madame blavatsky’s baboon

I’ve been reading Peter Washington’s book Madame Blavatsky’s Baboon: Theosophy and the emergence of the western guru. It is a very entertaining book, which I can recommend for that reason alone (entertainment). DSC_6960While reading, I constantly asked myself why it is that hardly any films are made about these eccentric gurus — their lives (and the stories they invented about their lives) are perfect for that medium. They’re crazy enough, interesting enough; they’re tactless, impatient, adventurous, enticing, sometimes cruel, and expensive (for their fans); they’re mostly, it would seem, egotists who are in it for the kick… while the overt reason, and the reason their followers take them so seriously, is an attempt at explaining the entire world, man, life — and the universe.  About Gurdjieff, Washington notes: ‘Gurdjieff needed his pupils as much as they needed him: to combat the ordinariness of life.’ Isn’t that very true? And who can blame them? It’s difficult to envision anyone, any human being, who does not try to combat the ordinariness of life. Or perhaps that’s me.

Anyway, Washington writes very entertainingly about Blavatsky, Besant, Gurdjieff, Leadbeater. But when he writes about Steiner, I almost get the impression he doesn’t find Steiner as entertaining as the others; I believe I detect a vague attitude of boredom and disinterest. Steiner’s too dry, too sober, not spaced-out in the same fashion as the others and not living as eccentric a life as they appear to have been doing. Or so Washington seems to think, which is a pity, because Steiner is certainly not second to these others in being funny and a character in his own right; perhaps he’s not so blatant and obvious, but he has a charm, I’m afraid Washington has missed (again: maybe it’s me). Although Steiner is actually on the cover (along with Blavatsky), neither he nor his movement get a lot of attention.

But the others, though, oh, they’re certainly an entertaining crowd. I recommend a book review in The Independent for further illumination:

It is a marvellous ensemble. Blavatsky, a wisecracking mixture of Russian grande dame and country-cute Kalmuck; her ‘chum’, the lugubrious old soldier Colonel Olcott, straight from Anthony Powell; the unspeakable C W Leadbeater, writing hectic letters to small boys encouraging masturbation as a path to spirituality; James Wedgwood, the same but more so (caught cottaging by the police – 18 lavatories in two hours – he said with hauteur that he was searching for a friend known in a previous life); the elusive Krishnamurti, man made god; the brilliant spoofer Gurdjieff, inventor of the ashram as high-fashion labour camp; the literal- minded Ouspensky, dervish-dancing to a ‘higher’ plane of consciousness; A R Orage, coiner of the ‘New Age’ slogan.

Link.

42 thoughts on “madame blavatsky’s baboon

  1. ‘the brilliant spoofer Gurdjieff, inventor of the ashram as high-fashion labour camp;’ How we laughed! Mr G and I. ‘To the Idiots!’

    ‘the literal- minded Ouspensky, dervish-dancing to a ‘higher’ plane of consciousness;’ I read a lot of Ouspensky in my youth, it must have given me an odd stare.

  2. “But when he writes about Steiner, I almost get the impression he doesn’t find Steiner as entertaining as the others; I believe I detect a vague attitude of boredom and disinterest. Steiner’s too dry, too sober,……….”

    Yes, Steiner never tried to ‘entice’ anyone, never tried to make it easy – He wasn’t a ‘guru’ and always disclaimed that sort of role.

  3. Tom, sorry but Steiner was a textbook example of a guru. Surely you are aware that gurus frequently refuse the label “guru.”

  4. I think most do, yes. And what struck me when reading the book was that several of the gurus seemed to have similar divided feelings about their followers and the guruhood that Steiner did. Needing them and wanting to get rid of their neediness, wanting to influence them and wanting them to be independent, et c. In short, contradictory and even mutually exclusive expecations — given their roles in their followers lives.

    Sure, Steiner might not always have enjoyed the more fanatical followers — but I don’t think it was as easy as him not wanting to be their guru. I think he might have both wanted it and not.

