By Hermann Beckh
Tran. Alan Stott
HERMANN BECKH and the Spirit-Word: Orientalist, Christian Priest, Independent Scholar
The polymath Hermann BECKH (1875-1937) is being rediscovered today. The present volume introducing the Collected Works in English contains
a substantial essay, a decisive lecture a precious article,
and an inspired sermon.
These key documents, written during the difficult 'twenties, now collected and translated for the first time, show the calibre of the author. His importance, highlighted in the Introduction, is confirmed by the appreciations of his grateful colleagues, collected in the Appendix. For Beckh, if our civilisation is to survive, it has to be balanced by spiritual research, by active, meditative discoveries in the realm of the living spirit. Facing all-out disaster, no quick nostrum will do, but most potent renewal is required.
This brilliant lawyer gave up his position as a judge because he wanted to help rather than convict. The Orientalist and Tibetan specialist refused a position as Professor Emeritus at Germany's premier University, in order to devote his energies to develop Anthroposophy that researches the total human being.
In 1922 Beckh became a founder member of the Movement for Religious Renewal; at the spiritual helm, he inspired the first generation of priests with his teaching. Today, we are catching up with this neglected master, who interprets his own unique vision of a human future.
"An abundance of books came into existence whose significance perhaps will only be properly appreciated in the future" (Lic. Emil Bock. 1959).
That future could be today, almost one hundred years on, as we face global issues.
Publisher: Anastasi Ltd
Author: Hermann Beckh
This slim book is conceived as an introductory volume to the projected English edition of the Collected Works of Professor Hermann Beckh (1875-1937), one of the founder priests of The Christian Community. It might easily be seen as a miscellany. However, a more appropriate word would be a collection of sparkling gems. After the useful introduction “Hermann Beckh in the Twenty-First Century” by the translator, Alan Stott, we briefly meet his distinguished team, Maren Stott, co-translator, Neil Franklin Ph.D. (Boehme and Blake scholar), and Dr Katrin Binder (scholar of Sanskrit). The main text consists of Beckh on “Steiner and the East”, a contribution to a commemorative volume marking Rudolf Steiner’s sixtieth birthday, with the author’s lecture at the University of Berlin (1921) - still topical today - explaining why he was leaving to work for anthroposophy. After more by Beckh, including a fairytale for the very young, the long Appendix by his colleagues reveals something of the shining, luminous quality of this very great individuality. Also included is a sketch of his life by his biographer Gundhild Kacer- Bock, and a list of works, though omitting to list the many interesting articles he wrote. The heroic task of translating the Collected Works is currently past the halfway point.
When Steiner began to speak openly of spiritual matters he needed a large group of souls who, grasping his mighty impulse, could support and nurture his work after his death (1925). Beckh was one such leading figure who, having encountered Steiner in Berlin in 1912, became part of his first Esoteric School and never wavered in his loyalty to him.
There can have been few around Steiner who had such a range of gifts. Here is a man who had a great ability to master fresh material and develop original thoughts in areas where he had to work quite alone. At five years old, a powerful body-free experience in the Bavarian mountains convinced him that human beings live in a supersensible world before their birth on the earth. At sixteen he heard Wagner’s ‘Parsifal’ in Bayreuth (1891), which made a profound impression on him, opening up realms of musical experience that he was to deepen during the ensuing 45 years.
He wrote up these lectures at the end of his life (the manuscript has recently come to light, soon to be published complete); the culmination is his final masterpiece, The Language of Tonality in the music of Bach to Bruckner, (reviewed in New View issue 76). completed as he lay dying in 1937 Steiner himself said of these musical researches: “Beckh ventures into provinces which I have not had an opportunity of investigating myself. And there is a great deal in what Beckh says about them.” There must have been few people about whom Steiner would have made such a remark.
Beckh studied Sanskrit and by the age of 33 was appointed Professor of Oriental Studies in Berlin. But far from being a dry, bookish scholar remote from ordinary realities, he led a rich meditative life as a personal pupil of Steiner. Beckh’s soul lived in great dimensions. The study of oriental cultures from India, through Persia into Egypt and finally the world of the Hebrews, enabled him to witness the immense preparation over thousands of years for the Incarnation of the Word (the Christ) in the Holy Land. Beckh’s prodigious memory helped him master not only six modern languages, but Tibetan, Sanskrit, Pali, Avestan, Syriac, Greek and Hebrew; he compiled the first Tibetan-German dictionary and translated sacred texts of some literary merit.
