( BEGIN PART II )
John Denniscap, who was the branch leader in Rotterdam, told me how Tomberg worked with different groups of people in Holland and how because he spoke out of his own spiritual research acquired quite rapidly a rather large following amongst Anthroposophists in Holland and again this caused problems. He was then invited by Dr. Zeylmars von Emmichoven, who was the head of the Anthroposophical Society in Holland who had been appointed by Rudolf Steiner and there a conversation took place between them. This was around about 1940 before the German occupation of Holland, the German occupation began on May the 10th, 1940, and already in 1939 Tomberg had begun his studies of the Apocalypse of St. John. He intended to publish 12 studies and in fact only published 3 of them when this conversation with von Emmichoven took place and during the course of this conversation, von Emmichoven made it clear to Tomberg that he envisioned a different sort of Anthroposophic work than that which Tomberg was occupied with and perhaps it was somewhat rash of Tomberg.
He then said to von Emmichoven, "Am I to understand from what you are saying that
my presence in the Anthroposophical Society is not wanted?" and von Emmichoven said, "Yes, you have understood
me correctly." So Tomberg then resigned from the Anthroposophical Society, but continued to work with a small
group of people who remained, as it were, loyal to him. The German occupation came and in fact at that time in
Holland became dissolved in any case. Tomberg then worked with two small groups in Amsterdam by that time he moved
from Rotterdam to Amsterdam and with one of these groups they worked through an esoteric study of the Lord's Prayer.
I've met in 1978 a woman who as far as I know is the sole living surviving member of this group with perhaps another
woman who is still living and she described to me that there were just six or seven people and that what they experienced
there was like a revelation of some of the deepest mysteries of Christianity which were presented the whole course
on the Lord's Prayer which extended over a period of some three years, was in the form of Meditations and this
small group was called into being so to say at that time, at this darkest moment in the history of the Human Race
when the power of Evil was threatening to dominate the whole world. This small group of Christian esotericists
were working with the " Lord's Prayer in a deep and powerful way to try to bring a counter spiritual impulse
to the one that was coming from Nazi Germany.
And in another small group and there were only four people in this other group, and John Denniscap and Jan van der Most were a part of this group and told me of this other group which was a group where they worked through the esoteric material given by Rudolf Steiner 1924 within the School for Spiritual Science, the so called Michael School, they worked through this material and then after working through it Tomberg went further and developed the Second and Third stages connected with their school. The second stage, the Sophia School and the third stage, the Christ School.
And the whole of their work was summarized under the heading, Michael-Sophia, in Nomine Christie - Michael-Sophia, in the Name of Christ. This esoteric work of Tomberg in Amsterdam was suddenly broken off in 1944 when he and his family were obliged to leave Amsterdam, were taken by the Nazis to the city of Cologne and this event signifies a turning point in Tomberg's life. Because after this point, Tomberg had no further contact with Anthroposophy. He went to Koln and together with his friend, Ernst von Hippel, who was professor of law at Cologne University and there Tomberg was able to do his PhD. He was in fact fetched to Cologne because Prof. von Hippel was under the illusion that the Tomberg family would be in grave danger in Amsterdam and would be safer in Cologne, which was a total illusion, because Cologne suffered very heavy bombing and so it was in the midst of bombs going off that he was working on his PhD thesis in the sphere of international Jaw and here we can see something he was concerned with, he was concerned with the whole sphere of Rights, of Human Rights.
He went into the problem, how was it possible that such a phenomenon as Nazi Germany
could develop and in this PhD thesis and n the supplementary material which he published with the PhD thesis he
goes into the historical background of their whole development of the what he calls "The autonomous development
of the state so that, and he saw this problem in connection with the decline of the Holy Roman Empire, but so long
as the state is subordinate to the church there is no danger there is a higher authority to which the state always
has to refer, a spiritual authority. But then with the development first in the Bismark era and then later under
Hitler, it then became possible for the state to assert itself as an autonomous entity. And in fact threatened
to dominate all other states, in fact, the whole world. This has only become possible since the spiritual authority
of the church has diminished and here in these writings, Tomberg gives a key to the future direction that he was
to take after leaving the Anthroposophical Society.