    As far as I can see, the basic problem was that the author could not really spot the interesting sides of Steiner, because they’re there, albeit not identical to the other gurus’.

  5. Alicia & others,

    It might be of interest that Steiner is known to have said, more or less in an agitated voice:
    “Ich will v e r s t a n d e n werden, nicht verehrt!” to some of his closer co-workers. I think this was a problem to him, throughout his active life within the AS. Reading his lectures does not give the image of a guru, especially since he always emphasized that in our time, man must become his own master, and in his spiritual life rid himself of the external authorities.

  6. ‘Reading his lectures does not give the image of a guru,’ The experience gives the impression of a Master, you can call him a guru or not according to preference. And Diana is right – gurus are often impatient both with their followers and the term ‘guru’.

    I wonder what Steiner would have done without these followers? And of course their donations.

  7. I think there are lots of gurus who actually teach that one MUST follow them to attain enlightenment.
    It is a basic in many eastern traditions of spiritual development, that one must have a guru, that one cannot achieve enlightenment simply by one’s own efforts.
    Modern examples would include Maharishi Mahesh Yogi of Beatles fame, Guru Maharaj Ji of the “Divine Light Mission”, Gideon Fontalba (now calling himself Shin Shiva Svayambhu), Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (later called Osho).

    Carol Fraser’s book, ‘The High Mountain Road’, on her relation to Gideon Fontalba, is a wonderfully example of how gurus work and treat their followers.

    Steiner’s teaching is completely different in character. He explicitly teaches that the modern ‘seeker’ does NOT need a guru, that it has to be done through one’s own efforts. He was, in relation to his pupils like a maths teacher. I.e., they start out knowing less than him, but they can all get to know as much as he did and in principle surpass him.

    It may be true that people did in fact treat Steiner like a guru, but that was and is their weakness, not his. And it may be true that sometimes through his behaviour and his normal human weakness he allowed that to happen.

    Marx had followers. Marxists have done some amazing and some terrible things in the name of Marx, but that does not make Marx a guru.

    I think Steiner would have happily accepted the appellation, ‘Teacher’, but he did not wish to be a guru. Guruship (is that a real word?) was something which went against the whole thrust of his teaching which was to help people become free. He reagarded ‘The Philosophy of Freedom’ as his greatest work, and the one thing he had created which might last into the future.

  8. Perhaps there are lots of gurus who tell people they must follow or obey to achieve enlightenment. However, I suspect it’s far more common than one might first think that gurus behave contradictory in this respect. Nobody wants to follow a flaming tyrant. Manipulation requires a balance between the appearance of independence — and obedience.

    ‘Steiner’s teaching is completely different in character. He explicitly teaches that the modern ‘seeker’ does NOT need a guru, that it has to be done through one’s own efforts. He was, in relation to his pupils like a maths teacher. I.e., they start out knowing less than him, but they can all get to know as much as he did and in principle surpass him.’

    Funny though that even with the supposedly best intentions this could not materialize. This is not how it ever worked. You write that it is their weakness, not his — the crux of the matter is, though, that they weren’t weak, they were human, and needed, like some (I should say many) humans do, someone to follow. Neither anthroposophy, nor Steiner could prevent this entirely human trait to appear, and I wonder if there weren’t many aspects of anthroposophy and the movement that encouraged it rather than tried to suppress it. Not least Steiner’s own contradictory need to be a guru or, if you will, their teacher. Because I do think he had this need. Say what you will about his expressed intentions and hopes for his followers and his movement — I am still convinced that being in the role of a teacher, someone for others to follow, was a deep-seated need of his. Yes, I realize this is heresy, for anthroposophists, but I do think he had a psychological need for followers, for this very special kind of recognition.

  9. ‘ I do think he had a psychological need for followers, for this very special kind of recognition.’

    I wonder what you base this judgement on, Alicia ?

