hold them together. This is an individual who many will feel still needs to be tried and tested, but I believe that he will master every trial. This will be our dear Dr Guenther Wachsmuth who in everything he is obliged to do for us here has already shown his mastery of a good many trials which have made it obvious that he is capable of working with others in a most harmonious manner. As time goes on we shall find ourselves much satisfied with him. I hope, then, that you will agree to the appointment of Dr Guenther Wachsmuth, not as the cashier — which he does not want to be — but as the secretary and treasurer. (Applause)
The Vorstand must be kept small, and so my list is now exhausted, my dear friends. And the time allotted for our morning meeting has also run out. I just want to call once more on all our efforts to bring into this gathering above all the appropriate mood of soul, more and yet more mood of soul. Out of this anthroposophical mood of soul will arise what we need for the next few days. And if we have it for the next few days we shall also have it for the future times we are about to enter for the Anthroposophical Society. I have appealed to your hearts; I have appealed to the wisdom in you which your hearts can fill with glowing warmth and enthusiasm. May we sustain this glowing warmth and this enthusiasm throughout the coming meetings and thus achieve something truly fruitful over the next few days.
There are two more announcements to be made: This afternoon there will be two performances of one of the Christmas Plays, the Paradise Play. The first will take place at 4.30. Those who cannot find a seat then will be able to see it at 6 o'clock. Everybody will have a chance to see this play today.
Our next meeting is at 8 o'clock this evening when my first lecture on world history in the light of Anthroposophy will take place.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, at 10 o'clock we shall gather here for the laying of the Foundation Stone of the Anthroposophical Society, and, following straight on from that will be the Foundation Meeting of the Anthroposophical Society.
The meeting of General Secretaries and delegates planned for this afternoon will not take place because it will be better to hold it after the Foundation Meeting has taken place. It will be tomorrow at 2.30 in the Glass House lower down the hill, in the Architects' Office. That will be the meeting of the Vorstand, the General Secretaries and those who are their secretaries.
If Herr Abels could now come up here, I would request you to collect your meal tickets from him. To avoid chaos down at the canteen there will be different sittings and we hope that everything will proceed in an orderly fashion.