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Four Questions Answered about Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy

Four Questions Answered about Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy 86

Who was Rudolf Steiner and who’s working with Steiner’s ideas today?

Rudolf Steiner was a scientist, philosopher, and spiritual thinker who lived in the late 19th and early 20th Century.  He produced a huge body of work, including thousands of lectures, a whole shelffull of books, and a building in Switzerland called the Goetheanum.  His work, and the work and perspective of those who are influenced by his ideas, is referred to as anthroposophy.

His influence is felt most strongly around the world in the system of agriculture he created, called biodynamic farming; in Waldorf schools; and in CSAs (community-shared agriculture) which he laid the foundations for.  But Steiner also created a new form of medicine, bee keeping, a way to create stained glass, jewelry making, and more.  His spiritual perspective was even poised to inform the structure of European government around World War I.

Steiner’s work has also deeply influenced scientists and ecologists; Rachel Carson was inspired by the work of anthroposophists, for example.

So there are tens of thousands of people interacting with anthroposophical ideas, whether they know it or not.  Some people directly influenced by Steiner’s work include novelist Saul Bellow, writer CS Lewis, actor Jennifer Anniston, scientist James Lovelock, artist Joseph Beuys, and more. How did I get interested in Steiner?

When I was in grad school, Rudolf Steiner’s name kept popping up in reading I was doing, but I never really looked into it.  When I went to an environmental conference with my teacher and mentor, biologist Lynn Margulis, I came across a brochure for a place called the Nature Institute, which had a three month-long program on Goethe’s method of science.

Even though I was in school already, Lynn said, “If you can get into that program, you’re going.”  You didn’t argue with Lynn Margulis about stuff like that.  So I got in and went, having no idea that Goethe was one of Steiner’s main influences.  Suddenly, I was soaking in anthroposophy. I got an apartment that was literally next to a biodynamic farm and across the street from a Waldorf school.  It was the perfect fit for me: I was in grad school for creative writing and biology, and anthroposophy bridges the gaps between the arts and the sciences.  Eventually I was reading Steiner’s lectures, and even though I didn’t understand any of it at first I felt a feeling of growth as I worked to comprehend what he’d said.

What are the basics of anthroposophy?

There aren’t really any basics explicitly laid out, partially because anthroposophy is so far-reaching and complex, partially because it evaded dogma, and most importantly because anthroposophy is so deeply individualized.  Everyone’s ideas of what the fundamentals are will be different.

That said, there are certain threads that seem to show up again and again in Steiner’s work, so I think of those as my fundamentals.

 

They are:

* The principle that thoughts are as real as objects.  In other words, we need to understand that the thought-world is as important as the material world.  In the current mainstream worldview we tend to dismiss thoughts as illusory, but Steiner would say they are just as foundational to reality as material is.

* The evolution of consciousness.  Steiner taught that consciousness evolves over time.  He didn’t just mean that the content of our thinking evolved, but that the structure of thought, feeling, and perception evolved.  The difference between what a person six hundred years ago thought and what we think today isn’t just a difference of what but how.  Many anthroposophical thinkers, like writer Owen Barfield, developed this work – pointing to the forms of language we use and art we make as evidence for this.

* There is a spiritual landscape populated by spiritual beings, and these beings are constantly interacting with us.  For anthroposophists, these beings are not merely conceptual metaphors, but actual entities.  There’s a vast hierarchy of creation that can be understood only by studying, contemplating, and considering these beings.  This is the hardest principle for people unfamiliar with anthroposophy to deal with, so Steiner goes into great detail about what he means and helps to assist people to discover this on their own (or to reject it!), rather than just taking his word for it.

* The highest principles of being are freedom and compassion.  By freedom, Steiner means thinking, feeling, and acting with real intention, rather than being led by compulsion.  Like many spiritual thinkers, Steiner understood that even when we believe we’re acting out of freedom, we are very often not.  His best solution for this was to work on having compassion for others as a way to develop freedom for yourself and to cultivate an atmosphere of freedom for others to develop in.  If you didn’t buy any of the other stuff about anthroposophy, but got this part down, you’d have a good handle on it.  As usual, Steiner doesn’t just assert this, but gives practical guidance on how to work on this faculty. How did Steiner use his spiritual insight to create practices and change in the world?

Steiner’s work was about spiritualizing the material and materializing the spiritual, so that we could heal the rift we perceive between the two.  To that end, his efforts were always holistically inspired.

For example, biodynamic farming isn’t just about making better tasting blueberries.  It’s about healing the soil the blueberries grow on, creating a healthy environment for the farmers, and creating a farm for those blueberries in which each component — the cows, the other plants, the farmers — act as “organs” in the “body” of the farm “organism.”  (By the way, the blueberries taste delicious.)

