“Fundamentally, anthroposophy intends nothing other than the Sophia – in other words that content of consciousness, that inward experience within the soul – that makes us full human beings. 'Wisdom of the human being' does not accurately reflect the meaning of the word anthroposophy, which should rather be interpreted as 'consciousness of our humanity'"
Central issues of anthroposophy
Anthroposophy regards itself as a scientifically-based path of knowledge. On this path, gradual steps lead one to new discoveries and impulses for life. Anthroposophy therefore does not comprise a system of fixed themes and views.
In recent centuries people have increasingly taken responsibility for their own existence, for their social forms and the structuring of the world they live in. They therefore also have to acquire sufficient capacities to do so. Increasingly they also have to live with the paradox that their full potential is something which they can only attain through further development.
They themselves can decide what image of the human being represents their ideal – which their own future depends on. Thus our image of the human being creates reality and confronts the individual with his own decisions on what to be. In the twentieth century this capacity for freedom has increasingly become an existential life issue, since the consequences of our image of the human being affect our social and natural environment more and more. Increasingly, therefore, we are in creative co-existence with the whole world.
Anthroposophy as spiritual science tries to understand this creative – i.e. spiritual – context and by understanding it to participate in forming it.
This context is expressed in the core range of anthroposophical themes presented here, whose terminology was coined by Rudolf Steiner and has since been largely referred to in these terms.
Central research and practice issues:
1. Spiritual Science Studies and Meditative Practice
The study of anthroposophical spiritual science includes practicing methods of working through texts. Study constitutes the first step towards meditative practice in an anthroposophical sense.
2. Knowledge of the Human Being Through Spiritual Science
"The 'I' acquires being and meaning from that with which it is connected." With these simple words in the book Theosophy, Rudolf Steiner sets the tone for a complex nexus: One’s own existence receives the imprint of the object of its activity. That with which 'the I' bonds is on the one hand connected to the past (body), can be taken hold of and shaped in the present (soul), and can lead to capacities to bring to realization one’s own existence out of future possibilities (spirit).
3. Reincarnation and Karma
The human being's growing responsibility in modern times for himself and for the world in which he lives also has consequences for his own spiritual existence. On the one hand the human being increasingly becomes that which he himself has made out of himself. On the other hand he is confronted with the consequences of his own deeds in the world. Neither can be overlooked in our time in terms of their consequences for civilization. The idea of reincarnation of the individual spirit, of destiny in the anthroposophical sense, means that this connection between self-determination and one’s own existence, or between action and responsibility, remains intact even when the temporal boundaries of birth and death are crossed.
4. Christology and Knowledge of the Hierarchies
In the past, cultural and individual identity was shaped largely by means of the "great narratives" of humanity: myths of the world's coming into being, revelations and prophesies, and the original, primary sources endowing religion with its earliest foundations.
Modern times have increasingly replaced this with a kind of science that is nature- oriented. Whereas the earlier form lacked an identity-shaping, scientific form free of revelation and religion, insight into the human being that is gleaned from nature sets limits to the inquiry about human nature.
The question arises in the 20th century as to whether the human being and his relationship to the divine can be an object of scientific consideration without falling back into a pre-enlightenment state of being. Anthroposophy is an attempt to answer this question positively.
On the one hand, the capacities acquired by means of modern development can also be broadened for the purposes of supersensible research into the origin and evolution of the human being and the world, so that new "narratives" come about which build on the productive strength of the individual. On the other hand, working with "great stories or narratives" can contribute to a deepened understanding of the human being and to humanity-oriented tolerance and acceptance.
Knowledge of spiritual-hierarchical beings and knowledge of Christology assume a central position in anthroposophy.
5. Social Forms and Social Competence
Societal relationships today can no longer consist of the human being subjecting himself to them, but must rather further the capacities of the individual and meet his needs. This presents challenges wherever more needs to be attained through collaboration than a sole individual could bring about.
6. Contemporary Questions
A characteristic of anthroposophy can be seen in the fact that its initiatives for contemporary civilization arise out of individual development. A diagnosis of the tendencies of our time and of the challenges presented by the world we live in might be that they represent a developmental task for both the individual and society.