  10. Not on any particular thing. It is my impression from reading lots of things by him and about him. (And talking to him in the kiosk.)

    Basically, even when he almost scolds his followers for being too dependent, it never seems as though he’s not ambigous.

    Basically, too, I doubt he would have continued the way he did if this was not something he needed. And I don’t think this was something that had to do with anthroposophy — I suspect it fulfilled a need, desire, whatever, he had much earlier, but that he couldn’t satisfy in, e g, academic setting or as a literary critic or some other kind of teacher.

  11. I think his special need was to be understood and to bring a new cultural/spiritual impulse into the world, and for that to be fulfilled he needed pupils. So Marie Steiner was essential for the eurythmy and speech, Vreede for the mathematical scientific work, Wegman for the medical impulse, etc.

  12. “someone to follow”

    But they also created. The daughter movements or whatever one wants to call them wouldn’t exist today if the circle around him hadn’t gotten to work on their own. If you look into the history of any one of them, these people worked very, very hard at establishing something and most of it happened well after Steiner passed on. This book sounds interesting. I will have to pick it up.

  13. Tom:

    “It is a basic in many eastern traditions of spiritual development, that one must have a guru, that one cannot achieve enlightenment simply by one’s own efforts.”

    Tom, that’s an uninformed stereotype – a sweeping generalizations about “eastern traditions.” Eastern traditions encompass thousands of beliefs and practices. “Steiner’s teaching is completely different in character.” – You’ve bought into some stereotypes, not surprising since Steiner also preached that his system was an advancement over Eastern systems. And for your assessment of Steiner, it seems you’ve swallowed what Steiner SAID rather than the reality of the movement. It is not unusual for gurus to insist that they don’t want to be considered gurus. It’s not how we would determine whether someone was in fact a guru.

    Jerry Garcia makes a good example. He insisted strenuously that he didn’t want to be anybody’s guru, doesn’t make him not one.

    “Marx had followers. Marxists have done some amazing and some terrible things in the name of Marx, but that does not make Marx a guru.”

    I think it’s fairly safe to call Marx a guru. Apparently you think it’s a dirty word.

    “I think Steiner would have happily accepted the appellation, ‘Teacher’, but he did not wish to be a guru.”

    Again, the issue is not really what Steiner would have wanted to be called.

  14. “Jerry Garcia makes a good example. He insisted strenuously that he didn’t want to be anybody’s guru, doesn’t make him not one. ”

    Wait… Jerry Garcia is a guru?

  15. Diana, There is a commonality amongst many sects, just as there is commonality amongst all the sects springing from the Christian bible of which there are also probably thousands.

    The surrender to the guru is seen as a part of overcoming the lower/reactional self.

    Perhaps you can point me to any of the well known spiritual leaders from eastern traditions, apart from Krishnamurti, who does not teach that finding a guru is important/ essential.

    I call them eastern traditions because they recognisably came from the east as far as europeans are concerned.

  16. “Wait… Jerry Garcia is a guru?”

    Um, yeah, there’s really no other word for it. I think it’s a great comparison. Garcia absolutely loathed it when people treated him a guru. He did not want to be “leader” of the band, yet everyone knows he was. He insisted he had no wisdom of his own to impart whatsoever. Whatever wisdom is imparted, just flowed through him via the music. That never stopped people who didn’t even know him from following him around the country (sometimes for YEARS, giving up all other pursuits in life), naming their children after him etc.

