Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) was a remarkably unique individual in that he himself inaugurated or gave the ideas for a wide variety of organizations, movements and institutions most of which are still in operation in many parts of the world today – based on a philosophy of inner development. From agriculture and architecture to banking, education, medicine and religion, Steiner not only had ideas, but profound insights that moved others to take up new directions in their lives.
Perhaps, most essentially, Steiner was concerned with the freedom of the individual and committed to supporting the creation of a healthy society built on spiritual-moral foundations freely-chosen. Although his philosophy is fundamentally spiritual, it is not about mystical-self absorbtion, but about taking initiative to improve life on Earth. He strongly believed that spiritual development was not a goal in itself, but rather the basis and context of healthy social interactions. He called his philosophy “Anthroposophy” and referred to it also as “spiritual science.”
Largely famous for his Waldorf School movement with over 900 independent schools worldwide, Steiner’s educational philosophy has been used successfully of over 80 years. See www.awsna.org and www.waldorfworld.net for more information.
Steiner’s work on what he called the “social question” led to further ideas for the realms of economics and finance. So for example, his ideas also spawned efforts at socially, economically and ecologically sound banking in many countries and was integral to his ideas about social change (“Threefolding” and “Associative Economics”) alreay before 1920. See www.triodos.com, www.rsfoundation.org and www.threefolding.freeuk.com for more information
Healing in the sense of medicine, but also in terms of social therapy and development, were a big part of Steiner’s life and work. Much, if not most, of his initiatives were aimed directly at healing challenging social conditions – and the individual human being was at the center of these. Anthroposophically extended medicine has developed all around the world as a true compliment to modern medicine. See www.paam.net and www.artemisia.net for more information. Also, the care of the handicapped (pc: developmentally disabled) person was of great concern to Steiner, who with several physicians pioneered socially and medically responsible alternatives to the often miserable care offered the disabled. The most famous of these initiatives is the Camphill Movement. Please see: www.camphillassociation.org
More on Steiner and Anthroposophy will appear in the near future on this site.
“Anthroposophy is a path of knowledge that guides the spiritual in the human being to the spiritual in the universe. It arises in us as a need of the heart; as a part of our feeling life. It can be justified only inasmuch as it can satisfy this inner need. Alone those can acknowledge Anthroposophy, who find in it what their own inner life feels impelled to seek. An anthroposophist, therefore, can only be someone who feels the need for answers to certain questions about the nature of being human and about the nature of the universe – as if they were an elemental need in life, just as one feels hunger and thirst.”
Rudolf Steiner – Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts (Letters to Members, 1924)