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Anthroposophy for Dummies

Posted: Wed Sep 01, 2021 1:34 pm
by Anthony66
This is my first post on this new forum. I admit to being a bit of an eastern mystic type.

I've been following the raging Steiner debates here with some interest but struggle to grok Steiner's ontological scheme. It seems a very foreign landscape. I feel like I'm late to the party. There is so much unfamiliar jargon and many terms seem to have particular semantics - for example "Spirit". Is Spirit in a separate ontological category to consciousness? There seems to be some connection to Christianity. What is the relationship here? What are the crossovers with eastern thought forms?

So...

It would be really helpful if Cleric/Ashvin could compile a top 10 list comprising clues/anchors to understanding this ontology. No jargon please and try to keep each item a few sentences - no essays.

I think this would be a great help to bootstrap my thinking on what is a very difficult system to get one's head around.

PS. I've started reading PoF.

Re: Anthroposophy for Dummies

Posted: Wed Sep 01, 2021 2:08 pm
by Hedge90
Subscribed.

Re: Anthroposophy for Dummies

Posted: Wed Sep 01, 2021 4:28 pm
by AshvinP
Anthony66 wrote: Wed Sep 01, 2021 1:34 pm This is my first post on this new forum. I admit to being a bit of an eastern mystic type.

I've been following the raging Steiner debates here with some interest but struggle to grok Steiner's ontological scheme. It seems a very foreign landscape. I feel like I'm late to the party. There is so much unfamiliar jargon and many terms seem to have particular semantics - for example "Spirit". Is Spirit in a separate ontological category to consciousness? There seems to be some connection to Christianity. What is the relationship here? What are the crossovers with eastern thought forms?

So...

It would be really helpful if Cleric/Ashvin could compile a top 10 list comprising clues/anchors to understanding this ontology. No jargon please and try to keep each item a few sentences - no essays.

I think this would be a great help to bootstrap my thinking on what is a very difficult system to get one's head around.

PS. I've started reading PoF.

Anthony,

Spirit is the essential Thinking activity - Imagination, Inspiration, Intuition - all beings share. It is what integrates all experience through shared qualities of meaning. I think you will find mythology and philosophy makes great sense when it is understood this way, which has really been regarded as self-evident understanding until the modern age, when most essential relations were flipped on their head. Here is my list of top 10 "clues" to Steiner's ontology, but obviously a lot more work must be put in to begin understanding how it all fits together (it definitely does in my experience).

1. Inseparable relation of perception and cognition as it manifests in our current experience.

2. How that relation has evolved ("metamorphosed") over time, particularly from ancient Egyptian epoch to modern age.

3. Polar essence of all experience, i.e. Eternal-temporal, Unity-multiplicity, Universal-particular, Light-darkness, Warmth-coldness, and infinitely more.

4. Threefold essence of all experience - Willing-Feeling-Thinking, Body-Soul-Spirit, spatial dimensions, and many more (there are almost always threefold relations within the threefold relations, sometimes 3 sets of threefold relations to make nine-fold relation). Many other qualitative numeric relations are very important as well.

- Also note most essential relations are mirrored, i.e. they have relations with inverted qualities within spatiotemporal structure.

5. The role of imaginative cognition, i.e. "image-consciousness" which is reflected in all mythology and aesthetics, as applied to our current perception-cognition of the world.

6. Philosophical realism - understanding how particular manifestations do not provide essential knowledge, but rather the qualitative principles and archetypes underlying all such manifestations must be sought via Thinking activity.

7. The role of collective subconscious forces which drive human spiritual evolution (and therefore all cultural transformations).

8. Practical methods of bringing those forces into the Light of the Spirit.

9. The tendency of abstract intellect to be possessed by these forces and therefore ignore the need to develop higher Spiritual activity by reducing all experiences to its own abstract terms - practical ways of defending against that tendency.

