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Posts Tagged ‘Rudolf Steiner’

(Roger-Noël-François de La Fresnaye)

I was reading a blog posting this afternoon when I came across this quote:

The greatest threat to science and scientific progress is not religion, ignorance, or superstition, it is the mistaking of a model or paradigm for Reality, or “laws of Nature.” It is the creation of a type of religious fundamentalism around a paradigm – a kind of black and white, authoritarian absolutism about the model.

I couldn’t find the author of the quote, so I googled it. It belongs to Richard Milton, author of a book entitled Alternative Science: Challenging the Myths of the Scientific Establishment. There is a “read inside” option on the Amazon page for this book, and so I did. In the introduction to the book (which is pretty much all I could read for free) I found some very interesting information.

After mentioning a few scientists who were demoted or dismissed because their work showed “repeatable and empirical evidence” of such things as consciousness affecting electric instruments, positive effects of homeopathy, and the discovery of cold fusion (which is cheap and isn’t supposed to work–despite the fact that 92 universities and corporations have recreated cold fusion results), Milton goes on to say that:

The scientific fundamentalism of which these are disturbing signs is found today not merely in provincial pockets of conservatism, but at the very top of the mainstream management of science, on both sides of the Atlantic. In times such as these, some academics appoint themselves vigilantes to guard the gates of science against troublemakers with new ideas and new discoveries.

This all reminds me of the latest chapter I read in The Incarnation of Ahriman by Rudolf Steiner. I go back and forth on some of the things that Steiner said, but , I’ve gotta say, this particular chapter really vibed with me. He basically said that the ancient people knew inherently that spirituality was a part of the world around them. They felt themselves in the stars at night. They believed that the forces that push the water down the river were also inside of them. They knew that if they prayed, the energy from their thoughts would reach the gods of the rain and these gods would bless them. Our newer, more evolved sensibilities have put the kibosh on this type of tomfoolery. We believe that for something to be accepted, it needs to be evidenced in repeatable scientific forms. None of this “it just feels right” nonsense for us…

(This is a bit ironic because we often trust scientists to tell us what our reality is, because we can’t always experience it ourselves. When I teach my middle school class about some historical scientific beliefs, such as “the world is flat” and we all giggle and yammer about how silly that is. The funny part is that I have never experienced first hand the roundness of the Earth. If some highfalutin scientist came on the news and said that they have just proven in Laboratory LMNOP that the Earth is actually shaped like a stiletto high heel, experientially speaking, I would have no evidence to disprove her…We trust scientists to shape our world view for us, because we don’t have rocket ships or billion dollar labs.)

Steiner goes on to say this:

Today, gazing up from earth to the star-world, it appears filled with fixed stars, suns, planets, comets, and so on. But with what means do modern human beings examine all that looks down on them out of cosmic space? They examine it with mathematics, with the science of mechanics. What lies around the earth is robbed of spirit, robbed of soul, even of life. It is a great mechanism. What the ideas of Galileo and Copernicus have brought to mankind is grand and mighty, but not an absolute truth, by no means and absolute truth. It is one aspect of the universe, one particular perspective. For modern education we need these illusions of a mathematical nature about the universe, we must acquire them, but we must know that they are illusions. (emphasis added by me)

It just feels right.

(Escher)

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I’m reading an interesting book at the moment entitled The Incarnation of Ahriman: The Embodiment of Evil on Earth. It is a collection of lectures by Rudolf Steiner about Ahriman, the specter of ultra domination who has already incarnated or will be incarnating soon, here in the West.

In the first lecture, which is all I have read til this point, Steiner speaks about a mistake that folks in the modern world make, namely the idea that we live in a dualistic world. Steiner makes the point that in ancient times, people believed in a trichotomous cosmology. In other words, humans were made up of three parts–body, soul and spirit. Your body is your physical body, your soul is your intellect and your spirit is the supernatural part of you that interacts with spirit realm.

It isn’t too difficult to see why the Catholic church would work really hard to nix that last little bit about every human having his/her very own link to God…the priests wanted a corner on the God market. At some point during the 8th or 9th century it became heretical to believe in three parts. This was enforced rather vehemently by some powerful groups.

