Rudolf Steiner, the often undervalued, multifaceted genius of modern times, contributed much to the regeneration of culture. In addition to his philosophical teachings, he provided ideas for the development of many practical activities including education—both general and special—agriculture, medicine, economics, architecture, science, religion, and the arts. Today there are thousands of schools, clinics, farms, and many other organizations based on his ideas.
Steiner's original contribution to human knowledge was based on his ability to conduct spiritual research, the investigation of metaphysical dimensions of existence. With his scientific and philosophical training, he brought a new systematic discipline to the field, allowing for conscious methods and comprehensive results. A natural seer from childhood, he cultivated his spiritual vision to a high degree, enabling him to speak with authority on previously veiled mysteries of life.
Topics include: the evolving human being; cosmos as the source of life; plants and the living earth; farms and the realms of nature; bringing the chemical elements to life; soil and the world of spirit; supporting and regulating life processes; spirits of the elements; nutrition and vitality; responsibility for the future.
Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) was born in the small village of Kraljevec, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now in Croatia), where he grew up (see right). As a young man, he lived in Weimar and Berlin, where he became a well-published scientific, literary, and philosophical scholar, known especially for his work with Goethe’s scientific writings. At the beginning of the twentieth century, he began to develop his early philosophical principles into an approach to systematic research into psychological and spiritual phenomena. Formally beginning his spiritual teaching career under the auspices of the Theosophical Society, Steiner came to use the term Anthroposophy (and spiritual science) for his philosophy, spiritual research, and findings. The influence of Steiner’s multifaceted genius has led to innovative and holistic approaches in medicine, various therapies, philosophy, religious renewal, Waldorf education, education for special needs, threefold economics, biodynamic agriculture, Goethean science, architecture, and the arts of drama, speech, and eurythmy. In 1924, Rudolf Steiner founded the General Anthroposophical Society, which today has branches throughout the world. He died in Dornach, Switzerland.
Dr. Richard Thornton Smith is a former a geography professor at the University of Leeds, specializing in soil science, environment, and conservation. Widely traveled, he has a long-standing interest in indigenous and sustainable farming. He was introduced to the work of Rudolf Steiner at an early age, and became fully involved with biodynamics in 1990, when he began to participate in training programs and workshops at Emerson College, UK. In 1996, he began a biodynamic extension program in Sri Lanka, for which he published a book, updated in 2007. Since 2001, he has been an inspector for the Biodynamic Association’s Demeter and Organic certification program in the UK. In 2003, he produced an edited selection of Steiner’s work relating to agriculture. He is currently a council member of the Biodynamic Agricultural Association and lives in Ross-on-Wye, UK.