10. The nature of the "Time-Consciousness Spectrum" as explained in this essay by Cleric - viewtopic.php?f=5&t=509

I'm going to add another essay for Cleric, since this is BK forum and many people come familiar with his "MAL" ontology. We need to go Beyond Flat MAL to Deep MAL (do not think of "alters" existing in a personal bubble of consciousness with hard separation from all other "alters") - viewtopic.php?f=5&t=279

Re: Anthroposophy for Dummies

Posted: Wed Sep 01, 2021 5:13 pm
by Cleric K
Anthony66 wrote: Wed Sep 01, 2021 1:34 pm I've been following the raging Steiner debates here with some interest but struggle to grok Steiner's ontological scheme. It seems a very foreign landscape. I feel like I'm late to the party. There is so much unfamiliar jargon and many terms seem to have particular semantics - for example "Spirit". Is Spirit in a separate ontological category to consciousness? There seems to be some connection to Christianity. What is the relationship here? What are the crossovers with eastern thought forms?
Don't have much time right now. Ashvin's points do a pretty good job. Of course, I hope you realize that by requesting 10 short and concise points, this means that each one of them will have to be expanded by you. So don't be discouraged if they seem abstract to you. Think of them as seeds that must watered, nurtured and grown with, until they become mighty trees, whose branches intermingle and penetrate every phenomena of the World Content.

I'll add only one practical example in relation to your Spirit question. Please take a look at this post where I replied to a question to Adur. If you are up to it you may try the "I think the speech" exercise. Living intimate experience can answer in an instant what you'll never receive from definitions that remain abstract in the intellect (even if they are good definitions).

Seems you are more familiar with Eastern concepts. Consider this. Nowadays people speak about polarities, masculine/feminine, yin/yang, etc. Everyone will habitually agree that there should be a kind of interplay and dynamic balance between them. Yet in the Eastern schools of meditation you'll discover that there's a great imbalance. One repels all thoughts, all soul content, and succumbs into quiet and passive contemplation, expecting that within this panorama he'll be bestowed with the answers to the riddles of the Universe. Strangely, one rarely asks "What about the dynamic balance? Where's the masculine principle in this?" If you perform the "I think the speech" exercise you can have first hand living experience of what the Masculine principle refers to. You are the active, creative force that brings the spoken thoughts into existence. Now you experience yourself as actual spiritual being, which actively contributes content to the panorama (Soul). This is what Spirit refers to. It's not something that you postulate in order to externally explain your activity, like the materialist will imagine that there's a brain in the 'real' world that processes signals and we only perceive its output with the additional illusion that we are somehow responsible for the thoughts. No, this only deviates our attention from the actual activity of speaking forth thoughts - including those that try to convince us that our livingly experienced spiritual activity has nothing to do with the 'real' causes. Spirit is only a word that refers not to something that might or might not exist but to our intimately experienced active beingness.

Re: Anthroposophy for Dummies

Posted: Fri Sep 03, 2021 1:01 pm
by Herger The Joyous
Have you looked into John David Ebert with his work on Rudolf Steiner?
He is an experienced Steiner scholar with a large body of work covering Steiner's work.
This lecture series is a decent place to start.

Re: Anthroposophy for Dummies

Posted: Fri Sep 03, 2021 2:44 pm
by Anthony66
Thanks Ashvin for your response. Your list is helpful!

Let me start working through to hopefully put some meat on these hooks. I'll start with:
AshvinP wrote: Wed Sep 01, 2021 4:28 pm Spirit is the essential Thinking activity - Imagination, Inspiration, Intuition - all beings share. It is what integrates all experience through shared qualities of meaning. I think you will find mythology and philosophy makes great sense when it is understood this way, which has really been regarded as self-evident understanding until the modern age, when most essential relations were flipped on their head. Here is my list of top 10 "clues" to Steiner's ontology, but obviously a lot more work must be put in to begin understanding how it all fits together (it definitely does in my experience).
Why use the word Spirit this way given its historical baggage and why the capitalization? In orthodox Christian thought, spirit (lowercase) is that mysterious capacity exclusive to humans which enables communion with God. Uppercase Spirit generally refers to the Holy Spirit - the third person of the triune God who nevertheless can dwell with or infill the human being. All beings don't share in the s(S)pirit in Christian philosophy. To make it clear, I'm not asserting that Christianity lays exclusive claim to the truth of the use of words, rather I'm highlighting the confusion created by adopting and reworking such a loaded term.

