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The Christmas Conference
GA 260
Part II. The Proceedings of the Conference

VII. Continuation of the Foundation Meeting

26 December, 10 a.m.

Dr. Steiner:

My dear friends!

We are in the middle of the reports by the General Secretaries and the representatives of the groups working in all kinds of places outside Dornach. In a moment we shall continue with these reports. But first I would like to speak a few words in the midst of these reports, words to which I am moved by what has been said in such a satisfactory way by these speakers. From what we have been told we may gather how very devoted is the work being carried on out there. We may add what we were told yesterday to the names I allowed myself to mention the day before. There, too, despite the ruins on which we stand, we may see what can encourage us during this Conference not to be pessimistic in any way but rather to strive actively for a genuine optimism.

During this Conference we must everywhere, in every realm, consider the activity of building-up rather than the activity of dismantling. So today, early on in the Conference, I want to suggest that we give it a certain definite direction. During the meetings of members over the next few days there will of course be opportunities for discussing various matters. But today, early on, I want to say the following: As we saw in the necessary content of the Statutes, we have to connect total openness with the Anthroposophical Society. Anything less, dear friends, is not permitted by the signs of the times. The present age can no longer tolerate any tendency towards secrecy. This presents us with a fundamental problem which we shall have to solve.

By this I do not mean that we shall have to discuss it a great deal during the Conference, for it is in our hearts that this fundamental problem will have to be solved. We must be absolutely clear about the fact that our Society, before all others, will be given the task of combining the greatest conceivable openness with true and genuine esotericism.

At first under the obstacles and hindrances of those terrible years of the war, but then also through all kinds of inner difficulties, we have indeed experienced the establishment of this problem in every direction. Indeed lately no meeting within the Anthroposophical Society has taken place which lacked, as it were, the backdrop—though unnoticed by many—of this problem: How can we combine full openness with the profoundest, most serious and inward esotericism? To achieve this it will be necessary to banish from our gatherings in the future anything which smacks in any way of the atmosphere of a clique. Anthroposophy does not need the atmosphere of a clique. When hearts truly understand Anthroposophy they will beat in unison without the need for heads to knock together. If we solve this purely human problem of letting our hearts sound in harmony with one another without the need for our heads to knock together, then from the human side we shall have done everything necessary, also in the leadership of the Anthroposophical Society, to prepare for the achievement of the things that have been depicted.

We must achieve these things; we must reach the point at which we can feel in all our deeds that we are connected with the spiritual world. This is the very aspect which must be different in the Anthroposophical Society from any other possible association in the present time. The difference must be that out of the strength of Anthroposophy itself it is possible to combine the greatest conceivable openness with the most genuine and inward esotericism. And in future this esotericism must not be lacking even in the most external of our deeds. There is in this field still a lot to learn from the past ten years.

What I am saying is also related to our responsibilities. Consider the following, my dear friends: We stand in the world as a small Society, and this Society has a peculiar destiny at present. Even if it wanted to, it could not reject this characteristic of openness which I have been emphasizing so strongly. It would be unable to reject it. For if out of some leaning of sympathy we were to decide today to work only inwardly with our groups, which would of course be very nice, if we were not to concern ourselves with the public at large, we would discover that there would soon be an increasingly inimical concern for us on the part of the public. The more we fail to concern ourselves with the signs of the times, the more will be the inimical concern for us on the part of everything that can possibly be against us. Only if we find the path, only if with courage we find the straight path to what we should do shall we succeed in navigating the ship of the Anthroposophical Society through the exceedingly stormy waves which surge and break around it. What we should do is the following: As a small Society we face the world, a world—you know the one I mean—which actually does not love us. It does not love us. This is a fact we cannot alter. But on the other hand there is no need to do anything on purpose to make ourselves unpopular. I do not mean this in a superficial sense but in a deeper sense of which I speak from the foundations of occult life. If we ask ourselves over and over again what we must do to make ourselves better liked by this circle or by that circle in the world, by any circle which does not like us today; if we keep asking ourselves how we should behave in this field or in that field so as to be taken seriously here or there; if we do this, we shall most certainly not be taken seriously. We shall only be taken seriously if at every moment in whatever we do we feel responsible towards the spiritual world. We must know that the spiritual world wants to achieve a certain thing with mankind at this particular moment in historical evolution; it wants to achieve this in the most varied realms of life, and it is up to us clearly and truly to follow the impulses that come from the spiritual world. Though this might give offence initially, in the long run it is the only beneficial way. Therefore we shall also only come to terms among ourselves if at every opportunity we steep ourselves in whatever impulses can come out of the spiritual world.

