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What can Waldorf School Communities Do in the Face of Vaccine Mandates?
Part I: Vaccination But Also Education
In the Easter Course for Young Doctors[i], Rudolf Steiner says the following regarding smallpox vaccinations:
"If one vaccinates someone but also educates that person in an anthroposophical way, no damage will be done."
This can be very reassuring in the face of vaccine mandates that are spreading like smallpox in various pockets of the US; it also could be used as a justification to not resist vaccination enforcement.
Many schools are sending letters to parents and their communities with the statement: "As a member of the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, our educational objectives do not include avoidance of, or resistance to, childhood immunization."' These schools, as well as many in the Waldorf movement do not wish to avoid or resist vaccination mandates, and are echoing the clear statement recently published by the Medical Section of the Goetheanum (via the IVAA)[ii].
The Medical Section's statement says: "Vaccines, together with health education, hygiene and adequate nutrition, are essential tools for preventing infectious diseases. Vaccines have saved countless lives over the last century; for example, they allowed the eradication of smallpox and are currently allowing the world to approach the elimination of polio."
Yet, are the IVAA and the AWSNA (and the School) statements reflective of Rudolf Steiner's meaning in the Easter Course for Young Doctors, or of his life work?'
When Rudolf Steiner spoke directly of his experience with the disease, he did not make the claim that vaccines "allowed (or could allow) the eradication of smallpox." Instead, when he was a young man of the age of 22, around the same age as many of the "young doctors" in the Easter Course where he tells this story, he was tutoring in a home where the mother was in bed with smallpox in the same room as he, separated only by a screen. He says, "Actually, I rather enjoyed it because I wanted to see whether one could protect oneself by regarding the person with smallpox entirely objectively, like a stone or a bush towards which one has neither feelings of fear nor any other kind of psychological emotion but which one simply accepts as an objective fact. And I found that one can indeed protect oneself in high measure against contracting the disease."[iii]' '
Rudolf Steiner does not seem to express any interest in the "eradication of smallpox" or any other contagious diseases such as scarlet fever or the measles, and instead describes them as symptoms, the cause of which being a difficulty with the incarnation process in relation to heredity. He explains to the young doctors that scarlet fever is an expression of the spirit and soul of a child strongly gaining the upper hand, temporarily, of the heredity body with which the individual is striving to re-form. Measles, he says, is an expression of the spirit and soul of a child weakly retreating "although it wants to form the assimilated substances (of the heredity body) more in accordance with its own nature…"[iv]
In fact, he does not seem to have any interest at all to eradicate these diseases, in the way "eradication" is being used by the IVAA and in conventional medicine, for this is based upon the idea that the cause of such diseases - which are what is being eradicated - are microbial, to which he repeatedly says: "The growth of microscopic fauna and flora has very little to do with the actual disease - only indirectly, if at all."[v]'
Take for instance this strongly worded statement made during the Christmas Course for Young Doctors at the founding of the Christmas Conference of 1923-24: "Anyone claiming that diseases come from the tiny living creatures, saying, perhaps, that influenza comes from the flu (micro-organism), might just as well maintain that the rain comes from the frogs he can hear croaking. Of course the frogs croak when it rains since being in the water they sense the rain's arrival and the stimulus it brings. The frogs do not bring the rain just as the (micro-organisms) do not bring influenza….It will never be correct to say that there are (micro-organisms) for cholera, and (micro-organisms) for influenza and so on. To do this is pure laziness because we cannot be bothered to investigate the true cause of disease."[vi]
The healing indication he gives to the young doctors is quite the opposite of this type of laziness, for he says, "…in studying the therapy of smallpox as a physician you will bring about a kind of healing in yourself in advance, prophylactically, and will therefore be able, when you understand the connection, to go among smallpox patients without fear, and full of love."' His explanations of scarlet fever and the measles, likewise, are given to strengthen the doctors in their meditative work, so that they can overcome their intellect and more strongly work from out of their own "I".