I assume this terminological rebranding derives from Steiner's non-orthodox Christianity which I understand draws from the ancient mystery religions and views the person of Jesus along the lines of adoptionism (which would eventually be declared heretical by the orthodox church).

When you say that all being share in the Spirit do you mean that cockroaches for example participate in Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition?

Re: Anthroposophy for Dummies

Posted: Fri Sep 03, 2021 2:55 pm
by Anthony66
Thanks Cleric. I certainly plan to try, as time permits over the forthcoming weeks, to further understand the list Ashvin provided .

I tried your: "I think the speech" exercise but found myself gravitating to the "I" and not being able to locate it. This is likely due to my Buddhist inspired meditation practices where one is challenged to locate the I/self only to discover it to be a search in vain.

I wonder if I'm cut out for the Steiner style meditations given I think I suffer from aphantasia. Perhaps I can develop the ability to visualize over time.

Re: Anthroposophy for Dummies

Posted: Fri Sep 03, 2021 3:01 pm
by Anthony66
Thanks for the link Herger The Joyous. I have to admit I'm on the fence with respect to Steiner at this point. I've started reading PoF and I'm finding him to be a very incisive thinker. However some of his work (as encapsulated in the video you post) lights up my BS detector to near max at this stage. :shock:

Re: Anthroposophy for Dummies

Posted: Fri Sep 03, 2021 3:17 pm
by Soul_of_Shu
Anthony66 wrote: Fri Sep 03, 2021 3:01 pm Thanks for the link Herger The Joyous. I have to admit I'm on the fence with respect to Steiner at this point. I've started reading PoF and I'm finding him to be a very incisive thinker. However some of his work (as encapsulated in the video you post) lights up my BS detector to near max at this stage. :shock:
And I suspect that it would also set off BK's so-called BS detector too, which of course both Cleric and Ashvin will decry as a function of deprived, un-transfigured thinking. Likewise, I listened to this reading from Steiner's work claiming clairvoyant access to the esoteric wisdom of Atlantis, and imagined what BK would make of it if it were to come to his attention, picturing that pained look of incredulity he sometimes gets when presented with such speculations ...


Re: Anthroposophy for Dummies

Posted: Fri Sep 03, 2021 3:17 pm
by AshvinP
Anthony66 wrote: Fri Sep 03, 2021 2:44 pm Thanks Ashvin for your response. Your list is helpful!

Let me start working through to hopefully put some meat on these hooks. I'll start with:
AshvinP wrote: Wed Sep 01, 2021 4:28 pm Spirit is the essential Thinking activity - Imagination, Inspiration, Intuition - all beings share. It is what integrates all experience through shared qualities of meaning. I think you will find mythology and philosophy makes great sense when it is understood this way, which has really been regarded as self-evident understanding until the modern age, when most essential relations were flipped on their head. Here is my list of top 10 "clues" to Steiner's ontology, but obviously a lot more work must be put in to begin understanding how it all fits together (it definitely does in my experience).
Why use the word Spirit this way given its historical baggage and why the capitalization? In orthodox Christian thought, spirit (lowercase) is that mysterious capacity exclusive to humans which enables communion with God. Uppercase Spirit generally refers to the Holy Spirit - the third person of the triune God who nevertheless can dwell with or infill the human being. All beings don't share in the s(S)pirit in Christian philosophy. To make it clear, I'm not asserting that Christianity lays exclusive claim to the truth of the use of words, rather I'm highlighting the confusion created by adopting and reworking such a loaded term.

I assume this terminological rebranding derives from Steiner's non-orthodox Christianity which I understand draws from the ancient mystery religions and views the person of Jesus along the lines of adoptionism (which would eventually be declared heretical by the orthodox church).

