Rudolph Steiner and the Baha'i Faith

All research or scholarship questions
Ian Mayes
Posts: 22
Joined: Thu Feb 05, 2009 4:44 pm

Rudolph Steiner and the Baha'i Faith

Postby Ian Mayes » Fri Mar 13, 2009 10:50 pm

Hey everyone,

Does anyone here by any chance have any information about any connections between Rudolph Steiner and Anthroposophy with the Baha'i Faith?

I ask, because Steiner was somewhat of a contemporary to Baha'u'llah (even moreso with Abdu'l Baha) and I wonder if any of them ever talked about each other.

I also ask because I live and work full-time as a volunteer at a Camphill community, which is philosophically based on the work of Rudolph Steiner. So if I do end up becoming a Baha'i, I will be one in an immediate social environment that is shaped by Anthoposophical spiritual understandings.

Thanks everyone, for all of your time, attention, and care, and I do wish you all the very best!

- Ian

brettz9
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Re: Rudolph Steiner and the Baha'i Faith

Postby brettz9 » Sat Mar 14, 2009 10:40 pm

Hello Ian,

I have not seen anything about any explicit connection. I think you may be interested in the quotes beginning at http://bahai-library.com/?file=hornby_l ... er=4#n1719 in reference to Emanuel Swedenborg, however.

Also, not sure if you noticed my earlier response to you in this thread) about similarities between Anthroposophy and the Baha'i Faith.

best wishes,
Brett

Ian Mayes
Posts: 22
Joined: Thu Feb 05, 2009 4:44 pm

Re: Rudolph Steiner and the Baha'i Faith

Postby Ian Mayes » Sun Mar 15, 2009 10:12 pm

Heya Brett,

Thank you for your reply. I very much appreciate all of the time, care, and attention that you put into answering all of these diverse questions and concerns.

I think that the essence of what my concern / question is now around this topic is that.... given that I live & work in an intentional community environment based around Anthroposophy and Anthroposophical understandings - how close can I get to adopting Anthroposophical beliefs and practices while still being a Baha'i?

Where exactly is the line between being an Anthroposophist and being a Baha'i?

At what point would I have to make a choice between either being a Baha'i or being an Anthroposophist?

I ask these questions, because back in the 1996 - 1998 time-frame I went through some serious intense and often painful soul-searching questioning around the question of whether I wanted to either adhere to the philosophy of anarchism that I then recently discovered, or remain a Baha'i which is the religion that I was born and raised in, and officially joined at the age of 16. I ultimately chose to leave the Baha'i Faith in favor of anarchism, which was a choice that I see now as being necessary for me for where I was at at that time.

Now, I am personally swinging the other way, finding myself *more* interested in the Baha'i Faith again and *less* interested in anarchism. I am also at the same time finding myself more interested in Anthroposophy, which is also partly reinforced by the fact that I am surrounded by Anthroposophists within an Anthroposophical environment. I am wanting to avoid if at all possible having to make the same kind of agonizingly painful choice between adopting either Anthroposophy or the Baha'i Faith - if in fact it does come down to that.

So, with that all in mind, I ask you for whatever advice, information, suggestions, or empathy that you may have for this.

Thank you again, and I am sincerely wishing you all the best!

- Ian

brettz9
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Re: Rudolph Steiner and the Baha'i Faith

Postby brettz9 » Mon Mar 16, 2009 10:09 pm

Hello Ian,

On the one hand, there are quotes such as those I referenced in the link (albeit dealing with those who appeared before the Bab and Baha'u'llah):

"...The teachings of such spiritually enlightened souls as Swedenborg, Emerson, and others should be considered as the advanced stirrings in the minds of great souls foreshadowing that Revelation which was to break upon the world through the Bab and Bahá'u'lláh. Anything they say which is not substantiated by the Teachings, however, we cannot regard as absolute truth, but merely as the reflection of their own thoughts."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 6, 1943)


So, Baha'is are welcome and encouraged to learn from other enlightened individuals for its own sake, and for the sake of being able to better communicate with others. But we believe that Baha'u'llah has brought teachings on a vastly greater scale than any previous Manifestation of God, let alone a mere philosopher. The Baha'i Cycle is to last no less than 500,000 years! (The Baha'i Dispensation may end in a thousand or thousands of years with a new Manifestation of God and Law, but such Manifestations of God will still be under the shadow of Baha'u'llah--the Bringer of the unification of humanity on this planet.)