Is conventional medicine that is anthroposophically extended taking this up, and striving away from the "pure laziness" that Rudolf Steiner admonished?' Given that the Waldorf movement appears to be heavily relying upon the courage and striving of the Medical section and doctors, I find this to be a vitally urgent question.
When it comes to investigating and remedying the true cause of disease, I have not found any indication that Rudolf Steiner would agree with the statement: "vaccines, together with (public) health education…allowed the eradication of smallpox."' Instead, he tells the young doctors, with regard to vaccination of smallpox, "If someone vaccinates but also educates that person in an anthroposophical way, no damage will be done."
And, he continues: "Such vaccination is only damaging to someone who grows up thinking chiefly materialistic thoughts. In this case, vaccination becomes a kind of ahrimanic force, so that the individual cannot rise above a certain degree of materialistic feelings."'
Rudolf Steiner indicates that a truly, spiritually healthy education, that is, one in which the individual does not grow up "thinking chiefly materialistic thoughts", is preventative to the harm that does occur through vaccines.
This harm he also indicates with strong words in 1917, the relevance of which for us today we can acutely recognize in the pervasive, aggressive language around the vaccine issue, such as, "anti-vaxxers are as bad as climate-deniers,"[vii] that portray anyone who resists the thought that vaccines may not be what is needed for everyone or right for our times, as anti-scientific (and thus, idiotic). He says, "I have told you that the spirits of darkness are going to inspire their human hosts, in whom they will be dwelling, to find a vaccine that will drive all inclination towards spirituality out of people's souls when they are still very young, and this will happen in a roundabout way through the living body. Today, bodies are vaccinated against one thing and another; in future, children will be vaccinated with a substance which it will certainly be possible to produce, and this will make them immune, so that they do not develop foolish inclinations connected with spiritual life -- 'foolish' here, of course, in the eyes of materialists."[viii]
Rudolf Steiner tells the young doctors in 1924: "The cause for concern regarding smallpox vaccination is that the individual becomes as it were inwardly clothed with a phantom. That person has a phantom that prevents him from extricating his soul elements from his physical organism as is the case in normal consciousness. Such a person becomes constitutionally materialistic and can no longer rise to spiritual things."
He says that "this is the risk with regard to vaccination….And of course the belief that vaccination will help plays a large role here. 'If one could put something else in the place of this belief - if one can educate human beings in ways which befit their nature so that they can be affected by something other than the matter of vaccination and can instead come closer once more to the spiritual element - then it would be quite possible to work against the unconscious thought: 'Here comes a smallpox epidemic!'' If it were possible instead to be completely aware: 'Here comes something spiritual, something spiritual which is undesirable against which I must remain firm' - then this would be just as effective in making people strong in opposition to such influences."
The link that Rudolf Steiner makes between vaccinations and education is:
If humanity had education that was spiritually, anthroposophically, enlivened; if they could rise to having spiritual thoughts and objective spiritual awareness without fear; and if they could through this education strive towards love for the other, then vaccinations would not be harmful and would essentially become irrelevant in the world.
Part II:' "You Have to Vaccinate"
In the Easter Course for Young Doctors, where Rudolf Steiner informs the audience that vaccines are harmful, essentially unnecessary, and yet can be mediated by a spiritually-extended education, an important question arises from one person in the audience, who asks:' "Where I live, for example, the effect of education and so on is very difficult, so what should I do about it?"
The student is expressing that vaccines are probably going to be administered, and yet there is no suitable education (spiritually enlivened) to correct the harm, and so what is to be done in that case?
