An Attempt at 7fold ThinkingMay 2011
(The reader will encounter a possibly confusing mixture of tenses. This mixture derives from the way in which the following text was conceived and written. I first thought through the basic sequence of ideas [up to a point], making only sparse notes at the time. I later, two months or so, started to expand and "write up" these thoughts, trying to make them readable. As I was doing the write-up I was thinking through the thoughts again, sometimes modifying them. The past tense usually indicates what I was doing and thinking the first time around; the present tense usually indicates what I was thinking during the write-up. Sometimes the present tense indicates an attempt to bring the past process into the present for the reader. And sometimes the present tense indicates something that I was thinking the first time around but still considered to be true during the later write-up. The sixth [somewhat] and especially the seventh stages I pretty much conceived and thought out during the write-up. -- Robert Mason)
(Most of the quotations are from the eLib.)
>>1 -- THESIS: Rudolf Steiner in his teachings on agriculture (which came to be called the "Bio-Dynamic" [BD] method) recommended the use of "preparations" which depend upon manipulations of slaughterhouse products, e.g. bovine horns, internal organs, etc.<<
>>2 -- ANTITHESIS: But such methods are atrocious; they involve, and require, the deliberate, methodical infliction of pain and death upon animals which are under human control and are threatening no-one.<<
This antithesis is a reaction, a thought, that immediately comes to my mind and won't let it go. It appears at first that Steiner was just flat wrong, morally wrong, in his actions, however "right" he might have been about the effectiveness of such agricultural methods.
That was my reaction, not the only one, but one that is prominent in my mind and continues to bother me, no matter how much respect I have for Steiner's abilities and deep knowledge. But if I do not rest with that reaction, if I press forward and try to *think* about this problem, then I must follow where the thoughts themselves lead. And as my self-imposed assignment, I am trying to think 7foldedly, as that form was described by Bondarev.
The third stage of thinking, according to Bondarev (as with Hegel) is the "synthesis" of thesis and antithesis. So I ask myself: What can be said for and against both of these two particular opposing thoughts under consideration here, and what thought (or thoughts) might result from the interworking and combination of these thought-forces?
A first thought that came to mind: Rudolf Steiner was well aware, better than I, of the depth of the pain and suffering of animals, and of the far-reaching consequences of cruelty to animals. Yet, he did, in this instance, recommend practices that entail cruelty to animals. If I presume, as I do, that Steiner was a pretty smart guy, a morally upright one, and one with a highly-developed self-awareness, then I must presume Steiner had some overriding considerations that led him to advocate the BD methods even though they entail some cruelty to animals. So, I must ask myself what those considerations might have been.
Maybe: the real, practical choice that Steiner faced was to let the soil die, agriculture fail, and consequently civilization go to ruin -- or to do what was necessary to save agriculture -- and that the one thing that was both available and necessary was the BD method, with all that entailed. So maybe: RS had to consider that the suffering, including that of animals, would have been greater if agriculture and civilization failed than if BD methods were widely used -- and that consequently RS chose the path that, in the real world, entailed less pain and suffering for animals than the amount entailed by BD methods. And maybe RS had to consider that animals were being slaughtered anyway, that he had no way of stopping that -- and that the slaughterhouse products used in BD were really by-products that were not being otherwise used and that would not increase the economic demand for slaughter?
But the thought also arises: maybe it would have been better to let agriculture and civilization collapse than to participate in the atrocities of animal "husbandry" and slaughter? Maybe civilization deserved to fall if it could be saved only through such atrocities? Maybe that fall really wouldn't have been the "lesser evil"?
Yet again: I presume, judging from his "fruits", that RS was a wise, far-seeing man, and that he could calculate the "lesser evil" far better than I can; really, I can't calculate it at all. I hypothesize that RS had his considerations, and I must wonder what they were.
And RS must have "seen" things to consider that I can't see at all. Such as: the true nature of the experience of the animals. Indeed, I hardly even know what an animal is, really; I know of the "group spirits" only from Steiner; I don't see them or communicate with them myself. Etc., etc.
And yet again, I must presume that RS knew more and thought more deeply than I can. This line of thought isn't really answering any questions for me; it is only impressing upon me the extent of my ignorance in comparison to Steiner's knowledge.
-- So I want to try a different approach, to find a way to move forward. I go back to the original problem; I take another look at the "antithesis" than embodied it. It depended upon the concept of the "atrocious". I ask: what does that mean and why does it seem to be in opposition to Steiner's actions?
I observe that I don't have a clear *concept* at all; I don't know where the "opposition" comes from; it isn't conscious for me. It seems that the opposition is mainly emotional; it is a *reaction* that comes from the subconscious. It is hardly even a thought; it is mostly an emotion of horror; the word *atrocious* is mostly a cover for the emotion. If I try to think through, objectively, why the supposed "thesis" and "antithesis" should be in opposition, I hardly know how to begin. So it does seem that the problem for me was, in the first place, more one of feeling than of cognition.
I might try to consider what the BD methods and their necessarily entailed pain for some animals are, objectively, for the whole world. But I don't know even how to begin to answer that question. I can't calculate such things; I am in ignorance. But I'm likewise ignorant about almost everything, and I don't get so worked up about most of those. So, again, it seems that my original "problem" was more emotional than cognitive.
Still, it must be at least partly cognitive: I am in puzzlement; I don't understand something. This non-understanding is a cognitive problem, and I can approach it only by trying to think it through.
The dictionary (Webster's) defines *atrocious* as "extremely wicked, brutal, or cruel". Purely descriptively: slaughter, and all that leads up to it, if indeed "brutal" and "cruel"; *wicked* is more an ethical term than an emotional one. So it does seem that the process of BD preps does entail "atrocities", but this mere description hardly amounts to an "antithesis" of the thesis under consideration. The antithetical nature derives not from a description, but from something like an emotional or moral revulsion.
Is it that somewhere in the back of my mind lives the question, or assertion, that Steiner was doing "evil" by advocating the BD preps that required slaughterhouse products? *Evil* and *good* would seem to be objective, cognitive terms, but if I try to say what they mean, to define them, I can hardly do so, except to define them by equally obscure terms, such as *right* or *higher*, etc. -- I simply wasn't asking a clear question, or stating a clear "antithesis"; some kind of "opposition" was struggling to come up from my subconscious, but it was not clear exactly what the "opposition" was.
-- At this point my mind reached an impasse. It would be embarrassing, and probably tedious, to relate here all the ways my mind floundered and all the directions in which it groped while trying to find a way forward. Suffice it to say for now that I had reached an impasse; this was about as far as "reflective" thinking could get me. I could come up with a lot more "thoughts", but I couldn't really move forward toward a solution to the original problem. So, perhaps, the "synthesis" that I had reached might be formulated as follows:
>>3 -- SYNTHESIS: I had not asked a clear, cognitive question in the first place; I had mostly reacted emotionally and in conceptual and/or moral befuddlement. I must presume that RS was better able than I to raise the kind of objections to the BD methods that I might raise, but the fact is that he did nevertheless recommend the BD methods, and so I must presume further that he had some overriding considerations which I don't know about. And indeed I don't *know*; at best I can only "speculate" and "presume" -- at this level of consciousness.<<
So: I want to make progress on this problem, therefore I want to move to a higher level of consciousness. Bondarev says that the next level in the thought-process is "beholding". And I desperately want to get beyond this impasse; it seems that the only way I might move forward is to get into this state of "beholding", but how?
Bondarev says about "beholding": it marks the transition to higher consciousness, and to reach it "We must do the same when we are considering a thought-content. We remain intellectually passive, dispassionate, and wait to see what can come towards us from a certain 'other' side."
More, in "beholding" "we do not think, but we still remain within the thought-element. We renounce all thoughts, judgments, logical conclusions."
This, to me, seems to imply that maybe I'm "trying too hard", that I can't "go out and get it" but must wait until "it" comes to me, if it comes to me -- I must be passive and receptive, but still conscious.
"At the fourth stage we refrain from bringing into movement the will which we have developed in the three previous stages. . . . the will begins to transform the organ of thinking into an organ of ideal perception." And still more, this "beholding" is not quite "thinking" as I ordinarily do it; as the word itself suggests, it is a kind of "seeing", a perceiving, an observing:
" . . .. [to] think in 'beholding' - i.e. in perception, not reflecting, but receiving the ideas from the objects of perception - whether they be of a sensory or an ideal nature."
"The process [of thinking] gone through on the fourth level is identical with the experience of observation. It consists in the act of ideal perception, to which the ideal, essential core of the object under examination must reveal itself on a higher level than its manifestation as concept in the element of synthesis."
But this passivity cannot be merely a dull inertness; it must be somehow suffused with reverence, with "love":
[Beholding] "is achieved on the basis of love for the object of cognition".
-- Bondarev is getting at something, and it's not enough for me only to read about it, or "understand" it in an theoretical way; I want to *do* it, and I'm desperate enough to try, to "learn by doing", even if I fall on my face in the effort.