The claim of Baha'u'llah is a much more serious claim than of that of any philosopher or theologian--with a much greater chance of harm if it is false and a much greater chance of benefit if it is correct. If a scientist claimed to be able to offer you the power of the sun at little cost, while another offered to merely increase your battery life, I think we would naturally be more interested to verify the claim of the first, if there was some justification for his credibility, even though the second scientist indeed may have something worthwhile to offer.

Basing it on experience, I think you may find with experience that a deeper study of the Baha'i teachings can lead you to better recognize both the merits and shortcomings of specific man-made philosophies you may encounter.

As far as having to make a choice, Baha'is since the time of Shoghi Effendi, are not allowed to retain membership in churches, secret organizations or fraternities like Freemasonry, etc. (This quote is a helpful one, if you want a further reference.) Nevertheless, we are definitely encouraged to retain our relationships with people in such associations. Baha'i institutions can also collaborate in an apolitical fashion with other organizations as well.

The central question is whether you believe Baha'u'llah is the infallibly-guided Manifestation of God for this Age. If you do, then you will be eager to make clear the independence of this Revelation from any other previous one--for the sake of being able to enable others to notice and draw close to it (and by so doing, also allow them and yourself to unite together with others beyond your immediate community--from even more diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds), while still associating with, befriending, and learning from others in your previous religious or secular communities.

As far as anarchism, you may be interested to study the Baha'i Administrative Order more deeply. I think you may find that it is free of many of the flaws which turn people away from the governments of this age (while it still enjoins obedience to them).

best wishes,
Brett

Rachel Martin
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Joined: Mon Jul 12, 2010 10:27 pm

Re: Rudolph Steiner and the Baha'i Faith

Postby Rachel Martin » Mon Jul 12, 2010 11:13 pm

Hello Ian,

I am also very interested in Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l Baha being contemporaries of Steiner and how they might have viewed him. I grew up in an anthroposophical community and am comfortable and happy with that world view. On the other hand I am also increasingly interested in the teachings of the Baha'i faith and would love to know more and want to investigate if being a Baha'i would contradict being an anthroposophist.

Steiner wrote and talked about reincarnation. Have you reconciled the two views or heard anything you care to pass on?

Much love. Would be great to hear from you or anyone else who is interested.

Rachel

JamilDybwad
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Re: Rudolph Steiner and the Baha'i Faith

Postby JamilDybwad » Tue May 30, 2017 1:36 pm

Anthroposophy and Bahá'í - correspondences and deviations
When Abdu’l-Bahá was in Paris, he held one of many talks to Theosophists on 26th October 1911, reported in several theosophical journals. Replying to the thanks given him, he is reported to have replied: “I am very grateful to you for your kind sentiments which you have uttered. I hope that these two movements will ere long be spread all over the earth. Then will the Unity of Humanity have pitched its tent in the centre of the world”. (Abdu’l-Bahá in France, p.118)

In Stuttgart also AB talked on severeal occasions when there were lots of Theosophists present. He arrived in Stuttgart on the 1st of April 1913, was also for some days in Vienna and Budapest, back to Stuttgart and back in Paris again on the 1st of May. On the 7th March Rudolf Steiner was thrown out of the Theosophic Society after having founded Anthroposophy 2nd-3rd February 1913. He was followed by 92%, that is 2.257 members of the German society.

In 2014 there were 46.157 members and 35 national societies. However there are many first class institutions and professionals with Anthroposophic education without being members. The Camp-Hill movement is part of it. According to a Theosophical source, the Indian section in 2008 was said to have around 13.000 members while in the US the 2008 membership was reported at around 3.900. Looking at the influence, it might be fair to say that Anthroposophy is the vital part of Theosophy that has survived.