So now, having given these indications, which I shall bring to completion over the next few days, I once more want to repeat before you at least a part of those words which were spoken to you yesterday in accordance with the will of the spiritual world. May they stand as an introduction in our souls again today as we enter into our discussions.

Soul of Man!
Thou livest in the limbs
Which bear thee through the world of space
In the spirit's ocean-being.
Practise spirit-recalling in depths of soul,
Where in the wielding will
Of world-creating
Thine own I
Comes to being
Within God's I.
And thou wilt truly live
In the World-Being of Man.
Soul of Man!

Thou livest in the beat of heart and lung
Which leads thee through the rhythm of time
Into the realm of thine own soul's feeling.
Practise spirit-awareness
In balance of the soul,
Where the surging deeds
Of the world's becoming
Thine own I
With the World-I.
And thou wilt truly feel
In the Soul-Weaving of Man.

Soul of Man!
Thou livest in the resting head
Which from the grounds of eternity
Opens to thee the world-thoughts.
Practise spirit-beholding
In stillness of thought,
Where the eternal aims of Gods
World-Being's Light
On thine own I
For thy free willing.
And thou wilt truly think
In the Spirit-Foundations of Man.

We can work rightly with words such as these, which are heard coming from the Cosmic Word, if we arrange them in our own soul in such a way that they cannot depart from us again. And it will be possible for them to be so arranged if, amongst all that has resounded, you first highlight that part which can give you the rhythm. Dear friends, let me write down here first of all the part that can indicate the rhythm:

In the first verse: Spirit-recalling,
in the second verse: Spirit-awareness,
in the third verse: Spirit-beholding.

Figure 4 Pg. XIV

Contemplate this in its rhythmical connection with what is brought about in the human soul which is called upon, the human soul which is called upon by itself, through the words:

Thine own I
Comes to being
Within God's I

consider the rhythm linked with ‘spirit-awareness’ when you hear:

Thine own I
With the World-I

and the rhythm linked with ‘spirit-beholding’ when you hear:

On thine own I
For thy free willing

Take in this way each phrase so that it can only stand as I have written it here. Take what comes rhythmically out of the Cosmic Rhythm: ‘own I within God's I’, ‘own I in the World-I’, ‘own I in free willing’. And take what rises up from ‘comes to being’ to ‘unite’ to ‘bestow’, where there is the transition to moral feeling. Feel the connection with ‘spirit-recalling’, ‘spirit-awareness’ and ‘spirit-beholding’. Then you will have in the inner rhythm what it is during these few days that the spiritual world is bringing to us to raise our hearts, to illumine our thinking, to give wings and enthusiasm to our willing.

I now have a telegram to read to you: ‘Christmas greetings, best wishes, Ethel Morgenstierne.’ And now may I ask the representative of Honolulu, Madame Ferreri, to speak.

Madame Ferreri reports.

Dr. Steiner: May I now ask the representative of Italy, Baroness de Renzis, to speak.

Baroness de Renzis reports.

Dr. Steiner: May I perhaps suggest that certain questions raised here, such as that of accepting applications for membership on the basis of correspondence only, and similar matters, shall be discussed later when we consider the Statutes.