Therefore: I tried to "behold", in picture- consciousness, with reverence; waiting, praying for insight to come *to* me, rather than trying to "think it through" for myself conceptually. I was trying to make, or rather pay attention to, mental pictures without creating them myself. Even if the pictures might have seemed to be meaningless, I tried to pay attention to them without making my own judgments and conceptualizing. Then, maybe, hopefully, the meanings would find their way into the pictures?
-- I visualized, with the question in mind, making myself ready to "see", then watching as the pictures came to me: old men with long, white beards; a star over a steeple; a giant squirrel and other animals watching me; Rudolf Steiner seemed to be present; and myself kneeling, asking reverently, yearning for guidance and Truth -- then, I was seeing the scene as from above, soaring, with ethereal, expansive feelings . . . . . . then the thoughts came: Maybe the consciousness of the animals is not so Earth- bound as I might suppose? Maybe they (or the group spirit-egos?) experience the atrocities from without? A later thought: Maybe the animals experience slaughter as does a human trauma victim in so-called "dissociation"?
More thoughts followed, rushing on: I don't really know how the animals experience things; maybe I wrongly project human, earthly experience onto the animals? Maybe really "the mind is kind" to them? Maybe RS knew this and took it into consideration? And maybe my "job" here is to practice "Goetheanism", to "picture without judging"?
A lot of thoughts flowed, with a lot of *maybes*. More questions and no definite answers. But it does seem that a corner has been turned; something new had been injected into my internal "debate". There was a change in viewpoint; I was seeing from a different "angle", and I was feeling the whole quandary differently.
Perhaps all this is a kind of "beholding"? I did indeed "see" something, but its meaning is far from clear. The most meaning I can get is just a "new" possibility:
>>4 -- BEHOLDING: Perhaps the animals do not experience slaughter as painfully as I might suppose. Perhaps "they" (the group-spirits really) experience the trauma in "shock", somewhat as a human trauma victim in "dissociation" does: looking on from "outside", serenely even, not quite "within" the pain. And, as Steiner says, the animal Ego isn't ever really "in" the body as a human Ego is, anyway.<<
This is hardly a solution to my original problem, just a glimmer on a possible solution. But I did feel that, at last, I had made a step forward . . . maybe to "beholding"? (I wonder whether Bondarev would agree.) And so then I did have more hope that I might be able to think through this problem with the kind of 7fold thinking that Bondarev says is the natural, fully-developed mode of thinking.
Thus, I allowed myself to hope, to try to move forward to the next stage, which Bondarev says is the "perceiving of the Idea". But how?
Bondarev, it seems to me, does not make a clear distinction between this "beholding" and "perceiving"; he says, for instance:
"We set up conditions under which we will 'behold' the content of the synthesis. Like the object of a laboratory experiment, we subject this content to conditions under which it can reveal its secret more readily and quickly than is the case with analytical, logical thinking. And when the idea appears, this is already the fifth stage the fifth element of that new logical cycle in which we are striving to ascend from reflection to the supersensible perception of the ideas. . . . It represents a holistic, though not complete, manifestation of the ur- phenomenon . . . ."
As far as I can tell, the distinction between the forth and fifth stages is fuzzy, at best -- but it does seem clear enough that Bondarev means by *idea* the "Platonic Idea", that is, the "archetype" that includes, even creates, all its "instances". According to Steiner (in Theosophy, III.3) in the "Spiritland" live the Platonic Ideas as "thought beings" which are the "archetypes" for all things in the physical world:
". . . . the thought that makes its appearance through a human brain [is] related to the [thought] being in the spiritland that corresponds to this thought. . . . In this [spiritual] world are to be seen, first, the spiritual archetypes of all things and beings that are present in the physical and soul worlds. . . . As soon as the clairvoyant rises out of the soul world into the spirit world, the archetypes that are perceptible become 'sounding' as well."
With such considerations in mind, I had the idea that to move from the fourth to the fifth stages of the 7fold dialectic I would have to "listen" and "hear" as well as "look" and "see". But I was disheartened by the thought that this problem under consideration must involve a multitude of Ideas, even immeasurably profound Ideas behind all Creation. I found this thought to be somewhat confirmed by Steiner, thus:
"Often innumerable archetypes work together in order that this or that being in the soul or physical world may arise."
I felt that I had a daunting task before me; the problem was so deep, so complicated that I almost quailed before it. But I was so desperate that I somehow pressed forward. -- I reviewed and recapitulated the four stages that I had already worked through, and, with as much concentration as I could muster, waited receptively for whatever might "come". And then, eventually, with, as it were, a "ringing in the ears" I "saw" mental pictures, among them an Oriental Buddha statue. That particular picture led to thoughts:
"The Buddha taught the Noble Truth about suffering and its origin: that suffering is a consequence of DESIRE. So the question arises: 'Where does desire come from? etc.' -- Possible answer: desire is what moves animals; it is the essential thing that makes animals and plants not-yet human; animals (in themselves) are moved not by free will and reason, but by compelling force, i.e. desire. Without desire there would be no animals in the first place; the demand that animals not suffer is therefore the demand that animals not exist?"
-- Such thoughts as those immediately followed from the mental picture of the Buddha statue. It seemed to me that this event might have been the turning-of-the-corner into the fifth stage of the 7fold dialectic: perception of the Idea. (I doubt that the "ringing" was anything very meaningful; I have heard such ringing many times before. Probably the most that it meant was that I was withdrawing into myself and paying attention.) Apparently, the root "archetype" behind this whole complex question of the justification of the use of slaughterhouse products for the BD preps (that is, the main archetypal Idea among the many creatively involved and working together) is that of desire being the effective, essential cause of suffering? And that Idea was most famously proclaimed by the Buddha.
One might explore, by ordinary means of research and "reflection", how this Noble Truth might be the overarching Reason behind the suffering of animals, and hence the solution (how?) to the problem about the BD preps. -- I came up with such "research material" as this:
The Buddha's Four Noble Truths are well enough known. Steiner states them thusly (Metaporphoses/Soul One: Lecture 8: "Buddha and Christ"; 2nd December, 1909; Berlin; GA0058 [from the eLib]):
Knowledge of suffering:
". . . . the four noble truths, as the Buddha
called them, are:
"Birth is suffering, old age is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering. All existence is filled with suffering. That we cannot always be united with that which we love - this is how Buddha himself later developed his teaching - is suffering. That we have to be united with that which we do not love, is suffering. That we cannot attain in every sphere of life what we want and desire, is suffering. Thus there is suffering wherever we look."
Knowledge of the causes of suffering:
Knowledge of the need to end suffering: "Release from the sufferings of existence - that is what Buddhism puts in the foreground, above all else. . . . 'true existence' can be achieved only if a man passes beyond everything he encounters in the outer sense-world. . . . Buddhism is a religion of release from existence . . . . Buddhism sees release from earth- existence in terms of rising to Nirvana . . . . Buddhism can see its Nirvana, its state of bliss, as attainable only by withdrawing from the ever-repeated cycle of lives on earth . . . Buddhism, tells us that the world is a source of suffering and that we must get away from it into another world, the quite different world of Nirvana."
Knowledge of the means to end suffering:
Of course, these Noble Truths are mainly about human suffering, but to me it seems that they also apply to animals insofar as they are creatures that suffer: they suffer because they are led by desire. The Eightfold Path might not be possible for them, but the root cause, the archetypal Idea, of their suffering is the same as for people. (Most of us, I presume, already know the Eightfold Path as the Anthroposophical way of developing the sixteen-petalled "lotus flower", not as a means for avoiding incarnation. But I think that a discussion of this [these] path[s] would be off the subject here; it seems to be mostly irrelevant to the suffering of animals.)
-- But *why* is suffering an inevitable consequence of desire? Not only the Buddha, but also Steiner spoke profoundly on "the origin of suffering". In an effort to understand *how* the Noble Truths about suffering might be a clue to the Platonic Idea behind my original problem, I consult some of what Steiner said about the "origin of suffering".
Fortunately, we have what seems to be a good stenographic transcript of a significant lecture that Steiner gave on this subject. Remembering, of course, the standard *caveat* about such uncorrected transcripts, I proceed. The lecture I mean is:
"The Origin of Suffering"; 8th November, 1906: Berlin; GA0055 -- some relevant excerpts:
"The origin of suffering is found where consciousness arises out of life, where spirit is born out of life."
"Only from Consciousness does Self-consciousness arise."
"Consciousness, or conscious spirit, is that force which out of death, which must be created in the midst of life, eternally makes life arise again."
"Out of pain consciousness is born."
"All that gives rise to consciousness is originally pain."
"Consciousness must result from destruction of life."
"In what does this fine destruction [by light of living tissue in a simple organism] (for it is destruction) manifest? In pain, which is nothing else than an expression for the destruction."
"Consciousness *within matter* is thus born out of suffering, out of pain."
". . . . pain at the basis of all conscious life."
"If the living could not suffer, never could consciousness arise. If there were no death in the world never in the visible world could Spirit exist."
-- So, it seems to me that Steiner's first "noble truth" about suffering is that "pain" is necessary if and when consciousness arises within the physical world. If no pain, then no consciousness. Perhaps for us this truth is more "uncomfortable" than "noble"?