When you say that all being share in the Spirit do you mean that cockroaches for example participate in Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition?

Anthony,

A couple things here:

1 - I don't think this use of "Spirit" is unique to Steiner at all. Many pre-modern Western theologians used it in similar ways, although they don't say it is "Thinking activity" to distinguish from Willing or Feeling, because prior to the 15th century it was simply taken for granted that such meaningful activity was omnipresent within all human experience. In the modern era, it is used this way less and less for many reasons (mostly related to the dawn of rationalism, dualism, materialism), but modern era thinkers like Goethe, Fichte, Hegel, Schelling, Coleridge, Steiner, Barfield, among some others, used it this way as well.

2 - I capitalize these words when they refer to any essential activity, which by definition is also transpersonal in our view. We definitely deviate from exoteric Christian dogma in this regard - there is essentially only one Spirit (the Sun-Spirit, i.e. Christ) who permeates all and is active within all, although normally obscured by totalizing abstract intellect. I think that is really evident from scripture itself, especially in Gospel of John, but other places as well. It is only "mysterious" because we want it to be in the modern age, as an excuse to avoid the implications for the responsibility we have to redeem the spiritual within the physical via our Thinking activity, which we can engage at any moment (this is discussed briefly in latest essay here).

Ashvin wrote:For now, we should recognize that none of these cultural developments are arbitrary or isolated from the overall mythological evolution of the Spirit. They were all serving a purpose in the integral process of reconciling the LBH's fragmented forms of the sense-world with the RBH's Wisdom of the spiritual realms. The process of fragmentation itself was a necessary 'emptying' of Spirit into ever-smaller 'things' (kenosis) so that it could eventually be reborn into the voluntary service of the Whole, through the Imaginations, Inspirations, and Intuitions of each individual soul. That is how each soul is exalted by the integral process of theosis; the process of man becoming One with God in the act of knowing. For that to have occurred, however, the soul must have also first passed through the trials and tribulation of the 3rd spatial dimension, when the potential for the fullness of "depth" was seeded in the Center of the fourth epoch. That potential could only be realized by the actuality of the individual ego's tortuous death within the sense-world. All of these integral developments apply to each person's individual soul. The story of our collective mythic-spiritual evolution is not other than the story of our own individual evolution. Each individual soul will undergo all of these metamorphoses over the course of their journey back to the Divine. We are all truly participating in the integral human mythology through every waking and sleeping moment of our lives and after-lives.
...
When we move from the book of Tobit to the book of First Kings, we then find the most striking counter-image which helps us imagine the spiritual metamorphosis taking place from the dawn of the fourth epoch to the centuries approaching its Center. The figure of the prophet Elijah is portrayed as a force of Nature. With regards to 'external' Divinities, the most we get from the narrative is that "the word of the Lord came to Elijah". After that, Elijah brings forth prophesied droughts, unlimited flour and oil, revives a breathless child by stretching himself out on the child three times, and ends the previous drought by bringing forth rain. All of these spiritual powers seem to emerge from within his own soul, without any external presence of God or Angels. In the reference to the "word" of the Lord, we can sense the dawning New Testament imagery which starts to deemphasize the Hebrew Law, such as dietary commandments, and emphasize the connection between the One Divine Spirit who acts in the world, human speech arising from within the soul, and spiritual thoughts reaching back up to the Divine. All three of these aspects find their expression in the Logos who is imaged at the very beginning of Saint John's Gospel.


3 - My rudimentary understanding is that the animal kingdoms developed from the human form. They were separated from that form before the Spirit descended into the vessel of the human soul, so they do not also share in that Spirit. They have soul-life, which is actually held collectively as a "group soul" in the astral realm (not in the physical realm), and each individual animal experiences its inner life from the perspective of that group soul, but they do not engage in spiritual activity apart from humans. But I have not really thought about this aspect enough and it remains fuzzy for me. Perhaps Cleric can elaborate.