Dr. Steiner: The Duke of Cesaro will also give a report concerning Italy on behalf of the Novalis Group in Rome.

The Duke of Cesaro reports.

Dr. Steiner: Now may I ask Fräulein Schwarz to speak on behalf of the other Italian group.

Fräulein Schwarz reports on behalf of the group in Milan.

Dr. Steiner: Now would the representative of the work in Yugoslavia, Herr Hahl, please speak.

Herr Hahl reports.

Dr. Steiner: May I ask the representative of the Norwegian Society, Herr Ingerö, to speak.

Herr Ingerö speaks.

Dr. Steiner: Now may I ask the representative of the Council of the Austrian Society, Count Polzer, to speak.

Count Polzer speaks.

Dr. Steiner: Now may I ask the representative of the group in Porto Alegre in Brazil, Dr Unger, to speak.

Dr. Unger: Allow me in a few words to carry out a commission which I was most delighted to accept. For quite some time we have been corresponding with friends over there, mostly from Germany, who had emigrated and had begun to work there anthroposophically. Herr Brandtner in particular has been writing lately. He has made great efforts to get something going in Porto Alegre. And connected with this, work is also going on in other South American towns which will gradually be co-ordinated so that independent centres from which to work may be set up there too. For this purpose Herr Mayen from Breslau was asked by the friends over there to go out, first of all to Rio. He will gradually take on work in a number of towns. I have been particularly asked to give voice to the sympathetic interest of the friends over there. Everything that comes to us from over there expresses the most intimate interest in all that has to do with Dornach and whatever continues to come from Dornach. As often as possible someone comes to Europe and we hope most fervently that anthroposophical life may soon start to blossom there in the most intensive way. Just as I bring greetings from our friends over there, so I hope that when I report back to Porto Alegre I may also be permitted to send them from here our good wishes for the prospering of the work in Porto Alegre.

Dr. Steiner: May I now ask the representative of the Swedish Anthroposophical Society, Fräulein Henström, to speak.

Fräulein Henström reports.

Dr. Steiner: May I now ask the representative of the Swiss Anthroposophical Society, Herr Aeppli, to speak.

Herr Aeppli reports.

Dr. Steiner: May I now ask the representative of the Council in Czechoslovakia, Dr Krkavec, to speak.

Dr. Krkavec reports.

Dr. Steiner: May I now ask the other representative of the Council in Czechoslovakia, Dr Eiselt, to speak.

Dr Eiselt reports.

Dr. Steiner: This brings the reports to a close. I believe I may be allowed to say that you are all, with me, exceedingly grateful to those who have given them. For they enable us to see that we have a foundation on which to base our new work, since now we know how much truly great, devoted and varied work is being done and has already been done in the Anthroposophical Society.

Now I should like to move on to the third point on our agenda, consideration of the Statutes. First the Statutes must be read out. Though you all have a copy, I would nevertheless like to ask that they be read out once more, so that we can then commence the discussion of each point. Would Dr Wachsmuth now please read the Statutes in accordance with point three of our agenda.

Dr. Wachsmuth reads out the Statutes of the Anthroposophical Society.

Dr. Steiner: As you will have gathered from various remarks I have made, it would be really good if on the one hand our meeting could be allowed to run as freely as possible amongst its individual members. However, on the other hand, if a proper discussion is to take place, it is necessary for us to be quite strict in conducting the debate. So please take this not as pedantry but as a necessity applicable to any gathering. Today we have run out of time, so I would ask you that we continue this meeting tomorrow after Dr Wachsmuth's lecture. Tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock Dr Wachsmuth will give his lecture. Then we shall break for a quarter of an hour before continuing the meeting. At this meeting I should like to conduct the proceedings as follows. Not in order to be pedantic but so that we can be as efficient as possible there will first be a kind of general debate on the Statutes, a debate in which first of all the whole attitude, meaning and spirit of the Statutes in general is discussed.