Usually we want pleasure and don't want pain. But a further "uncomfortable truth" is that, in general, pleasure can exist only if pain has existed first:
"If pain arises in life it gives birth to sensation and consciousness. This giving birth, this bringing forth of a higher element, is reflected again in consciousness as pleasure, and there would never be a pleasure unless there had been a previous pain."
"Creation is based on desire and pleasure. Pleasure can only appear where inner or outer creation is possible. In some way creation lies at the base of every happiness, as every unhappiness is based on the necessity of creation."
If, from unwise compassion, we want a world that has pleasure and happiness but has no pain and misery, then we are demanding the impossible. So, if we have a "desire for existence" (in the physical world), then, whether we know it or not, we thereby demand that pain should exist. And if we desire pleasure and happiness (in the physical world), we likewise, in effect, demand that there should be pain and misery.
-- And more: Steiner's "noble truths" continue: not only pleasure, but all that is "higher" in human life -- love, knowledge, purity -- can exist only if suffering has first existed:
". . . . in some way suffering is connected with the highest in man."
"Just as we create a higher consciousness out of the pain stimulated through an external ray of light and overcome by us as living being, so a creation in compassion is born when we transform the sufferings of others in our own greater consciousness-world. And so finally out of suffering arises love. For what else is love than spreading one's consciousness over other beings?"
"In an initiate nothing must be inter-linked unconsciously; he is a compassionate man out of freedom and not because something external compels him to be. That is the difference between an initiate and a non-initiate."
"Knowledge flows from our suffering as its fruit."
". . . . out of suffering grows knowledge."
". . . . the origin of purification, the lifting up of human nature, lies in pain."
The immediately aforementioned "truths" of course apply to mankind more directly than to animals. But the animals do also have, even if not so much the "higher" soul-qualities, consciousness, and they "earn" this consciousness only through pain:
". . . . the words: In all Nature sighs every creature in pain, full of earnest expectation to attain the state of the child of God. - You find that in the eighth chapter of Paul's Epistle to the Romans as a wonderful expression of this foundation of consciousness in pain. Thus one can also understand how thoughtful men have ascribed to pain such an all-important role. I should like to quote just one example. A great German philosopher says that when one looks at all Nature around one, then pain and suffering seem to be expressed everywhere on her countenance. Yes, when one observes the higher animals they show to those who look more deeply an expression full of suffering. And who would not admit that many an animal physiognomy looks like the manifestation of a deeply hidden pain?"
So, the Buddha's "Noble Truth" about the cause of suffering does indeed apply to the animals -- and perhaps even more so than to people, for, as Steiner teaches, mankind is able to attain the "higher" qualities only because in evolution we have "pushed down" the animals. A fuller treatment of this line of thought might take this discussion too far afield, but I take the important point here, in the context of "Buddhist" truths, to be that Earthly consciousness, even and perhaps especially, animal consciousness, must be founded upon pain and suffering. This is *the* inescapable "fact of life".
Now, to continue the consideration of the "Noble Truths": the next is "Knowledge of the need to end suffering". The crucial point that Steiner makes about this particular "truth" is that the original Buddhism advocated the avoidance of suffering through the prevention of Earthly incarnations (and through uninterrupted life in "Nirvana") -- while, in contrast, (esoteric) Christianity encourages Earthly incarnations and accepts the suffering that they entail. I resume quoting from Steiner's "The Origin of Suffering":
"Thus the spirit of Buddhist teaching aims at diverting attention from the visible in order to get beyond it, and it denies the significance of anything visible."
"While Buddhism sees release from earth- existence in terms of rising to Nirvana, Christianity sees its aim as a continuing process of development, whereby all the products and achievements of single lives shine forth in ever-higher stages of perfection, until, permeated by the spirit, they experience resurrection at the end of earth-existence."
"For Christianity starts from a recognition that everything in an individual life bears fruits which are of importance and value for the innermost being of man and are carried over into a new life, where they are lived out on a higher level of fulfillment."
[In Christianity] "The incarnations are not to cease in order to open the way to Nirvana; but all that we can acquire in them is to be used and developed in order that it may experience resurrection in the spiritual sense. Herein lies the deepest distinction between the non- historical philosophy of Buddhism and the historical outlook of Christianity."
". . . . Buddhism never truly connects . . . [Earthly incarnations] with any idea of historical development."
In sum, Steiner sees (and by implication accepts) the Christian view that Earth-life (and by implication suffering and pain) have value that would be wrong to discount and neglect. This Christian view does not (it seems to me) disagree so much with the Buddhist view about the causation of suffering and its avoidance, but with Buddhist values and ethics. In essence, the Buddhist negates the value of material Creation, while the Christian affirms it. (This is only my rough approximation of Steiner's "noble truths"; the lecture really deserves to be read in whole.)
Throughout his "esoteric teaching" in public, Steiner said much about the reasons why the Gods created the material world, too much to treat here fully. Basically, to my understanding, the existence of a material, Earthly world is necessary for the attainment of goals that could not be attained without a material world. Thus, the existence of the physical world is "good", and the undervaluation of the physical world is "bad", a rejection of the good work of the Gods. The central value of the material world is that it is the necessary scene for the attainment of "manhood" in the deepest sense. -- I'll give here just a couple of Steiner-saids, out of many possible:
"Here on earth, we have as religion everything that transcends man; in the spiritual world, we have the Ideal Man himself as religion. We learn that the various Beings of the various spiritual hierarchies permit their forces to work together in order that man may gradually be produced in the world, in the manner described in my book, Occult Science. The aim of the creative activity of the Gods is the Ideal Man. That Ideal Man does not really come to life in physical man as he is at present, but in the noblest spiritual and soul life that it is possible through the perfect development and training of aptitudes which this physical man has within him. Thus a picture of Ideal Man is ever present to the mind of the Gods. This is the religion of the Gods. On the far shore of Divine existence there rises before the Gods the temple which presents the image of Divine Being in the form of man, as the highest divine work of art, and the special thing is that while man develops in the spirit-land between death and rebirth, he gradually matures so as to be able to see this temple of humanity, this high ideal of humanity." (Inner Nature of Man: Lecture 2: "The Vision of the Ideal Human Being"; 10th April, 1914; Vienna; GA 153)
"That is precisely the mission of Earth- evolution! The purpose of Earth-evolution is that there may be implanted into the evolutionary process as a whole, powers which could otherwise never have come into existence: Wonder, Compassion and Conscience. . . . It is so superficial and foolish when people say: 'Why was it necessary for man to come down from the worlds of Divine Spirit into the physical world, only to have to reattain them? Who could he not have remained in the higher worlds?'; Man could not remain in those worlds because only by coming down into the physical world of Earth- evolution could he receive into himself the forces of wonder, love or compassion, and conscience or moral obligation." ("The Mission of the Earth"; *Earthly and Cosmic Man* VI)
-- I'll try to precipitate from the foregoing discussion a statement of the "archetype", the Platonic Idea, behind the suffering of animals, suffering that is necessarily involved in the making of BD "preps". Here is the fifth stage of Bondarev's schema of the thought-process, such as I am able to attain this stage now. For me the crucial seed was the mental picture of a Buddha statue, a picture that seemed to come in response to my questioning. And this mental picture seemed to me to have relevant meanings as I have related immediately above. The sum of these "meanings" in this context seems to me as follows:
>>5 -- PERCEPTION OF THE IDEA: Animals do inevitably suffer in Earth-life; such pain and suffering is necessary on Earth for both Man and animals. This Earth-life and its entailed suffering are consequences of "desire", or "thirst for existence". Buddhism teaches the cessation of suffering through the extirpation of desire and the avoidance of Earthly incarnation. But Christianity sees such avoidance as a denial of the true value of material Creation and affirms Earth-life, and hence accepts its necessary pain and suffering.<<
-- The next stage of Bondarev's 7fold dialectic
is the "individualization of the Idea". In
trying to bring my attempt to this stage I asked
I recalled (from various readings) that in 1924, and the preceding years, Steiner was faced with an ethical decision. The story is told, in part, in Ehrenfried Pfeiffer's preface to an edition of Steiner's "agriculture course". Some excerpts:
"In 1922/23 Ernst Stegemann and a group of other farmers went to ask Rudolf Steiner's advice about the increasing degeneration they had noticed in seed-strains and in many cultivated plants. What can be done to check this decline and to improve the quality of seed and nutrition? That was their question."
"A second group went to Dr. Steiner in concern at the increase in animal diseases, with problems of sterility and the widespread foot- and-mouth disease high on the list. Among those in this group were the veterinarian Dr. Joseph Werr, the physician Dr. Eugen Kolisko, and members of the staff of the newly established Weleda, the pharmaceutical manufacturing enterprise.
"Count Carl von Keyserlingk brought problems from still another quarter. Then Dr. Wachsmuth and the present writer went to Dr. Steiner with questions dealing particularly with the etheric nature of plants, and with formative forces in general."
"Shortly before 1924, Count Keyserlingk set to work in deal [sic] earnest to persuade Dr. Steiner to give an agricultural course. As Dr. Steiner was already overwhelmed with work, tours and lectures, he put off his decision from week to week. The undaunted Count then dispatched his nephew to Dornach, with orders to camp on Dr. Steiner's doorstep and refuse to leave without a definite commitment for the course. This was finally given.