Beckh’s first book as Professor of Oriental studies offered quite new perspectives into the life and teaching of Buddha. Beckh shows that Buddha’s teaching proceeded from the reality of a meditative life rather than presenting a system of metaphysical truths. Beckh, however, did not join the stream of those who, despairing over the decline of the West, spiritually emigrated to the East. Unlike the Theosophist Annie Besant who converted to Hinduism, and another theosophist, Leadbeater, who changed from Christianity to Buddhism, Beckh looked in the opposite direction, as the title of his 1925 book, From Buddha to Christ shows.
Beckh was not spared shattering events. Prompted by Rittelmeyer to explain to the Berlin University why he was leaving to work for anthroposophy, Beckh’s lecture was boycotted by his colleagues. Not one attended. The audience consisted of a few students, a few anthroposophists and some casual listeners. To speak publicly for Steiner at that time meant to suffer being ‘struck off the register’ of German intellectual society. Reduced in circumstances, with a dependent mother and sister, Beckh responded to invitations to lecture on the renewal of culture, especially through his linguistic studies. Then, almost by chance, he heard of the plans to start a Movement for Religious Renewal. He there and then decided to join the new movement. In hindsight, the others regarded the founding as “unthinkable without the Professor”.
Beckh was also present at the Christmas Foundation meeting of the Anthroposophical Society in 1923 (at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland, and again at Steiner’s “Last Address” of Michaelmas Eve, 1924. These events were, he says, the climax of his life; they show how close Beckh was to the life of his revered teacher.
Beckh worked for fifteen years researching and teaching at the seminary of The Christian Community until his death from the extremely painful cancer of the kidneys in 1937. His rich contributions, mainly to the monthly Die Christengemeinschaft, Die Drei and the weekly Das Goetheanum, are all translated into English and soon to be published, well in time for the Centenary of the Movement for Religious Renewal (2022).
One of the beauties of this book is the many short, but memorable, glimpses of his remarkable life by ten fellow founder-priests of The Christian Community. These personal memories have a life of their own, opening many windows into the soul and life-work of this outstanding individuality.
“He seemed like a messenger from a different world order.” “I learnt to love about him his real spiritual overabundance.” “He repeatedly undertook, even at an advanced age, to climb mountains alone. His nearness to heaven of the high peaks drew him aloft.” “He was a child of the heights.” “He carried in his soul love for the word, love for the stars, and love for music.” “He was like one of the ancient Rishis of India suddenly transported into a completely uncongenial civilisation.” - These are just a few of the cameos capturing the essence of Beckh’s being, written by those remarkable founder-priests and colleagues.
The book contains other gems from Beckh’s occasional writings: a charming fairy-story The Little Squirrel, the Moonlight Princess and the Little Rose’, extracts of letters written while serving in World War I, a reprint of a sermon of 1932 aptly called ‘Thirsting’, along with insights into pre-Christian cultures.
The translator and his team are doing heroic work in bringing almost the complete opus of Hermann Beckh into English. This labour of love and dedication is introducing many people in the English-speaking world to a spiritual giant, one of the most original and significant of Steiner’s interpreters. This modest book opens up a spiritual wealth with no sell-by date; it will prove to be an inspiration to all who read it.
New View Magazine 4th Quarter Autumn 2015
By Hermann Beckh
Tran. Alan Stott
"Many ways could lead us closer to understand John’s gospel. Alongside and with the Apocalypse
it is the most profound of all the documents of humanity,
with the most difficult content and
the one that carries most the future of humanity.
Here we take the way that results from looking at the ‘cosmic rhythm’ in Mark’s gospel. ‘The gospel of Mark as the way to John; the gospel of John as the way to Christ’ – so in all brevity and decisiveness runs the fundamental thought of this whole work, dedicated in its first part of Mark’s gospel and beginning here the second part on John’s gospel…”
Thus Professor Beckh begins this uniquely original exposition – the sequel to Mark’s Gospel: the Cosmic Rhythm. The unfolding story reads like a mystery drama, music drama and symphonic cycle – all within the covers of a two-volume work. Not surprisingly, then, like a musician who serves from the first note to the last, the author shows the revelation in the gospel.