Steiner points out that this switch to an erronious dualistic view is apparent in most popular modern work. He points to Milton’s Paradise Lost and Goethe’s Faust to show the how conflict has taken on the duality of good v. evil. This duality is also present and prevalent in the even more modern stories by JK Rowling, Tolkien, Stephen King, Stephanie Meyer, Philip Pullman, etc., etc., etc.

In Steiner’s world view, things are a bit different. Rather than one horrid source of evil striving to possess the souls of the multitudes fighting against one source of goodness, Steiner believes that there are two sources of evil, Lucifer-who urges humanity to throw caution to the wind and be free from the annoying rules and ethical boundaries and self discipline…”let them eat cake!”–and Ahriman–whose goal is to divert power away from the “natural” divine sources toward himself, a task that can only be completed by divorcing a human being from her own beliefs and intuitions.

Between these two powers of decay is the balancing point. For Steiner, the balancing point is Jesus. Jesus personifies the calm compassion that it takes to remain unswayed by ultimate hedonism or by ultimate domination of spirit. Steiner is not the first to corollate Jesus with the fulcrum between two parts. Here is the ancient symbol of the vesica piscis:

Notice the (for lack of better term) football shape between the two circles with equal radiuses. That shape is the pictorial form of the middle path. The dualism (two circles) automatically creates a third form, the point that lies in the middle of the two. Between any two poles (heaven/hell, good/evil, black/white, Lucifer/Ahriman, etc.) lies a middle point. The trichotomy can’t be escaped, no matter how hard those fundamentalists try.

(Grønbæk Kirke-Jesus in a vesica piscis surrounded by symbols)

Personally, I prefer to think of the vesica piscis as the middle path, rather than labeling it Jesus right away. It is the point that is neither too far in one direction or too far in the other. Our job as humans is to always check for drift and adjust course if necessary.

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(John Martin-Le Pandemonium)

Lots of people know about Lucifer. Some people picture him with red horns and a pointy tail, sitting on a steamy rock throne in hell. Others picture a white guy lurking on lonely roadsides waiting for a country boy with a fiddle or a guitar to come by for a healthy competition. Then there’s Lucifer as a fallen angel, used to be God’s right-hand-man, but went to the dark side instead.

Rudolf Steiner had a slightly different take on the devil and his purposes. I don’t think I can say this any more succinctly than Bobby Mathurne in his review of Steiner’s book The Influences of Lucifer and Ahriman:

In Christian theology the forces of Christ are set against the forces of the devil who represents in one figure all that is evil, and one is exhorted to abjure all that is of the devil. This might lead one to wonder, “How is the knowledge of good and evil bad? Isn’t that what the devil in the Garden of Eden wanted to share with Adam and Eve?”

Steiner divides the devil into two beings, Lucifer and Ahriman, and shows us how neither is bad per se, each provides gifts to human beings that further our evolution, and that it is us who must learn to balance these gifts in our individual lives. His recommendation for a solution to the problem of the devil is to transcend the tendency towards either Luciferic frenzy or Ahrimanic tedium by creating a spirit-filled synthesis of the two in our lives from now on.

Luciferic Traits, Attributes Ahrimanic Traits, Attributes
frenzy, hyperactivity tedium, boredom
unification, generalization diversity, particularization
one language many languages
gnosis, speaking and thinking statistics, proof, literal Gospel reading
qualitative quantitative
fantasy, illusion, superstition concrete sensory-based, materialism
spirit-permeated cosmology mathematical astronomy
eating & drinking w/o spirituality un-read knowledge stored in libraries
unified vision [United Nations] individual vision [Chauvinism]
flexibility, airy solidification, granite-like
the high flight of Icarus the humility of Francis Bacon
pagan wisdom technological advances

(table taken from Mathurne’s review)

In short, Lucifer embodies passion, overindulgence, expansion, beauty, hedonism, bigger, better and more, more more!! Ahriman, on the other hand embodies coldness, separation, exactitude, control, contraction, compartmentalized, tighter, smaller, and less, less, and less.  Steiner said that Lucifer was incarnated onto the earth (into a human form) during the third millennium before Christ was born (2000 BCE) in the far East of China. Since Christ incarnated in Middle East, Steiner foretold that Ahriman would incarnate onto the earth in the West during the third millennium after Christ’s death (2000 CE).