"The agricultural course was held from June 7 to 16, 1924, in the hospitable home of Count and Countess Keyserlingk at Koberwitz, near Breslau."
[Steiner] "said to me, 'Spiritual scientific knowledge must have found its way into practical life by the middle of the century if untold damage to the health of man and nature is to be avoided.'"
Thus, in the early 1920s, Steiner was virtually besieged by people asking "Parsival questions" about agriculture, and he knew that the situation was indeed dire, in ways both more obvious and less obvious: for the Earth's healing and for human ability to realize ideals in action. During the Agriculture Course Steiner stated the problem starkly -- for instance:
[If BD pest-control methods were not used] ". . . agriculture would go from bad to worse in civilised countries. Not only intermittent periods of local starvation or high prices would occur, but these conditions would become quite general. Such a state of affairs may well be with us in a none too distant future. We have thus no other choice. Either we must let civilisation go to rack and ruin on the earth, or we must endeavour to shape things in such a way as to bring forth a new fertility. For our needs to-day, we really have no choice to stop and discuss whether or no such things are permissible."
This shows that Steiner had a clear, deep understanding of the world-emergency connected with the sad state of agriculture. Moreover, he had profound understanding of the dire consequences of cruelty to animals; a relevant quotation:
(from "Karma and the Animal Kingdom';
Manifestations of Karma; LECTURE 2:)
And Steiner tells us that the karmic consequences have already started and will continue into the far future, in ways that must be surprising and gruesome to the ordinary human mind:
". . . . in the course of evolution man has always inflicted pain on the animals, that he has killed the animals. One who learns to know the Karma of human life often finds it highly unjust that the animal, which does not reincarnate, should suffer, should bear pain, and even, in the case of the higher animals, should go through death with a certain consciousness. Should no Karmic compensation take place here? Naturally, the human being has to make a Karmic compensation in Kamaloka for the pain which he inflicts on animals, but I am not speaking of this now; I am speaking of the compensation for the animals. Let us make one thought clear: If we consider human evolution, we see how much pain man has strewn over the animal kingdom and how many animals he has killed. What do these pains and these deaths mean in the course of evolution? . . .
"These animals on which pain has been inflicted will arise again, though not in the same form; but that which feels pain in them, that comes again. It comes again in such a way that the sufferings of the animals are compensated, so that to every pain its complementary feeling is added. These pains, these sufferings, this death, these are the seed which man has sown; they return in such a way that to every pain its contrary feeling is added in the future. To use a concrete example: When Earth is replaced by Jupiter, the animals will not appear in their present form, but their pains and sufferings will awaken the forces for the feeling of pain. They will live in men, and will embody themselves as parasitic animals in men. Out of the sensations and feelings of these men, out of their pains, the compensation will be created. This is the occult truth, which can be stated objectively and unadorned even if it is not pleasant to the man of today. Man will one day suffer this, and the animals will have, in a certain well-being, in a pleasant feeling, the compensation for their pains. . . .
"Why are men plagued by beings which are really
neither animals nor plants, but stand between
the two, by bacilli and similar creatures, which
feel a well-being when man suffers? They have
brought this upon themselves in earlier
incarnations through inflicting pain and death
on animals. For the being, though not appearing
in the same form, feels this across time and
feels the compensation for its pains in the
suffering which man must undergo. Thus all the
pain and suffering in the world are positively
not without consequences. It is a seed from
which proceeds what is caused by pain,
suffering, and death. There can be no suffering,
no pain, no death, without causing something
which springs up later on."
And more: cruelty to animals has severe effects upon the soul-spirit of the perpetrator. Consciousness of these effects makes the perpetrator into a black magician; even if he be unconscious of these effects, serious consequences remain. And these effect reach even into the whole evolution of the Earth:
(Foundations of Esotericism; Lecture XIX:)
(Foundations of Esotericism: Lecture XX:)
"There are black adepts who are on the way to acquire certain forces of the earth for themselves. Were the circle of their pupils to become so strong that this should prove possible, then the earth would be on the path leading to destruction."
(from An Esoteric Cosmology; "The Astral
World"; Lecture IX; 2-6-1906:)
-- This discussion establishes clearly that, again, Steiner had a deep, profound understanding of the effects of cruelty to animals. But he was faced with the ethical decision of how to answer the questioners besieging him about agriculture, while he had a also had great understanding of the desperate state that agriculture was then in -- and still more -- while he had great insight into the calamitous consequences of a continuing failure of agriculture.
He was faced with the question of whether to intervene, and, if so, how? And he did also have profound discernment about the whole complex of questions surrounding the cosmological causes of suffering, so profound that he was able to pinpoint the mistake that the great Buddha made in his teachings of the "Noble Truths". Adding here to the previous quotations, I illustrate this mistake by some incidents that Steiner told about the "lost years" of Jesus.
(from The Fifth Gospel; translation: Frank Thomas Smith: Lecture IV; Oslo, October 4, 1913:)
". . . . [the Zarathustra] Jesus heard that the Buddha [in vision] said something like this: 'If my teaching, as it is, is completely fulfilled, that all men on earth must be like the Essenes. But that cannot be. That was the error in my teaching. The Essenes can only progress if they separate themselves from the rest of humanity; other human souls must be there for them. The fulfillment of my teaching would mean nothing but Essenes. But that cannot be.'"
". . . . Jesus of Nazareth had observed something noteworthy. When he came to a place where imageless Essene gates were, Jesus of Nazareth couldn't pass through those gates without again having a bitter experience. He saw those imageless gates, but for him there were spiritual figures on the gates. To him appeared on both sides of those gates what we have learned to know from many spiritual scientific explanations under the names Ahriman and Lucifer. . . ."
"One day after an important conversation in which many sublime spiritual themes were discussed, as Jesus of Nazareth was leaving through the gates of the Essenes' main building he encountered the figures who he knew were Lucifer and Ahriman. He saw them fleeing from the gates of the Essene monastery...and a question entered his soul, not as though he asked it himself, but a strong elemental force instilled in his soul the question: Where are Lucifer and Ahriman fleeing to? For he knew that the sanctity of the Essene monastery had caused them to flee. But the question remained: Where to?"
(Lecture 5 ; Oslo, Norway; October 5, 1913:)
-- This seems to me to be the crucial point, for the present discussion, of what Steiner reveals as coming from the interactions of Zarathustra- Jesus with the Buddha and with the Essenes: The original teachings of the Buddha were wrong, as the Buddha Himself later recognized, to advocate a withdrawal from "normal" society (and *mutatis mutandis* from Earth-life), for such a withdrawal by the relatively "enlightened" only leaves the remainder of society (and the Earth) in a worse state, and easier prey for the Opposing Spirits; in order to really help society and the Earth-life the relatively enlightened must "get their hands dirty" by involving themselves in "normal" Earth-life.
So: In the early '20s Rudolf Steiner was faced with an ethical decision. He was being asked for help with agriculture. And he understood, better than his supplicants, the dire state of modern agriculture and the grim consequences of that dismal situation. More, he had knowledge of methods which would improve agriculture, but these methods would entail, even perhaps only tangentially, some cruelty to animals. And still more, he had deep, deep understanding of the horror of such cruelty and its far-reaching consequences. Yet, he also had profound understanding of the "noble truths" about pain and suffering in Earth-life, and of the Buddha's original mistake of promoting withdrawal from Earth-life as a means of ending suffering. -- Thus, it would not only be impious, but also ignorant and/or unintelligent, for anyone to criticize Steiner for being inattentive or inconsiderate of the entailed animal pain involved in his BD methods.
I took this situation that Steiner faced as the relevant instance of the "individualization of the Idea": how did the individual Rudolf Steiner realize the Idea (i.e. the Noble Truths about suffering) in practice? (That is, in the "practice" of revealing and advocating the methods that raised my original conflict of thesis-antithesis.) I sought to "get inside" Steiner's mind and "back-engineer" his decision, trying in my mind to consider such great knowledge as Steiner had, as illustrated by the quotations above.
But to do this from the outside (of Steiner's mind) it seemed to me, would ultimately be just speculation; to really answer it I needed to get an "inspiration" from "the other side". I needed a revelation, a grace from Steiner himself -- or I thought that I needed at least his consent to speculate on this theme. I thought that I needed to have not only the kind of compassion for the animals that I supposed (or would have liked to have supposed) to have instigated my "antithesis"; Steiner already had more of that than I had, and deeper, more painful and poignant understanding too. I needed to have compassion for Steiner himself; he must have suffered greatly with his ethical decision: heroic pain (the "pearls" of his wisdom) endured, suffered, voluntarily and profoundly. His suffering was deeper and more in need of compassion than that of most people, if only because he is seen as a "great" man and not as "needy" as ordinary people. I surmised that Steiner was wiser because he suffered more ("wisdom is crystallized pain": the "pearls") - - and therefore his pain should be approached only with reverence. The muddy feet of impure hearts cannot tread this holy ground; his ways are higher than our ways. But my feet were muddy and my heart was impure; those were the unavoidable facts. Still, under the circumstances, what could I do but try anyway and plead for mercy? Maybe my asking would be acceptable only on the condition that any information that I gained would be given out to other people for their betterment?