Hermann BECKH (1875–1937) is being re-discovered today. Even the term “polymath” is insufficient. This work has no sell-by date. As we approach the Centenary of the non-sectarian “Movement for Religious Renewal”, we are in a better position today to appreciate who was at the spiritual helm.
“In this monumental work, as the title suggests, another new aspect comes to the actual contemplation of the stars – the alchemical aspect. No chance connection! Novalis, with whose work Beckh knew deeply, had not for nothing significantly linked ‘the stars’ and ‘the stones’. And so as a postlude of this book on John’s gospel, in which the great question of transubstantiation precisely in connection with Johannine spirituality was discussed, appeared (1931) in his study on alchemy, Alchymie: the Mystery of the Material World—Dr Rudolf Frieling.
Publisher: Anastasi Ltd
Author: Hermann Beckh
By Hermann Beckh
Tran. Alan Stott
Mark's Gospel: The Cosmic Rhythm
Mark's Gospel: The Cosmic Rhythm
In this monumental work, Hermann Beckh seeks for an extended understanding of the relationship of cosmic influence to earthly events. The underlying perception is that, during the course of the three years of Christ's ministry, the Sun moves successively through the twelve stations of the zodiac three times, each cycle working on a higher level. The signature of each station can be discovered most significantly as informing the individual scenes of the gospel.
Hermann BECKH (1875-1937), lecturer at the University of Berlin, idologist, priest of The Christian Community and universal scholar, is being re-discovered today. The term "polymath" is inadequate. As master of several languages, six ancient and six modern, he researched the origins of language itself; wrote a standard work on the life and teaching of Buddha; contributed several studies in world religions, and composed some poetical and musical works.
Beckh's insights bear no "sell-by" date; his artistic, meditative approach is increasingly appreciated as his lasting heritage. With it he penetrates to the creative archetypes. Beckh, writing at a time of cultural upheaval, shows the deeper cause and the way through. His treatise on musical tonality explains and illustrate the "cosmic rhythm" informing our lives at all times.
Applied to the gospel, Beckh's ground-breaking vision reveals the artistic form and details. Beckh traces how all the disciples fail, except for the one disciple on whose shoulders the fate of the world hung - and hangs. Here is more than scholarly argument; here a scholar leads the reader to see for him/herself the spiritual meaning of the Earth and of humanity.
Beckh's uniquely original exposition reads like a mystery drama, music drama and symphonic cycle all within one cover. And like a musician who serves from the first note to the last, the less Beckh tells of himself, the more he tells of the personality - of his reader.
"Such a exposition as this on a gospel has hitherto not been written." (Hamburger Fremdenblatt. 1929)
Beckh on Beckh, and Beckh by his colleagues:
"'In all other respects I stand on the shoulders of my predecessors in scholarship, and my particular viewpoint I owe to Rudolf Steiner; but in music, I feel I am really breaking new ground'. Rudolf Steiner himself said of him in this respect, 'Beckh ventures into provinces which I have not yet had an opportunity of investigating myself. And there is a great deal in what Beckh says about them'. There are not many people of whom Rudolf Steiner would have made such a remark.
If I remember rightly, the first public lecture which he gave, at the invitation of Rudolf Steiner, at the first public Conference in the First Goetheanum was on the single sentence from Genesis: 'Let there be light.' He described certain primeval elements of sacred language, uniting philology and esoteric knowledge"-Dr Alfred Heidenreich (The Christian Community Journal. 1938).
Publisher: Anastasi Ltd
Author: Hermann Beckh
Dr Alfred Heidenreich
(The Christian Community Journal. 1938)
If I remember rightly, the first public lecture which he gave, at the invitation of Rudolf Steiner, at the first public Conference in the First Goetheanum was on the single sentence from Genesis: 'Let there be light.' He described certain primeval elements of sacred language, uniting philology and esoteric knowledge".
The Battle for the Spirit: The Church and Rudolf Steiner
By Ven. A.P. Shepherd
Compiled by David Clement
The Battle for the Spirit
This much loved book returns!
“THE BATTLE FOR THE SPIRIT - The Church and Rudolf Steiner” is an anthology of essays, articles and speeches by the Venerable A. P. Shepherd DD. Born in Barbados in 1885, and educated at the University of Wales and Jesus College, Oxford, A P Shepherd began his ecclesiastical career as Curate of All Saints Church, Northampton, eventually rising to the position of Canon Emeritus of Worcester, and Vice Dean of the Cathedral, before his death in 1968. During this long and distinguished career, he published several volumes of theology. He also contributed religious articles to the Birmingham Post and gave a series of talks on the BBC.