    Do I, as one of his followers, view him as a far more benign guru than someone like Steiner? Yes I do, and I can hear myself about to utter all the same disclaimers Steiner’s followers spout: Well, he didn’t have any creed. It would be wrong to call the Grateful Dead’s philosophy “doctrines” or “dogma,” to me they’re nothing of the sort. The only creed deadheads can usually agree on is (line from one of the songs): “If you get confused, just listen to the music play” … He certainly never insisted anyone should believe what he had to say – quite the opposite. (After John Lennon was shot, Garcia got paranoid and pretty much completely stopped talking to audiences, to discourage the hero worship.) Like Steiner, he certainly never demanded money or anything else from his followers. (Sex was frequently offered, by some followers, but he’s never been accused of demanding it). As a personal role model, he fell kinda short, unless you find heroin addiction, years of complete personal dishevelment on many levels, and irresponsible parenting to be admirable. Really he makes a terrible guru, yet the only difference between him and Steiner, for me, is that I really LIKE Jerry Garcia and find what he had to offer to be central to my wellbeing, so much so that I’ve got to have some every day …

    Yeah, I think that’s a guru.

  17. Tom, I think it’s a question of falling for the disclaimers routinely uttered by gurus, the foremost of which is, “I’m not one.” I think the differences between east and west in this regard are culturally superficial. Where guruship is frowned on, gurus insist they’re not gurus. Where guruship is culturally well established, gurus feel less of a need to do that.

  18. One is given to understand that Steiner was a guru. All right then. In the view of people who do not care about his work (otherwise than as a bloody nuisance) he is a guru. For too many anthroposophists he is too, I fear. Diana, Melanie and our noble Hostess in the Kiosk have been practising Psychoanalysis on the poor man, and concluded that he was beyond reasonable doubt a guru. The conclusion rests on generalisations, based on the assumed nature of known gurus. As a scientific hypothesis, this does not hold, neither for water nor whisky. The man may have wished to be a guru. Then again, he might just not have. More than that nobody can know, as nobody has asked him yet (except, perhaps, Mr Dog).

  19. ‘Diana, Melanie and our noble Hostess in the Kiosk have been practising Psychoanalysis on the poor man, and concluded that he was beyond reasonable doubt a guru.’

    Goodness, psychoanalysis would take years – no one has the time these days. Five times a week too – you’ve clearly not had the pleasure. Then there’s the pipe-smoking – I could not abide it – dreadful for the teeth – and the cat sitting on the couch had fleas.

    One of the sofas in the ethereal kiosk was once Freud’s, another belonged to Byron. It needs re-covering and the springs are not as they were.

  20. Yes, indeed, Curt.

    I think the owner of the kiosk should offer us all a measure of schnapps, (or Aquavit, if the genuine stuff is not available) to aid our understanding of this complex man.
    The german students whom I met in the 60’s told me there is a special drunkenness associated with schnapps, which they called ‘schnapps sunlight’. Maybe Rudi was full of schnapps all the time and no-one ever knew, – except Marie.

    And tomorrow, a hair of the dog that bit us. (I don’t quite know how to translate that last bit into Swedish but I am sure Mr. Dog would have something to say about it.

  21. Nobody’s been psychoanalyzing him, we just all (critics and devotees) have read a bit of Steiner and hung around the movement for awhile. Perhaps the problem here is the assumption that “guru” is some sort of epithet. A guru isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I kinda wish I had one (I mean, I have Jerry, but he’s dead, and unlike Steiner, did not leave any instructions for how to commune with the dead …) Some gurus are pretty evil, but others are quite benign. Steiner falls somewhere in the middle, I think – clearly not on the spectrum of malicious gurus who are out to injure or take advantage of people, yet, it certainly seems to me Steiner caused some problems (whereas Jerry Garcia never caused of his fans any problems that I’m aware of, unless you count giving them permission to smoke a lot of dope, which Grateful Dead fans were fairly well inclined to do before they ever heard of Jerry Garcia anyway).

    C’mon, seriously I really don’t think we need a “scientific analysis” to conclude that Rudolf Steiner was a guru.

  22. Sorry once more for my absence — I just had to recommend a documentary movie I saw.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/03/movies/vikram-gandhis-documentary-kumare.html?_r=0

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/kumare-film-examines-blurred-lines-of-virtual-identities/2012/03/13/gIQA6BzkGS_story.html

    http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-10/25/vikram-gandhi (with a youtube speech by the ‘guru’, Vikram Gandhi)

    If you have the chance, do watch the documentary!!