Another example is the Camphill movement, which works with people who have learning and mental disabilities.  Rather than just shuffling them away or trying to “fix” these people, who are residents at the Camphill communities, Camphill considers them as whole human beings, with their own lessons to teach and lives to live.  They’re no more deficient or in need of “fixing” than you or I, and our destiny is intertwined with theirs.

A third example is Steiner’s work with money (currently pioneered by organizations like RSF.  Steiner wanted us to reconsider our relationship to money, and rather than demonize it, elevate it into its proper place.  Money, he taught, was actually brotherhood.  It revealed to us our relationships when we interacted with strangers and people we know in exchange.  So to help improve money, we need to restore it to it its principle of caring relationship.

Those are just three examples in the huge web of Steiner’s efforts to bring the principle of love and spirituality to a world that was becoming heavier and heavier with material and consumerist impulses.  They all stem from the principles discussed above, which Steiner wrote and spoke about and enacted his entire adult life.

Source: Reality Sandwich

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Spirituality

Why does Satan’s name mean “light-bearer”?

Why does Satan's name mean "light-bearer"? 99

In modern languages, Lucifer is one of the names of Satan. However, from Latin the word lucifer literally translates as “luminiferous” and comes from the words lux (“light”) and phero (“carry”). What kind of light is this that the infernal ruler carries?

Franz von Stuck.  Lucifer
Franz von Stuck. Lucifer

The ancient Romans called the planet Venus by the word Lucifer, that is, the “morning star”, which is better than all other celestial bodies visible in the morning (as well as evening) firmament. By the way, this name is “tracing paper” from ancient Greek: the ancient Greeks called this celestial entity Phosphorus (from Φωσφόρος – “carrying light”).

Lucifer means ‘that which brings light’. From φῶς (phôs, “light”) +‎ -φόρος (-phóros, “bearing”), from φέρω (phérō, “I carry”).

Venus in the morning sky in January
Venus in the morning sky in January

Why did the name of the star become the name of Satan? This happened as a result of “translation difficulties”. The Bible, in the Book of Isaiah, contains a prophecy about the death of the Babylonian king – a terrible enemy of the ancient Jews. It looks like this:

“… You fell from the sky, morning star, son of the dawn! He crashed to the ground, trampling on the peoples. “

“Morning star” and “son of the dawn” here are nothing more than magnificent oriental titles of the ruler. When Jerome of Stridonsky, the first translator of the Bible into Latin, translated this passage, he translated the Hebrew word הֵילֵל (“heylel”, “morning star”) as lucifer, because that is how the morning star was called in Latin.

Caravaggio.  Saint Jerome
Caravaggio. Saint Jerome

However, Christians, contemporaries of Jerome, associated this passage not with the king of Babylon – the embodiment of evil for the ancient Israelites, but with their enemy – Satan. And the word “lucifer”, which was just the title of the Babylonian king, began to write with a capital letter. So the innocuous name of the star became a terrible hellish name.

Jerome’s other translation error led to an amusing misunderstanding. In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, European artists and sculptors depicted Moses – the main biblical prophet … with horns on his head! Why?

Why does Satan's name mean "light-bearer"? 100
Why does Satan's name mean "light-bearer"? 101
Why does Satan's name mean "light-bearer"? 102

The Bible says that when Moses came down from Mount Sinai, his face was radiant. In Hebrew, the words “ray” and “horn” are similar. So Jerome got it: “His face became horny because God spoke to him.”

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Spirituality

There is a man on Earth who makes caves: you will be amazed when you see what has done alone after 25 years

There is a man on Earth who makes caves: you will be amazed when you see what has done alone after 25 years 103

Everyone has their own hobbies. Some are passionate about collecting, others are gardening, and still others are passionate about sports. But the hero of this article has a special passion. Ra Paulette is an American sculptor from New Mexico who burrows into hillsides and caves to create intricate artistic spaces within mountains. Maybe he is now the only one in the world.

You might think that he is a professional architect or sculptor, but no, it’s just that this person has a hobby. Although talent is undoubtedly present, he creates real works of art, sculpts caves like shrines, like sacred places.

He describes his places of work as “a sanctuary for prayer and meditation,” while others describe his caves as works of art. The caves are decorated with “scallops, patterns, smooth curved lines, smooth cornices, crisp ledges and inlaid with stones”. Its caves attract tourists from all over the world.

He has been hiding in a cave in New Mexico, USA for 25 years and has now decided to showcase the interior of his home.

There is a man on Earth who makes caves: you will be amazed when you see what has done alone after 25 years 104

What he did to the inside of the cave is almost impossible to describe in words, as if we are entering the world of fairy tales.

In ancient times, people made dwellings in caves or dug new rooms in the sandstone, but only for the purpose of living. The works of this artist are more for soul resting.

All this beauty is made in white sandstone cliffs just an hour from Santa Fe. Has anyone from you seen this beauty in real?

Tired of the whims of his bosses and customers, the artist, who was bored with art, began his personal and independent project.

