For three men born into profoundly different cultures, Rudolf Steiner, Aurobindo Ghose, and Inayat Khan shared a strikingly  related set of life circumstances and experiences.


  • Rudolf Steiner was born in l861 on the border of Austria and Hungary. Aurobindo Ghose was born in 1872, and Inayat Khan in 1882, both in India. Despite the differences in their years of birth, each of these men taught and published his major work at essentially the same time: from l910 to 1924.


  • Each of these men began his spiritual journey within a world religion, yet each rejected the exclusive claims to truth of that religious tradition. Instead each teacher synthesized the core truths of his religion of origin both with other spiritual tradi­tions and with his own spiritual insight.


      Steiner, born and raised within the nineteenth-century German culture, articulated teachings that related a Germanic  Christianity, influenced by an explicit recognition of its roots in  Teutonic paganism, to theosophy, a modern spiritual move­ment  that found its primary sources in Hinduism. Steiner was also very familiar with the Western science of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and brought its influence into his work as  well. Aurobindo’s teachings created a synthesis that drew on the Hinduism of his native India as well as an intimate understanding of European culture and its “religion” of science, which he had gained from the fourteen years he studied in England. Inayat Khan’s  influences included his family religion of Islam, his knowledge of Hinduism, his spiritual training in Sufism, and his years of experience  as a spiritual teacher in the United States and  Europe.

  • In an era when communication and transportation technologies had not yet brought  the  many  lands of this planet into their present  proximity,  each  of  these  three  men had  a  pro­found understanding  of the cultures  of both the West and the East.  Each of them carried elements of Western  and  Eastern traditions into his teachings and  joined  these  elements with his own personal knowing to create a vision  that was both a synthesis of East and West and the expression of his own spiritual intuition. In a profound way, each of these men brought together East and West in his  life  and  in his teach­ings.


  • Their public lives all ended at essentially the same time. Steiner died in 1924, Inayat Khan in 1926. While Aurobindo lived until 1950 and  communicated  with  his disciples through letters  and  appeared  before them  four  times  each  year,  he withdrew from public teaching after his “day of Siddhi” in 1926.


      During the past two centuries, many spiritual teachers have talked and written about the nature of human beings. Yet only Inayat Khan, Steiner, and Aurobindo have informed this discus­sion with detailed descriptions of both the process of human be­coming in childhood and youth and the desired functions of child raising and education. And these three men have given us essen­tially the same vision of human unfoldment within the same co­evolutionary context, at  the very same historical moment.  (One other person, a doctor and educator, not a spiritual teacher, has offered a strikingly related vision: Maria Montessori.1)