Don,donsalmon wrote:Hi Ashvin:
Yes it should be a new thread - very different topic.
I've studied (and practiced along the lines of) Sri Aurobindo's integral yoga since the mid 70s. I became aware of Steiner's writings in the early 70s, was always fascinated and put off by them, and didn't quite understand why the conflcting intuition about it for some years.
My sense - just saw this confirmed somewhere but can't recall where - is that - oh, Anne Bancroft said this (not the actress - a British writer on Zen) that Steiner always seemed more consumed with Lao Tzu's "10,000 things" than the one thing needful. He has the most bizarre interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita I've ever read (I've studied at least 20 commentaries). He sees "Krishna" only as a specific being, not representational of the infinite Supreme Divinity. In fact, though Steiner is reputed to have been something of an expert on Meister Eckhart, who knew a thing or two about the Godhead, he doesn't seem to understand much if at all about the One and the Many or That which is beyond both. He seems consumed wtih his occult visions, some of which are astonishingly clear and some of which, I think, are shot through with 19th century Germanic culture and prejudices (much like the whole Waldorf phenomenon).
If you look up Franklin Merrell Wolff's tribute to Sri Aurobindo on the occasion of his 'passing" (1950), I think that's a fairly accurate take on Aurobindo's life work. As much as I appreciate Steiner's and even more, Barfield and other folowers in their deconstruction of materialism, it's not usually done in the context of what to me is a genuine spiritual vision.
As Merrell Wolff noted, except for the mathematical aspect of it, Sri Aurobindo had an astonishing grasp of the essential nature of quantitative (ie modern - despite what Jim or someone else claimed, there is almsot no legitimacy to qualitative research; my master's thesis combined quantitative and qualitative methods and I've kept up with it for 30 years and VERY little progress has been made in qualitative reearch - heck, even psychology is not considered a "real" science by physicists, for all of my colleagues "physics envy").
yikes, where was i (rambling too much) - yes, an astonishing grasp of "science" - best critique I know of materialism is in Book 2 Part 1 of The Life Divine. I've been studying it for 45 years and maybe just starting to understand an infinitesimal portion of it.
So yes, a new thread:>)).
I'll just say one more time in closing, I wish bernardo has stuck to his critique of materialism, which I think he does better than anyone else alive today. When I comoderated this forum about 6 years ago, I wrote him regularly saying he should stick to that. I find his version of idealist philosophy quite wanting, actually. It's a shame. He's SO good at the critique; truly among the best.
I think I left back just when he was getting into the dissociated alters. See Sri Aurobindo's chapter in The LIfe Divine on "Exclusive Concentration" for a brilliant, visionary alternative.
That was a terribly disconnected rambling comment. Sorry! I'll try to look out for the new thread. I'm not sure I really know enough to say anything really intelligent about STeiner. He's good for ideas on phenomenologiacl science but I would be very very wary of taking his occultist views too seriousl - quite dangerous if you are a meditator.
Thanks for your comment. So, based on the above, I am going to try and summarize what I think are your main criticisms of Steiner's spiritual science. I could be completely wrong about some, so please correct me if I am.
1) You do not like his claims of spiritual heirarchies, i.e. many spiritual beings existing between human beings on Earth and the "Supreme Divinity". Therefore, you find it odd and/or distasteful that he speaks of Krishna as a specific spiritual being (Krishna is an avatar of the Christ-being in Steiner's view), who is not necessarily the highest Divinity.
2) You feel his spiritual evolutionary framework is prejudiced by German culture in some way, maybe in terms of the aforementioned heirarchies? I know there are many lazy accusations floating around the internet about racism and anti-semitism (that was addressed with David on this forum as well), but I am hoping you have not bought into those. I have read many of the relevant passages from his lectures recently, and there is nothing there, IF one understands his overall spiritual evolutionary framework.
3) You feel like he doesn't understand medieval mystics. I have read his book Dawn of Mysticism at the Modern Age and thought it was really insightful. I think a lot of people, including people who adopt the spiritual evolutionary view of Aurobindo, Teilhard de Chardin, Gebser, etc., still fail to think through the implications of that view when it comes to Eastern and Western mystical tradition. Steiner is always factoring in that cognitive evolutionary perspective.
Your bold comment makes me think you have read PoF and generally agree with his phenomenology of Thinking (spiritual activity)?
Anyway, I just wanted to lay those out for now and return to them tomorrow. Feel free to correct anything I have written in the meantime.