What is Necessary in These Urgent Times (CW 196)

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What is Necessary in These Urgent Times

18 lectures in Dornach, January 9 – February 22, 1920 (CW 196)

In the vast range of Rudolf Steiner’s lectures, jewels of all kinds lie hidden in plain sight, awaiting only our discovery of them. Such lectures contain a kind of wisdom not found anywhere else. And sometimes, as in What Is Necessary in these Urgent Times, they also have a translucency and conviction that makes them transformational.

In early 1920, political, economic, social, and spiritual chaos was everywhere. The old world had fallen apart and would need to be rebuilt. Anthroposophy, too, had to be remade. Recognizing this, Rudolf Steiner tirelessly working for the “threefold social order,” establishing the first Waldorf school, helping to create businesses, and addressing the talented, educated, and idealistic young people who were beginning to turn toward Anthroposophy for answers.

In these lectures, Steiner speaks in the new, direct “Michaelic” way, seeking the path to a new way of doing Anthroposophy. Throughout the critical situation of the time, he never lost his sense of humor or his compassion and equilibrium. His tone is warm, relaxed, and intimate. Rather than following a strictly predetermined path, he speaks directly from the heart about what concerned him.

He stresses that the task of spiritual science is to awaken us to reality and to a true understanding of life that sees through illusions and understands the ever-present potential of evil. Speaking both esoterically and exoterically, he returns repeatedly to the importance of community, of meeting one another face-to-face, heart-to-heart, as individuals. Thus, rather than seeking power and control, we are called to cultivate trust and receptivity. This takes a spiritual transformation. We must learn to live this present life in the context of our greater spiritual life, which extends from before birth through earthly life and into the life after death that precedes our next birth. At the same time, we must come to know the Christ, who is to be met only in community. Selfishness, egotism, has no part in the new way: “When someone is alone Christ is not there. You cannot find Christ without first feeling a connection to humanity as a whole. You must seek Christ on the path that connects you with all humankind…. To be connected only with your own inner experiences leads you away from Christ.”

Steiner deals with many other important themes, as well, including “imperialism,” the initiate behind Shakespeare, Bacon, and James I—makers of our modern age—and well as fascinating, initiatory remarks on reincarnation, esoteric physiology, and psychology.

Running throughout the talks is the earnest admonition to be true to the spirit and the call to come to our senses and not fall prey to self-pity. Now, as it was then, the world needs us to be awake spiritually, and we need the world to be awake spiritually. There is nowhere to hide.

C O N T E N T S:

Introduction by Christopher Bamford

1. The Science of Initiation and the Realities of Life
2. Illusion and Evil
3. Knowledge of the Human Being through Knowledge of the World
4. The Necessity for the Development of New Social Forms
5. Initiation Science in the Light of Modern Thinking
6. Conditions for Understanding Supersensible Experiences
7. Thinking, Feeling, and Willing in Social Life
8. The Nature of the Threefold Social Organism
9. Historical Backgrounds and Personalities
10. The Foundations of a New Social Form
11. Spiritual Realities in Practical Life
12. Transforming Social Life through a New Understanding of Christianity
13. Memory, Intelligence, and the Senses in Relation to the Spiritual World
14. The Metamorphosis of Feeling, Desiring, and Wanting
15. A Spiritual Contemplation of Threefolding
16. The Development of Imperialism: I
17. The Development of Imperialism: II
18. The Development of Imperialism: III

What Is Necessary in These Urgent Times is a translation from German of Geisitige und soziale Wandlungen in der Menschheitsentwikelung (GA 196).

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.

Christopher Bamford is Editor in Chief, Emeritus, for SteinerBooks and its imprints. A Fellow of the Lindisfarne Association, he has lectured, taught, and written widely on Western spiritual and esoteric traditions. He is the author of The Voice of the Eagle: The Heart of Celtic Christianity (1990) and An Endless Trace: The Passionate Pursuit of Wisdom in the West(2003). He has also translated and edited numerous books, including Celtic Christianity: Ecology and Holiness (1982);Homage to Pythagoras: Rediscovering Sacred Science; and The Noble Traveller: The Life and Writings of O. V. de L. Milosz (all published by Lindisfarne Books).

Additional information

Weight 27 oz
Dimensions 6 × 1.5 × 9 in


Rory Bradley


Christopher Bamford




August 2010






CW 196


Steiner Books


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