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The Life, Nature, and Cultivation of Anthroposophy

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Sketch of Rudolf Steiner lecturing at the East-West Conference in Vienna.

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The Life, Nature, and Cultivation of Anthroposophy

Life/Anthroposophy GA 26: To All Members - XV

On-line since: 14th September, 2006

1 June 1924

Something more about the Tone which is necessary in the Group Meetings

The study of Anthroposophy ought not to lead to a depreciation of external life. True, in the case of many people it is the hard blows of fate, or a perception of the contradictions of external life, which lead them to a deepening of feeling and incline them to a spiritual understanding of existence.

But as the physical nature of man has need of sleep if, when awake, he is to be fit for life, so too, in order that he may stand rightly in the spiritual world, it is necessary that he should take an interest in physical experience if he is to develop firmness and assurance of soul. For the filling of man's inner being with spiritual knowledge means an awakening out of the life of sense-reality, and out of the impulses with which this reality animates the will.

Those of us who are working actively in the Anthroposophical Society should always bear this in mind. To those who seek to apprehend the inner by under-valuing the outer life, we should indeed give of the inner life in fullest measure. But it is necessary that at the same time they should learn to value the outer life and to be efficient in the fulfillment of its claims.

It should always be a matter for reflection that human life on earth, looked at from the standpoint of the whole range of human existence in its passage through births and deaths, has its own significance. During earth-life the human spirit is embodied in the material.

It is given up to an existence in matter. In no form of existence within the spiritual worlds can the spirit experience what belongs to the material life on earth.

Life in the material world is, for man, that stage of existence in which he can perceive the spiritual in a picture outside of its reality. And a being who is unable to experience the spirit even in a picture-form cannot come to desire the spirit freely, out of his own inner nature. Those beings also, who do not embody themselves in matter after the way of men, pass through stages of life in which they have to surrender their own being to another element of existence.

There lies in this surrender the foundation for the development of the love-impulse in life. A being who has never known what it is to withdraw from its own self, is unable to cultivate that devotion to another which reveals itself in love. And the apprehension of the spiritual by man can easily harden into lovelessness if in a one-sided way it is connected with a disdain for what is revealed in the outer world.

True Anthroposophy does not seek for the spirit because it finds nature devoid of spirit, and therefore worthy of contempt, but rather because it desires to seek the spirit in nature and can only find this by anthroposophical means.

This kind of spirit must permeate all that is done in our Group Meetings, then will the experience of members in these meetings be in harmony with the demands which life in its entirety must make of each of us. The remoteness from life which, like an unhealthy atmosphere, can only too easily enter our anthroposophical work, will be removed.

This too is one of the elements which should bring about a right feeling in the work of our Society. Members will not have spent their time in the Group Meetings in the right way if they feel a gulf between what they receive of Anthroposophy and what they experience in their outer life. The spirit that holds sway in the Group Meetings must be a light which continues to shed its rays even when members are immersed in the external requirements of their life. But if this spirit does not hold sway, Anthroposophy might make members not more efficient but less so in their outer life, which also has its just claims and rights. And if this were to be so, many of the reproaches which outside people make against the Society would be justified, in which case the Anthroposophical Society would be doing Anthroposophy much harm.

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