In Holland he went through a deeply spiritual experience. Probably most of you are familiar with, the experience Francis of Assisi had one day in the church Santa Minio when looking at a crucifix on the wall, he suddenly heard the voice of Christ speaking to him, "Go, Francis, my church is crumbling, go rebuild my church" and this then led to the conversion of St. Francis, who then devoted the rest of his life to this spiritual impulse in the service of the Christ being. And Tomberg had toward the end of the war, while he was still in Holland, a similar experience and we have to try to imagine his situation. He had come into the Anthroposophical Society he had believed his life's mission was to be fulfilled there and later after the war, he described to a woman an Anthroposophist who visited him. And his words were in all his writings and lecturing activities with the Anthroposophical Society. His sole endeavor, his sole aim, had been to help people to come to a living experience of Christ which work he bean in the year 1933 and we have to imagine his situation in exile from Russia with no possibility of working there, invited to Holland to work in the Anthroposophic realm there, but then told by the leader of the Society there that was not possible. Working with a small group of people in this time of terrible darkness, but he was really able to see with awakened eyes what was going on through the Nazi menace. I read some of the notes made of talks he held to these small groups of people in Holland and where he was able to describe the nature of the power of evil that was at work through the Nazi menace and we can imagine his whole being was filled with the question.
How was it so further for him self, for mankind, and it was at this time he had this spiritual experience, which seems unintelligible but seems in the context of tho world situation, at that time and what lie was confronted a human being with fully awakened spiritual eyes and facilities, the whole world was in this terrible crisis, this was the experience he had and if we read his PhD thesis and the work that was published with it, it gives some idea how he viewed the situation at that time. In fact, he withdrew- altogether from any kind of public activity and went then after the war to England and got a very mundane job, he could have had a position at the University of Koln as a professor of law. This possibility was available to him through his friend Professor Ernst von Hippel, but he wanted to live a life there of, one could say, anonymity. In order to carry his spiritual work further, for in Valentine Tomberg we have to do with one of those individuals that Rudolf Steiner describes, a great initiate who works behind the scenes, for the furtherance of mankind, but the conditions for such work is anonymity.
He then got a job as a monitor of Radio Broadcasts from Russia, working for the B.B.C. in Redding, England, a job that one can imagine is hardly spiritually edifying, where one has to sit for 8 hours a day with head phones on, listening to broadcasts coming from Russia and writing down anything of importance, which is then given to the press, to radio, to television and he did this work from that time onwards after the war until he retired at the age of 60. he retired early, so he lived a hermit-like existence just with his wife and son in Redding and had no further contact with Anthroposophy or rather one should say, when he first came to England he did have brief contact with the Anthroposophical group in London and was invited to give a talk. He gave them more or less the same talk as the seventh lecture in the inner Development series, on Rudolf Steiner's life path as the way of a Christian initiate and one of the women, one of the older members of the Anthroposophical Society in London told me about this lecture and Valentin Tomberg. was asked after the lecture what did he see as the hope of the future, what could possibly survive in to the future and there he said "there will come tremendous catastrophes, but the Roman Catholic church will withstand all the onslaughts that are coming. So he felt or rather had the inner conviction that the words of Christ spoken to Peter at Cesseri Phillipi when Christ together with the apostles was there and asked who do you think I am? and Peter then answered "thou are Christ the son of the living God" before these words Christ Jesus said "Thou art Peter, Petros, which means rock, thou art the rock which I shall build my church, and the Gates of Hell shall prevail not against thee." So that the church of Peter the Roman Catholic Church, if we take the words of Christ literally would imply that even in our time, in the 20th century, with the opening of the Gates of Hell, which we can see quite clearly with the two world wars, that somehow or another has this spiritual power to withstand this onslaught that is coming.
