The Tragedy of Sergei O. Prokofieff

prokofieff
Prominent anthroposophical writer and lecturer, Sergei O. Prokofieff, died recently (26 July 2014) at the age of 60. While heartfelt condolences go out to family and friends for their loss, Prokofieff’s passing also provides an opportunity to esoterically review and appraise his life’s work.

It would be difficult to find any anthroposophist living today who was more devoted to Rudolf Steiner than Sergei Prokofieff. In his memorial address to Prokofieff given on 29 July 2014, Peter Selg described him as “this most inwardly faithful pupil of Rudolf Steiner and protector of his new revelation of Christ.” Sadly, therein lies the tragedy of Prokofieff’s life.

It is obvious from Prokofieff’s writing and actions that he idolized Rudolf Steiner; he wanted to be just like his eminent teacher. Like Steiner, Prokofieff was a prolific writer and lecturer who spoke with great authority on profound esoteric matters. Unfortunately, Prokofieff was not the high initiate that Rudolf Steiner was: he had no developed clairvoyant perception; he could not read the akashic records; nor could he converse with the bodhisattva-masters of East and West or with the superphysical celestial beings who guide human development.

Moreover, as a high Christian initiate, Rudolf Steiner dedicated his life to serving the saviour of mankind, Christ-Jesus. If Prokofieff really wanted to follow in Steiner’s footsteps then he would have likewise dedicated his life to serving Christ-Jesus and not anthroposophy, since anthroposophy is essentially a modern esoteric means of understanding our Saviour.

Together with being a prodigious reader of Steiner’s voluminous writings and recorded lectures and possessing a powerful intellectual will, Prokofieff’s main talent was his ability to draw complex and detailed connections and interrelationships from Steiner’s ideas. Unfortunately, many of the conclusions that Prokofieff drew from his abstruse intellection were contrary to Steiner’s own teaching. For example, Steiner repeatedly emphasized that anthroposophy was not a Mystery religion or revival of ancient Gnosticism, but a “spiritual science” adapted to the modern age:

The Gnosis was strictly guarded in hidden Mysteries … Anthroposophy cannot be a revival of the Gnosis. For the latter depended on the development of the Sentient Soul; while Anthroposophy must evolve out of the Spiritual Soul, in the light of Michael’s activity, a new understanding of Christ and of the World (Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts; “Gnosis and Anthroposophy;” 1925)

Prokofieff, however, starting with his very first book, Rudolf Steiner and the Founding of the New Mysteries (1982), throughout his life erroneously maintained that Steiner founded “New Mysteries” of esoteric Christianity, what he termed, “Michael Mysteries.” Moreover, as stated in Selg’s memorial address: “Sergei Prokofieff wrote that he had come to Dornach to aid in developing the Goetheanum [the headquarters of the General Anthroposophical Society] into a contemporary Mystery centre.”

Steiner himself was very clear in his writing that he did not come to establish new Michael Mysteries; the new Mysteries of esoteric Christianity had already been established by Christ-Jesus. Anthroposophy’s mission as a spiritual science was to understand these Christ-Mysteries. In a lecture given on 27 November 1906 entitled “Esoteric Christianity,” Rudolf Steiner stated: “The truth is, the Christian esotericism is the most profound which has ever been brought to mankind. Christian esotericism was brought to the earth by that very Being Himself with whom one must be united. It is a question of belief in the divinity of Christ.” Moreover, in a lecture given in 22 December 1923, he further stated: “[W]hoever really understands, the Mystery of Golgotha [the foremost Christian Mystery] understands all the previous [ancient] Mysteries” (published in Mystery Knowledge and Mystery Centres; 2013).

It should come as no esoteric surprise that Prokofieff made a number of fundamental errors in his early publications. What is surprising is that for some strange reason Prokofieff failed to heed Steiner’s clear esoteric advise (that was even quoted on page 6 of Rudolf Steiner and the Founding of the New Mysteries!): “I had reached the age of 40, an age before which no one in the sense of a master may openly appear as a teacher of occultism. Everywhere where someone teaches earlier than this there is an error “(Correspondence and Documents 1901-1925).

Unfortunately, Prokofieff felt that contrary to his eminent teacher’s own restriction, he could safely step onto the world’s stage as an authoritative “teacher of occultism” at the tender age of 28! As many present-day anthroposophists will increasingly come to recognize after Prokofieff’s passing, this was a tragic mistake on his part.

12 thoughts on “The Tragedy of Sergei O. Prokofieff

  1. Leon Charles

    Very interesting articles.
    I would simply state the following in my most humble opinion.
    ‘ MANY ARE CALLED, FEW ARE CHOSEN.’

    It was pointed out as mistake to take up
    Teaching before the age of 40 years of age.
    I simply point out Christ-Jesus young age.

