Rudolf Steiner: Lost Gem for the Soul

EarthVessel
8 min readDec 14, 2022

“To be free is to be capable of thinking one’s own thoughts — not the thoughts merely of the body, or of society, but thoughts generated by one’s deepest, most original, most essential and spiritual self…”-Rudolf Steiner

During the late 19th Century an extraordinary figure emerged out of Austria. Rudolf Steiner categorized his life’s work as “spiritual science”. While he studied and instructed on a wide range of subjects, Steiner guided students to an understanding that all learning begins and ends with the inner experience. His work has had a profound effect on me over the past couple of years, providing me with much new information, some radically new, some of which fit with old constructs. He’s inspired me to embark on an inner journey of self-exploration to depths I’d never before experienced. It’s for this reason I decided to write about him.

Steiner was born into a fledgeling blue collar family. There was nothing extraordinary in his early life — aside from intelligence and infinite curiosity, there was little to indicate the type of person he’d become. He eventually disclosed that he’d had a view into the spirit world since childhood — as his career progressed in a roundabout fashion, by the end of the 19th Century, his clairvoyance would find purpose.

At the Vienna Institute of Technology, he studied math, physics, chemistry, botany, zoology and mineralogy. He eventually gravitated to the arts, recognizing within himself the need to cultivate imagination and creativity in order to process his life experience and the relationship between the physical and spiritual realms. After earning a doctorate in philosophy, he spent his early career mostly as a writer and literary critic.

His first major milestone was in 1894, when he published “The Philosophy of Freedom”. This is a thorough examination of what it means to be truly free, not just in speech and action, but free from from the influences that continue to shape human thought, and have done so throughout history, from social norms and academia to church and state.

Although Steiner lived in a world before the internet, or even television, he saw what was coming. He often spoke to the folly of runaway materialism and the need to think one’s own thoughts from the depths of one’s soul, and even question authority — or at least guarding oneself from groupthink. All in all, he hit at the crux of the most crippling issues of the world in 2020 .

How he is not known today is a mystery. It could have something to do with Cancel Culture or to the era he lived — a time of antiquated scientific beliefs and practices. Eugenics was a hot topic and mainstream scientists often proposed misguided, theories. Naturally, it didn’t end well. Hitler and his NAZIs took power in Germany and used those ideas to devastate Europe, killing millions of people.

There is a striking irony in the space/time proximity of Steiner and Hitler from 100 years ago. When I read Steiner’s lectures and think about his audience, I can’t help but think about how those people must have felt watching the rise of the NAZIs. In many ways I think it’s very similar to our post-2020 world, living in the shadow of the apocalypse.

The 1920s brought the culmination of spiritual curiosity and mysticism but where there once was so much hope in the spiritual evolution of humanity, it was derailed thanks to the effect of the Versalles Treaty that put the squeeze on the post WW1 Germany, followed by the willingness (read “GREED”) of international bankers to fund but one more war machine. Thus the perfect climate was created for the rise of Hitler and the NAZIs, who tapped into the German people’s frustration and anger, preaching hatred and violence.

Before Hitler waged war on the world, he predictably declared war on Steiner, sending his thugs to disrupt Steiner lectures and even orchestrating an assassination attempt. In turn, Steiner often ridiculed Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP), citing their movement as the epitomy of low-brow human folly and idiocy.

When Hitler was released from prison in December 1924, Steiner was suffering through the final stages of a fatal illness. He succumbed to cancer by end of March, 1925 (though there are some who believe was poisoned).

That was a pivotal year for the newly freed menace and failed art student, who quickly reestablished himself at the head of NSDAP. That summer he published Mein Campf and by year’s end formed the SS unit to act as his personal bodyguard (don’t anyone tell Trump about this!) and compliment to the existing SA, the a private militia for NSDAP.

Reflecting on that sequence of events, it may be that Steiner’s departure left a void that was quickly filled by dark forces personified by the NAZI thugs.

Steiner, by all accounts, sensed what was coming and did all he could to impart sacred teachings that had, until then been kept shrouded in mystery. He discerned that humanity was at a crossroads and ill-equipped for upcoming challenges, so he decided to speak about and publish doctrine that had previously never been committed to the printed page.

One might think that 20 years later, we cleared that hurdle with the defeat of the NAZIs in 1945, but if you back up and sharpen your focus on the bigger picture, it’s nowhere near that simple. Steiner always felt materialism was the most fearsome obstacle that humanity faced. Remember, this was well before cable TV, home theater and smartphones. In reality it was pure greed that made the rise of the NAZIs possible through British and American bankers who gladly funded what would become the monstrous war machine.

