Count Hermann Keyserling
By: R.C.L. and Arnold Keyserling
The philosopher and founder of the School of Wisdom.
Count Hermann Keyserling is the founder of the School of Wisdom in modern times. His son, Professor Arnold Keyserling, is a well known philosopher and spiritual leader in Europe today. Count Keyserling is the author of numerous books, many of which were best sellers in the 1920's in Europe, North America, and South America, including The Travel Diary of a Philosopher, America Set Free, Europe, The World in the Making, The Book of Marriage, Immortality, Creative Understanding, and South American Meditations.
Count Keyserling is the first Western thinker to conceive of and promote a planetary culture, beyond nationalism and cultural ethnocentrism, based on recognition of the equal value and validity of non-western cultures and philosophies. He founded the School of Wisdom in Darmstadt, Germany in 1920, based on the original Schools of Wisdom which prospered over two thousand years ago in Northern India under Buddhist rule. Unlike other spiritual leaders of the day, he did not set himself up as a guru, or establish any kind of personality cult. Instead, he encouraged the equal participation of many others including his friends, Carl Jung, Richard Wilhelm, Rabindranath Tagore, and Hermann Hessee.
Hermann Keyserling was a heriditary Count from the Baltic country of Estonia. His families position and estate in Estonia went back centuries, to the early days when Estonia first became a province of Germany. One of his ancestors is the Count Keyserling who commissioned Bach to create the Brandenberg Concertos.
Count Hermann Keyserling lost his estate and family fortune in 1905 as part of the Bolshevik revolution. For two years he thought he was penniless, only to be suprised by a reversal in political fortune in 1908 and inheritance of his families estates. In 1911 he spent the year travelling around the world, and for the next six years wrote about his experiences in what was later to be called, Travel Diary of a Philosopher. His was a spiritual journey, in his words.
In 1918 the Russian Revolution again suddenly deprived Count Keyserling of his estates and fortune. After years of travel and quiet study, he had to flee his homeland of Estonia. A poor refugee in Germany, he was still a very sophisticated person of intellectual bent. Having no business experience outside of running a traditional country estate, out of financial desperation, he turned to writing to support himself. The world had never seen writings from a mind like that before. The highly educated, noble elite had rarely written commercially. They shunned all public communications, and were only known in small private circles. The Count considered himself way ahead of his time and was shocked to watch his Travel Diary of a Philosopher become an instant best seller. The public responded to his writings in an amazing way. The Count was soon a famous author of philosophy books sold throughout the world. In 1919 he married the granddaughter of the German leader, Chancellor Bismarck.
The book which launched his career, The Travel Diary of a Philosopher, is a two volume book. It describes the Count's travel around the world and discovery of the philosophies of the cultures he visited. His journey goes from Egypt, to Ceylon, to India in Volume One, to China, Japan, Hawaii, and the Americas in volume Two. Count Keyserling knew the elite in these cultures. He connected with the leaders, and entered into the spirit and essence of their cultures. This led to his eventual conception of a planetary philosophy, a synergy of the best from all cultures. For a sample of his writing, consider a selection from Chapter 70 on "America" in the Travel Diary:
The symphony of the spirit upon earth should, in accordance with reasonable prevision, resound with ever-increasing beauty. The individual voices should make themselves heard ever more purely, harmonize better with each other, and be attuned to ever-fuller basic tones. The original chaotic and occasionally baroque, and then again essentially differentiated creation, should find its final expression in perfect classicism, in that monumental simplicity which contains all wealth within it. Change is a way of life, it has appeared different and new again and again. If its development were guided henceforth by an ever more profoundly self-conscious mind, then temporary forms must give way to ultimate ones, and differentiation must slowly turn into integration.
The founding of the School of Wisdom was a natural outgrowth of these ideas. More about his life and ideas can be found throughout the School of Wisdom related webs, and also in a German language website, Institut fur Praxis der Philosophie.
April 26, 1996 marked the 50th anniversary of the death of Hermann Keyserling. A ceremony was held at his grave site in Innsbruck, Austria, where his preserved brain was returned to the rest of his physical remains- (Explanation to follow!) The event was attended by the President of Austria and other political dignitaries, the Keyserling family, friends and students.
Count Keyserling's brain had been preserved and on display in a museum in Berne, Switzerland, with that of other great minds of the 20th century (including Einstein) since the time of his death in 1946. At the request of the family in 1996, his brain was returned and buried with the rest of his remains. This was a symbolic gesture of some significance. It represents the death of the archaic science and misguided world view which led to the separation of his brain from his body at death in the first place.
Persuasive scientists in 1946 convinced the Keyserling family that important knowledge might be gained by studying his brain. The scientists actually thought that the body, particularly the brain, was the source of the human spirit, of human intelligence. For that reason they took the brains of a lot of great men who died at the time - the forties through the sixties. They thought that they could learn something of value by studying the "gray matter" left behind. This field of scientific inquiry produced very few results. The brains of the great, like Count Keyserling, seemed the same as the mediocre. Indeed, today we know they were looking in the wrong place. The seat of human intelligence lies in the spirit, and the energy fields surrounding the body, not the body itself. Hermann Keyserling himself knew this - his life stood for a unity of mind and body - a unity misunderstood and betrayed by the separation and display of his brain in a jar in a museum.
The error of the family to allow this separation, this glorification of a body part, has now been corrected. The physical remains are now whole. The body is together where it belongs after death - in the Earth, not on display on a museum. The Spirit of the founder of the School of Wisdom, after 50 years of unrest, is now at peace.
Now that his body is whole - his brain returned to the Earth from which it was born - the essence of his brain lives on, reborn here, vibrating in cyberspace. Yes! The Count's brain lives on, unpickled, in the Global Brain - a part of the Noosphere. This is fitting for Count Keyserling was the first person to visualize a Whole Earth, beyond national boundaries, living in a world culture. He founded the School of Wisdom with the intent of forming a basis for a new global civilization and a planetary philosophy.
His dream now comes true, everyday, on the Internet. Join us, and fully explore the School of Wisdom's webs, a living embodiment of his essence - his ideas! For more information on Count Keyserling see the page on the history of the School of Wisdom.