    Reply
    1. Ron MacFarlane Post author

      Dear Leon,

      A good point about the fact that Christ-Jesus inerrantly taught on esoteric matters before the age of 40. But I’m sure you would agree, that in union with the Solar-Christos, the Logos-Word and God the Son, Christ-Jesus was much more than simply a “master teacher of esoteric wisdom”; and therefore, clearly an exception to the esoteric rule. Tomberg, Prokofieff and von Halle can hardly be seen as a similar claim to exception.

      Reply
  2. DL

    Thank you for this post. You are so right. I am writing this not because I have formed my own opinion, but because I know through inspired knowing. What is most puzzling is how large groups of people can get distracted by the great confusors such as Prokofieff, Tomberg, Van Halle. It is a mystery to me how they don’t seem to notice, or immediately feel, the striking difference between the richness and clarity in RS’s lectures, and the poor and confused/confusing thought forms offered by the side-trackers.

    Reply
    1. Ron MacFarlane Post author

      Dear DL,

      Thank you for your comments. Regarding the predictably misleading and erroneous ideas of Tomberg, Prokofieff and von Halle, as you may be aware, all three unfortunately chose to ignore Rudolf Steiner’s clear spiritual admonition to not become an esoteric master-teacher before the age of 40; otherwise “errors” will inevitably occur. So why would these anthroposophists deliberately choose to ignore Steiner’s sage advice? Pride, in my opinion. All three fancied themselves as Steiner’s equal or superior in initiatory development. To anyone with a clear sense of the truth, this was a delusional mistake on their part.

      As to the numerous anthroposophists who have been unfortunately misled by Tomberg, Prokofieff and von Halle, we must constantly keep in mind that we are living in an age of falsehood, deception, untruth and disinformation as Ahriman – the “father of lies” – continues to prepare for his approaching incarnation. Without uniting ourselves with the spirit of truth that is embodied in Christ-Jesus, we have no “eyes to see, or ears to hear.”

      Reply
  3. Kali

    S. Prokofieff has been a great Slavic soul and a sincere explorer. His capabilities and his spirit are not easily to be understood by Western people though.

    Everyone has to be sure that being now in the spiritual world, Prokofieff is aware if his one mistakes, one of the bigger one being the thing with Judith von Halle. The person whose articles and lectures I am translating into German now, is often talking about the help he is getting from S. Prokofieff from above.

    Reply
  4. Caryl

    Thank you for this article. It barely touches the surface of Prokofieff’s real problem, in my view his vicious anti-Catholicism. And concerning one of his other books, I forget which one, perhaps the one on folk-souls: a very dear friend of mine, and very steeped in anthroposophy, said that the book deeply embarrassed her and she threw it in the fireplace. “I would not want any friends just learning about anthroposophy to read that book,” she said. I found Prokofieff to be unreadable myself and I have had to ask myself whether “esotericism” is irreconcilable with Christianity. For is not this faith about incarnation and making-manifest and learning that death comes before life?

    Reply
  5. Slobodan Žalica

    …it seems to me that the author of the article is rather brash in his Catholic (Jesuitical?) endeavors — coming from the Rocky Mountains field of influences — to form a judgement on Sergei O. Prokofieff; because S.O. Prokofieff was (and still is) a great Slavic soul, which (spiritual) content is many years of light away from an actual experience of to-day souls living in the West, especially in the United States, Canada…, “too much accommodated to the ways of the world” and his materialistic values;
    …I lived and worked for several years in the Rockies, after fled from besieged Sarajevo in 1993; I also attended Sergei Prokofieff’s funeral ceremony in July 2014.;
    …Sergei O. Prokofieff was — in my opinion — the biggest pupil of Rudolf Steiner; he had not been a “teacher of occultism”; he possessed such an amount of devotion for Christ-Jesus, for Michael, for Anthroposophia, and for Rudolf Steiner (which is almost natural feeling for Slavic people!) that is actually incomprehensible for most westerners, especially for those of Anglo-American descend; and out of his sublime respect for his Master he became such a spiritually developed person who left 55 books to the contemporary humankind;
    …dear Ron MacFarlane, at this point I really have no time, nor energy for more writing, but I feel I am (spiritually) obliged to say you that your writing is so biassed; your sentences are both cold and logical to such a degree that they bear almost visible stamp of a Good Catholic… but, Catholicism is nothing more then a Christian sect, dear Canadian fellow, isn’t it!
    …and I be so much happy, if you would join the SpiritualScienceOnline web-site, looking at the older posts and my defending Sergei Prokofieff against attacks coming from some Anglo-American anthroposophists;
    …dear Ron MacFarlane, instead of citing Rudolf Steiner’s from GA 178 about Rocky Mts.-influence, how it works on the people of North America, you are attempting an “impossible mission”: trying to devaluate both his person (individuality) and his work, which is like a torch of great hope especially in the western world now submitted to the (Christian? Catholic?) ideal of (American) Three Big;
    …also, please do not consider this as something personally.
    Sincerely,
    Sl. Žalica

    P.S. …it might be good to say something more about myself: I met anthroposophy in 1970 as a student of philosophy at Sarajevo University; presently living in proximity of Rudolf Steiner’s place of birth.

