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Inner Development by Valentin Tomberg

Introduction - Tomberg's Biography

Valentin Tomberg
Valentin Tomberg

Valentin Tomberg was born in 1900 in St. Petersburg. His parents were Lutheran. His mother was a Russian and his father, an Estonian of German origin, was an official in the Tsarist government.

As an adolescent, Tomberg was drawn to Theosophy and the mystical practices of Eastern Orthodoxy. One of the most important influences on his early life was the poet and philosopher, Vladimir Solovyev. He also discovered the works of Rudolf Steiner .

In 1920, Tomberg fled from the Bolshevic Revolutionaries with his family to Tallinn in Estonia, where, searching for his mother who had left the house, he discovered her with her dog tied to a tree, both shot by revolutionaries. In the same year he wrote to Rudolph Steiner:

First Goetheanum
Steiner's First Goetheanum at Dornach,
Switzerland, destroyed by arson in 1923

Honored Doctor!

Three years ago I joined the Russian Theosophical Society and thereby made "spiritual culture" my goal. However, I could not work neither with Theosophy's suppression of every free movement of thinking. On the other hand, your writings
(Knowledge of Higher Worlds, Occult Science, Theosophy, A Road to Self Knowledge and others) showed that, besides the Theosophical there exists another movement which finds room for the uniqueness of each individual.

Vladimir Solovyev
Vladimir Solovyev

Since 1917, I have practiced the meditation exercises given by you in your writings and results have been forthcoming. This convinces me that Anthroposophy is not charlatanry - that you really know what you are talking about, and also that the area I seek to enter is a dangerous one.

I do not wish to have the fate of that young mountain cow - of which the Buddha speaks - who, in search of new meadows and pastures, wandered into an unknown mountain range and fell into an abyss.

These two circumstances - trust in you and the seriousness of what I intend to undertake-are what prompt me to turn to you, Herr Doctor.
                                          Valentin Tomberg

He wrote again to Steiner in 1924:

First Goetheanum
Steiner's Second Goetheanum at Dornach,
completed after his death

Since 1920 I have worked actively for the advancement of the anthroposophical work. This I understand to be the deepening of human consciousness by means of independent, dogma-free, authority-free, selfless, creative cognitive work, combined with the practice of self-criticism.... I am conviced that I have a life-task that, as far as I presently know, can only consist in being useful in my own way to the work that Dornach should serve. Therefore I have decided to take on a difficult task that claims all my powers. I do not wish to enter a "spiritual boarding school" in which spiritual food is served ready-made. The Spiritual-Truth, the Spiritual-Validity, that I hope to find, I will learn to bring to realization along with the duties that follow from it - in order then to bear these as seeds into the future.

First Goetheanum
Rudolph Steiner

I perceive what is coming as something difficult - therefore I will gratefully accept your decision, whatever it may be, with regard to my fate. I am twenty-four year's old. I have no profession, for as yet there is none for me. I dedicate my available powers and time to spiritual science and what it directly demands. I have done many different kinds of work in life - clerk, teacher, agricultural worker, pharmacist, artist. I am poor and therefore cannot come to Dornach.

Awaiting your decision I remain - and will remain in the future - your grateful and humble co-worker in the work of realizing humanity's vocation and destiny - whether it is recognized or not ....

Valentin Tomberg

Later Tomberg was to write:

As it is difficult to separate the air which one has breathed in from that of the outside world, so it is difficult for the author to draw a dividing line between the results of his own endeavor and that which Rudolf Steiner communicated.

In 1930 Tomberg married Marie Demski,a Polish Catholic, who had escaped from a Bolshevik labour camp. Their son, Alexis, was born in 1933.

Valentin published his original occult research in a number of articles and lectures, which made him a controversial figure in Anthroposophical circles.

He moved to Amsterdam and was active in Dutch anti-Nazi resistance by hiding allied pilots and parachuters. Concerned for the Tombergs' safety, Ernst von Hippel, Professor of Law at Cologne University, who had come to know Tomberg through his Studies on the Old Testament, had thought they would be safer in Germany. As a respected law professor, von Hippel had sufficient influence to bring the Tombergs - who since the annexation of Estonia had become displaced persons - into Germany, where from the University of Cologne he received a Ph.D. in Jurisprudence.

Before the end of the war, perhaps while he was still in Holland - and according to one account, in a camp for displaced persons - Tomberg experienced a decisive call to become a Catholic. Prior to joining the Catholic Church, he had sought to pursue his path of anthroposophy first in the Protestant Community and then in the Russian Orthodox Church, but he had found both these doors closed to him.

Shaun's note: His Catholicism was profoundly mystical and somewhat unorthodox. He believed in reincarnation and retained many of his anthroposophical beliefs.

In 1948 he moved to England, where he became a translator for the BBC monitoring Soviet broadcasts during the Cold War. He retired early and worked on two manuscripts. One was written in French and in English translation entitled Meditations on the Tarot, A Journey into Christian Hermeticism. It was published anonymously and posthumously. The other, Lazarus, Come Forth!: Meditations of a Christian Esotericist was written in German.

He died on a holiday in Majorca in 1973. Two weeks later his wife and collaborator Maria died as well.

LECTURE ONE - The New Michael Community and its Significance for the Future


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