Archive for March, 2010


Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

It seems clearer and clearer to me that it would work well to take the Foundation Stone as the … well, foundation stone of a training.

If the course leaders were clear that the purpose of the course was enshrined in the F.S., then this could be shared with the students before they enroll. This would make it possible that before the course started, the students could begin working with the F.S. I have found it incredibly useful in my teaching if everyone has done inner work beforehand, so that the gradient between the teacher who knows both content and purpose, and the students, who may have a hazy idea of purpose but not of the content, is reduced. It would also make clear the anthroposophical foundation of the course, without demanding any personal confession of belief from the students. They could decide freely whether what the F.S. contains accords with their personal purpose.

F.S. is a tool to self-knowledge, and self-leadership (the very fact of addressing myself “Soul of man!” means becoming conscious of the relation of soul and spirit). It opens the perspective of world-evolution. And it stimulates the drive to equip myself to work purposefully, which covers the specialised subject material that any particular course will need.

Wednesday of Holy Week

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Accepting Mark’s chronology. The temple authorities are conspiring; the woman anoints Jesus; Judas goes and arranges the betrayal.

Borg & Crossan have the nameless woman as the only one who understands Jesus’ prediction of passion and death, and therefore gives away everything to perform a sacramental act, as opposed to the disciples who just bicker about who’s the greatest whenever Jesus brings the subject up.

It’s interesting in the light of what I mentioned in the Ludlow post, the unanswered temptation of stones into bread, that if we accept the legendary identification of the woman with Mary Magdalene, she has transformed her mercurial quality, that involved her in inappropriate ‘encounter’, with the element of money, into a sacramental quality. Judas on the other hand cannot find enough stillness to understand the truly revolutionary – but utterly nonviolent – nature of Jesus. Borg & Crossan are dismissive of John’s polemic about him, that he was a thief; but that also belongs to Mercury. Maybe John is only characterising Judas’ grasping impatience with process.

In any case from a systems point of view, Judas is only acting out what the group as a whole hasn’t managed – really to comprehend Jesus. And amazing: the trigger is given by the one who really has comprehended him – it’s the ‘waste’ of the oil that makes him boil over.

Look at the experience of the woman. When did she decide to buy the oil? it must have been long prepared! Which saying of Jesus made her realise what was going to happen – the one about selling all you have and giving all to the poor? – after all, Jesus is ‘poor’ in this moment – he is in need. And how free she is! She does this deed – tricky, as a woman in that society, even to come close to him, let alone to perform a priestly service to the master, surrounded by his male disciples. And how typical of groups that are struggling: they turn on her. In Mark’s story it’s the group, not just Judas, that grumbles. What goes on in her meanwhile?

Who did the ‘right thing’? It’s an anticipation repares of the yet deeper mystery of the commission: what you have to do, do it!


Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

[self]-leadership is the Alpha and Omega. I’d like to see that as the sun, all other subjects as the planets. I think this could also mean that some things could be done in other colleges – because if the sun is there, everything else will find its place in the solar system. And there’s a problem that anthroposophical trainings aren’t always good at transmitting some kinds of knowledge – too small, lack of specialised staff etc. But Anthroposophy  is the way of cultivating the inner sun.

Actually the whole thing could emerge from the Foundation Stone Meditation, starting at the end with the question of purpose; working backwards, the whole of cosmic and human evolution gives my purpose its context; working back again, the whole 3-fold nature of man, and our relationship to the cosmos, gives me the insight I need to carry out my purpose.

And this spirit of exploration out of articulating purpose might be the key to where the students find the content they need – ie in house or in other courses. If the aims of the course (which need to be held by the institution, and clearly communicated) are clear, then the students are empowered to look where they will get what they need to fulfill those aims. That would overcome a problem I’ve seen in our small, familiar training institutions – the students feel embarrassed to have to articulate the inadequacies of the teachers. If the contract is far clearer, and the students are empowered to continually reflect whether a course is helping them work to the purpose of the course, any reflection could be depersonalised.