And again this seems incomprehensible from an Anthroposophical point of view. One can
only say that, perhaps I can Just recount an interesting account that I heard from a friend of mine, a Eurythmist,
a friend of his who is also a Eurythmist, went recently to Poland, there to work together with a group of Polish
Anthroposophists. This was about three years ago, he was, during the holy nights in Warsaw and there was a gathering
there of about 60 Anthroposophist and at this particular meeting this young Eurythmist from Germany was asked "How
is it in Germany with the Anthroposophists there, how many have had an experience of the Christ in the etheric
realm?" This is the event of course which Rudolf Steiner spoke of which would begin in our century. Steiner
indicates the year 1933 for this event, this long awaited event, of Christianity, the second coming of Christ which
Steiner explained a spiritual event, the reappearance of Christ in the etheric realm. It was this event which Valentine
Tomberg dedicated himself in 1938. He heard a series of lectures about the reappearance of Christ in the Etheric.
It was his special task from 1933 onwards
to point to this event and this young Anthroposophist, this German Eurthymist was asked by the group in Warsaw, "Can you tell us of anyone who has had this experience of Christ in the Etheric?" and he was not able to give an answer and they said we can tell you of two people who have had this experience.
The one name we can leave aside, the other one they went on to describe, they said
he was a young man aged 21 in the year 1939, and he was part of an Anthroposophical group in Poland who were working
especially with the art of speech formation and among other things they were working with various scenes from Rudolf
Steiner's Mystery Dramas, and this young man, it was around about 1939, was one day walking down the street and
a lorry(truck) drove into him and as a result of this accident had an experience of Christ in the Etheric and helped
him to recover. And after this experience this young man went and joined a Roman Catholic priest seminar which
was of course at that time under German occupation, was an underground seminary, he joined the seminary and became
there a priest. Later he became Bishop in Cracow and this young man who was a part of this Anthroposophic group
then later went to Rome became Pope John Paul II.
I think in this description of this destiny we can see that how careful one has to be to make a judgement of an institution such as tho Roman Catholic church purely on an external basis. Because here' we can see a higher spiritual guidance through the Christ Being in this particular instance. In the same way there was a similar guidance in Valentine Tomberg's life and when he retired in 1960 from the BBC in England, he then began his great work, which he described as his life's work which was really trying to bring then a regeneration, a new spiritual impulse within the Roman Catholic church and the writings which he wrote at that time, before his death, he died in 1973, are now beginning to be published in Germany, France, and elsewhere. So we see in the life, in the biography of Valentin Tomberg, tremendous riddles, but his biography speaks in a way, speaks to us of something that Rudolf Steiner spoke of in the year 1924 towards the end of his life, in lectures to members of the Anthroposophical Society, the so called Karma Lectures. Rudolf Steiner spoke of the destiny of Anthroposophy in these lectures, he says there how the Michael impulse, the impulse of Anthroposophy, can only work effectively in the world if Anthroposophists take up, make connections with other spiritual streams and here an image comes to mind an image given by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount where he says to the disciples to those who are listening to him "Ye are the salt of the Earth" and in this image, and salt in order to be effective has to be scattered if all the salt is in one container it cannot work as a rejuvenating power in the world and this has been one of the great tragic problems of Anthroposophy.
Why has Anthroposophy so little spread in the world? Because of this tendency to shut
one self off from other spiritual groups, other spiritual streams. We can see in the Roman Catholic church, the
institution through which almost 2000 years has upheld Christianity, of course, one could also point to the many
negative aspects of the Catholic church, but one has also to acknowledge many of the greatest spiritual impulses
of the Western Civilization have come from the church. You think of the Franciscan order, you think of Thomas Aquinas,
we think of the many saints and individuals who have through the ages who have connected themselves with the Church.