Rudolf Steiner responds to this individual by directly stating: "Well, in such situations you have to vaccinate. There's nothing for it. Not for medical reasons but on general anthroposophical grounds I would emphatically not recommend any fanatical opposition to vaccination. We are not aiming to put up fanatical opposition to these things; what we want to do is change things in an overall way by means of insight….If one doctor does not vaccinate, well then, another will. It is entirely absurd to act fanatically in isolation."[ix]
Should we rely upon this statement as a justification to support, promote, mandate and even administer vaccinations?' Rudolf Steiner clearly says, "…you have to vaccinate."' It is also very clear from Rudolf Steiner's life and work that fanaticism was to him the opposite of anthroposophically active work.
One can conclude that it would be entirely a mistaken path to be "anti-vaccination."' Certainly no one wants to see anthroposophists or parents out in the streets or on the lawns of Waldorf schools chanting "Ban vaccinated children from our schools!" or accosting clinics where vaccinations were being administered, yelling "No to Ahriman's work!"; or the doctors saying, "I refuse to give vaccinations in every case!"' This would be entirely fanatical and harmful.
The harm in medical fanaticism is due to the nature of medicine, for it must always be dealt with on an individual basis.
Fanaticism resists objectivity and individual freedom. Doctors must be able to make a decision based upon what is available, and what is the individual need. 'This is clearly the point of Dr. Steiner's response. "There is nothing for it", meaning, there is nothing else you can do, so you must still find a way to treat and not be fanatical about it - otherwise, it will be harmful to the individual patient or situation.
Is not a vaccine mandate, therefore, also a type of medical fanaticism?'
As was recently shared in an open letter by many courageous anthroposohists, anthroposophical doctors, and supporters in Sofia, Bulgaria[x] who openly opposed the statements issued anonymously by the Medical Section, Rudolf Steiner's discussion of smallpox reveals that a much more complex and far reaching understanding of such diseases and their treatments is vitally important for humanity. He says:
"Let us suppose that a great number of people, because of uncharitableness, had been impelled to absorb certain infectious germs, so that they succumbed to an epidemic. Let us further suppose we were in a position to protect them from this epidemic. We should in such a case preserve the physical body from the effects of uncharitableness, but we should not have removed the inner tendency towards uncharitableness. The case might be such that, in removing the external expression of uncharitableness, we should undertake the duty of influencing the soul also in such a way as to remove from it the tendency towards a lack of charity. The organic expression of uncharitableness is killed in the most complete sense, in the external bodily sense, by vaccination against smallpox. There, for instance, the following becomes manifest, and has been investigated by Spiritual Science. In one period of civilisation, when there prevailed a general tendency to develop a higher degree of egotism, and uncharitableness, smallpox made its appearance. Such is the fact. In anthroposophy it is our bounded duty to give expression to the truth."[xi]
The truth, it appears, according to Rudolf Steiner, is that if at all possible, yet without fanaticism, vaccines should be resisted, for "in destroying the susceptibility to smallpox (through a vaccine) we have taken only the external aspect of the karmic effect into account."[xii]' This could be understood by conventional medicine, especially if one investigates the effect vaccines have upon all aspects of the immune system, particularly regarding the will.[xiii]
Rudolf Steiner even goes so far as to say, regarding the resistance to epidemics and the fear of pathogenic contagion: "Nothing can be achieved by means of rules and regulations analogous to stipulations regarding, for example, not sending one's children to school if they have scarlet fever."[xiv]
The policy of "keep your children home when they are contagious" is very far from Rudolf Steiner's understanding and experience of contagion, and what it actually is in human communities.
Where contagious diseases appear today, however, there also arises the fear that is driving them, and with this the frantic desire for vaccination mandates. A senator in Oregon told me personally that the leading sponsor of the Oregon bill HB 3063 to mandate vaccinations, who is a medical doctor, is "obsessed" in her effort to get it passed. Frequently, groups of minorities in society, particularly religious minorities and philosophical minorities are chastised in the media for their resistance to these mandates.[xv]' There has been a steadily growing stream of legislation banning "philosophical medical freedom" in the case of vaccine exemptions, which then leads to banning "religious medical freedom."' Name-calling (such as "stupid anti-vaxxer"[xvi]) and other derogatory assaults are commonplace, indicating a deep, rampant fear of the "other", and of the diseases that these "idiots" are spreading around the world.