-- I was stuck at that point almost a week, trying to have a breakthrough and not getting it. I had plenty of mental pictures, but none seemed especially meaningful. Finally, I had the mental picture of Rudolf Steiner, in his black garb, just looking at me with those eyes of his, but I didn't gather any conceptual communication from him. And so I came to the thought that I was on the wrong track. Later, I came to surmise that this thought came to me because somewhere in the back of my mind was simmering Steiner's discussion in Chapter Nine of PoF: The free human being does not work out whether an action is good or bad; it will be good if it finds it right place in the world; bad if not; he does the action because he loves it, because he has found a moral label, a particular moral principle, a moral intuition; etc., etc.
So, perhaps Steiner was silently looking at me
Anyway, after deeming that I was on the wrong track I decided to pose the question differently: "If anyone grasped the Noble Truths about suffering and who bore in mind Steiner's elucidations and corrections of them, how would he relate to the ethical questions surrounding the BD preps and their entailed suffering of animals?" Steiner himself, I presumed, took into account all such as I have quoted, and, for all I know, may have had other reasons also -- but I wasn't seeing into Steiner's mind, and I didn't have leave to speculate further about his ethical decision. So I asked the question relating to any ethical decision for anyone who had *that* kind of information at hand. And I suppose that this *anyone* would refer to myself first and foremost.
Asking myself the question in this way, and thinking it through conceptually, not waiting for mental pictures as "gifts from the other side", I got such thoughts as the following: -- No agriculture is completely harmless; even a BD agriculture without the preps from slaughter would cause pain to some creatures: plowing their fields, clearing their forests, keeping them from eating the crops, etc. [Steiner also recommended the making and use of "peppers" from killed living organisms. (See Appendix 2 below.) And he defended this practice with considerations much along the same lines as those I have indicated in the present discussion. And, though I do not go deeply into the question here, I surmise that it could be treated in much the same way as I am treating the main question above.] Indeed it seems that *any* life on this Earth must cause some pain, some harm to some creatures. It seems that no Earth-life could be *absolutely* harmless. (??? Compare that Jains' prayer [see Appendix 1 below]) Seemingly, the only way to be completely harmless would be to withdraw from the Earth altogether, to not incarnate. But even for those very few who might be capable of such withdrawal (most of us still have much Earthly karma to work out), the question becomes: "What then happens to the Earth if I withdraw from it? The earth would then be deprived of the good works that I might bring in, and the field would be left more open to those who might not be so well-intentioned. Remember RS's story of Lucifer and Ahriman fleeing the 'gates of the Essenes'? The rest of the world is worse-off because of the Essenes' withdrawal into (relative) harmlessness. So, it seems that if one is to have real, more effective compassion for the Earth, then one must get one's hands dirty and get involved in Earth-life, with the inevitable guilt that this entails." (??? Is this true: does the noble truth about the cause of suffering imply that no one could live harmlessly???) -- So: The Buddha seems to effectively deny the goodness of Earth-creation and its goals; he withdraws, Steiner, as a Christian, affirms the Earth-life and goals as "good" -- and gets his hands dirty, gets involved, and tries to move the evolution toward the better, even though some harm is done in the course of working for the greater good (e.g. BD preps and plowing) and in the process of moving Earth-evolution forward, toward the Gods' goals. (?? Suffering and pain are not necessarily "bad", but allow the creation of the greater good??)
-- And I thought further: Such questions touch upon the Holy Mysteries, and can be considered only with the deepest earnestness (raised to the Nth degree) and with deep sorrow and grief, in knowing and compassion for the pain to those creatures hurt. And for the Initiate, even more so, for he has knowledge of the profound, far- reaching consequences of inflicting pain. One simply cannot approach such questions in the usual frame of mind; but only with the deepest reverence and seriousness and selflessness. The fact is that one cannot *think* as one pleases, but has the sacred task of following the thinking wherever IT leads. A revolution in ones' soul is required; one cannot proceed further while being "the same person" as one used to be. (??? Must one "hit bottom" before changing???)
(As a rough and ready definition of *harm*: the infliction of undeserved pain and/or damage -- and for animals, it seems, no pain could be deserved, for animals are not free moral agents.)
Later, I considers some follow-up questions:
But is it true that no life on Earth could be *absolutely* harmless? -- As far as I can reason, the fact that Earth-life in general necessarily entails suffering does not logically imply that no human life on Earth could be harmless; for all I know, some very advanced people might be able to live in such a way as to cause absolutely no harm to any creatures. (It's hard to imagine how; really, I can't imagine it.) -- But as a practical matter, I don't see how people with anything like the abilities that are normal now could live without causing some harm, somehow. Perhaps the Essenses approached such a way of life, but even they, I presume, must have caused some harm to some creatures, even if only because the Essene houses must have denied space to various small creatures, and because their agriculture might have denied free range to some creatures. And even their ability to have lived so relatively harmlessly must have depended upon the fact that that region had previously been cleared of dangerous animals. And so on. But, the paradoxical fact was also, as Jesus-Zarathustra divined, that their very harmlessness, in the way it was lived out, did do harm to the greater society, in that Lucifer and Ahriman had that society as more of an open field for their activities. And Jesus Christ, did enter into that wider society; He "came eating and drinking", and so participated, even if peripherally, in the ambient harmfulness -- though, as we are told, He remained without sin.
But the real, practical situation in the world today is this: People need to eat, and to eat they need, at a minimum, agriculture of plants. Most, probably, could get along without eating meat if they tried, but many or most people are not even at the stage of development that they want to try. But even agriculture for vegans is not absolutely harmless; it must at least deny the use of land (or sea) to the creatures that would use it otherwise. So, the real, practical question, for the vast majority of people, is not of pure harmlessness versus harmfulness, but of relative quantities and qualities of harmfulness. And it seems to me that the only real option for those few, very advanced human beings is to try to guide the larger Earth- evolution, and hence the larger society, toward the lessening of harmfulness and the increase of spiritual culture.
-- And what about the "slippery slope" argument? If we must do some harm no matter what, then where to draw the line, or why draw a line at all? If we must hurt animals by plowing and cultivating, then why not just kill and eat them? And if we kill them to eat, then why not kill them for fun? Does the bull in the bullfight really have a worse life and death than the animals raised and slaughtered routinely? And if we kill them for fun, then why not for science? And if we hurt them enough to kill them for science, then why not hurt them more if we could thereby learn more? And so on and on . . . . -- Perhaps the difference in which way this slope slants is just the difference between honesty and dishonesty, between good faith and bad faith???
-- Maybe suffering and pain are not necessarily "bad", but allow the creation of the greater good? -- This seems to be one of Steiner's "noble truths": nothing good comes into the world except through some kind of pain.
-- Must one hit bottom before changing? -- I must wonder whether a truism regarding addicts must apply literally to everyone. But for myself, it does seem that in order to make much progress I must be fairly desperate in an inner way, even if not outwardly starving and freezing in the gutter.
. . . . A lot of question that could lead off into many directions, and spread this discussion all over the place. But I will now try to bring this long discussion to a focus, to the sixth stage of Bondarev's 7fold dialectic: the individualization of the archetypal Idea. -- The Idea was the necessity of pain and suffering in Earth-life, and the overall "goodness" of the Earthly Creation that includes this necessity, and hence of the "wrongness" of withdrawal from Earth-life, for such withdrawal in effect denies and impedes this goodness. And the question that I came to was essentially this: "How would anyone, such as myself, understanding as much as Steiner taught publicly about this Idea apply it in his ('anyone's') behavior toward BD agriculture, if he were in Steiner's position around 1924?"
>>6 -- INDIVIDUALIZATION OF THE IDEA: Without the widespread use of such agricultural methods as "biodynamics", as a practical matter, great harm would come to individual Men, to society, and to Earthly Nature. Therefore, the question is: whether or not, to avoid this great harm, BD methods had to be taught to the few who were asking, and later to be spread to the wider culture. Perhaps the pain and suffering entailed by BD methods was only minimal and peripheral (e.g. the use of slaughterhouse by- products does not increase the demand for slaughter), and was far less than would follow if BD methods were not taught and used. So, in this case, would aloofness by the one who knows entail, realistically, more harm than would his "involvement"? -- It seems that the course that someone facing this question would want to take would be the path of least harmfulness and greatest promotion of forward evolution. And the fact is that aloofness, or the avoidance of immediate, direct harmfulness would not necessarily be the least harmful in the long run; on the contrary, as the stories about the Buddha and Jesus-Zarathustra show, it probably is that aloofness or withdrawal from direct involvement would not be the least harmful path in the long run.<<
But I am not Steiner, and realistically, logically I could not face the same ethical decision that he faced. And the same holds for anyone else; only Steiner could have faced Steiner's decision regarding agriculture in 1924. Such, to my understanding, is "ethical individualism" as outlined by Steiner in PoF: for the free spirit no general rules of conduct can apply; the individual is irreducably unique as are the ethical decisions that he faces.
