What is practical Anthroposophy?
16 September, 2018
I have grown up in a family where my parents both ‘preached’ Anthroposophy. I went to a Waldorf School where I did eurythmy, knitting, woodwork and so on. Many of us still ask ourselves ‘what did we do all this for?’ The fact that it delivers human beings is real and so it gets the support that it does, but is it understood? Many readers of Anthroposophy love what they read – it feels like angelic honey to the soul – and this is where it is left. The content, we all know, is simply wonderful and has a deep appeal to the truly reverent in us. However, we Anthroposophists have only managed in a few isolated instances to bring it to bear on major policy platforms that will form our societies of the future. We stand by and watch, with horror in our souls at what is being decided and done on a global scale. So, what can we do about this? I can now truthfully say I have wrestled with this question myself for decades. I only put forward what I can from my own life experience in the hope that it adds value and gives a foothold for the thinking of others, maybe you also. If I don’t share this, it remains hidden, so I rather share it.
Anthroposophy becomes practical when any daily situation can be consciously made a subset of this science of Anthroposophy. The fundamental grounding scientific logic of Anthroposophy is that Human beings are a material subset of a greater reality . This greater reality can be discovered to constitute humanity itself, and this can be discovered by each one of us with the kind of consciousness accessible to us today. Dr Steiner wrote down for us this science in a most careful and detailed way, in great volumes of works that are accessible to all. If it is real and going to impact on the path that humanity takes in the future, because humanity is a key part of this Great future, then it has to grow in its access and practicality to all humanity. We need to discover our relevance and how we develop this relevance, using what the writings of Anthroposophy have disclosed to us, in our daily existence. From here, once we feel ourselves living in this ‘greaterness’, and our relevance to today and the future as a consequence, we will be more to those around us. They will find us interesting, constructive, clear, doers, gentle and positive, strong, maybe wise, and so on. How can this whole process of bringing Anthroposophy also into daily practical life be seen as being very close and achievable? What needs to be key in our thinking?
Let me give an example that I have often given before. It is a very simple example, but in simplicity, clarity is found. It is possible today to buy two identical forklift trucks. It is not possible to have them perform identically. The reason being that the drivers are different. Where does this difference in the drivers come from? The science behind Anthroposophy tells us that we are body, soul and spirit. The arrangement of these three elements in each person is slightly different for a number of different reasons. Any training given to the drivers will impact on them differently and the change that this training will bring to the way the particular forklift moves and operates will tell you what effect the training has had. If it is not training but rather corrective action that is taken with a forklift operator, then the same applies. This action will impact on the souls of the different operators differently. The question then becomes, so how does one address each human being in such a way that they want to operate the forklift most effectively – and, what is best for us all, to try to expose the drivers to understanding this about themselves or not?
Here we have an example of the significance the science behind Anthroposophy can add to our understanding of what a forklift is – an entity made by humanity but without any humanity. Also, that both forklifts can do the identical things in identical ways, but they do not because we introduce humanity to their operation via human operators. Our individual humanity is not perfect, it is dynamic, it is specific, it has a past and it has a future. This simple daily situation can be consciously understood as a subset of the science of Anthroposophy. From this, a lot of constructive opportunities arise requiring our own deepened knowledge and grasp of the science behind Anthroposophy and our own conceptual and faculty development.
Anthroposophy requires us to test our strength, our moral strength, our conceptual clarity, our social hygiene and so on. Where we fail, we are less, not more. Our humanity is not there to use as an excuse but rather to show us what we still need to master. Every one of us could be forgiving and compassionate because this is available to us all. The only reason that we are not is because we have not put enough of ourselves to this task with sufficient effort and commitment to our own humanity. Each sentence above holds some core concept of Anthroposophy in it and addresses daily situations where people say things like ‘I am only human.’ My response to this above is – Our humanity is not there to use as an excuse but rather to show us what we still need to master. Everywhere in life, things are said and heard and Anthroposophy can deal with every one of these situations. Practical Anthroposophy for me is, as I said above, when any daily situation can be consciously made a subset of this science of Anthroposophy by me. For this to be possible, I need to know the science of Anthroposophy by having studied it in detail, not only to enjoy the sweet taste, but to be able to apply it from within my own capacities and consciousness to the smallest detail of daily existence.