Rudolf Steiner says that this is a symptom of the habitat - the thinking habitat - and that this is what feeds and nurtures pathogens. One can also add to this, the thinking and culture that strives toward vaccine mandates. In other words, the push for vaccine mandates is an expression of the very same source from which the diseases are arising - they are caused by the same fearful thoughts that welcome the ahrimanic influences more and more.
In his final letter that accompanies the last of the Leading Thoughts, Rudolf Steiner tells us "By far the greater part of that which works in modern civilization through technical science and industry - wherein the life of man is so intensely interwoven - is not Nature at all, but Sub-Nature. It is a world that emancipates itself from Nature - emancipates itself in a downward direction…Entering the purely earthly element, (Man) strikes upon the ahrimanic realm. With his own being he must now acquire a right relation to the ahrimanic….He must find the strength, the inner force of knowledge, in order not to be overcome by Ahriman in this technical civilization. He must understand Sub-Nature for what it really is…In this mechanical-material domain, all the Divine-Spiritual Being connected with the origin of human evolution, is completely absent. The purely ahrimanic dominates this sphere."[xviii]
Part III: What Can Waldorf School Communities Do?
According to Rudolf Steiner, "If we institute health measures on the one hand [such as the usage, not the mandate, of vaccinations], we must feel it our duty on the other hand to give those whose physical organization we have transformed [through medical intervention] something for their soul. Vaccination will do no damage to people so long as they subsequently receive a spiritually oriented education."[xix]
Rather than being a justification for vaccinations, (which it is clearly not, given the previous discussion and the broad, encompassing statements Rudolf Steiner makes about epidemics, karma, illness and the effects of vaccination - and of course today's vaccinations are as Rudolf Steiner described they would be in the future, quite apart from how they were in his day), this presents an acutely incisive message for Waldorf schools and communities, AWSNA, and the Medical Section:
If an education exists that lifts human beings out of materialistic thinking, then, vaccinations will become more and more irrelevant, and where they are used, there will be no real harm;
If more people are able to live without fear, full of love, and without feeding pathogens with their materialistic thoughts, thoughts about pathogens as invaders, fear of the "other", and without falling into a life of only materialistic thoughts, but instead live with spiritual thoughts and among spiritualized thinking, then contagious diseases will have no real place to reside or means of spreading;
If the human being is allowed to incarnate and to freely express his or her struggles to overcome and yet live within the physical body through a medicine that establishes its practice based upon an understanding of this, then there may be no need for vaccinations, even in the face of contagious diseases.
Does this not reveal the urgent need for a truly spiritualized Waldorf pedagogy that works together with a medicine equally spiritualized?
Do Waldorf children live with and among spiritual thoughts and spiritualized thinking?
Are the Waldorf schools and their communities providing the education that is needed to spiritualize human thinking and human thoughts to the extent that the vaccinations are having no harm, or better, are becoming more irrelevant?
If this were the case, vaccines would be becoming increasingly less relevant - especially since in our times the diseases being vaccinated against are increasingly less relevant (due to factors other than vaccinations, such as clean water[xx]).
If this were the case, the harms caused by vaccines would not be so volatilely disputed on this or that side of the issue. The intense and pervasive resistance to vaccinations, and the stories, evidence and continuing investigations into the harm they have caused (and the suppression, the lies and confusion about vaccine safety[xxi]), and the frantic push for forced mandates and quarantined public spaces, reveals that indeed, the harms are not being mediated, nor prevented. Deeply profound soul and physical effects are continuously being claimed, disputed, denied, and reasserted.
The situation today has become the inverse of that of the young doctor in the Easter medical course who claimed there was no education upon which he or she could rely, for it is the schools themselves that are now in the medical spotlight. The very forms of the schools, the administration and its authoritative relationship to the public health authority, as a social structural interface, is under pressure to comply with and to not resist forced vaccinations.