  23. Tom: ‘I think his special need was to be understood and to bring a new cultural/spiritual impulse into the world, and for that to be fulfilled he needed pupils.’

    That’s not what I think. He could have gone on to have an academic career, if that path had been open to him; he would have been heard, and understood, but for other reasons. But it was not to be so easy. He came across another possibility, and used it.

    ell: ‘“someone to follow”
    But they also created.’

    Why would a follower not be creative? There’s no necessary contradiction. Steiner’s followers were particularly prone to follow closely in his footsteps, but surely they’ve worked to do this. Creativity gets its inspiration from somewhere or something — why this inspiration could not be a charismatic leader (whose values, to some degree, values more or less creative pursuits!, I do not know!

    Diana: ‘It is not unusual for gurus to insist that they don’t want to be considered gurus. It’s not how we would determine whether someone was in fact a guru.’

    Exactly. And I am not claiming he claimed that he wanted to be a guru. It isn’t at all about what he wanted to be called but about the role he had and how he handled this role (which, in my opinion, gives us clues both about his guruship and his ambiguity towards it, which can’t be that unusual).

    I don’t see why we shouldn’t ‘psychoanalize’ Steiner and try to understand what he wanted, what he needed, and what drove him — nor do I understand why, when doing this, we must take his word or his followers’ words for ultimate truth or the ultimate intrepretation. I honestly do not. We do this with everyone else — with artists, authors, everyone. It’s an interesting pursuit to try to uncover — to put it boldly — something of the human condition. To me, Steiner is human — not an enlightened leader of all of humanity, not someone beyond reproach, not someone whose own word must be taken as the ultimate explanation we can’t question. He’s someone whose motivations can be discussed as with any human. I don’t see why Steiner’s view of his own position and role can’t be dissected, and why we can’t try to figure out whether his expressed perception of things — and his followers’ perception — adds up. I know that to anthroposophists, he stands apart — he’s not like other gurus. Other gurus, or people in general, they’re happy to ‘analyze’ but Steiner is beyond this, because he’s above the rest. I agree he’s interesting, but I don’t believe he’s beyond or above being analyzed or discussed as a human being, with the drives and desires and needs like the rest of us, or that he shouldn’t be compared to other gurus, spiritual leaders or charismatic teachers.

    I’m not, by the way, saying he wished to be a guru. I’m saying he wished to be things that in practice had to make him a guru — whether or not he actually wanted to be a guru.

    Also — I have assumed you all, especially the clairvoyants among you, had found the keys to the spirits cabinet alread!

    ‘Maybe Rudi was full of schnapps all the time and no-one ever knew, – except Marie.’

    Well, I hope he didn’t live as boring a life as some of the most quixotic of his followers might have wished ;-) I don’t think Marie knew a lot, but please let’s not psychoanalyze her.

    ‘C’mon, seriously I really don’t think we need a “scientific analysis” to conclude that Rudolf Steiner was a guru.’

    Really not. And I agree it’s not a bad word, it’s a very suitable word for a charismatic leader who imparts spiritual teachings.

  24. Alicia says, ‘I don’t see why we shouldn’t ‘psychoanalize’ Steiner and try to understand what he wanted, what he needed, and what drove him — nor do I understand why, when doing this, we must take his word or his followers’ words for ultimate truth or the ultimate intrepretation. I honestly do not.’

    I too think he was a normal human being with flaws, and capable of being wrong and making errors of judgement, etc. Part of what I am trying to say is that I think your’s and Diana’s anaysis of his motivation is wrong. He did not set out to ‘entice’ anyone, he genuinely wanted to leave them free.

    “….. it’s not a bad word, it’s a very suitable word for a charismatic leader who imparts spiritual teachings.” – by all means call Steiner a guru, – if that is what you mean by it.

