Anthroposophy, Religion and Waldorf
(This was originally a message I posted on my yahoo discussion group, Waldorf_At_Home. It has been changed somewhat)
Anthroposophy, while not a religion, is very helpful in spiritual striving. Anthroposophy means “wisdom of the human being” and it is also often referred to as “spiritual science”, a method of inquiry which is not faith based but rather provides a means for explorations of the spiritual worlds as well as one means of understanding them. Anthropsophy is not a set of beliefs – it is a tool, a useful companion on one’s journey.
Steiner worked via anthroposophy to gain insight into the nature of spiritual hierarchies, the role of the Buddha in human development, the nature of karma and reincarnation and the importance of the Crucifixion for the development of this dear Earth Herself. One of his major tasks was to bring back the ideas of reincarnation and karma to the Christian Church – now I know this is controversial stuff and probably offends some of you. So while I have no wish to offend, I can’t think of any way else to say this than to spell it out! So take it as you will!
Another piece of all this is the importance of the Christ in the evolution – spiritual evolution – of humankind. Just as the Buddha brought His great gift of Compassion to humanity, the Christ brought His great gift of Love. Via anthroposophy, Steiner also shared many insights on the great figures of Moses and of Ahura Mazda.
So Christ does figure in anthroposophy – and some people get put off because of this (either because they are Christian with a very different picture of the Christ or because they stand in another religion or, of course because they are atheists). But the point is (and again, I’m sure this will offend some – apologies again – not for what I say, but for causing offense) that the Christ is, like the Buddha and so on, for everyone.
There are, at present, impulses to bring an anthroposophical understanding to religions other than Christianity – Islam and Buddhism come to mind. Judaism is, as some might imagine, a bit more problematic – and yet, Jesiah Ben Aharon who lives/works in an anthroposophical kibbutz and is involved with the Waldorf movement in Israel said during a lecture he gave here several years ago, he and other secular Jews he knew found, through anthroposophy, that they could have a deeper appreciation of and find a new connection to Judaism.
Lastly, there are many pagans and others who have an earth based or possibly eclectic spirituality/religious life who can often relate to anthroposophy – though sometimes having difficulty with the presence of the Christ – because of the great emphasis on the spiritual Being of the Earth Herself (oops – lost a few people again!). The Being of Isis-Sophia plays an important role in human development and Steiner had much to say about Her.
In terms of the relationship between Waldorf and anthroposophy – one can think of Waldorf being the application of anthroposphy as applied to the education of children, just as biodynamics is the application of anthroposophy as applied to gardening/agriculture. So it is really not possible to separate anthroposophy from Waldorf education at essence. But again, each individual if obviously free to decide how s/he works with this and how s/he defines that relationship. My suggestion is for those people who have more than a passing interest in Waldorf to take some time to explore anthroposophy – not necessarily because they wish to work with it on their own spiritual journeys but because they will then at least have some idea of the foundations of Waldorf education.
Anyone wishing to embark on such an exploration is invited to go to the Waldorf 101 page on the Christopherus web site to have a look at the books and links listed there.