There is a man on Earth who makes caves: you will be amazed when you see what has done alone after 25 years 105

The results of the project, as well as the process itself, are very impressive. Ra Paulette, who spent the last 25 years in the cave, completely alone, apart from his dog, away from society, spent time carving out walls.

He spent his time carving the sandstone cave he found, transforming it into a wonderful underground space full of light.

There is a man on Earth who makes caves: you will be amazed when you see what has done alone after 25 years 106

Paulette created different designs and styles for each cave, giving each one a distinct quality and texture.

There is a man on Earth who makes caves: you will be amazed when you see what has done alone after 25 years 107

The goal of this gigantic piece of art is to create an environment that inspires “spiritual renewal and personal well-being.” It will also serve as a venue for artistic events when its project is completed.
Ra Paulette works exclusively with hand tools, a pick and a shovel. First, he digs in various halls and vaults in any form, not forgetting about ventilation. The artist himself called his style – “dances of the digger” . When he likes what he gets, then he proceeds directly to creativity: decorates the halls and vaults with mysterious carvings and patterns.

In some places, his works look like real natural caves, and in other – like a completely civilized housing

Ra Paulette Cave
That is, you can wander and relax there.

There is a man on Earth who makes caves: you will be amazed when you see what has done alone after 25 years 108
When Ra Paulette made his first cave, it attracted connoisseurs of beauty and tourists. But it was made on state land and, in addition, he could not guarantee the safety of visitors. The cave had to be filled up.

Only later, when he began to make safe projects and all legal issues were met, it was possible to create endlessly. At the moment, 15 underground palaces exist for sure.

A documentary film “Cave digger” was even made about him and this man became even more famous.

In the video below, you can virtually take a trip through one of the caves decorated by the artist.


We can only be surprised by such people who just alone create beauty with which, we become kinder and better beings.

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Spirituality

Sacred Mount Meru: home of the gods and center of the universe

Sacred Mount Meru: home of the gods and center of the universe 109

According to Hindu records, Christians believe that the earth is the center of the universe. In contrast to this belief, the Hindus consider Mount Meru as the universal center and home of their gods.

In the eyes of the Hindus, Mount Meru is quite large, its height is about 84,000 yojanas (about 1,082,000 km). Since Hindu and other Eastern religions idolize Meru, it seems to them that the sun and all the planets of the solar system revolve around it.

According to Jain mythology, Meru is surrounded by two suns, two moons and two “sets” of stars. When some of them are in sight, others hide in the shadow of a mountain, which they believe is about 100,000 yojanas wide.

For the Hindus, Meru is the axis of the earth. Without it, the planet will not be able to rotate. In addition, they see the mountain as the home of the gods, with their kingdoms spread across all of its inconceivable height.

Followers of each of these important gods travel to these heavenly realms to rest and await their next reincarnation.

Sacred Mount Meru: home of the gods and center of the universe
A fresco depicting Mount Meru (left) and a painting (right) from Jain cosmology

For the Javanese, Mount Meru contributed to the origin of the island of Java. According to their legends, Batara’s guru ordered Brahma and Vishnu to fill the island with people. At that time the island of Java roamed and was not tied to any solid land. To stop the movement, the gods moved a part of the sacred mountain from India and attached it to Java. This new anchor was Mount Semeru, now the highest volcano in Java.

For Buddhists, the importance of Mount Meru also lies in their belief that it is the center of the universe. Unlike the Hindu version, Buddhists believe that the mountain was surrounded by a body of water and believe in 31 levels of life on Meru.

Since Mount Meru is the ecumenical center and sacred site, many mythological characteristics are attributed to it. First, it is so high that the mountain touches the sky, and the pole star shines directly above the mountain, giving it a sacred appearance. Secondly, it is said that the Ganges comes to the mountain as one river, and, having reached Meru, is divided into 4 separate rivers.

Third, there are 4 cities filled with residents, one on each side of the mountain. Ancient myths say that these inhabitants constantly see the sun at its zenith, and they always work. The sun rises and sets only for those who do not live on the mountain.

In addition, there is one lord of the heavens, God Indra, and he lives at the top. There are also four heavenly kings on Mount Meru, one on each side. The mountain extends to Jambudwip, which itself is divided into 4 continents. The southern continent is where Buddha was born and his teachings are followed here.

Many famous Hindu, Jain and Buddhist temples were built as symbolic images of this mountain. The basis of the style is a characteristic feature of Chinese pagodas.

Although ancient Buddhists believed that the mountain was real, European visitors began to express other thoughts about the earth, which contradicted the Buddha’s teachings about Meru. Modern Buddhist scholars have decided that this is an allegorical story, and not a description of a real mountain.

However, many Buddhists still refuse to change their beliefs about the sacred mountain. For them, belief in the existence of Meru is the same as belief in Buddha.

Sacred Mount Meru: home of the gods and center of the universe

If you plunge into reality, Mount Meru is a volcano located 70 kilometers west of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, 4562.13 meters high.

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