Dear friends – I was especially looking forward to attending our Christian Community Church this morning since Rev. Jeana Lee & several members of our congregation have just returned from the celebration of the founding of the Christian Community, which occurred on 16 September 1922.
And today on 16 October 2022 we are honoring the Anniversary of the Founding of the Esoteric Youth Circle, an independent, self-directed community of meditants – a path of inner striving as a service – ‘a social working in the suprasensible‘ – established thru Rudolf Steiner in 1922.
The task of the Circle member is an inner contemplation of mantras to be done 3 X’s a day, morning, noon & evening, using the spiritual content that came thru Dr. Steiner, to create an etheric relationship with others working with the mantras here on earth, as well as those across the Threshold, in collaboration with Powerful Spiritual Beings, (Steiner explained: What you seek is to find a friend in the spiritual world) to foster the Christic progress in the evolution of humanity.
Steiner told the original members that this: meditation is a fulfilling of the Spiritual Will that the Time Spirit bears within itself. When such meditation is practiced, a spiritual force is able to work into the earthly events. Spiritual worlds want to work into earthly events today, but they can do this only when, through human meditation, space is created for it…the power of meditating such a meditation in common increases by potentization.
To be clear – the members of The Circle do not constitute some spiritual or social elite, but join together because an inner urge, stemming perhaps from karma, compels them to search for an inner, meditative relationship to Anthroposophy that prepares them 1st thru an individual inner development, which then benefits the wider society as a whole, to receive the Michaelic stream of spiritual working that is seeking to enter the evolution of Humanity.
At the Founding, Steiner tells us: It is the mutual taking on of karma that is created in such a community.
Like in The Mystery Dramas, Steiner tells us must realize that: what we ourselves do within the community bears no fruit for us ourselves, but for others, & that the fruits for us come from others.
After the Founding, Steiner annouced: What has taken place now is a first in the post-Christian era: human beings themselves chose, out of freedom before the spiritual world, to join together esoterically’.
Dear freinds – The Circle did not start out to be, & was never intended as a ‘Secret Society’; but unfortunately, as can be the case with the School of Spiritual Science & its First Class, or in the ‘Sections’, some people have fed into this false notion.
The Circle is not an institution in the world. It should have no hierarchy, no guru’s, it is not an organization or a separate society. The Circle has never had, nor should it have, any ‘leaders’ or select representatives. (but again unfortunately some people do aggrandize their ‘seniority’, so beware) There is no constitution or code of conduct, or enforced bylaws. No papers are signed, no proof of membership. No financial transactions of any kind occur.
The Circle grows by word of mouth, mostly thru conversations between people. It’s been interesting to see how this impulse, living as it does in the etheric & astral worlds, & in the “I” of many striving souls, has been called to become so much more present these days, as we come to this Centennial milestone.
Meetings, (in many cases these days on zoom) occur as a way of sharing research, personal experience with The Circle Meditation as seen thru the seasonal round, or working with the esoteric lessons which Steiner specificly gave them – And as the Good Doctor emphasized to the original members “To get to know each other well” thru biography work, as way of building a ‘new kind of community‘ of equal peers.
Unlike other communities, where a person’s actions & judgments can be subject to censure or sanctions, The Circle is meant to leave each person completely free, never exerting any kind of pressure or influence on other members. There is no ‘acting on behalf of the Circle’.
The many quotations here & below, from the initial conversations with Rudolf Steiner, clarifies the relationship of the members to each other:
To unite together through a mutual promise in striving for a common spiritual purpose, and in doing so to nevertheless leave each one completely free in their actions and their judgments – a community founded upon such precepts is something quite new in the development of humanity and something which is needed today as a matter of utmost necessity.
The Circle was never an official part of the Anthroposophical Society, it is independent in the same sense as the Christian Community. But the history shows that Rudolf Steiner was asked by the Circle members during the Christmas Conference whether they were meant to continue in light of the new impulse from the refounding of the Anthroposophical Society. In response, he gave them a 2nd Esoteric Lesson on the morning of 30 December 1923 – before Continuing the Foundation Meeting – deepening their insights to further their work on into the future.
Also interesting is that among the other mantras that make up that Christmas Conference lesson, Steiner spoke the 3 so-called “Tablets” asking the Cirlce members to write them down, & use them in their daily work. This was before Steiner had established the First Class.
Rudolf Steiner never intended that the Circle should stop its work or be dissolved, which he confirmed to Maria Röschl when she asked him about it.
Steiner also told the members: The community will never die out. With the 1st community members who reincarnate, the community returns to Earth.
Therefore The Circle will continue to exist, according to Steiner, beyond death, as long as there are people that find its task meaningful, are prepared to carry thru with the daily meditations, & are called to pass it on to others.
