Already back in 1991 I noticed that the Stuttgarter Anthroposophical Branch, one of the most active in the world, was full of elderly individuals (vergreist). The big names such as Prokoffief, Dietz, Teichmann, would be invited regularly to give lectures in the Stuttgart Halle. All of these speakers followed the same tired lecture format. One had the feeling that Anthroposophy was formulaic - the same tired Steiner quotes year in, year out, - even Virginia Sease followed this model in her lecture on Faust. This is not to say that there were no independent and creative individuals giving presentations. There is much to learn in the German speaking Anthroposophical world.
I was attending the Anthroposophical Studien Seminar at the time and was able to witness the heart of anthroposophical endeavors such the anthroposophical Hochschulkollegium, Priest Seminary, Jugend Seminar, Waldorf teacher seminar, the arts seminar, and Eurythmy school. In 1991, all of these institutions were full and some even had waiting lists, but by 1998 most had closed their doors! Why was that?
My thesis is that in Germany and the USA older Anthroposophists never learned O'Neil's work on the Philosophy of Freedom, and therefore could not understand the new thinking that Steiner used in his books. As a result, the elder generation could not teach young anthroposophists this form of thinking. No bridge could be laid between the generations.
Because now three generations of anthroposophists have passed never having learned the NEW THINKING, young souls cannot unfold their destiny as part of the Michaelic soul group. The branches rarely attract people in search of a new thinking. This is probably why organized anthroposophy resembles a polite society/club like the Jungians or Lutherans who believe in reincarnation. Bored Anthroposophists show up to their monthly first-class meetings as a way to save face and network. Most branch leaders know of O'Neil's work and may even be convinced of its centrality, but for some reason continue to muse over Steiner's greatness while they themselves never master a single Steiner text in its form and content.
Over the past twenty years, branch life in the United States has become a lazy affair. Most branches such LA, NYC, Honolulu and even Chicago have active members in terms of organizers and caretakers, but nearly no spiritual activity in the sense of capacity building. Reading through their catalogue of events, one sees very few real study groups and branch life is built on consensus thinking, not spiritual thinking.
One certainly never sees anything remotely resembling spiritual activity i.e., the actual development of spiritual abilities including akashic reading, student-mentor spiritual guidance, angel communication, and any other topic covered in Knowledge of Higher Worlds. I have never heard of an Anthroposophical Conference entitled: "Preparation, Enlightenment, and Initiation: 3 speakers on their experience of Initiation." In fact, the hallmark of the Anthroposophical Society is that branch members have, as a rule, zero spiritual capacities. The ones that do, leave the branch. This is my experience.
What about other activities? To the extent that these activities have no spiritual value, they do not belong at the branch. There seems to be an over-abundance of Wagner painters, puppetry, Barfieldians, and reading aloud in a circle. As one branch member said to me: "The buffoonery in the anthroposophical society is at such a high level, it is almost admirable." Another life-long Anthroposophist said to me in disbelief how the American Anthroposophical magazines have been writing about the same ten topics for over 40 years! Just recently the anthroposophical scholar Robby McDermott recycled "ye olde" newsletters of the Anthroposophical Society entitled "Classics" of Anthroposophy in which all of George O'Neil's work was EXCLUDED! So really, the only work that would have had meaning for the future understanding of Rudolf Steiner is excluded by their in-house PHD McDermott. THAT IS CLASSIC ANTHROPOSOPHY!
Learning about the anthroposophical world view is important to expanding our spirit abilities and in this sense the McDemotts and Eastons play their important role. These scholars, like Below and Barfield before them, send people in Steiner's direction. The problem is that they keep people stuck and enamored in the intellectual worldview of anthroposophy. They tend not to be men of spiritual prowess and dance around the periphery of anthroposophical essence and never in its center.
What of all those anthroposophists that read so much Steiner, but they themselves never develop any akashic powers themselves? Why does the 'first class' not read and practice Knowledge of Higher Worlds instead of rereading those lectures cycles that were given to a specific audience at a specific time? Is the Anthroposophical goal not Initiation? Why get distracted in reading lectures over and over again? Steiner said the goal is to practice the exercises over and over again! When Steiner said that one should read one lecture 50 times, instead of 50 lectures once each he meant that one should enter into the form of the lecture, and not simply remain on the surface of the content!
Is there a way out? Let us look at some of the victories of Rudolf Steiner's work. Waldorf schools have prospered and its method have been incorporated into other schools! Biodynamix is a choice in many places. Anthroposophical medicine is available throughout the country. There are of course the Saul Bellows, McDermotts, and Stings giving the good word to Steiner's work. Nevertheless, one has the sense that these fellows would never rub elbows with the local branches. Why? As McDermott once said practically: I have to free Rudolf Steiner's work from his followers. Yes, he said that. The branch members in their great limitation have distorted Steiner's work. But it should be added that WE have to free Steiner's books from McDermott's neglect of George!
Let us start from the beginning and see if this makes sense. Rudolf Steiner had said that if someone had read the Philosophy of Freedom and Theosophy correctly the world would understand anthroposophy and there would not be any in-fighting. For those in the know, every Anthroposophist worth his salt, has worked with all his might on reading correctly! This is an important topic because Steiner pointed out that the path of spiritual development laid out in Occult Science in the chapter full of spiritual exercises can also be found in the Philosophy of freedom and Truth and Science however, the latter being more difficult for most. How can Steiner relate and equate two books that are so completely different: Occult Science being filled with spiritual descriptions and exercises vs. the Philosophy of Freedom that is a straightforward philosophy book devoid of any exercises? They both lead to the same destination: spiritual development!
So the simple question remains: how to read Steiner's books in a "living way that is not preserved in the memory"? Once anthroposophists stop posing and attempting to answer this question, the game is over. Anthroposophy as a spiritual movement has become cut off from the ideals of its founder, since the anthroposophists are no longer interested in its own questions and goals. The main goal of anthroposophy is to spiritualize ourselves and the world. The main goal of reading Rudolf Steiner is to learn a new thinking and to open up spiritual abilities. The question of reading Steiner correctly cannot be ignored because even in such books as Knowledge of Higher Worlds Steiner says that the spiritual student must have a spiritual teacher unless he is able to read the book completely and correctly. Can you claim to have read the book correctly? DId you have a "Gespraech" with the author?
The Branches and the first class members, Waldorf schools, and certainly the Christian Community, ignore the essential question of HOW TO READ A STEINER BOOK CORRECTLY. By ignoring this question, Anthroposophists have relegated Steiner's work to the has-been pile of dead spiritual movements. If Waldorf and anthroposophy are to renew themselves, they have to answer the question CORRECTLY as to how to read Steiner CORRECTLY. Blessings to George O'Neil and Florin Lowndes who answered it correctly, and the others like Teichmann who worked hard on addressing a new thinking based on the seven-fold human being.