    Reply
    1. Robert thibodeau

      Great reply Zalika, I totally agree. We need a thousand more Prokofieff and people like Meyers; dedicated students of Rudolf Steiner. perhaps Philosophy of Freedom would help the sacred heart of shambhalla weave through every heart.

      Reply
  6. Tom Mellett

    Hello Ron,

    You and I live in the same time zone: me down here in LA-LA Land and you up North from me in BC. Yet I just discovered your website though a blog in Germany. Michael Eggert in Duesseldorf has published the Egoisten blog for the last 10 years and here is his article about you.
    http://egoistenblog.blogspot.com/2015/10/das-herz-von-shambhalla-oder-die.html

    I have a question for you about your analysis of Sergei P. How is it that you failed to mention the Anthroposophical Stigmata girl, Judith von Halle, whose existence and teachings consumed Sergei P for the last 2 years of his life? Indeed there are some who claim that his obsession with Judith von Halle and her followers may have actually hastened his early death.

    Reply
    1. Ron MacFarlane Post author

      Greetings Tom,

      Thanks for pointing out the German blog site, “Egoisten,” that has been discussing some of my website articles. Unfortunately, the Google translation of the German is rather poor, and therefore difficult for me to read and follow. In any case, I hope that I have stimulated some thoughtful discussion on the “other side of the pond.”

      As to your question about Prokofieff’s critical preoccupation with alleged stigmatist Judith von Halle prior to his death, I thought I could best share my own perspective of this controversy by posting a new article, entitled “De-Mystifying the ‘Mystical Stigmata’ of Judith von Halle.”

      Sincerely,
      Ron

      Reply
  7. John Pickin

    I don’t think I’ve ever read such uninformed, misleading (and potentially invented?) nonsense before:

    “Unfortunately, Prokofieff was not the high initiate that Rudolf Steiner was: ”
    Correct
    “…he had no developed clairvoyant perception;” COMPLETE NONSENSE
    “… he could not read the akashic records; nor could he converse with the bodhisattva-masters of East and West or with the superphysical celestial beings who guide human development.”
    Open to debate

    “Moreover, as a high Christian initiate, Rudolf Steiner dedicated his life to serving the saviour of mankind, Christ-Jesus. If Prokofieff really wanted to follow in Steiner’s footsteps then he would have likewise dedicated his life to serving Christ-Jesus and not anthroposophy, since anthroposophy is essentially a modern esoteric means of understanding our Saviour.”

    Straw Man argument as usual….He did both. He served the Christ by truly serving anthroposophy – which incidentally Rudolf Steiner describes as the modern method of conscious dialogue with the Christ.

    The list of inaccuracies, half truths and non-sequiturs continues…

    “Steiner repeatedly emphasized that anthroposophy was not a Mystery religion or revival of ancient Gnosticism, but a “spiritual science” adapted to the modern age:”
    Correct but with the implication that Steiner would then have also agreed with:
    “Prokofieff, however, starting with his very first book, Rudolf Steiner and the Founding of the New Mysteries (1982), throughout his life erroneously maintained that Steiner founded “New Mysteries” of esoteric Christianity, what he termed, “Michael Mysteries.”

    Except Rudolf Steiner, Ita Wegman, Marie Steiner, Sergei Prokofieff, Peter Selg…the list goes on…ALL agreed that Rudolf Steiner came to help Michael himself establish the new Michael Mysteries…

    The arguments made in this article are just trivial in their approach…..and above all wrong.

    Reply
  8. Ian McGillivray

    Clearly teaching spiritual science before 40 will invoke tragedy upon the author and to a lesser extent the audience who may well be misled until corrected. Other cases lead me to believe that one would be well advised to treat this as an absolute prohibition. In P’s case, for me it renders a life’s work as ‘dodgy’ and one is in danger of throwing out the baby with the bathwater possibly as follows;
    Whilst none of the ancient mysteries can be revived particularly the Gnosis which only ever lived in the sentient soul, do they not find their metamorphosis in the Christ impulse whose language is Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual science and thus a ‘contemporary mystery centre’ in this sense may be what he meant and this is OK (except that such a centre requires at least one initiate) for me.

    Reply

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