In the generations since, materialism is off the charts in our world, and it makes big strides every day. Consider the fact that we live in a society so hypersensitive that they feel obliged to warn us when something we watch on TV has foul language, sex and even cigarette smoking. So very considerate! Yet pharmaceutical companies are free to scare the hell out of us with 30 and 60-second spots that play like mini-horror movies. (“Shingles may have already invaded your body!”)

In such ways, corporations actively ruin literally millions of lives of people who become paralyzed by fear, eying each other suspiciously when they’re not locked up in isolation at home. Yet, like Hitler’s bankers, they’ll never be called to account because the norms of our society are established to suit the hungry ghosts who worship profits above all else. The tired, hungry masses can only follow suit, too wrapped up in paranoia, debt and the pursuit of material posessions.

Our highest endeavor must be to develop free human beings who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives. The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility — these three forces are the very nerve of education. -Rudolf Steiner

Rudolf Steiner talked about these issues at the beginning of the 20th Century, seeing the rise of materialism and technology as inevitable. Now is the time for for the world to rediscover this man. He was very special individual who left a deep and lasting impression on all who knew him or his work.

Although he’s known for spiritual teachings, Steiner was accomplished in a wide range of topics from archetecture to organic farming (before it was even a thing!). Aside from being a relative unknown in our time, he inexplicably has been labeled a racist. In truth he was the polar opposite of racist. The norms in his time were certainly racist, but Steiner believed and always spoke about the profound nature of the soul, with the inclusion of all of humanity.

In my own experience, Steiner’s words have a unique quality that lead me to tap into my soul, and recognize it as the essence of my true identity. With time you recognize the subtle but distinct power of connecting to your inner-being, and recognize it as something essential to fulfillment in this life. This is why I felt the need to write this article. The inspiration and energy I draw from his works is unlike any other teacher I’ve known or read.

Steiner often spoke about how people in the distant past had much deeper soul connections because they lived much quieter lives. Time and progress bringing more and more distractions, each demanding space in our consciousness. And this was 100 years ago! It’s tough wrapping your mind around that considering the relative scarcity of early 20th century distractions. In the world of 1920, we’re basically looking at radio, newspapers, books, baseball and the Sears Catalogue. Even good old Coke was laced with cocaine! That was the Stone Age compared to our world!

Steiner encouraged students to quiet the mind through meditation, thereby establishing a spiritual foundation and prescribed a series of visualization exercises that lead one to examine the nature of being in the physical world, while recognizing subtle inner phenomena that mark touchpoints with the spirit world. The goal is to hone awareness of the moment and sharpen one’s inner focus to explore the workings of the soul.

“One must know the divine within oneself before being able to experience it in one’s environment” -Rudolf Steiner

He guided students into and through the depths of experience both in the physical and spirit worlds, elaborating on the dynamic relationships between the physical and unseen worlds. His talks explored the entire spectrum of the known world; from basic elements to our planet and the heavenly bodies that surround us.

100 years later, Steiner’s work is more relevant than ever. In the last decade or so, the field of quantum physics essentially validated his teachings on human consciousness. One of the most striking is a study known as the double slit experiment, proving that human consciousness directly impacts reality and holds mysteries that are beyond current comprehension and scientific understanding. These developments have broken new ground in how we understand our physical and non-physical reality and have set the stage, I believe for a new world — if we don’t self-destruct first.

If there were a medicine man who could prescribe a cure for this world’s prevailing sickness, that cure would be Steiner, or if not the man himself, then his message of care for the soul, self-knowledge, compassion and holistic thinking.

Author and publisher Russell Davenport called it “unfathomable” that in the 20th Century, Rudolf Steiner had become a relative unknown. There’s some irony in this because Davenport is credited for establishing the Fortune 500 list back in the 1950s. Still you must take the truth from wherever you find it.

I can only hope that one day soon Steiner and his body of work will find its way into the world again. Steiner is to the human spirit what Einstein is to physics. We need it to happen.

The value of Steiner’s wisdom was well recognized during his life. At the request of the owner of the Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Company in Stutgart, Germany, Steiner established the first Waldorf School in that city. A century later, The Waldorf is the largest independent educational institution in the world.

If a child has been able in his play to give up his whole loving being to the world around him, he will be able, in the serious tasks of later life, to devote himself with confidence and power to the service of the world. -Rudolf Steiner

Because Steiner’s work is so important to humanity, I’ve committed to do my part in getting the word out about this man who had so much to offer humanity. So I’ll be using this space to do that. At the very least, I think it’s probably a more constructive use of my time than complaining about the status quo.

So please stay tuned. Peace.

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EarthVessel

exploring the endless depths of both inner and outer worlds