Esoteric Lessons for the First Class
of the School for Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum
by Rudolf Steiner
Dornach, April 18, 1924
My dear friends,
A large number of anthroposophical friends have appeared at the Class today who have not been here before, so I am obliged to say a few introductory words about the School's arrangements. It is to be remembered in all earnestness that with the Christmas Conference at the Goetheanum a new element has entered into the anthroposophical movement. Especially the members of our Free School for Spiritual Science must be aware of this new element. I have often indicated this, but I know that many anthroposophical friends are here for the first time who have never heard it, so I must emphasize it once again.
It is true that before the Christmas Conference it was always emphasized that the anthroposophical movement and the Anthroposophical Society must be held strictly separate.
The anthroposophical movement represented the inflow of spiritual wisdom and life impulses into human civilization today which can and should be obtained for our present time directly from the spiritual world. This anthroposophical movement exists not because people like it to exist but because the spiritual powers which guide and lead the world and affect human history consider it right that spiritual light, which can come through anthroposophy, flow today into human civilization in the appropriate manner.
The Anthroposophical Society was founded in order to act as an administrative society for the body of anthroposophical wisdom and life. And it had to be continually emphasized that anthroposophy as such is beyond and above any societal organization and the Anthroposophical Society is the exoteric administrator.
That has changed since the Christmas Conference at the Goetheanum. Since the Christmas Conference the opposite is the case. And only because the opposite is the case was I able to declare myself willing, together with the Executive Committee (Vorstand) which was formed during the Christmas Conference and with whom the appropriate work to be done can be carried out, to take over the presidency of the Anthroposophical Society which was founded at Christmas. I can explain what this means in one sentence: Until then, anthroposophy was administered by the Anthroposophical Society; now whatever happens through the Anthroposophical Society must itself be anthroposophy. Since Christmas the Anthroposophical Society must occupy itself with anthroposophy. Every single act must have an esoteric character. The investment of the Vorstand was thus an esoteric measure, a measure which must be thought of as coming directly from the spiritual world. Only when our anthroposophical friends are conscious of this can the Anthroposophical Society thus founded thrive. So the anthroposophical movement and the Anthroposophical Society have now become identical.
Thus the Vorstand at Dornach is an initiative-Vorstand, as was emphasized during the Christmas Conference. Of course there must be an administration. But that is not what it considers to be its principal task, but rather to make anthroposophy flow through the Anthroposophical Society and to do everything possible to achieve this objective.
The position of the Vorstand at Dornach within the Anthroposophical Society is therewith given. And it must be clear that from now on every relationship within the Anthroposophical Society will not be based on some bureaucratic measure or other, but it will be based on the strictly human. Therefore at the Christmas Conference statutes that contain paragraphs which detail what members must believe or agree to were not presented; rather do the statutes describe what the Vorstand intends. And that is how the Anthroposophical Society is constituted. It is founded upon human relationships.
It is a minor thing, but I must emphasize it: every member is issued a membership card, which is signed by me, so that even if it's an abstract thing, the personal relationship is at least present. It has been suggested that I have a rubber stamp made with my signature. I'm not going to do that – despite it not being exactly comfortable to sign twelve thousand membership cards, little by little. But I will not have the stamp made, first of all because, although very abstract, a relationship is at least established to each and every member when, if only for minutes the eye rests on the name of the person who carries the membership card. Obviously all the other relationships will be even more human, but by this means a concrete beginning is made within our society.
I must also stress that it must be clear to the members – I stress it because it has already been sinned against – that when the name “General Anthroposophical Society” is used, the agreement of the Vorstand at the Goetheanum is first obtained. In the same sense, when something comes from the Goetheanum and is then used as something esoteric, the use is based upon an understanding with the Vorstand at the Goetheanum. This means that nothing by way of formulations and teaching which appears in the name of the General Anthroposophical Society will be recognized by us here as valid unless an understanding with the Vorstand at the Goetheanum has taken place. In the future no abstract relationship will be possible, only concrete ones. Anything said to come from the Goetheanum must really come from the Goetheanum. Therefore the use of the title “General Anthroposophical Society” for lectures to be given somewhere or for the use of formulations and so forth which originate here and which an active member wishes to distribute, should write to the Secretary of the Anthroposophical Society at the Goetheanum, that is, to Mrs Wegman, in order to obtain the Vorstand's agreement. It is important that in future the Vorstand at the Goetheanum be understood as the center of the anthroposophical movement.