Then I shall ask you to agree to the Statutes in general, after which we shall open a detailed debate in which we take one Paragraph at a time, when contributors will be asked to speak only to the Paragraph under consideration. There will then be a concluding debate leading to the final adoption of the Statutes. This is how I would ask you to proceed tomorrow when we discuss the Statutes.

Now I have to announce that our Conference continues this afternoon with a eurythmy performance at 4.30 and my lecture at 8 o'clock this evening. Tomorrow at 10 o'clock we shall hear Dr Guenther Wachsmuth's lecture in the field of natural science about the face of the earth and the destiny of man. Then after a quarter of an hour's break we shall continue with this meeting.

I also have several more announcements to make. As I had to stress earlier, before we began our meeting, it is quite difficult, because there are so many of us—and it is of course wonderful that there are so many dear friends here—to hold this gathering together. You cannot tell, just by coming to the meetings, how difficult it is. Of course we are deeply sorry that the primitive quarters here are causing such discomfort and so many problems for our dear friends. Nevertheless, I have to ask that in future not more than three seats are held by any one person. I have to say this because it has happened that whole rows of seats have been held by a single person, and this has led to innumerable discussions with those who have come in later.

Then I should like to remind you of the wish we expressed earlier that the two front rows be reserved for those dear friends who are either disabled or deaf or need special consideration for any other reason. If there are any seats left in these two rows, which is sure to be the case, then please leave them free for the General Secretaries of the different countries and for the secretaries who might be accompanying them. It will become necessary in the next few days to have the General Secretaries together here where they can be seen rather than scattered all over the hall.

Thirdly I would perhaps like once more to ask our Dornach friends—truly I have nothing personal against them—to take their seats next door in the ‘summer villa’.44This designation for the extension built on to the carpentry workshop for the occasion of the Christmas Conference referred to ‘the chilly draught which blew there permanently’ (Ernst Lehrs Gelebte Erwartung, Stuttgart, 1979). I know it is most inhospitable in this rainy and snowy weather, but all we can do is ask our Dornach friends to put up with the rain so that the friends from further afield can sit here in the hall away from the rain.

Also I would like to mention that from today the upper canteen will be open in the evening for those friends who are quartered in the dormitories or other inhospitable places, so that they may have somewhere to go that is heated. Food and drink will not be served then, but I hope that the conversations that can take place there will be all the more stimulating and encouraging. So although it will not be possible to quench hunger and thirst, it will be possible to keep as warm as may be in the evenings after my lecture until 11 o'clock at night.

Furthermore I want to draw your attention to the following: Mr Pyle in the most admirable way has modelled a very fine money-box45On the basis of a pencil drawing by Rudolf Steiner. which he has had produced. You will find these money-boxes outside the doors. If you look at them carefully you will find that the beautiful forms tempt you to want to own such a money-box yourselves. They are for sale, so you can buy one and take it home and put something in it every day. When it is full you can use what you have collected to put towards the re-building of the Goetheanum, or for any other purposes related to the Goetheanum. Let me point out that even if you only put in 10 Rappen every day—think what you might spend this on each day—by the end of the year you will have saved quite a tidy sum. I can see my respected friends here are already working out how much! You will find that it will be a worthwhile amount. But I don't want to encourage you to put in only 10 Rappen. I would rather you put in whatever amount you consider proper, or whatever you feel obliged to put in even if you don't think it proper.

Those who find it difficult for one reason or another to take a money-box home with them will see that similar money-boxes have been set out here into which they may put something. Naturally if you do not have your own money-box to take home, it would be a good thing if you could delve deeply into your purse while you are here, so that these money-boxes may be filled. We shall have no trouble in seeing to it that they are rapidly emptied.

Finally I would please ask that spectators at the Christmas Plays refrain from booking their seats for the evening lectures.

You see, without all these many wishes—let us not call them prohibitions—we shall be unable to keep the Conference going in an orderly manner.

Now, my dear friends, I adjourn this meeting until the appointed hour tomorrow.