Stuttgart has at all times been central to Waldorf- and Steiner-education. Abdu’l-Bahá loved the spirituality of Stuttgart. So many people from there migrated in the direction of Teheran in 1817 that it was forbidden to leave the Kingdom of Württemberg. Then in 1868 they arrived in Haifa three weeks later than Bahá’u’lláh. The absolute worst Nazis were from there, and it is quite a centre of culture and industry, by all means a place of interest.

In my mind there is no doubt that Abdu’l-Bahá and Steiner knew about each other, although I have not been able to find any direct comments. Hand of the Cause Adelbert Mühlschlegel (from Stuttgart) is one Bahá’í who knew Anthroposophy well. Myself (from Stuttgart) I became a Bahá’í in May 1970 and, after corresponding with both organizations, an Anthroposopher in February 1980. I was a pupil at Kräerwaldschule for a short time, have taken a one year course of Anthroposophic medicine at Herdecke Hospital and worked at the world center Goetheanum for some months. I regularly consult the writings of Steiner (30 books, 6.000 talks) in books, magazines and the complete works as they can be searched online. I am certain many Bahá'ís have more substantial knowledge and experience than myself.

Anthroposophy is not a matter of faith, but is a systematic approach to spiritual realities – which is why it, in principle, will only be in conflict with fake or alternative facts. Since few people research Steiner personnally, his movement is as full of misguided romanticism as any other. Anthroposophy is a science, albeit with only one scientist. We regard something as evidence-based when the scientific community has achieved agreement. It seems to that Steiner is one of the very hard-working spiritual scientists, also being concerned with the communication of science and relating to the normal sciences. But from time to time he has been proven wrong, as well as foreseeing scientific discoveries on other occasions.

The intricacies of Anthroposophy are formidable. To give an Anthroposophic definition of a phenomenon would be against the approach of Steiner which is undogmatic and trying to inspire fluid concepts, especially of the reality that can not be conquered in words. Two definite differences: Steiner says the most harmful thing anybody could believe in is the incarnation of a manifestation of God in a human body. He also says the most important thing to consider is reincarnation. Both Bahá’í and Anthroposophy warn against focusing on spirits of all kinds, this being very unhealthy for the human soul. Both see the human soul with a potential to be incredibly more powerful than we can imagine. Both see acquiring of virtues as a prerequisite for spiritual development. Both view society and its development as crucial. The instance of our personality called the “I” is central to Anthroposophy, and their members probably would find the Bahá’í Faith weak and faulty on this theme – whereas I think even this could be an arena for fruitful exchange.

I feel in agreement with the view that Bahá’í and Anthroposophy can inspire each other very much. But there may be little to gain if people make up bahá’í-definitions or anthroposophic definitions and set them up against each other. The field of teaching though, might be especially rewarding. In teaching there is so much shallowness and lack of quality in this world – Steiner was very much for creativity, but even much more for the quality of everything that could be touched, listened to, seen, loved and so forth. There is a combination of German discipline, creativity and reflection coupled with love and humility and seeing the other. One of the most productive avenues would be if Bahá’ís and Anthroposophers tried to convince each other of the fallacies of the beliefs of the other, how cheap though.

Vivaespania
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Re: Rudolph Steiner and the Baha'i Faith

Postby Vivaespania » Sat Oct 14, 2017 4:15 pm

Hello JamilDybwad,
I really enjoyed reading your comments about Anthroposophy and Mr. Steiner.
As I was researching more about Mr. Steiner, I came across his beliefs in the subject of reincarnation. Now I am not against the idea of reincarnation in general. However, according to his writings, reincarnation was related to race. Black being the less developed and White race the most developed.
And among whites, the Arian Race (of which he was from / German) was the most developed.
Is this true? If yes, wouldn't this be in contradiction to Baha'i's belief of "Unity in Diversity" ?

And I just want to say, I am not in anyway against most of his teachings, just this one. And I am not a Baha'i although I love Baha'is and may some day become one!


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