10 February 1924
TO ALL MEMBERS • IV
The Relation of the Members to the Society*
It is natural that
different points of view exist among the members about their own
relation to the Anthroposophical Society. A person may enter the
Society with the idea that he will find in it what he is seeking out
of the inmost needs of his soul. In his search and in the finding of
what the Society can give him, such a member will then see the
meaning of his membership. I have already indicated that no objection
can properly be made to this point of view.
the very essence of Anthroposophy, it cannot be for the Society to
bring together a circle of human beings, and impose upon them when
they enter it obligations which they did not recognise before, but
are expected to take on simply on account of the Society. If we are
to speak of obligations in the proper sense, it can only be of those
of the Society towards its members.
truth (it should indeed go without saying) involves another which is
not always rightly understood, nay, is sometimes not even considered.
soon as a member begins to be active in any way in the Society and
for it, he takes upon himself a great responsibility, a very solemn
sphere of duty. Those who do not intend to be thus active should not
be disturbed in the quiet spheres of their work; but if a member
undertakes any activity in the Society, he must thenceforth make the
concerns of the Society his own, and this he must on no account
is natural for one who wishes to be a quiet member to say, for
example, ‘I cannot concern myself with the statements of
opponents about the Society’. But this is changed the moment he
goes outside the sphere of silent participation. Then at once it
becomes his duty to pay attention to the opponents and to defend all
that is worthy of defence in Anthroposophy and the Anthroposophical
was bad for the Society that this most necessary fact was not always
observed. Members have the fullest right to expect that the Society
will give them in the first place what it promises to give. It must
surely seem strange to them to be called upon at once to undertake
the same obligations as those who hold out these promises.
then, we speak of the duties of members to the Society, we can only
be referring to those members who desire to be active. This question
must not of course be confused with that of the duties which belong
to man as such. Anthroposophy does indeed speak of duties. But these
will always be of a purely human character; they will only extend the
horizons of human responsibility in a way that results from insight
into the spiritual world. When Anthroposophy speaks in this way, it
can never mean obligations that apply only in the Anthroposophical
Society. It will mean duties arising out of human nature rightly
more, then, for the members who are active in it, the
Anthroposophical Society by its very nature involves definite
responsibilities, and these ― for the same reason ― must
be taken most seriously. A member, for example, may wish to
communicate to others the knowledge and perceptions of Anthroposophy.
The moment his instruction extends beyond the smallest and most quiet
circle, he enters into these responsibilities. He must then have a
clear conception of the spiritual and intellectual position of
mankind today. He must be clear in his own mind about the real task
of Anthroposophy. To the very best of his ability he must keep in
close contact with other active members of the Society; and it must
be far from him to say, ‘I am not interested when Anthroposophy
and those who represent it are placed in a false light, or even
slandered by opponents’.
Executive formed at the Christmas gathering understands its task in
this sense. It will seek to realise in the Society what has here been
expressed, and it can do no other than ask every member intending to
be active to make himself a helper and co-operator in these matters.
so shall we achieve our purpose, and the Society will be equal to the
promise which it holds out to all its members ― and thereby to
the world at large.
take one example, it is distressing to have the following experience.
It sometimes happens that the members in a certain place, who desire
to be active, meet from time to time to discuss the affairs of the
Society. In conversation with individuals who take part in these
meetings, it will afterwards emerge that they hold certain opinions
about each other, each other's activities for the Society, and the
like ― opinions which are not voiced at all in the meetings. A
member, one will find, has no idea what those who are often
associated with him think of his work.
It is essential for these
matters to be guided into better channels, and this should follow
from the impulse which the Christmas gathering has given. Those above
all who claim and desire to be active members, should seek to
understand this impulse. How often does one hear such members say: I
really have the good-will but I do not know what is the right line to
take. We should not hold an all too comfortable view upon this
subject of ‘good-will’, but ask ourselves again and
again, have we really explored all channels which the Society
provides to find the right line in co-operation, on the strength of
our good-will, with other members?
* The asterisk denotes a title given by Frau Marie Steiner.