-- And so: what is the "upshot" of all this? I approach the seventh stage of Bondarev's dialectic by asking: "What really is BD to the world, now and in the past? Did Steiner make the 'right' (the least harmful and most evolutionary) decision in 1924?"
And more: to approach this question objectively it seems that I must consider the contrarian hypothesis: "Suppose that Steiner made the wrong decision, made and ethical mistake. If even the great Buddha could have made a mistake regarding such questions in general, why not Steiner also, in a particular situation?"
But, how to answer such a question? Seemingly, I would have to calculate the sum of the resulting harmfulness and harmlessness in all the Universe over all time, as against the results that would have followed had Steiner done differently. But I simply don't have the knowledge and the ability to make this calculation; only God could. So: can I answer this question at all? Maybe I could try another tack, pose the question this way: "Is BD agriculture objectively good or bad for the world; was Steiner's deed in 1924 good or bad?"
In PoF Steiner's definition of a "good deed"
Another definition, or semi-definition, that
Steiner gives in PoF is this:
-- But in fact, we do not need to make such impossible calculations in order to act morally, and I do not believe that Steiner was asking us to. And I similarly doubt that Steiner would expect us to make such calculations in order to judge the objective worth of the actions of others (or of ourselves). If the term *good* is to have not merely a subjective, emotive meaning but an objective meaning, then it must be connected to a "Platonic Idea" of The Good. (And, ultimately, this Idea is a being.) And therefore, we can understand this Idea much as we can understand any other Idea, through what Steiner calls *intuition*.
(In passing, I note that even within the typically nominalistic British philosophical milieu, a similar proposition seems inescapable, if any objective reality at all is to be acknowledged in morality. For example, the influential Twentieth Century Cambridge philosopher GE Moore came within a hair's breadth of affirming the existence of the Platonic Idea of The Good. Only, as I presume, he, being a good British Empiricist, did not admit the existence of a "universal", an Idea, but said that the good is a "non-natural quality". And, Moore did actually use the term *moral intuition*, though perhaps not quite in Steiner's sense.)
One might object, I guess, that different people have so many differing, conflicting judgments about "goodness" that The Good could not be an objective Platonic Idea as, for instance, is The Triangle. But a Steinerian might reply that all that this sociological fact proves is that people generally are too emotional and subjective to think as objectively about goodness as they do about triangles, and that if they did think objectively, then they would be in as much agreement about goodness as they are about triangles.
Still, it seems that we, most of us, individually and *a fortiori* collectively, are far from being able to think with "mathematical clarity" about goodness, in general and especially in particular instances which are controversial. And yet, in practical experience, it does not seem that we are therefore bound to be "moral idiots"; we do, or at least can, make moral decisions (at least the obvious ones) and carry them out. How is this fact possible, given that we don't (usually) think clearly about goodness?
I propose that this fact is possible because we have an elementary, elemental capacity to grasp the reality of moral facts about goodness, despite our lack of clear, systematic thinking about it. As a comparison, we might consider our normal apprehension of the reality of the material objects around us; we don't "prove" their reality through clear, systematic thinking, but still, somehow, we do (usually) grasp their reality. Even a slight brush with "philosophical" literature informs us that manifold doubts and objections can be raised against our knowledge of "external objects"; indeed, whole library shelves can be filled with such literature. But we do in fact perceive, in thought and action, the external objects around us, and usually correctly. How is this possible?
I might again allude to the philosophical example of GE Moore. Rather famously (within the little world of English-language philosophical academia) he "proved" the existence of an external world simply by pointing to his left and right hands as obvious examples of external objects: since at least these two external objects exist, ergo an external world exists. Moore averred that any philosophical doubts and objections against these obvious facts are less plausible than the "common sense" awareness of their reality. (See the Wikipedia article on GE Moore.) Or, as I might say, the belief is *more real* than the doubt.
And likewise I might say that in some cases, in very many cases, the belief in the goodness or badness of some action is simply, factually, *more real* than any thought-out doubts about it. To deny this fact is honestly *unreal*. To lack a thought-out rationale for this fact is not to lack a real apprehension of it. -- If one does want to "think it out", one might go down the philosophical road that affirms that we, in such cases, come into an intuitive relation with the intelligible being of the "objects". (Compare the discussion of Thomas Reid in Ernst Lehrs' Man or Matter.)
And my proposal is that our intuitions about moral facts are very comparable: we do come into intuitive relations with the Platonic Idea of The Good, in many cases. And in the case under discussion is about the objective, real goodness, or lack of it, in BD agriculture.
Now, back to the question: what is BD agriculture to the world? How to go about answering it? -- We are already given the key: ye shall know them by their fruits. So, what are the "fruits" of BD agriculture?
I am hardly the right person to answer this question; for an A-pop, I am poorly informed about BD agriculture. But I seem to be the person that I am stuck with. So, apparently, I must draw on my small store of information, look around for more, and do what I can. -- Due to my very limited knowledge of the subject and to the limits on my ability to research, my treatment, by customary methods, of this question must be quick and somewhat superficial. Plenty of people know far, far more about this subject than I do. I encourage the readers to take some of the leads indicated below, google around, and educate themselves. I will show only a few lines on inquiry, before turning to other means of investigation.
-- Offhand, it would appear that the "fruits" of BD agriculture are, at best, slight, when compared to those of conventional agriculture. Comparatively, the acreage under cultivation and the food produced by BD are miniscule. One might be tempted to say that the fruits of BD approach zero. But this is a superficial reaction; we need to look deeper.
We can't answer the question in the way that is usual today. In BD agriculture the emphasis is on quality, not on quantity. To judge the fruits of BD we can't simply count things up and weigh them, or even analyze them in the usual chemical ways. No, we must judge them by their *qualities*, and this is a very hard thing to do in the normal consciousness of the present. (BTW, some "qualitative" methods of measurement actually have been developed, e.g. by the Koliskos and by Pfeiffer, but such methods, though many years old, still have not found their ways into general scientific use.)
For food, the primary qualitative "measurement", as it were, is probably taste. And it is well- known, within a small population, that BD foods do indeed taste good. Just a couple of testimonials:
". . . . according to Sebastian Parsons, chair of the Biodynamic Agricultural Association, you can taste the difference in biodynamic produce. . . ."
"David Motion, owner of The Winery in London's Maida Vale, used to be a biodynamic sceptic, until he tried a similar taste experiment with wines. Motion, whose shop specialises in German wines, is now a convert and stocks a range of biodynamic vintages (look for the tiny green dot on his shop labels).
"'A root day won't make a good wine taste bad, but on a fruit day the wine is almost leaping out of the bottle and singing "ta-dah!" he says. . . .'"
(from "Is biodynamic the new organic?" -
More importantly, the question of "fruits" goes far beyond mere taste; it goes to questions of real nutrition, and beyond those, to questions of the health of society and of the Earth itself. And again, nutrition and health are very hard to quantify, they are more matters of quality.
Indeed, a subtle aspect of nutrition was a key consideration for Steiner as a motive for his promulgation of BD in the first place. Dr. Pfeiffer tells the story:
". . . . a conversation I had with Dr. Steiner en route from Stuttgart to Dornach shortly before the agricultural course was given. He had been speaking of the need for a deepening of esoteric life, and in this connection mentioned certain faults typically found in spiritual movements. I then asked, 'How can it happen that the spiritual impulse, and especially the inner schooling, for which you are constantly providing stimulus and guidance bear so little fruit? Why do the people concerned give so little evidence of spiritual experience, in spite of all their efforts? Why, worst of all, is the will for action, for the carrying out of these spiritual impulses, so weak?' I was particularly anxious to get an answer to the question as to how one could build a bridge to active participation and the carrying out of spiritual intentions without being pulled off the right path by personal ambition, illusions and petty jealousies; for, these were the negative qualities Rudolf Steiner had named as the main inner hindrances. Then came the thought-provoking and surprising answer: 'This is a problem of nutrition. Nutrition as it is to-day does not supply the strength necessary for manifesting the spirit in physical life. A bridge can no longer be built from thinking to will and action. Food plants no longer contain the forces people need for this.'
"A nutritional problem which, if solved, would enable the spirit to become manifest and realise itself in human beings! With this as a background, one can understand why Dr. Steiner said that 'the benefits of the bio-dynamic compost preparations should be made available as quickly as possible to the largest possible areas of the entire earth, for the earth's healing.'" (from The Agriculture Course Preface)
I don't see any easy way to decide by "measurement" whether BD foods are successful in solving this nutritional problem. It seems one would have to measure the manifestations of spirit-in-action in those people who eat only BD products and compare those manifestations to what they would have been without BD foods, all other things being equal. But spirit can't be quantified; the what-if question is inherently unanswerable; and it is never the case that all other things are equal. Real life is too complex to be reduced to a controlled laboratory experiment. -- Again, apparently, this is a question of quality. Or, at least it is a question that will not yield to ordinary methods of cognition.
And not only the health of human beings was a consideration; Steiner spoke of the health of the earth. Some aspects, such a soil erosion, seem fairly obvious. Pfeiffer again:
"To restore the most beneficial environmental conditions (forests, wind protection, water regulation), has been an important aim of the Biodynamic Method from its earliest years. Had the method been accepted before 1930, it can be truly said that no soil conservation agencies would have been needed later on, in 1935 and the following years."
