30 March 1924
TO ALL MEMBERS • XI
On the Teaching of Anthroposophy
In most cases the
stimulus to take up Anthroposophy will come from this: the looking
out into the world external to man becomes a source of
dissatisfaction, and the human being is thus impelled to turn his
thoughts to his own human nature. He has a dim feeling that the
riddles which life sets him cannot be illumined by looking out upon
the restless working of the world, but rather by gazing into the
inner life of man. Thus the striving for world-knowledge is changed
into the striving for self-knowledge.
members who wish to be active in the Anthroposophical Society will
have to bear this in mind. Then, on the one hand, they will learn to
have the right feeling for their task, while on the other hand they
will recognise the dangers it involves.
too often the striving for self-knowledge, if wrongly led, grows into
a special form of selfishness. Man may take himself too seriously and
thereby lose interest in all that goes on outside him. In fact, every
right striving can lead astray if it becomes one-sided.
can reach no real conception of the world if one does not seek it by
a perception of Man. For the most ancient truth that Man is a
microcosm ― a true world in miniature ― will again and
again be the most newly discovered. Man has all the secrets and the
riddles of the great world, the macrocosm, concealed in his own
we take this in the right sense, then every time we look into our
inner human being, our attention will be directed to the world
outside us. Self-knowledge will become the door to world-knowledge.
But if we take it in the wrong sense, our study of ourselves will
become an imprisonment, and we shall lose our feeling for the world.
must never happen in Anthroposophy. Otherwise the complaint, ‘How
selfish, after all, are the thoughts of anthroposophists!’
which we hear from so many who newly enter the Society, will not be
man strives to know himself, what he gains in self-knowledge should
first quicken his vision to perceive how all that is there in himself
meets him too in his fellow-men. We can feel what another man is
undergoing if we have experienced the like in ourselves. So long as
our own experience is lacking, we pass over the experience of another
without really seeing it. Yet on the other hand our feeling may
become so fettered by our own experience that we have none left for
they will pay heed to these dangers, members who are active in the
Society will make their activity in this direction right and helpful.
They will prevent self-knowledge from degenerating into self-love.
Rather will they come to work in that spirit which leads
self-knowledge over into human love and sympathy. And once a man has
an interest in his fellow-men, he will certainly not lack an interest
in the world in general.
friends have asked me for an autograph I have often given them the
If thou wouldst know thine own being,
Look round thee on all sides in the world;
If thou wouldst truly see and understand the world
Gaze into the depths of thine own soul.
teaching of anthroposophical knowledge must always be in the spirit
of this saying. Then we shall avoid the danger above-mentioned, and
our discussion of the inner being of man will not give rise to
certainly has a repellent effect on the newcomer if the first thing
that strikes him in anthroposophists is that they always want to be
concerned with themselves. One will sometimes find people who have
been members of the Anthroposophical Society for a certain time,
perpetually complaining that their life gives them no time or
opportunity really to go into Anthroposophy. We have found this most
often among those who have made the Anthroposophical Movement itself
their life-work. They feel themselves over-burdened with the external
work, imagining that this prevents them from meditation, from the
reading of anthroposophical literature and so on. But the love of
anthroposophical knowledge must not prevent our glad devotion to the
needs of life. If it does so, our work in Anthroposophy will never
have the true warmth it needs, but will degenerate into cold
will be necessary for those members who wish to be active in the
Society to permeate themselves most fully with this insight. Then
they will be able to strike that note in their work which will
conquer dangers that can so easily arise.