Knowing Christ

Monday, March 29th, 2010

If God is made known to us through Christ, the question whether we can know Christ is really important. But just step back from the way theologians use words for a moment and ask: how can we know him? Then the incarnation gets another layer of importance – his humanity makes him knowable. If he is “the man” (Pilate) then what I know of humanity shows me him. Our primary data about God is the human. That’s also our surest test: if some god or ideology or system tells us we have to be inhuman, you can be sure it’s not Christian. Even if it’s called the church.
Fascinating in Borg & Crossan’s book that they point out the likely near simultaneity of Jesus’ entry on Palm Sunday with Pilate’s, taking up residence for the turbulent week of passover. The humble, human procession is the advent of God. The glorious powerful display is the arrival of the all-too-human.

Palm Sunday

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

We’ve all lived through times when a leader – whether it be a political leader, sportsperson, or some other public figure – has been elevated to the status of saviour. And we have experienced when the media – in this case merely the mouthpiece for the collective consciousness – has cast such people down once it became clear that they too were subject to the same compromises and disappointments that we all have to cope with.
In our own lives we might know such moments too – when we encounter a new friend, or a direction of learning, or even a book – and we are seized by hope that it will make everything different. And later we know the bitterness that comes when we realize that this didn’t happen.
What we hope for in such moments is that something or someone will change reality for us, relieving us of the responsibility of changing it ourselves. And the bitterness that follows comes when this hope dies.
The Week of Weeks – the Holy Week – starts with the ecstatic acclamation by the crowd. Is it the same crowd that shouts on Good Friday “crucify him”? Their hope on Palm Sunday must have been for the national deliverer who would cast off the hated Roman yoke. Underlying this was the assumption that the Romans were responsible for their reality. But there was more they must have hoped for – after all, the religious authorities were compromised and perhaps corrupt – so they needed changing too. And then perhaps they wished that they would be changed, so that they wouldn’t have to struggle to be honest, to be kind to their children, to notice where their love was needed and where love was offered to them. How wonderful to be made perfect and released from the burden of being limited – of being human!
Christ rides in silence through the ecstatic crowd on Palm Sunday, just as he will stand silent on Good Friday. He shows where true leadership begins – in self-leadership, unswayed by acclamation, undeterred by opposition. Does Pilate have an inkling of that when he says “behold the man!”? – does he see the future human being, who has found the inner principle of leadership, the Christ-filled ego?
The hope for a different reality has to die before new hope can be born in the soul. This is hope not to be liberated from reality by an external leader, but to find the strength in myself to transform reality from within.


Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Lovely to be here and experience the texture that comes from the local. Ludlow is a fair trade, local sourced, transition town – and it shows! You don’t have to buy anything in the market to appreciate it being there. And it shows us what is lost through the more ‘efficient’ local economy – or lack of it – in other places. It turns out that qualia (see Wikipedia!) comes from all the texture that seems so old-fashioned – seeing the person who grew your food; smelling the cheese before you eat it. And so on. There’s a huge literature on all of this of course.

The ‘normal’ economy is reductive, standardising – and it doesn’t just do that with goods, but it looks at human beings like that. It’s the kind of thinking that started with David’s census.

Ray Kroc, early CEO of McDonalds seems to have summed this up in a quote that’s everywhere on the internet but whose source I can’t find:

We have found out… that we cannot trust some people who are nonconformists… We will make conformists out of them… The organization cannot trust the individual; the individual must trust the organization.
– Ray Kroc

See “just in time” strawberries with their human consequences; pallet and shrink-wrap. Once everything is reduced to a unit, no other logic can apply. And this logic has its own illogic, eg the shrink wrap round a fuse that’s the same size as one around a radio – because that way they fit on the same sorting machine, etc etc. So we could see an explosive development taking place over the last hundred or so years, starting in the Chicago stockyards, gathering in the oil economy, industrialized agriculture, information technology and media – all of which have many aspects, some of them liberating – but which all exhibit a tendency, a direction towards a soulless, lifeless, reduced world.

Of course one could think this is all a coincidence. But there’s too much that works in the same direction for this to seem a good hypothesis. Then you could wonder if it’s a ‘conspiracy’ – ie people consciously plotting towards a defined end. But it seems much too diffuse for that. And remember how the pioneers of the internet – those hobbyists who subverted the military’s purposes in ARPANET – believed that they were creating a power for liberation – as indeed they were! So a third hypothesis could be that there is an intelligence at work behind the actions of countless human beings, whose motives are as mixed as human motives always are.