(from BIODYNAMICS: A SHORT PRACTICAL INTRODUCTION)
But the quantity of soil preserved is obviously not the whole story; BD is concerned with the health of the soil, and not only of the soil, but of the whole environment: plant, animal, human, even social. And yet again, health is a hard thing to measure.
The Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association outlines the aims of BD agriculture:
"Common-sense practices include striving to be self-sufficient in energy, fertilizers, plants, and animals; structuring our activities based on working with nature's rhythms; using diversity in plant, fertilizers, and animals as building blocks of a healthy operation; being professional in our approach to reliability, cleanliness, order, focus on observation, and attention to detail; and being prompt and up-to- date in doing one's job.
"The concern with the uniqueness of a particular landscape includes developing an understanding of the geology, soils, climate, plant, and animal life; human ecology; and economy of one's bioregion.
"Biodynamic agriculture is a way of living, working and relating to nature and the vocations of agriculture based on good common-sense practices, a consciousness of the uniqueness of each landscape, and the inner development of each and every practitioner. Common-sense practices include striving to be self-sufficient in energy, fertilizers, plants, and animals; structuring our activities based on working with nature's rhythms; using diversity in plant, fertilizers, and animals as building blocks of a healthy operation; being professional in our approach to reliability, cleanliness, order, focus on observation, and attention to detail; and being prompt and up-to-date in doing one's job.
"The concern with the uniqueness of a particular landscape includes developing an understanding of the geology, soils, climate, plant, and animal life; human ecology; and economy of one's bioregion." (from "What Is Biodynamics?")
-- A subtle, insightful view of the "health" of a BD farm is given by Hugh Lovel:
"With biodynamics the idea is to achieve a bounded, living, harmonious system where nothing is fighting anything else, all components are in resonance, dancing like the patterns of sand on a suspended metal plate vibrated by a violin bow-very well-organized with minimal effort needed to make the pattern sing and dance. Within this living, coherent system biodynamic practitioners modulate the mix and the flavour of their operations with the way they use their preparations. The better they achieve this, the more syntropic (rather than entropic) their property becomes-instead of going downhill and continually having to be pumped back up with inputs.
"It is establishing the boundaries of each garden or farm and seeding it with the already coherent biodynamic preparations that sets up patterns compelling everything within those boundaries to hum along in unison. The garden or farm as a whole becomes alive, and the momentum builds as the biological activity starts running up instead of running down. Everything dances to the same rhythms, to the same conductor, like the players in a symphony orchestra. As the organization builds, what the gardener or farmer thinks, he grows. We should consider, organization is the basis of life. We are living organisms. With biodynamic agriculture a high degree of organization gradually emerges, and the garden or farm starts singing back at its workers-or with them-like a gigantic choral ensemble, wending its way through page after page of musical scores."
(from QUANTUM AGRICULTURE - Introduction by Hugh Lovel)
-- So, it seems to me that BD agriculture, in a qualitative way, despite its (apparently) miniscule quantitative actuality, has brought something very healthy and unique into the world. (I say *apparently* because one cannot rule out large-scale homeopathic effects over the whole Earth from the relatively tiny amount of actual BD agricultural practice.)
And more: the effects of Steiner's BD teachings are not finished, nor are they limited to farmers merely carrying out his teachings without improving upon them. For instance, another BD preparation, the "horn clay", has been developed; it was not taught explicitly by Steiner, but it is nevertheless apparently effective. Hugh Lovel states:
"Working with Greg Willis of AgriSynthesis we found that in traditional biodynamic practice there was one biodynamic preparation missing. Biodynamic Horn Clay."
". . . . horn clay-a preparation Steiner apparently meant to include in his lectures but for one reason or another glossed over. This mediates between the activities of the horn manure that work into the soil and the activities of the horn silica that work into the atmosphere. Thus horn clay provides stronger sap pressure and nutrient uptake by day, leading to more abundant root exudation at night. This too is supported by the seven herbal preparations, particularly the nettles."
(from THE INTEGRATING, MEDIATING EFFECT OF BIODYNAMIC HORN CLAY and "Biodynamics: On the Cutting Edge")
-- And still more: Others, Hugh Lovel in particular, have carried BD principles into the realm of "radionics" (following up especially the work of T. Galen Hieronymus). Ways have been found to get the BD effects without the physical techniques taught by Steiner, but by radionic techniques that Lovel calls *quantum field broadcasting*. Lovel explains:
"Field broadcasting is an economical, effective way to apply all the biodynamic preparations all the time to one¹s land. This makes biodynamics do-able for everyone.
"By broadcasting the resonant, fractal patterns of homeopathic potencies of the biodynamic preparations directly into the organizational energy fields of soil and atmosphere these patterns are applied night and day 365 days a year."
(from "Biodynamic Field Broadcasting Comes of Age!")
Yet more: very importantly for the main problem under consideration here, Lovel has found that the BD effects can be obtained without using organic materials, including slaughterhouse products, in the preps at all. Satisfactory results can be obtained by using geometrical patterns instead. Lovel again:
"Over the years it has proven generally inadvisable to put crude, raw materials such as lime, fertilizers or BD preps in our broadcasters as reagents. It has proven far more reliable to use homeopathic potencies of these.
"However, one of the problems long experienced with homeopathic potencies is that variations and inconsistencies creep in . . . . In searching for something better we found that clear and consistent results were obtained using Malcolm Rae geometric cards which involve patterns of seven concentric circles. With geometric cards and a reader the card is inserted, the desired potency is dialed and the medium (such as sugar tablets) gets that potency built or patterened on it. These are the most reliable reagents we know of."
(Lovel wrote this about ten years ago. I would presume that his research has progressed even further since then. Now, apparently, he is in Australia and applying the BD/radionic principles to conditions there.)
(In his preface Pfeiffer explains that, around the mid-Twentieth Century, many of Steiner's agricultural recommendations had been put into effect widely, but in diluted, materialistic ways.)
-- I can now back up and return to my immediate sub-questions.
What are the fruits of BD? The fruits are something now, and have not ended; they are already growing into even better fruits: e.g. "quantum field broadcasting".
Objectively, what is BD agriculture to the world? -- It is something better than what was, better than what generally now exists, and is a transition to something even better in the future. And that "something even better" would hardly have come if BD had not been there first.
Backing up further, I can reconsider Steiner's ethical decision in 1924. And again I go to Lovel:
"Steiner's agriculture course was his final, desperate effort to introduce a new impulse that might remedy the root causes of our social problems. The more effectively the preparations are used, the more they will make our land and our crops thrive in a complete and balanced way. Only if this occurs will food impart sufficient forces for uniting our wills with our imaginations and making us whole. Unless this happens on a large scale and soon, the earth will lose its ability to support life."
BD agriculture is not now merely what Steiner taught; many others have made it what it is now, and is still becoming something even better. Ehrenfried Pfeiffer learned from Steiner and carried the work further. Likewise Peter Escher learned from Pfeiffer and taught Lovel. The Koliskos contributed valuable discoveries; some, such as Glen Atkinson, have developed their work further in the direction of homeopathic applications of biodynamic principles. And many farmers put their lives into the work. -- But none of this would likely have happened had Steiner not given the original impulse in 1924. So: did Steiner make a mistake? -- The "good" that has resulted, and might well result more, seems rather obvious. (This is not a calculation but an apprehension of the Platonic Idea of The Good applied to this case, I hope.) But to consider the "bad" results I must again look at the use of slaughterhouse products (and the killing of some animals for the "peppers"). These are in themselves negatives, but they must be considered not only in themselves but also in relation to the negatives that would have followed had Steiner not acted as he did. The slaughtered animals would have been slaughtered anyway; the horns and so on were only by- products and, I would presume, did not increase the demand for slaughter. (And the harm to animals killed to make "peppers" was far less than would have followed if the animals pests had instead been killed *en masse* by the usual means.) And one must also consider the good that the world as a whole would have missed had Steiner not acted as he did: BD would not have come into the world and would not be developing further as it now is. And, who knows, maybe general agricultural collapse and mass starvation would already have set in, had not the tiny BD farming practice acted quasi- homeopathically to heal the earth? Even today, despite (or because of) the chemical and "trans- genetic" "hot-wiring" of mass agriculture, food prices are rising and food riots are springing up around the world. The game is not over, and BD is needed now as much as, or more than, ever. I don't believe that Steiner made a mistake. From where I sit, his decision looks right -- despite the regrettable cruelty involved. And really, this is more than regrettable; it is a profound sorrow. Yet again: I must presume that it was a deep heartache for Steiner himself; he knew far better than most of us the profound atrociousness of the entailed cruelty. -- This is about as far as I can get into the seventh stage through "thinking it out". But I am not satisfied that this (7th stage) question has thus far been answered as the 7fold dialectic truly requires. According to Bondarev (if I understand him), in the 7fold dialectic the thinking after the third stage is not thought-out at all in the usual way; it must come through a higher process. And the 7th stage should be a unification of the Platonic Idea and its particular individualization in the case under consideration.