First Impression 1994
Second Impression 2007
Thank goodness there's more than one life to live!
By J. Michael Surkamp MBE
‘Thank goodness, there’s more than one life to live ! True personal experiences by people who have overcome all doubt in repeated lives on earth !’
This edition 2011
1st Edition: Author House UK Ltd
This Edition: Anastasi Ltd
This is a very readable introduction by a retired Camphill teacher and parent to the idea of reincarnation and karma, which draws mainly on accounts of personal experiences of past lives. Some of these will be familiar to many - Arthur Guirdham - Raymond Moody - Barbro Karlen, but others have come from less well known German sources or are unpublished. They are presented with very clear explanatory passages introducing them in a non-dogmatic way, so that the book can be offered to any interested person - indeed the intention for it. The author does not accept all accounts blindly - for instance he cautions against totally accepting the findings from past-life regression work, but basically he has a very open-minded approach. The book concludes with a consideration of reincarnation within traditional Christianity together with an essay by A.R Shepherd. A helpful list of sources could lead readers to explore their local libraries' reserve stores.
From: Newsletter, The Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain, Recent Library Additions March 2012 V0L 89 N0 1
This book is an assemblage of various writings, accounts and reports of people who claim to have experienced, or to have recalled, the reality of reincarnation or repeated earth lives. Quite a large section of it is taken from the accounts of various practitioners of hypnotherapy who in the course of their treatments have been able to 'regress' their clients to memories of past incarnations. There are also excerpts and references to various published works and individuals, some quite well known, such as Edgar Cayce, and some less so. This list also includes works by George Ritchie (Return from Tomorrow) and Raymond Moody (Life after Life), both of which were best sellers. A surprising inclusion
here is Lord Dowding (Many Mansions - letters from men killed in the war), the man who commanded RAF fighter command during the Battle of Britain. Equally intriguing, is the account of the Swedish woman, Barbro Karlen, (including a former interview/article from New View 2000) who saw herself as the reincarnation of Anne Frank; an idea which the reader might dismiss out of hand, had they not read this account which describes how she was able to lead her parents, on a visit to Amsterdam, to the exact place where Anne Frank herself was concealed.
The final part of the book is mainly excerpts from various writers including Rudolf Steiner, T.H.Meyer, A.PShepherd and others.
The author's avowed intention in assembling this material is to make better known the reality of reincarnation. Much of the material is anecdotal; but on the other hand they are people's real experiences, many of which are interesting. Whether or not they are fact, is a question which inevitably leads to philosophical discussion. Readers will no doubt make up their own minds about what is presented.
From: New View, 2nd Quater, Spring 2012
Seasonal Prayers - Meditations on the Epistles
By Alan Stott
– About this Book –
THE creative Voice can be heard in the Seasonal Prayers, the Epistles, of the renewed Christian mysteries. These meditative prayers relate to the life of the year participated. In this companion, the author links to humankind’s first sung prayers, once known by heart by every Christian priest as Messiah’s own “Book of Praises”. He also shares the insights of those who continue to hear the Voice, “musikē”, understood by Plato as a mus-ish educational force, and sometimes called “melos” (tune, musical line).
Every tune focuses on the present moment. We recollect the note before and anticipate the one coming. The Australian aboriginals speak of “song-lines”, and sometimes we also speak of the melody of a life. This companion reveals a “singing-speaking, speaking-singing” linking inner life to outer life throughout the year. Through rhythms, the heart reflects and we divine the music of creation. In this inner workshop, we re-discover an exact mysticism and what the phrase “man of prayer” has always meant.
ALAN STOTT has devoted part of his working life to music for the renewed sacraments.
“You have trodden ground that hitherto no one else has dared to do with regard to this most remarkable sequence of prayers… You approach as a musician… All in all it makes quite a fascinating little work full of weighty content.”
Letter (2001) from TACO BAY, till 2005 Erzoberlenker of The Movement for Religious Renewal
“… a valuable stimulus. It contains many thoughts which are wide-ranging and useful.”
Letter (2003) from HANS-WERNER SCHROEDER.
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