When, after much deliberation one determines that The Circle work is part of their destiny, the person makes ‘the pledge’ – to serve the spiritual world.
Steiner affirmed: By persevering with the exercises we have a chance to stand up to Ahrimanic powers that no one person can withstand alone.
Below is a letter from Ernst Lehrs, one of the founding members of the Esoteric Youth Circle, where he answers a question posed to Alan Howard, one of the editors of the Autumn 1979 newsletter of the Anthroposophical Society in America. This was written a few weeks before his death.
“I am writing in response to your inquiry in the Autumn ’79 issue of the American Newsletter concerning what seems to you to be a “secret Society” within the general Anthroposophical Movement.
As an original member of this “Circle”, which came into being with the help of Rudolf Steiner 56 years ago, I feel obliged to convey as far as possible a picture fitting its true nature. At the time of the so-called Youth Course (available in English under the title “The Younger Generation,”) held by Rudolf Steiner in 1922, some of us who had carried the initiative for this course out of impulses shared and agreed by us during a preparatory period, approached Rudolf Steiner in all modesty about the possibility of receiving common material for inner work.
Our question had been prompted by realizing the rapid crumbling of human society in its different spheres. This was at the same time that the inevitable failure of the Threefold Commonwealth Movement became apparent. We felt that something quite definite ought to be undertaken which would ensure the continuity of the anthroposophical substance regardless of external conditions. For this purpose, purely individual meditations carried out for one’s own spiritual progress – indispensable though these are – could not suffice. What we were striving for, or so we put it, was a Schulung als Dienst (a path of inner striving as a service), whereby one wishes to serve the Spirit of the Time, i.e. Michael.
After a number of preparatory conversations between Rudolf Steiner and those of us who had requested them, a meditative content was passed on to us which Rudolf Steiner said was given im Auftrag der geistigen Welt (on behalf of the spiritual world). At the same time, the manner of its use as well as indications of how to pass on this meditative work to others striving in a similar direction was explained to us by Rudolf Steiner. He then further helped the birth of this community and said that we should regard it as having been gestiftet by the spiritual world itself. (Rudolf Steiner distinguished clearly between begründen – to found, and stiften – to institute, to endow; the former refers to an impulse originating in the physical world, the latter to one coming directly out of the spiritual world working down into the physical.)
This took place in a solemn act. Rudolf Steiner also handed down to the initial group a pledge which, by being read in the presence of the others who already belong to the Circle, constitutes a commitment purely to the spiritual world. We were the first to do so on Rudolf Steiner’s advice by reading these words to one another.
Subsequently, Rudolf Steiner met twice with the members of this community endowing them with two esoteric lessons, (the 1st was in Stuttgart on 13 July 1923, which BTW Steiner also gave to the Priests) the second of which was held on December 30, 1923, this is during the Weihnachtstagung (the Christmas Foundation Meeting). It took place in a room of the Glashaus; and on this occasion, Frau Ita Wegman and Frau Marie Steiner accompanied him as guests. From what Rudolf Steiner said with regard to Dr Wegman’s presence, we realized that this work was in a way linked to the newly formed Hochschule (School for Spiritual Science).
In subsequent months, Rudolf Steiner made himself available to us whenever required either personally until his illness, or in writing until shortly before his death. The Vorstand in Dornach was thoroughly informed about these matters to their complete satisfaction.
The connection between the members of this community is established solely through the same mantric words meditated by each individually. No earthly initiative is ever undertaken by its members by virtue of belonging to this community. In some places, friends foster meetings from time to time of those locally in reach. Here again, they do so following the advice by Rudolf Steiner to engage in conversations and Gespräch about spiritual matters, e.g. based on the content of the two esoteric lessons, if they wish to do so.
The community has no name of its own and Rudolf Steiner recommended that we should keep it so. However, in the opening part of the second lesson, he said, “I am addressing myself today to the youth in you. For you are after all the esoteric youth circle.” This has prompted some friends to refer to it as “der Jugendkreis” but usually when it is mentioned it is spoken of as “der Kreis” (The Circle).
I hope that through my description it has become clear that this community is in no way an institution on earth and that there is no secrecy about its work. Friends find this work who feel within themselves questions arising of a nature similar to those which have led to the original formation of this community. Experience has shown that individuals earnestly seeking answers to vital inner questions are often led by personal encounters to situations where this work may become known to them. It is then a matter of whether one is able, prepared and willing to undertake responsibly the specific meditative work described above. ~Ernst Lehrs, Advent 1979”
The history of ‘The Circle’ can be found in “Esoteric Lessons Vol. 3 – 1913-1923”. Other documents are at the Archives at the Goetheanum or the Rudolf Steiner Archives in Dornach.