Furthermore, the relation of this School to the Anthroposophical Society must be clearly understood by the membership. One who becomes a member of the Anthroposophical Society feels the inner heartfelt need to learn and live what circulates in the world as anthroposophical knowledge and living impulse. One assumes no responsibilities other than those which come to the heart and soul from anthroposophy itself. Once one has been a general member of the General Anthroposophical society for a certain time – presently the minimum is two years – he can apply for membership in the Free School for Spiritual Science.
In this Free School for Spiritual Science one assumes truly earnest responsibilities for the Society, for anthroposophy, that is, that as a member one wishes to be a true representative of anthroposophy to the world. That is necessary today. The leadership of the Free School for Spiritual Science cannot agree to work together with someone as a member under other conditions.
Do not say, my friends, that this is a limitation of freedom. Freedom demands that everyone involved be free. And just as one can be a member of the School and be free in this relationship, the leadership of the School must also be free to determine with whom it wishes to work and with whom not. Therefore if the leadership for any reason is of the opinion that a member cannot be a true representative of anthroposophy to the world, it must be possible for the leadership of the School to either not approve that person's application or, in the case where he is already a member, to say that his membership must be revoked. This must be strictly observed in this future, so that in fact a free cooperation exists between the School's leadership and the members.
Step by step we will try to make arrangements so that those who cannot take part in the continuing work of the School in Dornach can partake in some manner. We can only take the fifth step after the fourth, not the seventh step after the first; we must take one step after the other and there has been much to do here since the Christmas Conference. But it will all be arranged to the extent possible. We will have a newsletter through which those who reside elsewhere can participate in the School's activities. We were able to make a beginning with a newsletter that Dr Wegman sent to the physicians who were thus able to participate in the work of the School. Things will develop as much as possible, and I ask that you be patient in this respect.
Something else to be mentioned is that the School must be understood not as having been established by a human impulse, but from the spiritual world. A decision made from the spiritual world has been obtained with the means which are possible. So that this School is to be understood as an institution of the spiritual world for the present time – as has been the case with the Mysteries in all times. Therefore we may say today: This School must develop into a true Mystery School for our times. Thus it will be the soul of the anthroposophical movement.
This makes clear how serious membership in this School should be understood to be. It is obvious that all the previous esoteric work achieved here will flow into the School's work. For this School is the esoteric foundation and source of all esoteric activity within the anthroposophical movement. Therefore if anyone wishes to initiate any kind of esoteric work in the world without a connection to the Vorstand at the Goetheanum, they must either reach an understanding with the Vorstand or they cannot include things which originate in the Goetheanum in their teaching or impulse. Whoever wants to do esoteric work under conditions other than those just mentioned cannot be a member of this School. They must then do the esoteric work outside the confines of this School and unrecognized by it, but must clearly understand that it cannot include anything which originated in this School. Relations with the School must be clearly understood. So the members must understand that [the leadership of] the School must be able to consider that each member is a true representative of anthroposophy in the world, and that every member represents anthroposophy exoterically (sic) as a member of the School should.
Before I was President of the Anthroposophical Society an attempt was made to organize the Goetheanum in the way other universities are organized. But that doesn't work under certain circumstances. Here esoteric studies will take place which are not found in other universities. And there is no intention to compete with other universities in the world, but to begin with questions about any field of life posed by honestly seeking people, which cannot be answered outside the esoteric.
Therefore in the future, especially for members of the School, nonsense which keeps being repeated must cease, because with the Christmas Conference something real has happened and for the Goetheanum to fulfill its mission all the members of the School must frankly and freely declare: I am a representative of the anthroposophy which comes given from the Goetheanum. Whoever will not do this, who thinks that one should be silent about anthroposophy, prepare people slowly, whoever wants to play politics and thinks that he can advance by denying us and then people will come to us – they generally don't – would be well advised to give up membership in the School right away. I can promise you that in the future membership in the School will be taken very seriously indeed. For those members of the School whose work is really about anthroposophy and not something else, this will be accepted readily and gladly. Those who continually claim that you can't confront people with anthroposophy immediately, that you must somehow talk them into it gradually, may choose to exercise their opinion outside the School.
These are the conditions which must be adhered to, and I had to mention them today because so many anthroposophical friends are present who had not yet participated in the School. And this is the reason why you have had to wait so long for the lesson to begin, and listen to this introduction. So we can consider the lesson today to be a kind of preparation. I will hold a second lesson, date to be announced, in which no new friends may participate. So I ask those who wish to attend in the future to have patience, because if every time a lesson is held here new people come, we would never get anywhere. Of course one can still become a member, but only members who have attended today will be admitted to the next lesson. It will be a continuation of today's lesson.
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