Reverse Ritual: Spiritual Knowledge Is True Communion
“Perception of the idea within the actual is the true communion of the human being” —Goethe
Religious ritual is often seen as a way of bringing divine influences down into the material world. In this profound and stimulating work, Rudolf Steiner and Friedrich Benesch introduce the idea of “reverse ritual”—a way that each of us can raise our souls to the spiritual realm.
In this process, the everyday world becomes a portal through which we can enter the dimension of the sacred. Here, each of us can be a “priest,” and each of our actions can be a cosmic, ritual act.
This stimulating collection of writings on spiritual communion of humanity includes two further lectures by Steiner that show how this process can engage our social lives. Also included are two additional essays as appendices: “Sacramental and Spiritual Communion” by Dietrich Asten and “Human Encounters and Karma” by Athys Floride.
The introduction by Christopher Schaefer brings these ideas into focus for modern seekers.
- Part One: “The Spiritual Communion of Humanity” (5 lectures from GA 219)
- Part Two: “Preparing for the Sixth Epoch”
- Part Three: Commentaries by Friedrich Benesch
- Appendices: Selections from Dietrich Asten: “Spiritual and Sacramental Communion” & Athys Floride: “Human Encounters and Karma.”
About the Author
Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) was born in the small village of Kraljevec, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now in Croatia), where he grew up (see right). As a young man, he lived in Weimar and Berlin, where he became a well-published scientific, literary, and philosophical scholar, known especially for his work with Goethe’s scientific writings. At the beginning of the twentieth century, he began to develop his early philosophical principles into an approach to systematic research into psychological and spiritual phenomena. Formally beginning his spiritual teaching career under the auspices of the Theosophical Society, Steiner came to use the term Anthroposophy (and spiritual science) for his philosophy, spiritual research, and findings. The influence of Steiner’s multifaceted genius has led to innovative and holistic approaches in medicine, various therapies, philosophy, religious renewal, Waldorf education, education for special needs, threefold economics, biodynamic agriculture, Goethean science, architecture, and the arts of drama, speech, and eurythmy. In 1924, Rudolf Steiner founded the General Anthroposophical Society, which today has branches throughout the world. He died in Dornach, Switzerland.
Friedrich Benesch (1907–1991) was born in a German-speaking part of Romania and earned doctorates in biology, theology, and anthropology. He was later ordained in The Christian Community and became the leader of its seminary in Stuttgart in 1957. He traveled, lectured, and published extensively.
Christopher Schaefer, Ph.D., is a founding member of the Social Science Section of the Goetheanum School of Spiritual Science in North America, a faculty member at Sunbridge College, and Director of the Waldorf School Administration and Community Development program. He is also an organization development consultant, and the Executive Director of High Tor Alliance.
Michael Lipson, PhD, the author of Stairway of Surprise: Six Steps to a Creative Life (2002) and Group Meditation (2011), is also the translator of Rudolf Steiner’s Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path: A Philosophy of Freedom and of numerous books by Georg Kühlewind. After working with children with HIV/AIDS for nine years in New York City’s Harlem Hospital, he moved with his wife and two children to the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts. Dr. Lipson conducts a practice in Clinical Psychology and teaches meditation internationally. He is a frequent host of the radio call-in show Vox Pop on WAMC, a local NPR affiliate station in Upstate New York.
Dietrich Asten had travelled both the sacramental way, as a member of the Christian Community, and the path of spiritual communion, as an anthroposophical meditant. Like a jeweler setting cut and polished stones, he worked upon the facets of his experience and presented the results of his reflection with deliberation and an economy of words.
Athys Floride was born in 1920 in French Guyana. After serving as a fighter pilot in North Africa during World War II, he studied philosophy and taught in French schools and colleges. He has been an anthroposophist for many years and helped start the Waldorf movement in France. He also founded a center for curative, or special, education.
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