Monday, July 4, 2016

Rudolf Steiner "The Story of My Life"

I am reading with great pleasure the autobiography of Rudolf Steiner.

In willing, freedom is practiced;
in feeling, it is experienced;
in thinking, it is known.

It is peppered throughout with fantastic quotes, as well as just being fascinating reading in how his philosophies developed slowly over time and with much careful thought. He was always quite taken with mathematics and philosophy, seeing these as two sides of the same coin, and persisted in reading and understanding every philosopher, scientist, artist, theologian, and mathematician he could find, and deeply absorbing what they had to say and deciding if he wanted to bring any of their ideas into his developing world view or if he wished to reject their approach. I had never had the idea of Steiner as being a rapacious consumer before. I thought he sat around and came up with his things through some kind of psychic intuition. But he actually lived in a dual reality, eagerly partaking of the OUTER WORLD and, particularly, the social and intellectual scene around him, as well as deeply living inside himself and the INNER WORLD of spirituality.

I admire Steiner even more now that I see him as a person who learned just for the love of learning. He would write that he worked hours and hours as a tutor, while simultaneously taking all the coursework necessary for pursuing his own education, but would -- just because he couldn't help himself, he had to -- squeeze in as much time as possible to devour Hegel, or some other writer, just to see what they had to say.

It took him forever to compile and edit Goethe's writings and add his introduction because he kept getting sidetracked into the development of his own spiritual world conception (which was quite stimulated by what Goethe wrote about the natural world), and then Steiner would return to Goethe and make sure he understood what he was saying and then go back and develop what he was thinking on his own and then check in to see if he had an accurate conception of Goethe's views and then go back and develop his own... and he wouldn't under any circumstances do anything less than this, no matter how long it took, simply because it was the right philosophical way to approach the work. The man had integrity.

I remember when I was in college and had the time to read Nietzsche just for fun! My undergraduate work at Smith College was in Philosophy. These reading assignments now, 20 years later, give me the feeling of being back in that happy time. I like reading something that I don't understand the first time through!

You can read Rudolf Steiner's autobiography as a free PDF or, if you prefer a bit of the books-on-tape approach, there is a YouTube video where someone spends 11 hours reading the autobiography to you.

This 38 chapter autobiography is part of my Waldorf teacher training. I've actually discovered that you can find quite a lot of what Steiner wrote -- for free -- in YouTube format where the books and lectures are read aloud.

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