So who is this philistine fellow who is purportedly presently walking amongst us? The idea of Ahriman originally came from Zoroastrian religious text written in ancient Persia. He he was called Angra Mainyu by Zarathustra, the ancient Iranian prophet who brought Zoroastrianism to the Middle East. Zarathusthra taught that there are two competing forces in the world. The first is Ahura Mazda, the benevolent instrument of “Bounteous Principle,” and the second is the malevolent force of Ahriman/Angra Mainyu, the destructive principle. Steiner modified this character a bit. He chose to turn the duality into a trinity, with Christ in the middle, holding the balance.

Whether or not you choose to believe that Ahriman is born again as Steiner prophesied, there does seem to be a decidedly Ahrimanic force seeping ever stonger into our cultural frame work. Whether you label it “tea party movement” or “defense of marriage act” or “880+ billion dollars spent on the military during the fiscal year of 2010,” there’s an awful lot of cold-hearted, over literally translated compartmentalization going on here. These types of examples gathering speed alongside a huge population of disheartened and apathetic masses who use denial their main method of coping certainly could portend a growing oppositional force in the Western world today.

So what’s to be done to head off the evil spectre of Ahriman? Steiner has some suggestions, which I will summarize in a later posting. Thoughts on this?

(Rudolf Steiner-Representative of Man)

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(Watermelon Monster from the Buson YŌkai Emaki-1754)

We see nature around us, and we see also that man enters into his physical existence through the forces of this same nature. We know through our study of Spiritual Science that we do not rightly regard nature if we only pay attention to its external physical features. We know that divine forces permeate it and we only become aware of our origin from nature in the true sense of the word when we perceive this divine element that weaves and works within it. -Rudolf Steiner

I was camping this weekend, wading around in these big rock bowls carved out by the flowing water. If I stood in the same place long enough little tiny fish came over and nibbled on my skin (a little disturbing, but cute). My partner pointed out the St. John’s Wort growing by the waters edge. I got a little sunburnt on my pasty neck. When the sun went down a bat flew by my ear and I heard strange rustlings in the grass. It was super fun.

I’ve had to quit drinking alcohol. And quit smoking cigarettes. And, since “the Great Liver Cleanse” of summer 2010 I can’t even drink a proper cup of coffee anymore. I find myself searching for the next best mood mender, or whatever you want to call it. It apparently needs to be something that doesn’t harm me or make me irritable. I’ve decided that my next vice will be to become obsessed with finding God.

No, no…that will never do! says the guru in my head. One who is obsessed will never reach enlightenment! You must touch God lightly, for she is like a watermelon seed–once you squeeze…squirt, gone!

This afternoon I went to my favorite Rosen bodywork practitioner. I’ve told her about my quest to find God and to become like Jesus. (She does Vipassana meditation. I don’t know exactly what that is, but it sounds serious). I told her I’d like her to help me release the anger that’s trapped inside my body. I told her my latest favorite quote from the Brahma Kumaris anger management handout: How can there be peace on earth, if the hearts of men are like volcanoes? (This is one of those instances where the word man=humanity, in case you wondered if women could have volcanic hearts as well. There is a well known study–ok it’s an article I found online–that says that girls are getting more and more aggressive. My favorite quote: “And it spoke to me about how this new American girl is wrestling with the same issues the American boy has been.” Gosh! What an insight! Amazing. I wonder if they might even someday find that girls from other countries experience similar things as boys from their same countries too? The world is wild and strange.)

Anyway, I said to my Rosen practitioner “how can there be peace on earth, if the hearts of man are like volcanoes?”

“That is why there will never be peace on earth,” she answered quickly with a wry, Vipassanic smile. I’m pretty sure she wasn’t joking.

There is peace in nature though. I know that animals can be vicious (I’m glad those crazy fishes didn’t have teeth!). That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about balance. I feel top heavy. My head is way bigger than my body and I have to walk really fast to keep up with it, so that gravity doesn’t make it smash to the ground.

I will practice slowing down. I will practice slowing down. I will practice slowing down.

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest-a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty.-Einstein

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(painting by H. Goltzius)

In my last blog I mentioned that Rudolf Steiner believed that when we try to bend another person to our will, we create a demon. He also said that when we lie we create phantoms. When we make bad laws or rules that create disharmony in our communities we make spectres appear.

