Beginning at the end of the 19th century, a relatively unknown Austrian philosopher and teacher began to sow the seeds of what he hoped would blossom into a new culture. The seeds were his ideas, which he sowed through extensive writings, lectures and countless private consultations. The seeds germinated and took root in the hearts and minds of his students, among whom were individuals who would later become some of the best known and most influential figures of the 20th century. Since the teacher’s death in 1925, a quiet but steadily growing movement, unknown and unseen by most people, has been spreading over the world, bringing practical solutions to the problems of our global, technological civilization. The seeds are now coming to flower in the form of thousands of projects infused with human values. The teacher, called by some “the best kept secret of the 20th century,” was Rudolf Steiner.
Steiner, a truly “Renaissance man,” developed a way of thinking that he applied to different aspects of what it means to be human. Over a period of 40 years, he formulated and taught a path of inner development or spiritual research he called, “anthroposophy.” From what he learned, he gave practical indications for nearly every field of human endeavor. Art, architecture, drama, science, education, agriculture, medicine, economics, religion, care of the dying, social organization-there is almost no field he did not touch.
Today, wherever there is a human need you’ll find groups of people working out of Steiner’s ideas. There are an estimated ten thousand initiatives worldwide-the movement is a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity, social and political activism, artistic expression, scientific research, and community building. Contemporary manifestations of Steiner’s influence include Waldorf Education, Biodynamic farming and gardening, and the Camphill Movement for the support of people with disabilities.
Article by Christopher Bamford and Eric Utne, for the Association of Waldorf Schools in North America – AWSNA.