Awakening to Community

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Awakening to community is a need that is becoming stronger and stronger in the present consciousness soul age, namely since the beginning of the 20th century. Rudolf Steiner has also called this awakening on the other a second awakening that leads beyond the awakening to everyday object consciousness.

Through object consciousness, the human being sees himself confronted with external nature. He also faces other people externally at first. He sees their outer form, their facial expressions and gestures, hears their speech. At the same time, his self-consciousness is ignited by this experience of the outer sensual world, in that he becomes aware of his own inner soul world through his thinking, feeling and willing. Through his compassion, he already finds an emotional bridge to his fellow human beings - a development that already began in the Greco-Latin period. Today, as an enhancement of this ability, a full awakening to the spiritual and soul of the other person is possible, an awakening to their real being, with whom one feels a karmic connection.

„With the awakening of the consciousness soul, with the unfolding of the consciousness soul, a new element has entered into human life. For there must be a second awakening, and this second awakening will appear more and more as a need of humanity: This is the awakening to the soul and spirit of other human beings. In ordinary waking day-life one awakens only to the nature of another human being; but to the soul and spirit of another human being the human being wants to awaken who has become independent, who has become personal through the age of consciousness. He wants to awaken to the soul and spirit of the other human being, he wants to confront the other human being in such a way that the other human being produces such a jolt in his own soul as the outer light, the outer sound and so on produces in relation to the dream life.

This need has been quite elementary since the beginning of the 20th century and will become ever stronger. Throughout the 20th century, in spite of all its chaotic, tumultuous nature, which will permeate the whole of civilisation, this will show itself as a need: the need will arise for human beings to want to awaken to the other human being to a greater degree than one can awaken to the mere natural environment. Dream life, it awakens in the natural environment to awake day life. Waking daily life awakens to a higher consciousness in the other human being, in the soul and spirit of the other human being. Man must become more than he has always been to man. He must become an awakening being for him. People must come closer to each other than they have been up to now: every person who meets another must become an awakening being. The modern people who have now entered life have stored up far too much karma for them not to feel that their destiny is bound up with that of the other person they meet in life. If you go back to earlier ages, the souls were younger, they had fewer karmic connections. Now the necessity arises that one is awakened not only by nature, but by the people who are karmically connected with one and whom one wants to seek.“ (Lit.:GA 257, p. 176f)

This makes a new kind of community building possible today, a spiritual community building, such as is to be cultivated in anthroposophical community building. At the same time, this can give rise to a new form of cultus, a kind of reversed cultus, through which a community striving together spiritually elevates itself into the spiritual world in such a way that higher spiritual beings can also be effectively present in its midst.

„And so, in addition to the need for remembrance of the supersensible home, which can be satisfied through cult, there is the other need to be awakened to the spiritual-soul through the other human being. And the emotional impulse that can be effective here is that of the newer idealism. When the ideal ceases to be a mere abstract ideal, when it is rooted in the human soul-spirit, then it will take on the form: I want to awaken in the other human being. - That is, after all, the vague feeling that arises in young people today: I want to awaken to the other person. And this is what can be cultivated as a special community life in the Anthroposophical Society, what arises there in the most natural way in the world. For when a group of people come together to experience together that which can be revealed from the supersensible world through anthroposophy, then this experience in a group of people is something quite different from the solitary experience. The fact that one awakens to the soul of the other at the moment when one is together gives off an atmosphere which does not lead into the supersensible world as described in "How does one attain knowledge of the higher worlds?", but which promotes the understanding of the ideas which are given of the supersensible world through anthroposophical spiritual science.“ (Lit.:GA 257, p. 177f)

Drawing from Rudolf Steiner's lecture in Dornach, on 3 March 1923, plain text transcript of the 9th lecture from GA 257, p. 20 (plate 1)
Drawing from Rudolf Steiner's lecture in Dornach, on 3 March 1923, plain text transcript of the 9th lecture from GA 257, p. 20 (plate 1)

„Through the cultus the supersensible in word and action is brought down into the physical world. Through the anthroposophical branch the thoughts and feelings of the anthroposophical group are lifted up into the supersensible world. And when the anthroposophical content is experienced in the right frame of mind by a group of human beings, whereby human soul awakens to human soul, this human soul is actually raised to the spiritual community. It is only a question of this consciousness being really present. When this consciousness is present and such groups appear in the Anthroposophical Society, then in this, if I may say so, reversed cultus, in the other pole of the cultus, something community-forming is present in the most eminent sense. One might say, if one wants to speak metaphorically: the cult community tries to induce the angels of heaven to descend into the cult space so that they may be among the people. The anthroposophical community tries to raise human souls into the supersensible world so that they may come among the angels. This is the community-building element in both.

But if anthroposophy is to be something for the human being that really leads into the supersensible world, then it must not be theory, not abstraction. Then one must not merely speak of spiritual beings, but seek out the nearest, most immediate opportunities to be with spiritual beings. The work of an anthroposophical group does not consist merely in a number of people talking about anthroposophical ideas, but in their feeling united as human beings in such a way that human soul awakens to human soul and people are transported up into the spiritual world, so that they are really among spiritual beings, even if perhaps without seeing. Even if it is not there in the vision, it can be there in the experience. And that is then the strengthening, the invigorating, which can come out of the groups which have just come into being within the Anthroposophical Society with the right community building.“ (Lit.:GA 257, p. 179f)


References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
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Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English.
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.