Whether or not you believe that actual beings are formed and move into the world when we make unethical choices, you have to admit, making those unethical choices sure doesn’t feel very good. Ok, well, maybe making them feels fine, but afterwards things don’t feel good. Usually.

In the book A new Earth, Eckhart Tolle says that every person has something he calls a “pain body.” He says that over time people collect pains–grievances, regrets, guilt, anger, sadness–that accumulate in our energy field. From the time we are little babies until this present moment, when we experience something painful but choose, for whatever reason, to not deal with it in the moment, we then collect it up and use it later on to make ourselves or other people miserable.

I think that the most important idea here is that your pain body is not you. It’s your pain body and it comes and goes. Eckart Tolle says that we are, at times, temporarily possessed by our pain bodies.

I personally get a little stomach ache when I don’t tell the truth about something. Or when I do or say something at the expense of another person. Or when I take something that doesn’t belong to me. Those little stomach aches are demon labor pains. Not a pretty picture, I agree, but I’m a writer and I need to draw forth the good, the bad, and the ugly. (I didn’t make that last bit up, somebody else did.)

So I got the demons part, now for the power. Another Eckhart Tolle bit will bring it home: Our pain bodies never, ever go away. We have to learn to dis-em-power them. Pain body comes up, we feel crappy, we say “Hey! My pain body has been triggered! But that’s not the real me! Here I am inside, cozy and loving,” and then we feel a little bit better and we take a tiny bit of fun out of the drama of feeling crappy. And then it might go away faster! That’s what Eckhart says anyway.

If I can make my choices based on clarity and love, rather than everything that is wrong with  the world, my life is better. Not sayin’ it’s easy…just sayin’. We choose what we want to empower in our lives, both on a large scale and on a small one.

Power properly understood is nothing but the ability to achieve purpose. It is the strength required to bring about social, political and economic change. … What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love. –Martin Luther King Jr.

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(painting by H. Goltzius)

I got into a fight with my partner a couple of days ago and she said to me that she hopes that someday I can find the perfect partner: a partner who will be chipper and available when I want her to be but who will go away when I’m busy, a partner who will say all the right things at all the right times, a partner who agrees with me whenever I need her too…she went on for a while. I can’t remember the rest.

Why can’t we make everyone be what we want, just by asking? Why does it always hafta turn ugly? I wanted her to tell me she loved me, to be nice to me, to tell me that I’m right. But the way I was asking her to listen to me was by telling her all the things she does wrong, all the ways that she has failed me, and all the things I must put up with to be with her. I tried to make her feel bad so that she would do what I wanted her to.

The word power has multiple definitions depending on whether you’re talking about physics, mathematics, computers, music, literature, sports, or social science. That last one is the one I’m talking about. And it’s the hardest one to get it to work right.

Power is a tricky, tricky little thing. It’s not baaaadd, per say…but it’s one of those things that you have to really be smart/wise to use it right, to not get carried away. Sort of like coffee or money or cheese. Having these these things around is wonderful, but once you get a little too much of any of them, well, bad things can happen.

Rudolf Steiner says that some demons (real demons) are formed when people try to bend other people to their will, ie, use their power inappropriately.

Mankind at present is still very far removed from [full understanding of] what it is to value and esteem the freedom of another. Think only how the modern man for the most part wants to overrule the mind of another, how he cannot bear someone else to think and like differently, how he wants to work upon the other’s soul.

[Demons] existence is solely due to the the fact that intolerance and oppression of thought have in various ways been used in our world. Thus we have learnt again today to know of beings which are just as real as the things which we perceive through our physical senses, and which very definitely produce effects in human life. (from Nature Spirits)

My therapist used to ask me if I would rather be right or happy. Based on my track record so far, it appears that I would rather be right. Humility is not my strong point.

humble. (L. humus, ground, soil). To exhume is to take out of the ground. The L. adj. humilis, one the ground, lowly, became Fr. humble, whence Eng. humble, mainly in the figurative sense. “To eat humble pie,” meaning to submit to humiliation, is a transfer because of the sound, from umble-pie, a pie made of umbles, from numbles, the entrails of deer. (Dictionary of Word Origins, Joseph Shipley)

We made up, but I have to admit, I tucked the numbles in my napkin and made a big fat demon. Gotta work on that one.

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