Friday, April 4, 2014

‘Flashback Friday: Cosmos Becomes Man’

This might as well count for Flashback Friday, as I just realized that I haven’t written about the January 11 lecture at Anthroposophy yet, and tomorrow night is the continuation of that lecture series.

Part three of the lecture series titled “In the Midst of Life: Understanding Death in Our Time.” From the publicity:

Life Against Death
Presented by Eugene Schwartz
Saturday, April 5 at 7 p.m.
Anthroposophy Society
138 West 15th Street

Eugene Schwartz explores Rudolf Steiner’s often surprising and sometimes counterintuitive indications about life after death and the Dead, and how they may help us face the challenges of modern life.

In this lecture: As the proportion of elders grows, issues of aging and dying loom larger. Prolongation of life, even eternal life, is the expressed goal of some technocrats and biologists. The infirmities of extreme old age make grim statistics and cofound hospitals, economists, and politicians. Between Luciferic defiance and Ahrimanic fear, what is the mission of death?

$20 admission for non-members.

Anyway, back to Centerpoint on Saturday, January 11, for “Cosmos Becomes Man,” the second of the four lectures that are Eugene Schwartz’s series based on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner, founder of the Anthroposophical Society. I missed the first lecture, and, still being unfamiliar with Steiner’s philosophy, I was in for a ride stepping into this lecture cold. The publicity described it thusly: “This lecture will focus on the ‘second half’ of our life after death, beginning with what Rudolf Steiner termed the ‘Midnight Hour’ and ending with our new birth. As we examine this lengthy descent into matter, Steiner grants us insights into such issues as heredity and individuality, love and gender, and karma and human freedom.”
Mr. Eugene Schwartz

I did take brief notes this time, but remember any errors and omissions are attributable to me, and not to Mr. Schwartz. Also, you should know that audio recordings of these talks are being made available online. The first lecture, “Man Becomes Cosmos,” from December 7, is posted, and this second discussion is too. You should listen to those rather than read this, so click here.

Our lecturer began with a quick recap of that first talk, explaining how Steiner taught how human afterlife involved a cosmology that saw a transition of a person’s entire being—the physical, the etheric, the astral, and the ego—into the universe for a period of reflection when the impacts upon others of one’s thoughts, words, and deeds were assessed. Invoking Sartre, Beckett, and Ionesco, he spoke of life in this material world as a place with no exit, a theater of the absurd. “What happens on earth, stays on earth.” But through the use of the techniques of Karma, he explained, we free ourselves from this world. It’s actually something Schwartz attributed to the Jews of antiquity, whose concept and practice of atonement marks the birth of this thinking.

Thus begins existence in the Midnight Hour, the subject of this second talk.

Our spirit, somewhat incarnate in the forms of cherubim and seraphim, are at the most important moment of every human biography—that time when we set about preparing for the eventual return to the physical world, a journey of 500 years. We pass this time giving form to the bodies of those to whom we will be harmonically connected; it is an act that ensures we become social beings, and has the added benefit of resulting in uniquely formed beings (as opposed to a race of nothing but beautiful archetypes, which would happen if everybody could choose their own looks).

This sort of ethereal matchmaking is not a totally unknown concept. Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream also speaks of supernatural beings playing matchmaker, albeit with humorous results, but I digress. So, to make a not very long story short, the 500 years pass, and thus the spirit drops down to the physical world, and just happens to make a right angle as it descends the grades of the arc, depicted in this not very clear photograph I shot of the blackboard:

To hear Mr. Schwartz’s explain this himself, with the added benefit of visual aids, click here.

Lecture four is scheduled for May 24.

Anthroposophy NYC maintains a very active and full calendar of events, and I have to point out that I do not mention all—or even most—of them on the Magpie. For that, please sign up for its newsletter, which comes via e-mail monthly, and its other reminders. Click here.

On Wednesday at 7 p.m., David Anderson will continue his 10-part lecture series “Spiritual Beings and Their Work.”

And I very much look forward to April 17, when Anthroposophy NYC will host its Passover-Easter Presentation titled “The Last Supper Transformed for Our Time,” described thusly:

Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples was a Passover seder, which in Judaism celebrates the Exodus from Egypt. Jesus tells his disciples that the wine shall be His blood, and the unleavened bread His body and, to restore all humanity, the Lamb of God replaces the Pascal Lamb of the Exodus.

Today a seder based on this understanding invites a commitment to eradicate all forms of enslavement everywhere. We will celebrate this extraordinary metamorphosis with traditional symbolic items from the Passover Seder plate, and imagine what we would place on it today. Feel free to bring something with you to share in this way.

Starts at 7 p.m. No admission fee, but donations are welcome.

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