For ten years, a group of people has met twice a year in the Northern part of the Netherlands to deal with the content of the Foundation Stone Meditation and the laying of the Foundation Stone. The question of the renewal of the mysteries through the Christmas Conference was of particular concern to Henk Verhoog. Here are some results of this search and Henk’s suggestion for preparing for the 100th Anniversary of the Christmas Conference.
During the laying of the Foundation Stone of the General Anthroposophical Society on December 25, 1923, Rudolf Steiner spoke of a renewal of the old mystery phrase ‹Know Thyself›. It is a renewal ‹from the signs of the present›. This refers to Michael’s Age, which began in 1879. Michael is the great inspiration for the knowledge of the tripartite human. It is about ‹Knowing Thyself›: knowing body, soul, and spirit.
The laying of the Foundation Stone and the Foundation Stone Meditation contains the essence of the esoteric Michael School, which was founded with the Class Lessons. Almost all the mantric sayings of this school are about the internalization of the principle of the tripartite human within the cosmos. The entry into the spiritual world takes place only after the human being has seen ‹the three›, the three separate soul functions of thinking, feeling, and wanting, and their relationship to the universe. When this internalization is advanced enough, the moment will be reached when the human being will be able to build an inner temple in which spiritual hierarchies can appear.
In the opening lecture of the Christmas Conference on December 24, Rudolf Steiner said that the Anthroposophical Movement is a divine service that wants to connect the soul of each individual who devotes themselves to the primordial sources of everything human in the spiritual world. This is also what the Class Lessons want to achieve: to become aware of the words «Yes, this is me as a human being, as a God-willed human being on Earth, as a God-willed human being in the universe.» In the last lesson, these primordial sources of the tripartite human being are found.
The new mysteries do not need an external temple. This temple is built by the people themselves, in internal collaboration with spiritual beings. The knowledge or insight of the tripartite human being is the starting point, but this knowledge must penetrate the heart. One can only understand the mystery of ‹the three are the one› with the heart. It is striking how often Rudolf Steiner uses the word heart in this opening lecture. That the Movement is God’s will, «we want to inscribe deeply in our hearts, we want to make it our deepest affair of the heart» because «the most important thing to be done in these days is to be done in each of your hearts.» Our «heart and soul must be able to beat for it.»
Founding From the Heart
In the fourth part of the Foundation Stone Meditation, the hope is expressed: «That good may become what we, from hearts found, what we from heads direct with focused will..» First of all, founding from the heart, what does that mean? How do you do that? My understanding is that every idea has to be turned into an ideal. The whole human being must participate in this. In this particular case, it is about laying the Foundation Stone of the Anthroposophical Society. Founding from the heart points to the Anthroposophically-inspired hearts that can become aware of this cornerstone.
In addition, it is about something communal. It’s about us starting something. It’s not just our personal business. The divine light, the Christ-Sun, shines for all humanity. At the end of the laying of the Foundation Stone, Rudolf Steiner said that with the tone of the Foundation Stone Meditation in one’s heart, a «true union of people for Anthroposophia» can be founded. And in the opening lecture, he says he «called those present here to evoke a harmony of heart in the true Anthroposophical sense.»
To evoke harmony of hearts, it is necessary to work on community building. This does not happen by itself. This is only possible if the hearts are involved with all their strength. For Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophical community building means that we wake up to the soul and spiritual aspects of other people, or rather that we try to see Christ in other people. In doing so, we must restrain ourselves and connect with the other person’s higher self. For me, this is part of self-reflection in the sense of the second verse of the Foundation Stone Meditation. Self-reflection in soul balance. The highest goal of self-reflection is the union with the World-I, with Christ.
The Post-Atlantic Cultural Periods
At the inauguration of a new group of members in Düsseldorf, Rudolf Steiner gave a lecture entitled: ‹Community Above Us, Christ Within Us› (GA 159, June 15, 1915). Here he describes how the fraternal cooperation of the members has a special meaning for the spiritual world. This creates the possibility for the Spirit Self to connect with a group. The communal spiritual ideal floats, so to speak, as a being above this group and can come back to earth from the spiritual world as the content of the following cultural period.
For Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophical community building means that we wake up to the soul and spiritual aspects of other human beings, or rather that we try to see Christ in the other human being.
This becomes very concrete when Rudolf Steiner points out that the Anthroposophical Society is called upon to prepare the next, the sixth post-Atlantean cultural period. In the old mystery schools, it was always the case that the following cultural period was prepared. If the mysteries were renewed with the Christmas Conference, it can therefore be assumed that the sixth post-Atlantic cultural period would also be prepared. This would mean that the character traits to be developed for this preparation also apply to the renewal of the mysteries through the Christmas Conference.
It is then a matter of cultivating the following ideals in hearts: first, experiencing each suffering of another person as one’s own. Every person will feel part of the whole and also experience what is experienced in the whole. Steiner also calls it fraternal social coexistence. Second, the longing for complete freedom of thought in the religious field. And third, the recognition of the spiritual world and the drive to connect with it.
What We Want to Lead Purposefully from Our Heads
At the very end of the laying of the Foundation Stone, Rudolf Steiner calls on members to carry out the spirit, the light of the Foundation Stone, «for the progress of human souls, for the progress of the world.» And at the end of the Christmas Conference, he says: «[…] carry out your warm hearts […] into the world for strong, healing action.» So the foundation is not just for ourselves. But what should we have in the world? What do we want to «lead purposefully from our heads?» What ideals are hidden in the cornerstone saying? Ideals in which we can find peace of mind by looking at the spirit: «Where the eternal goals of the Gods give world-being-light to our own self for free will.»
I have to think of the lecture ‹The Working of the Angel in the Astral Body› (GA 182, October 9, 1918). Rudolf Steiner describes there how the spirits of the form (Exusiai) lead the Earth’s mission. They form imaginative images of the future. Through the angels, these images are formed in our astral body, where they are looked at unconsciously by us every night. They are the divine aims of the Exusiai, of which we become aware through the ‹spirit-seeing› (the third verse of the Foundation Stone Meditation) and which we can let work in the ‹free will›. The goals of the future in this way coincide with Rudolf Steiner’s goals in the lecture mentioned above ‹Community Over Us, Christ Within Us›. They are assigned to the tripartite human being: spiritual science for the spirit, religious freedom for the soul (seeing something divine in the other person, whereby every encounter becomes a sacred act), and fraternity for our bodies. Fraternity here refers to the social conditions in physical life.
This made it clear to me that these goals can be combined with the three stanzas of the Foundation Stone Meditation and the three ideals of the tripartite social structure: freedom, equality, and fraternity. For me, this discovery was exciting. In fact, this makes visible the possibility of bridging the long-standing distance between the movement of Social Threefolding and the Anthroposophical Society. If the Foundation Stone Meditation is equally important for both, the same esoteric basis applies to them. A little more than half a year before the Christmas Conference, Rudolf Steiner stated that the Threefold Movement had not succeeded because the Michael idea «was not strong enough» (GA 223, April 2, 1923). I understand this to mean that the conception of the tripartite social structure lacked the Michaelic esoteric basis.
Against this background, excellent prospects open up for a renewal of the impulse of the Christmas Conference, 100 years later. The Foundation Stone Meditation could serve as a basis for all sections and also lead to a connection of the Threefold Social Order with the great ideals of the Anthroposophical Society. It would be wonderful if we could all work together to prepare for the next cultural period.
Image Sofia Lismont – Translation: Monika Werner