How to Know Higher Worlds
is an allegory for the spiritual path.
a story that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning.
A traditional allegory is a teaching story about a fictional character.
But in the case of this text,
the character is you.
And the allegorical nature of this text
isn't just based in the words on the page.
But rather: in the entire experience of the reading itself.
Because as we read, we will come across concepts that make crystal clear sense...
...and things that absolutely mire us in confusion. And it’s supposed to be like this.
because this text is not only a description
of the spiritual path, but also mirrors the reality of how it feels to walk it.
So, intrepid traveller... are you ready to join us?
the Steiner Reading Room is a 12 week self-guided experience centered around the reading of Rudolf Steiner's classic book: How to Know Higher Worlds.
About the book
From Greek— Anthropos (man) Sophia (wisdom):
The wisdom of humanity and the human experience.
This text is not just about reading a description of the spiritual path.
It suggests that we actually live into the description of it.
Anthroposophy is an integral [engaged with life] Western philosophical tradition that emphasizes the importance of maintaining our duties and commitments to the world while also developing ourselves spiritually. Steiner was, in his own unique way, a true Tantrik. Outlined in this text is a three-fold path of initiation to "Higher Knowledge" [God], saturated with practices, attitudes, and dispositions to train the mind and body to become more receptive to the reality of the Spiritual World. Framed by an intense, humanistic morality—Steiner takes us on a journey to refine ourselves into our innate Wholeness, but also become resilient, ethical beings who are prepared to serve the world as embodied expressions of the Highest Reality.
In his lifetime, Steiner completed 330 spiritual works and gave nearly 4000 lectures, spanning virtually every subject of Human life: education for adults and children, architecture, art and art therapy, food and farm, civil planning, and even visioning for an ideal structure of society and economy (the three-fold social order). His purview was massive, yet: it was clearly painted by his cultural moment; a [white male] millieu concerned with categorization, evolutionary theory, and race. Included in his collection of lectures [4 lectures out of 4,000] are talks given on race and the hierarchy of the races.
In chapter 10, remnants of this antiquated and racist worldview appear before us. However, this is a teachable moment. One of the most valuable skills on the spiritual path is to be able to extricate wisdom from ANY source. In this course, we attempt to reconcile the deep Truth of what he says throughout the text with his archaic views about race... through balancing the realities of cultural context, spiritual power, and racial identity. The big question is: What do we do about Steiner in 2022? Do we throw him out, and ignore his meaningful contributions to the world in the 20th century? Or, can we recognize the incredible spiritual movement he created, and simultaneously condemn his divisive beliefs about humanity? What happens when we realize: there will never be a perfect lineage; there will never be a perfect teacher. And what if Steiner stands as one of the many Great Teachers of the 20th century who [unintentionally] taught us that you can experience incredibly refined states of Consciousness and still have a bad personality? That was the profound lesson about spirituality that we learned in the 20th century.
So: What do we do with that now? What if the most esoteric interpretation of Steiner is that he's confusing on purpose? If you are prepared to ask yourself: "What perfect truth is this imperfect being trying to communicate?"—you're not only a great candidate for the Reading Room, but you're incredibly well suited for the path itself. :)
1. How to Know Higher Worlds
2. The Stages of Initiation
4. Practical Considerations
5. Requirements for Esoteric Training
6. Some Effects of Esoteric Training
7. Changes in the Dream Life of the Esoteric Student
8. Achieving Continuity of Consciousness
9. The Splitting of the Personality
in Esoteric Training
10. The Guardian of the Threshold
11. Life and Death:
The Great Guardian of the Threshold
I began my study of anthroposophy in 2011 when I was trained in Biodynamic Agriculture, Steiner's spiritualized approach to the cultivation of plants and animals. I also consider myself to be part of a lineage of Anthroposophists—members of my own family have been devotedly studying Steiner for 50+ years, including a relative who started the first Waldorf boarding school in the United States—High Mowing in New Hampshire. Because of this, I consider myself “literate” in Anthroposophy—Steiner’s lectures are notoriously difficult to understand; so you can consider me your translator. It is my firm belief that Anthroposophy cannot be understood in isolation. I attribute all of my knowledge of this tradition to the beings who taught me about it directly. It needs to be understood in community and relationship.
In addition to this: I wrote my undergraduate thesis on the role of ritual in Biodynamic Agriculture and the need for our culture to give serious consideration to subjective methods of knowing truth. My undergraduate degree focused on the study of esoteric world religions, so my broad understanding of various traditions deeply informs my understanding of this text. I also have 7 years of experience on a similar but different spiritual path [classical shakta tantra], and help to frame what he is describing based off of my personal experiences on the path. Throughout this course, you will hear COUNTLESS stories about my own experiences working on the ego and studying with a true spiritual teacher... and all of the joys and challenges that arise within this deeply transformative dynamic.
The Steiner Reading Room is entirely unique. Why? Because if you want to learn about Steiner, the only options out there are classes taught by Anthroposophists [who usually aren't critical of him.] I am not an Anthroposophist, and that's what gives me my edge when teaching. However, I see this movement and this text for what it is and teach about it from the perspective that this is a nearly perfect outline of the spiritual path AND it's an ideal teaching-moment to underscore the troubling realities that arise in the spiritual arena. Hear me out: If you can make it through this text, you'll be able to handle anything.
I look forward to walking it with you. :)
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You are confused by the notion of the spiritual path, and want to experience what a framework towards spiritual growth is actually like; what is to be expected.
You see the value of working with a spiritual teacher, but are [understandably] confused by all of the charlatan's that have poisoned the invaluable student/teacher dynamic. An integral aspect of this course is learning how to extricate wisdom from any source, including dubious ones [Steiner is included!]
You are looking to take a particular spiritual path more seriously. This course is not held with the intention to convert you to Anthroposophy. But rather with the intention to situate you better in your own path to find what's best for you.
You have an interest in integral spirituality: Life AS path, as opposed to obstacle.
You have an interest in the western occult, but want to move towards something that emphasizes morality and personal development.
You are interested in learning more about Anthroposophy—this is the perfect introduction.