Here are a few notes from the various preparatory discussions for the founding of the Group:
‘If I am to go into what I understand with the term “esoteric group” then let me say that if you want to take the esoteric earnestly, you must say to yourself that it is an action out of the impulses from the spiritual world. One can strive toward this. Anthroposophy is a path to this end. To build such a community would constitute a decision to set upon this path.
The spiritual is a living element & so such a group must not be something dead. The group must be a force-group. The health of each part is the health of the whole. It is the mutual taking on of karma that is created in such a community. There is then mutual suffering to live through, but also mutual joy. People must be treated like fellow human beings, with all their imperfections.
What you seek is to find a friend in the spiritual world. The important thing is to remain spiritually true to the friend once found. Therefore, the 1st requirement is that you learn quite precisely what spiritual loyalty is.
Your community will have in it something of the primordial mystery of all human community. This mystery is that, what we ourselves do within the community bears no fruit for us ourselves, but for others, & that the fruits for us come from others.
We must work for the progress of humanity – Just as the physical social life consists of deeds done together, so too we strive for common deeds in the spirit – thus actually, for a social working in the suprasensible.
We must endeavor to carry spirit into the furthest consequences of our actions. This alone – that we bring spirit & love into our will – can make it possible to stand firmly against being overrun by the cultural machine. Too few people today develop real initiative. There is a lot of willfulness, but little will.
The true meditation is a fulfilling of the spiritual will that the Time Spirit bears with itself. Where such meditation is practiced, a spiritual force is able to work into the earthly events. Spiritual worlds want to work in to earthly events today, but they can do this only when, through human meditation, space is created for it. Through meditation, something like an empty space comes about. Into this space, the spiritual beings can enter with their effects. And the power of meditating such a meditation in common increases by potentization.
When we do this community-meditation, it will bring about a deeper connection of the core of our being with our sheaths.
These meditations, when used correctly, could become something like windows into the spiritual world. The words & pictures given, form only half of what is to be entrusted to us. The other half we are to find ourselves through spiritual activity.
Each of you must feel joy for the success of the other. You must avoid every feeling of rivalry & have the awareness that what each of you accomplishes, you accomplish through the power of all of the others.
Uniting yourself through a mutual promise to strive toward a common spiritual goal – & leaving one another completely free in actions & judgements in life – such a community based on this is something completely new in the evolution of humanity. And it is what is most necessary today.
For someone who comes to specific results on the esoteric path, there is always the danger of delusions of grandeur. Such a community as yours can be a protection against this. For in it, you strive together to cross the threshold of the spiritual world. And there each of you has to say that you have the efforts of all the others to thank for what you have achieved personally.
Effects will arise in the destiny between human beings who are connected with us in the community physically & spiritually. The community will never die out. With the 1st community members who reincarnate, the community returns to Earth.
By persevering with the exercises we have a chance to stand up to Ahrimanic powers that no one person can withstand.
Through the reading of the oath given by Rudolf Steiner on 16 October 1922, in the presence of the others, the admittance into the community was effected.
And now consider your community as having been founded by the spiritual world itself…Now get to know each other well.
This gave us the idea to tell each other our biography at the mutual acceptance into membership.
What has taken place now is a 1st in the post-Christian era: human beings themselves chose, out of freedom before the spiritual world, to join together esoterically’.
The 12 founding members:
Daniel van Bemmelen, co-founder of the 1st Dutch Waldorf School
Georg Groot MD, 3-fold social order, co-worker in the Berlin Group of the College Association
Herbert Hahn, called by Steiner to teach at the Independent Waldorf School in Stuttgart
Ernst Lehrs, teacher at the Waldorf school in Stuttgart, served on the committee for the Independent Anthroposophical Society founded for the youth. Later taught in The Hague, London, & Aberdeen. Also taught with his wife Maria Roeschl in the Rudolf Steiner Seminar.
Rene Maikowski, business manager of the Association for Anthroposophical College Studies, also a Waldorf teacher.
Wilhelm Rath, bookseller, man of letters, farmer, was on the committee of the Independent Anthroposophical Society.
Wilhelm Selling, mechanical engineer, colonial officer in Africa, in charge of the Theosophical library, mentor of the youth work in Berlin
Karin Selling, part of the Scandinavian Theosophical Society, teacher at the Waldorf School in Stockholm
Emma Smit, teacher & organizer of the Independent school in The Hague
Maria Spira, came from the Zionist Youth Movement, married Wilhelm Rath
Albrecht Strohschein, business man, 1st co-worker in the Der Kommenden (The Coming Day) in Stuttgart, student of psychology in Jena, co-founder of the therapeutic pedagogical movement
Kurt Walther, postal officer, lecturer, & leader of many courses, the successor of Marie Steiner in the Executive Council of the Anthroposophical Socety, married Wilhelm Selling’s sister Clara Selling, who was part of Steiner’s household
Blessings as we take this impulse into the next Century & beyond…