In this case (following from the original conflict of "thesis" and "antithesis") the main Idea was that of the inevitability, and the rightness, of the existence of pain and suffering within Creation. And the individualization was the problem of acting ethically with this realization and facing the problems of modern agriculture. But there are many Ideas, which are really beings, involved -- and they cannot be "reached" by ordinary "thinking-out"; the question cannot be brought to a conclusion by thinking it out. And perhaps more importantly, my heart is not satisfied by such a "conclusion". The original question sprung from my heart, and mere thinking in the ordinary sense, no matter how cogent, simply does not give my heart what it wants. The heart want something more, something more real. I said that I had not asked a clear, cognitive question in the first place (in the original antithesis). The question had some cognitive content, but the strongest energy behind it was emotional: a matter of feeling. The cognitive considerations about the necessity of suffering, the impracticality of withdrawal, and so on, mollify my feelings somewhat, but not entirely. Something yet remains unanswered; some more elemental answer is still needed.
How to come to a resolution of the whole 7-
folded question? I struggled with
considerations such as these:
-- With such considerations in mind, I tried to bring this question before the Thought-Beings involved in this 7fold dialectical attempt. But I hit the block: how can I commune with these Beings when I am effectively deaf and blind, when I can't hear or see them? Perhaps in what RS calls *Phantasie*? Not "fantasy" exactly in the English sense of wish-driven escapism, but in the sense of creative visualization (artistic?).
Anyway: I got (somehow) the mental image of a Pietà like Michelangelo's. I noted that this is an archetype, which in Wolfram's *Parzival* was given as the picture of Sigune grieving over the dead Schionatulander; I noted further that the historical person behind the legendary Schionatulander is reputed to be a previous incarnation of Rudolf Steiner. The archetype is the mother, or the virgin, holding the dead son, or young man, in sorrow and grief. -- Further, I got a similar image of a girl-child cuddling a bunny in a green, summery meadow by a running brook. -- I faced the question: Is this, or are these images somehow meaningful for this, my attempt at the 7th stage of thinking? But, if so, I couldn't see how.
The next day, pursuing this *Phantasie* further, I "saw" the girl who was holding the bunny getting younger and younger. I had the thought: if the Pietà scene represents Mother Nature grieving over her tortured and dead Son (the Earth? the creatures of Earth-Evolution?), then what is the Young Girl? Innocent, blooming Nature? -- Perhaps, working from the Pietà image, I might see the seventh stage of *this* dialectic as this proposition: BD agriculture is good and loving, but still painful and sorrowful. -- And then what about the young girl hugging the bunny in the Spring/Summer meadow? Does this mean that the hurting of the innocent, trusting heart follows in the course of *any* hurting of the animals? If so: how could BD be in any sense "good"? Except if, the hurting of innocent hearts can *somehow* turn out to be good in the long run? Would a truly innocent heart lose faith if it were hurt, or would it continue to trust? -- Maybe the message is: a truly innocent heart would see no "antithesis" (as I did) in the first place; it would continue to trust, knowing that in the care of the loving God(s) "all things work together for the good" . . . of the good spirits in this striving for forward evolution? . . . ? Does all this add up to the conclusion the fact that I saw a contradiction in the first place, was really bothered, shows that my heart was impure?
These questions led me the next day to further
questions and considerations: -- Why does the
girl in the imagery keep getting younger and
younger? Is it:
More consideration on the symbology of my images followed: -- The Feminine is the archetypal image of the SOUL, the feelings. The purified soul (astral body) is the Manas, the Spirit Self, the Holy VIRGIN Sophia: WISDOM, loving, trusting, vulnerable, innocent. -- Is the message, the solution of this whole 7fold thinking exercise that I need to be "converted and become as a little child" to approach this and suchlike problems? . . . that to "get" Wisdom I must be as the Feminine Holy Virgin Sophia, in trust and in painful sorrow? (compare the Pietà, the Mater Dolorossa) . . . for, "wisdom is crystallized pain". -- Without pain there is no wisdom: a Mystery.
(Ravenscroft: the archetype: Pietà, Sigune- Schionatulander = Isis-Osiris. "Sigune . . . represents the widowed human soul." [The Cup of Destiny; "The Divine Fool"])
(Scionatulander = Steiner [who died in the place of Parzival = Mani])
(The Male as the symbol of Spirit?)
(Purification [of the Soul, Feminine] comes through the FIRE of Pain.)
(The innocent Child-Soul: what I am *not*!)
-- Such were the thoughts I had soon after "getting" this imagery, trying to understand it. Perhaps they were coming too fast and wandering too widely. I will try to bring them to a focus.
Are there two conclusions; one cognitive and one emotional? One re the objective atrociousness, one the subjective? -- No; really, true emotion *is* objective, that is, it is a subjective experience in harmony with objective Reality. And, as RS taught at the very beginning of *KoHW*, emotions, feelings, are food for the soul, and the soul must have good food in order to be healthy enough to achieve true cognition. Verily, in a sense we must be "converted" and become as little children in order to answer this, or any other, question.
>> 7 -- UNITY OF THE INDIVIDUAL AND THE GENERAL: Judging by its fruits, BD is apparently good and healthy, and is becoming more so. This goodness and health would not have come about had not RS done as he did in giving out the essentials of BD. And judging with an innocent, child-like soul, BD is good but sorrowful, and the sorrow itself does not contradict the goodness but enhances it.<< ***
(Jainism - Wikipedia:)
Jainism acknowledges that it is impossible to discharge one's duties without some degree of himsa/violence, but encourages to minimise as much as possible. For example: A common man may need leather belt or shoes (this is himsa) so he/she may minimise vilolence by purchasing only one pair of shoes instead of 10 pairs or he/she may use plastic slippers or he/she may choose to wear those leather products which are not obtained by killing animals (rather obtained from a naturally dead animals). Jains usually do not consume root vegetables such as potatoes, garlic, onions, carrots, radishes, cassava, sweet potatoes, turnips, etc., as the plant needed to be killed in the process of accessing these prior to their end of life cycle. In addition, the root vegetables interact with soil and therefore contain far more micro-organisms than other vegetables. However, they consume rhizomes such as dried turmeric and dried ginger. Brinjals are also not consumed by some Jains owing to the large number of seeds in the vegetable, as a seed is a form of life. Strict Jains do not consume food left overnight because of contamination by microbes. Most Jain recipes substitute potato with plantain.
(Ahimsa - Wikipedia:)
Jains also make considerable efforts not to injure plants in everyday life as far as possible. Though they admit that plants must be destroyed for the sake of food, they accept such violence only inasmuch as it is indispensable for human survival, and there are special instructions for preventing unnecessary violence against plants. Jains go out of their way so as not to hurt even small insects and other minuscule animals. For example, Jains often do not go out at night, when they are more likely to step upon an insect. In their view, injury caused by carelessness is like injury caused by deliberate action. Eating honey is strictly outlawed, as it would amount to violence against the bees. Some Jains abstain from farming because it inevitably entails unintentional killing or injuring of many small animals, such as worms and insects, but agriculture is not forbidden in general and there are Jain farmers.
Though, theoretically, all life forms are said to deserve full protection from all kinds of injury, Jains admit that this ideal cannot be completely implemented in practice. Hence, they recognize a hierarchy of life. Mobile beings are given higher protection than immobile ones. For the mobile beings, they distinguish between one- sensed, two-sensed, three-sensed, four-sensed and five-sensed ones; a one-sensed animal has touch as its only sensory modality. The more senses a being has, the more they care about its protection. Among the five-sensed beings, the rational ones (humans) are most strongly protected by Jain ahimsa.
(Biodynamic agriculture - Wikipedia:)
. . . . pests such as insects or field mice (Apodemus) have more complex processes associated with them, depending on what pest is to be targeted. For example field mice are to be countered by deploying ashes prepared from field mice skin when Venus is in the Scorpius constellation.
Weeds are combated (besides the usual mechanical methods) by collecting seeds from the weeds and burning them above a wooden flame that was kindled by the weeds. The ashes from the seeds are then spread on the fields, then lightly sprayed with the clear urine of a sterile cow (the urine should be exposed to the full moon for six hours), this is intended to block the influence from the full moon on the particular weed and make it infertile.
(from "The Attainment of Spiritual Knowledge"; 20th September, 1922)
". . . . one cannot reach this Intuitive knowledge, this submerging in outer things, without passing through intense suffering, much more intense than the pain of which I had to speak when I characterized Imaginative knowledge, when I said that through one's own efforts one must find the way back into one's sympathies and antipathies - and that inevitably means pain. But now pain becomes a cosmic experiencing of all suffering that rests upon the ground of existence."
"One can easily ask why the Gods or God created suffering. Suffering must be there if the world is to arise in its beauty."
"That we have eyes - I will use popular language here - is simply due to the fact that to begin with, in a still undifferentiated organism, the organic forces were excavated which lead to sight and which, in their final metamorphosis, become the eye. If we were still aware today of the minute processes which go on in the retina in the act of sight, we should realize that even this is fundamentally the existence of a latent pain."
"All beauty is grounded in suffering. Beauty can only be developed from pain. And one must be able to feel this pain, this suffering. Only through this can we really find our way into the supersensible world, by going through this pain."
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