The Life of Rudolf Steiner

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Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) – pioneer in holistic education, sustainable agriculture, ethical finance, complimentary medicine and in new social forms.

Filmed in Austria, Switzerland, Britain, India, and the USA ‘The Life of Rudolf Steiner’ looks at key moments in his remarkable biography, and at the increasing influence of his insights in all areas of human life.

Growing up in the Austrian countryside, the son of a humble railway official, Steiner already as a boy had profound spiritual experiences about which he could speak to no one.

While studying in Vienna at the Technical University, on his regular train journey from home into the city, he meets the herbalist Felix Koguzki. ‘On his back’, writes Steiner in his autobiography, ‘were his bundles of herbs; but in his heart was the knowledge of the spiritual aspects of nature that had come to him through gathering them’.

Goethe’s work as a botanist is another important influence at this time – ‘A kindred spirit’, is how the philosopher Jeremy Naydler describes Steiner’s relationship to Goethe – ‘someone approaching the natural world with an open heart and not just as an object to be studied and measured and quantified, but rather as a world still imbued with something sacred.’

After seven lonely years in Weimar editing Goethe’s scientific writings, Steiner arrives in Berlin in 1897 with the question: ‘How long must I be silent?’ Through years of diligent meditation, combined with a rigorous study of the science and philosophy of his day, he was gradually forging his own ‘science of the invisible’. It was among the theosophists, eager to listen to someone not just speaking out of the past, but out of his own inner vision, that Steiner initially finds an audience. Eventually he calls his work ‘anthroposophy’.

During the following years, until his premature death in 1925 at the age of 64, Steiner travelled extensively, delivering over six thousand lectures as well as writing books, plays and a collection of meditative verses. ‘To help awaken the spiritual in the human being to the spiritual in the universe’, is how he once described his task.

But it was not only on mighty themes like human and cosmic evolution that Steiner now spoke. To farmers, doctors, educationalists, priests and artists he gave numerous indications and insights on how their work could be enriched and deepened. It is the content of this legacy that is increasingly appreciated all over the world.