So that we see in Valentin Tomberg's destiny at this time in the middle of the century, we see a great Christian
Esotericist uniting himself with the exoteric church and we can see in this step the fulfillment of the words of
Christ in the last chapter of the Gospel of St. John, if I can try to give a picture of what is conveyed here,
with the spread of Christianity in the way it spread out in the Church as with anything when it spreads out the
element of depth cannot be maintained, it becomes more and more superficial so with the spread of Christianity
through the church really only the outer most teaching could be transmitted and because of this there arose the
necessity then for exoteric Christianity, we think of Grail Christianity, a small group of individualities who
had the task then of cultivating the deeper mysteries of Christianity, to cultivate the element of depth, but it
was never intended that this should be something for itself, to exist as an autonomous entity, but it was seen
that the stream of esoteric Christianity could then later unite with exoteric-Christianity and esoteric Christianity
could flow in as a transforming rejuvenating force and if we read the last chapter carefully we can see that the time when this union is to take place is the time of the second coming, when Christ says he will come again so we can see in this step of Valentin Tomberg when the stream of exoteric Christianity makes a connection with exoteric Christianity we can see a fulfillment of the words of Christ in referring to his coming again and it. was to this impulse that of rejuvenating through esotericism that Tomberg dedicated himself and it's incredible that the work of one human being can accomplish so much for now through out the Roman Catholic Church a new impulse is f lolling in through his life's work in the second half of his life. A tremendous spiritual transformation is taking place and as Anthroposophists it is important for us to be aware of such events in our time in order to gain a fuller picture of what is taking place in the world. But I think I have spoken long enough now, but perhaps we could have questions, if there are any. One could speak for weeks about riddles of the great individuality.
Question: Just briefly on this last statement on the new impulses beginning to work through the Roman Catholic impulse, can you give a brief indication or idea?
Robert: Yes, one example is how the Roman Catholic Church is beginning to wake up to the idea of reincarnation and in one of the last works that Valentine Tomberg wrote that has been published in Germany a work called "Lazarus, Come Forth" a work about the mystery of the raising of Lazarus, a work that was written for Catholics, but which contains deep spiritual teachings, there he introduces the teaching of reincarnation which is understandable for a Catholic reader. This book has been published by Herder which is the largest Catholic publishing house in Germany and at the beginning of this year there was a television program in Germany where a panel of people, one who was an Anthroposophical professor of mathematics. There was a woman theologian, a Protestant theologian and a Roman Catholic priest and there were several other people who were to discuss the theme of reincarnation. And of course the Anthroposophist was able to communicate from his side a clear idea of reincarnation, the protestant theologian was fiercely against it, she said it does not fit in with the teachings of the Bible, but the Roman Catholic priest was quite adamant that reincarnation was a fact of existence and this priest who works at the Vatican has had conversations with Pope John Paul II and has his, well, blessing would be to say too much, but said he should continue his research in this field of reincarnation, so we can just see in such events something is going on as it were behind the scenes because that would have been unthinkable say 25 years ago.
Question: Can you explain Valentine Tomberg's role in the Catholic Church? Was he a priest?
Robert: No, he was just a practicing Catholic, nothing special at all, just simply went to church every week and had no other external connection with the church.
Question: Did he belong to the Orthodox church in his youth?
Robert: No, he was brought up as a Lutheran and he was in fact, went through the whole
spectrum of Christianity. He was brought up a Lutheran, he was in the Christian Community in Holland in 1938 and
in 1941 he joined the Russian or Greek Orthodox Church and was there already trying to bring esoteric teachings
to the Orthodox church working together with a priest in the Hague, Holland, but it was exactly this point of reincarnation
that led to difficulties and he then withdrew and it. was then, after this time, that he Joined the Roman Catholic
Church. I think if we see it in this light, for example, in 1903 Rudolf Steiner wrote "in representing esoteric
Christianity said this will have to be taken up by the church" and the way he expressed it was that it will
be up to priests to take up the teachings of, what he then called Theosophy, not that they then go preaching Theosophy
in the churches, but they would allow the impulse to flow into what they are saying. So Rudolf Steiner did envision
the esoteric teachings to flow into the church, but he did say that it is not possible for us directly in an outer
sense for us to do this, because we would just arouse opposition, but we can see in such a step as Valentin Tomberg
working from within the possibility for enabling esoteric impulses to flow in and connecting with other spiritual
groups. If one tries to preach Anthroposophy one soon finds that one loses all one's friends, it's not possible
to go out in such a way, but one can go out and connect with other groups and effect something there in a still
and quiet, way.
