In this blog I want to tell you about freedom. The information so far has consisted of knowledge that I have tried to present in an understandable way. Today I take the liberty to add a little personal color by sharing my thoughts with you.
This article can be found as a podcast on YouTube under the name Anthroposophy for Beginners.
Anthroposophy is a more than 100 year old social movement, which in many areas is becoming more and more interesting in our current society. Biodynamic farmers are a good answer to nature-inclusive agriculture and livestock farming, especially in these times of complicated farming problems. Waldorf schools are mushrooming because of the great demand for education that does more justice to the colorful development of children. Sustainable gems are even appearing in architecture, such as the new Triodos Bank head office, where it is actually possible to build with love for the earth. This proves that the practical impulses of anthroposophy are more relevant than ever.
Alongside these successful and understandable impulses from Anthroposophy, there are also many themes which are very difficult or even impossible to understand, even for me. The existence of the spiritual world is such a theme, the question to what extent we are free as human beings or the conviction from anthroposophy that there is a reason behind our biography. As long as life is going well, you may feel connected to the theme of karmic plans. But what about when you have to go through terrible misery in this life?
Since time immemorial, people have been searching for answers to life's questions. For a few, the answer may be obvious; for most, however, it is not.
In our very materialistic world, where we want to prove everything through science, it is simply not easy to determine whether we humans actually have free will, how the feeling of love comes about and whether there is something like destiny. People like to call it quick-wittedness or spiritual drivel, but these are existential questions. After all, what happens after we die and what place does our earth really have in the infinite dimension of unreachable stars and planets? As much as we would like to know more, our consciousness is still so small that the real truth will remain hidden (for most of us).
Rudolf Steiner saw his answers to these life questions very clearly and tried to give words to them. It is up to us whether we can connect with them. The nice thing about anthroposophical spiritual science is that I don't have to accept it as a fait accompli. I can read or hear something about it, process it with my brainpower and then take it in as truth, or set it aside as untrue/not yet true.
This freedom in anthroposophy is a high good for me. I was encouraged throughout my Waldorf years to be a free person. I learned there to shape my own beliefs. There is no church that raised me with religious beliefs. God or his executive church power do not determine for me what is right and wrong.
I may even follow the new religion, our science, with critical interest. I gladly accept knowledge from an expert, but am always aware that science too is 'subject to' time and money.
In anthroposophy you cannot be a renegade; I am responsible with my consciousness for all my thoughts, feelings and actions.
Steiner encouraged agility in man. Dogmatism, however, is essentially in each of us humans because, if we are convinced of something, we automatically become a little static. People like to follow and then it is nice to have something to hold on to. Anthroposophy is not like that, because anthroposophy is always in motion.
That appeals to me. And I notice in myself that I find it difficult when people lack mobility and openness in their thinking. Of course also if they are people who live with Anthroposophy. I hope to look at the world with an open mind and to leave the other in freedom with respect for his/her convictions.
My personal religion is freedom in my thinking.
Are we humans free?
Steiner wrote his book Philosophy of Freedom in 1894. He is not the only person, by the way, who has dealt with the question of whether man is a free being at heart. Many philosophers preceded him and those who have read We are our Brain by Dick Swaab, know that to this day the question has not been satisfactorily answered for all of us.
The difference between Swaab and Steiner is that Swaab tries to use science to prove that we humans are no more than our brains and Steiner tries to use mind science to explain that at the core we are indeed free. Problem is, it's an elusive, philosophical subject that is subject to our human thought power from both a scientific and a humanities point of view. And then we are back to square one, because to what extent is our thinking about our thinking free?
I sincerely hope that it is true that as a human being I am not merely subject to the whims of my brain, but that Steiner is right. That there really is an I within me, a spiritual core; that my consciousness is the entrance to freedom.
What do you think? Are we humans free? To what extent are your thoughts free?
A more comprehensive summary of the contents of Philosophy of Freedom would go too far for an article on Anthroposophy for Beginners. Here you can find the book and here a nice site where an attempt has been made to capture the essence of this complicated, philosophical masterpiece with a hopeful outcome about freedom.
"There are many paths to anthroposophy. One should not stoop to the essence of a few people who want to be anthroposophists. Anthroposophy should be tried to be lived. Anthroposophy is actually the only one which does not dogmatize and is not keen on presenting something in one way. On the contrary, it strives to look at something from different angles. The core of anthroposophy lies in life and not in form. One is, if one wants to be understood, unfortunately forced to use forms that are generally understood."