Now, more than ever, a courageous, spiritualized education - that is, an education without fear, but full of love, and an education living and breathing with spiritual life that permeates its walls and through its administrators, and into the family and community life - is the most needed remedy for our times.
With inner and outer resistance, without fanaticism, in the way Rudolf Steiner described to the young doctors in how to face contagion - that is, with inner and outer awareness, and strength of the "I" - we can overcome the fear that allows for a pervasive dependence upon public health authority. For we should keep in mind Rudolf Steiner's words of 1911:
"Whatever the age in which one lives, one must be especially skeptical in respect of the authority prevalent in that age….This is especially the case in one particular field of human culture, namely in the field of materialistic medicine. Here we can see clearly how there is increasing dependence upon whatever those in authority consider to be standard, so that far more dreadful things can result nowadays than were brought about by the much maligned authorities of the Middle Ages…this fear (of pathogens - the new fear of ghosts) is now only in its early stages, for it will lead to a dependence on authority in the field of health which will be truly dire."[xxii]
Yes, today's situation is indeed truly dire.
We need a completely spiritual striving for renewal in both education and medicine, far beyond what we are currently doing, that resists an administrative and societal authority seeking to take control of the spiritually-social role of a healing education and medicine, anthroposophically enlivened, in favor of the protection of institutions and "public health."
We need a completely spiritual striving in the opposite direction of, and beyond scientific materialism (to "create another sphere in which there is no ahrimanic element."[xxiii]).
For, without this, what else does humanity have to work with to overcome the ahrimanic influence, other than diving even deeper into more serious physical and sub-natural diseases, and into deep soul suffering, that each incarnating human being must have to overcome?
Children of today, and even more so of tomorrow, need a spiritually-healing remedy from education, and the opportunity to learn and transform by way of an illness process with a medicine that comes from an inner spiritualization rooted in the willingness to heal.
The remedy has already been given to us: "It is just by receiving in knowledge this spirituality to which the ahrimanic powers have no access, that man is strengthened to confront Ahriman within the world."[xxiv]
The question is, do we have the courage to administer it?
[i] GA 314, April 22, 1924
[iii] GA 314, April 22, 1924
[v] GA 312, March 24, 1920, for example
[vi] GA 348, December 23, 1923
[viii] GA 113, October 27, 1917
[ix] GA 314, April 22, 1924
[xi] GA 120, May 25, 1910
[xiii] https://www.anthromed.org/library/2019/1/3/tending-the-flame-childhood-fever?rq=vaccination; https://www.anthromed.org/library/2018/12/20/anthroposophical-pediatrics?rq=vaccination; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5143743/
[xiv] GA April 7, 1920
[xv] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/09/nyregion/jews-measles-vaccination.html; https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/29/nyregion/measles-jewish-community.html; https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/04/09/religious-leaders-should-step-up-vaccinations/?utm_term=.99361509b3d6; https://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/health/ct-hlth-anti-vaxxer-backlash-20190226-story.html
[xvi] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/feb/15/measles-anti-vaxxers-communication; https://www.iflscience.com/brain/infections-mind-why-anti-vaxxers-just-know-they-re-right/; https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/anti-vaxxers-flu-jab-children-health-doctors-vaccination-immunisation-medicine-a8709421.html
[xvii] GA 154, May 5, 1914
[xviii] GA 26, Final Letter and Leading Thought, March 1925
[xix] GA 120, May 25, 1910
[xxi] https://thevaccinereaction.org/2015/06/merck-fraud-case-raises-mmr-efficacy-questions/; https://www.reuters.com/article/health-vaccine/merck-accused-of-stonewalling-in-mumps-vaccine-antitrust-lawsuit-idUSL1N0YQ0W820150604
[xxii] GA 127, January 5, 1911
[xxiii] GA 26, Final Letter and Leading Thought, March 1925