Thursday, September 6, 2012

Preface to the First Edition by the Author

The essay entitled The Principles of the Anthroposophical Society as a Basis of Life and Path of Training and the here also newly printed Additional Remarks, appeared under circumstances which gave rise in the author – and with him in many other members of the general Anthroposophical Society – the greatest of concerns. A very superficial misunderstanding of these concerns has equated them with the intervention to clarify the so-called book question, in the sense of Rudolf Steiner’s unmistakable will and inner context of his work. (The ‘book question’ deals with the tragic circumstance that Rudolf Steiner‘s work – contrary to his unmistakable will and the meaning and nature of the refoundation of the Anthroposophical Society – is published by an administrative society, which stands outside the general Anthroposophical Society and which disputes its essentially esoteric significance and mission.[1]) The events involving the members and the enactments that came about through a majority vote of the Council members, which  – considering the Council’s one-sided administrative authority are indeed illegitimate, even by virtue of a majority vote of the Society – were for all that only symptoms for something that goes much deeper. For these events manifest the lack of understanding for the nature of Rudolf Steiner’s work and his greatest creation based on this work. This great work is the founding – albeit in no way completion – of a knowledge community in which, according to the archetype that Rudolf Steiner has woven into it, the principle of initiation is to become the principle of civilization, a community in which the social formative force is to be the path of knowledge traversed by soul observation. Whoever has understood but a fraction of this sacrificial deed by Rudolf Steiner, which he completed at the risk of his life and spiritual existence, knows that the true connection with his work cannot be made by conveying and acquiring items of knowledge. Only the path of soul observation that discovers the real nature of the spiritual world empowers one to find one’s way to Rudolf Steiner, to the core of his work and the spiritual guardians protecting it. Whoever enters this path does not only out of insight, but even more so out of an overwhelming feeling of quintessential kinship, collaborate with those forces aiming to destroy the spiritual existence of Rudolf Steiner’s work. The outcome here will not be decided by words, but by deeds. It is not a question of abstract knowledge, but of cognitive style. The conviction that matters here stools not on tradition, but on union with the living spirit.

Not only by characterizing the wrong paths however – even though sharpening the faculty of discrimination is an indispensable part of every education in consciousness – does one render assistance to an honest seeker. This consists above all in stimulating one’s own power of soul observation by means of a guiding example. One of the most enlightening examples in this context are the principles’ which Rudolf Steiner gave to the Anthroposophical Society as the basis for refounding it at a moment in time when its existence was greatly endangered. For at that time Rudolf Steiner wove the archetype of the living being of anthroposophy into this society in a completely public, open form. For that reason, the author of this publication pointed in a fatal moment in time, which again caused great anxiety, to that public mystery. His purpose was after all not so much to describe the false path, but to give those striving for clarity and standing firm a guide-line on the way to the goal foreseen by Rudolf Steiner.

Since the endeavor to find this way is more important than ever today, the present study is published anew. The author commented on the same problem in his speech at the General Assembly of the General Anthroposophical Society on Palm Sunday this year (1979) and in his sketch Symptoms, which appeared at the same time in the Bulletin (Mitteilungen) of the Working Group for a Spiritually Commensurate Penetration of the World Situation. He will elaborate his position in an enlarged version of his recent speech – which according to his duty as a Council member at the Goetheanum he will submit to the members in a statement of account [2] and in a further publication on the ‘principles’ [3]. In previous years he has often taken the trouble to present in word and print some of his insights concerning the foundations of the Anthroposophical Society.[4] Whoever wants to recognize an institution such as the Goetheanum as something that is justified, i.e. to become a member or stay as such, will in principle – albeit in detail perhaps in another manner – not be in a position to do without a contemplation such as the author submitted to the members of the Anthroposophical Society as the result of his own striving for insight at that time. Today he turns to them anew, confident in the invincibility of the truth.

Arlesheim, Switzerland, June 1979

[1] Referred to here is the Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung set up by Marie Steiner in 1943 to administrate Rudolf Steiner‘s literary estate, which up till then had been done by the Philosophical-Anthroposophical Publishing Co. founded by M. Steiner in Berlin. As the legal heir to Rudolf Steiner’s estate, this was within her right, but it brought her in conflict with the statutes of the Anthroposophical Society (especially paragraph 8) which provided that the esoteric lectures by Rudolf Steiner were to appear as “publications of the Goetheanum, Free School of Spiritual Science”. This gave rise to the so-called book question which up till today has not really been solved; on the contrary the adverse effects of it become more and more obvious, e.g. through the fact that the Goetheanum, the Rudolf Steiner Estate and the Society in Holland, do not do enough in their power to protect and explain certain passages in the works of Rudolf Steiner, which to certain novices appear to be of a discriminatory, even racist nature. In an article entitled Spiritual Capitulation? published with three other articles by Dutch anthroposophists in a booklet of commentary and criticism (available from the Willehalm Institute) called Geen sprake van… (No Way…) on the Van Baarda report on Anthroposophy and the Race Issue ,which was published recently by the Dutch Society, the idea was put forward that anthroposophy can only be judged on the basis of a self-proclaimed spiritual ‘mystery right’ engendered by the before-mentioned paragraph 8 and not by the spirit and letter of criminal law, such as has been done in the Van Baarda report. More about Herbert Witzenmann’s efforts to solve the ‘book question’ can be read in his Statement of Conscience (Rechenschaftsbericht) and in his last work on this subject The Primal Thought – Rudolf Steiner’s Principle of Civilisation and the Task of the Anthroposophical Society (Der Urgedanke – Rudolf Steiners Zivilisationsprinzip und die Aufgabe der Anthroposophischen Gesellschaft, not yet translated.) See also the list on his works available in English at the end of this booklet. (tr.)
[2] A second edition was published in 1981 by Verlag Beiträge zur Weltlage in Dornach with the title Rechenschaftsbericht. A working translation of it under the title Statement of Conscience with relevant historic and literary documents is available for private use from the Willehalm Institute and can also be read  the Rudolf Steiner Library in Ghent, NY. (tr.)
[3] This appeared in a special edition of the “Bulletins” (Mittelungen, No. 47, 48 and 49/50 in 1978) in Dornach with the title The Spiritual and Social Significance of Rudolf Steiner’s Principles (Die Prinzipien Rudolf Steiners in ihrer sozialen und spirituellen Bedeutung, not yet translated.)
[4] See especially Why I do not Consent to the Decision of January 14, 1968 (“Warum Ich dem Beschluss vom 14. Januar 1968 nicht zustimme”) which appeared in the Anthroposophic Newsheet, 36th Vol. No. 7/8 from February 25, 1978. A complete revision hereof can be read in the above-mentioned Statement of Conscience. See further Im Vertrauen auf Verständnis, Dornach, 1972 (Confiding in Understanding) Vergangenheitsschatten und Zukunftslicht, 1972 (Shadows of the Past and Light of the Future) published in an enlarged a 2nd edition under the title Gestalten oder Verwalten / Rudolf Steiner’s Sozialorganik – ein neues Zivilisationsprinzip, Dornach 1986 (To Create or Administrate / Rudolf Steiner’s Social Organics – A New Principle of Civilization); Im Bemühen um Klärung, 1973 (An Attempt at Clarification), all not (yet) translated. These German titles can be ordered from the Goetheanum Verlag in Dornach. See also the essays in Pupilship in the Sign of the Rose-Cross (Dornach, 1983) that all deal in one way or another with the far-reaching ramifications of the still unsolved ‘book question’. (tr.)

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