Question: Robert, on this story you had with Pope John Paul, did he have an encounter with Anthroposophy?
Robert: Yes, in a recent encyclical, one finds ideas there which are extremely similar to Rudolf Steiner's ideas o the Threefold Social Order. Whether of not he derived them from Anthroposophy or whether they came from some kind of inspiration, the thing is that something is at work with this individual.
Question: Was he a member of the Anthroposophical Society?
Robert: No, he was part of this group that was working with above all the Mystery Dramas and so the Pope has done some work with Anthroposophical speech formation.
Question: I understand, also, that Pope John Paul II is also a philosopher. He's studied phenomonology, which is as close as secular thinking has come to the ideas put forward in Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy of Freedom. He investigates the laws of perception.
Question: Do you know the name of the group where Valentin Tomberg studied the Cabala and the Tarot?
Robert: No, the only other reference I found to this group is in a book called the Tarot by Mouni Sadhu, where he says he was able to get hold of a transcript and noted from the group of Gregory Ottonovitch Mebes for this course, and that Mouni Sadhu gives the impression that much of that course he is giving again on the Tarot. But he doesn't say what the name of the group is.
Question: What year did Valentin Tomberg join the Catholic Church?
Robert: Right around about 1943 or 44 while he was still in Holland land, so it was during the war.
Question: If he was only going to church, how was he effecting the church?
Robert: Here I think, as I mentioned earlier, one has to see in the possibility of a highly evolved individuality to work in other ways than external ways. It's possible for an initiate to work in a completely hidden way giving a transforming impulse. You could say that his sole concern above all, you can find this in all his writings, is not so much the transmission of spiritual knowledge, but the awakening of a moral impulse. So that this, what we know from Rudolf Steiner's book "Knowledge of Higher Worlds", he says "for every one step in spiritual knowledge take three in moral development. That Valentin Tomberg's whole impulse is as a teacher of moral development, which of course, is the hardest of all to teach, and still to leave a person free, but I think one can experience complete freedom. I think it's also in this connection we can see his work in the realm of law trying to help a real moral impulse at work in the regulation of the relationship between different nations, because as we can see the really grave problem which threatens mankind more than any other is the disturbed relationship between the different nations and it was this problem which he was trying to tackle in his PhD thesis on international law.
Question: Did he ever finish his work on the Apocalypse?
Robert: No, after he wrote the first three studies he had the conversation with Zeylmans von Emmichoven and left the society and broke off all his Anthroposophical work, which is a great shame, because what one can see from these first three studies, one can see the depth of penetration of this work, the Apocalypse of St. John.
Question: Have you read his thesis?
Robert: Yes, it's a work which contains many statements difficult
to assimilate from an Anthroposophical point of view. The title is "Degeneration and Regeneration in Jurisprudence". He tried to depict how, in fact, the law was in fact Divine law. We have, for example, the Ten Commandments, a manifestation of Divine law, how this has more and more degenerated so law has become more and more arbitrary and that a regeneration has to take, where a new spiritual impulse has to enter law. But there are some, as it were, strong Catholic statements within this work which for many Anthroposophists make it an extremely difficult work to accept.
Question: Could you talk about the Tarot. book, how it came into being and how it was published here in America?
Robert: Yes, well, in speaking about this we have to really respect the author's intention that this work is an anonymous work and it is only through the fact that through some friends of the author, that the identity of the author became known
What does it mean that the work is an anonymous work?
(End of transcript-reproduced with his permission)
Robert Powell has not checked the content of this lecture, so we can only hope that there are no errors or inaccuracies.
FURTHER LITERATURE: Robert Powell, THE MOST HOLY TRINOSOPHIA and THE NEW REVELATION of the DIVINE FEMININE (Hudson, NY: Anthroposophic Press, 2000)