  25. Analyzing his motivation is much, much dicier than most anthroposophists want to acknowledge. Analyzing ANY human’s motivation is dicey; anthroposophists tend to think we’re disrespecting Steiner if we say this, but what we’re really saying is he was human.

    It just not likely to be adequate, to simplistically assert that you know he never wanted to “entice” anyone. I would have a hard time believing ANYONE who promulgated a very extensive and sophisticated spiritual philosophy never for five minutes felt an urge to “entice” followers. It’s just not credible. Anthroposophists want to believe he was at the very least a very rare human with all pure motives, unlike most other humnas alive now or ever. This is unlikely to be true.

  26. ‘Analyzing his motivation is much, much dicier than most anthroposophists want to acknowledge.’

    It isn’t really.
    The path of self-development that Steiner described (the six basic exercises) helps people to see and understand their reactive self, to learn to know when what they are saying/doing comes solely from self-interest and when it also has an altruistic side. It helps people to become conscious of their true motivations for whatever it is they are saying/doing.

    I would be interested to see an example from his writings where you believe he is trying to entice people to follow him.

    “Anthroposophists want to believe he was at the very least a very rare human with all pure motives”. I guess there are some anthroposophists who are like that, Prokofiev seems to be one of them. But I think there are also many anthroposophists who take a more balanced view.

  27. The French anthropologist (not anthroposophist) Claude Levi-Strauss wrote a classic aricle in 1949 – The Sorcerer and his Magic. It’s about Quesalid, a native sceptic from the Kwakiutl tribe who becomes a shaman in order to unmask “the false supernatural”. However he becomes a really great shaman and begins to question his own scepticism – he discovers that the power of performance is in one sense real. I wonder if similar processes could have affected Rudolf?

  28. It’s interesting that you propose we examine Steiner’s motives on the basis of exercises he proposed. How would that work? Is that how you think we would normally assess someone’s motives?

  29. Diana suggests: ‘I would have a hard time believing ANYONE who promulgated a very extensive and sophisticated spiritual philosophy never for five minutes felt an urge to “entice” followers. It’s just not credible.’

    I agree and Tom – why shouldn’t he have done so?

    But this idea of Steiner as the designer of a six-point path to personal knowledge/development is not the one I generally think of. Nowadays that kind of Steiner would have READERS instead of followers – and a website with paypal – and would doubtless have been on Oprah Winfrey or whatever is the equivalent saying ‘Of course each six-step programme is individualised’.

  30. I realise what I wrote isn’t clear. I meant someone who can devise such a path of development is going to understand his own motivation.

  31. ” I meant someone who can devise such a path of development is going to understand his own motivation.”

    I don’t understand that either, sorry. I’m bewildered. Why would that be?

  32. Alicia & cons,

    I see that my words of “Psychoanalysis” has triggered a few rather salty comments, for which I thank you sincerely. Now, getting down to brass tacks on the topic, all I meant to say (but clearly did not) was: Stop analyzing the Man from the point of view of your own prejudice and start analyzing what he actually did instead. With this in mind, read the lectures from the years between 1907 and his death and see what he actually said. Very little of your assumptions will be
    confirmed, I fear (a good enough reason not to read, I admit). The picture I have after this process (took me the best of some 40 years) is of a man that is caught between a rock and a hard place by the consequences of his first steps as a public and private speaker. The table holds the cards, he saw the need for further teachings (especially concerning the relation to the Theosophists and their antics) and after a few years there was no going back. If you think his heritage was of a massive financial kind, think again. There was never any money in anthroposophy, except for the modern-day entrepreneurs (who, on their side, make loads). At his death, he clearly saw his endavours as failures, on too many important fields. One cannot interpret the last works (Die Leitsätze) otherwise. These have been some sort of Blind Man´s Stick
    to the Society ever since, though, I am convinced, they were never meant that way. In conclusion, save the poor,well-meaning man from your scrutinies and point the searchlight on the present representatives of the Anthroposophical Movement. There you will find more flaws than in the nowadays rather dead fellow.

  33. I think the reading deficiences are on your end. Where’d you get the bit about “heritage of a massive financial kind” from? No one here mentioned anything like that. And most of the people you’re talking to have read a lot of Steiner. We do not need to be advised to go back and read “everything he wrote after 1907.”

  34. Tom: ‘He did not set out to ‘entice’ anyone, he genuinely wanted to leave them free.’

    I think it’s interesting to try to figure out what that actually means. I believe it’s too simple to say he didn’t want to ‘entice’ anyone. On the contrary, I believe it’s reasonable to think he gained something from having followers, from having people who listened to him and took him seriously — and that this was not only in the service of humanity and the cosmos, but gave *him* something he needed on a personal level.

    And I agree with Diana: ‘I would have a hard time believing ANYONE who promulgated a very extensive and sophisticated spiritual philosophy never for five minutes felt an urge to “entice” followers. It’s just not credible.’

    It just isn’t credible. And Steiner, I believe, needed it. He may not have wanted to need it. But he thrived when people listened.

    Tom: ‘The path of self-development that Steiner described (the six basic exercises) helps people to see and understand their reactive self, to learn to know when what they are saying/doing comes solely from self-interest and when it also has an altruistic side. It helps people to become conscious of their true motivations for whatever it is they are saying/doing.’

    I do not think this is fully possible, for any human being. And I don’t think Steiner himself knew all the true motivations underlying his actions. It is always possible to understand more about oneself. But there is no such thing as perfect understanding. Perhaps the complete picture — including full, proper analysis — is posted in the akashic records, but we can’t access most it.

    Ulf: ‘However he becomes a really great shaman and begins to question his own scepticism – he discovers that the power of performance is in one sense real. I wonder if similar processes could have affected Rudolf?’

    This is an extremely fascinating thought.

    Curt: ‘With this in mind, read the lectures from the years between 1907 and his death and see what he actually said. Very little of your assumptions will be confirmed, I fear (a good enough reason not to read, I admit).’

    I fear that the more I’ve read him, the more I’ve begun to detect his human traits. And, doing that, I’ve got to where I am today.

    As for money, Diana is correct — nobody said money was what motivated him. I certainly don’t believe it was.

    ‘In conclusion, save the poor,well-meaning man from your scrutinies and point the searchlight on the present representatives of the Anthroposophical Movement.’

    They aren’t interesting people. I frankly don’t care much about what motivates them, what makes them do what they do — Steiner’s personality (including his abilities and his flaws) is what’s interesting.

  35. Alicia, I more or less share your sentiment about the present people in the Circles (with some few, but really good exceptions). I would like to see, however, an unmasking process of all those that have made the AAG into a coinmongler´s temple instead of the “Part of the Cosmic Process” it was intended to be (more or less sthg like Johannes has done in his blog, from another point of view). And this because inside critics will always be met with Counter-Critic like “bitterness over not being heeded” and other stuff to that effect, whereas an outside unveiling of the Mammon-statue in the Temple will have to be taken more seriously. Anyway, it´s worth a try, wouldn´t you think?

  36. I think, well, yes. But this is mainly a task worth trying — for anthroposophists.

    And these people — present anthros in charge of whatever goes on — are not as interesting as individuals as Steiner is. It’s not an unmasking, from my viewpoint, it’s trying to understand why he did what he did, without starring him in the role as a cosmic exception and infallible spiritual leader.

  37. Alicia,

    Good way of putting it: “It’s not an unmasking, from my viewpoint, it’s trying to understand why he did what he did, without starring him in the role as a cosmic exception and infallible spiritual leader”. Propably the best way of making sense of his work, as he did not consider himself a
    “cosmic exception”, but a link in the string of people who from earliest days have tried to tell humanity something of essence (as some of us think). As you know, many in the circles have tried to pin him down on specific characters of the past, based on arguments ranging from wild guessing to German logic of the worst kind. If your approach were the normal one, things would perhaps look different.

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