In the film Fast Food Nation, the old rancher, who represents the sage in the film, talks about this intelligence that drives  the heartless, destructive meat packing plant:

This isn’t about good people versus bad people. It’s about the machine that’s taken over this country. It’s like something out of science fiction. The land, the cattle, human beings – this machine don’t give a shit – penny’s a pound, penny’s a pound – that’s all it cares about.

Fast Food Nation, Richard Linklater 2006

What’s amazing is how clearly he describes the intelligence that Rudolf Steiner called Ahriman, the adversary power who seeks to ensnare us in physical existence, divorcing us from our spiritual being – the machine, who reduces everything to units of production, and monetary value.

The intelligence in this system doesn’t want to get rich – it wants what money does to us. And it is amazing to see that the attack comes in precisely the place where we are so vulnerable – in our need for food, which is linked to our dependence on the money economy. Rudolf Steiner describes this in relation to the story of the temptation of Christ after the baptism in the Jordan, where he is unable to complete his struggle with Ahriman:

So Ahriman sent Lucifer away and carried out the last attack as Ahriman alone and said the words which resonate in the Gospel of Matthew: Turn minerals into bread! Turn stones to bread if you claim to have divine powers. And the Christ-Being said: Men do not live by bread alone, but by the spiritual which comes from the spiritual world. The Christ-Being knew that well, for he had recently descended from the spiritual world. Ahriman replied: You may be right. But that you are right and insofar as you are right does not stop me from stopping you in a certain way. You only know what the spirit does which descends from the heights. You were not yet in the human world. Below, in the human world, there are completely different people; they truly need to turn stones to bread, they cannot nourish themselves by the spirit alone. That was the moment when Ahriman told Christ what one could know on the earth; which, however, the god who had just stepped upon the earth for the first time could not yet know. He did not know that it was necessary below to turn the mineral, metal to money, to bread. So Ahriman said that the people below are forced to nourish themselves with money. That was where Ahriman still had power. And, said Ahriman, I will use this power!
The Fifth Gospel, Rudolf Steiner see RSArchive)

And Ahriman is only too pleased to see the nihilism that lurks in the collective psyche of the death culture (Macey), which he can hand on to Sorat – the negator, the annihilator. Ahriman’s logic is constructive, even if it’s a destructive construction (!). But the corrosion of the soul is embodied negativity. That’s the final issue of our death culture. That’s the obscenity of an industrial slaughterhouse, the glimpse it gives into a world where death is everyday, standardised, even sanitized.

And yet – there is the dearest freshness deep down things (Hopkins). We are witnessing an incredible growth in global concern – even using Ahriman’s own tools of internet and mobile communications. We need to identify the dynamic between nostalgia for lost worlds and a truly achieved, new culture of awakened selves. When this culture comes about – which comes about through communion, through our eating each other’s soul and spiritual substance, as represented in the eucharist – redemption of the temptation with the bread -, then the adversaries have served their purpose – they have given us the chance to come to ourselves and find the way forward into the future. This is both a return and something quite new:

The proffered gift and the shared meal are probably the most ancient forms of human interaction…”
The Last Week, Borg & Crossan

Using modern technology with care and filling it with meaning, we can have communion with each other that reaches beyond divides that previously meant we would not have even know of each other.

Christology book

Friday, March 26th, 2010

God for Christians is the one who discloses himself. His Son is his Word – the communication of his being. We encounter this self-disclosure in creation, but only as something finished. As we make the transition from peripheral beings to centred ones, we need a  new kind of disclosure.

The self-disclosure of God in Christ means that we can be connected to ultimate reality without losing our individuality. When we say ‘not I but Christ in me’ it is not negation but ??? what’s the word here? Steigerung in German. Augmentation with intensification.

So it is very important that we know Christ, as the one through whom we know the Father. We need to make real for ourselves how this man can be the revealor of ultimate reality. This explains the intense preoccupation with the identity of Jesus Christ that lived in the first centuries of Christianity, and has never really left the church until today.

Trigonos conference 8th – 11th April 2010

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Technology, Spirituality and Michaelic Community Building

This is going to be a conference / retreat mainly with people from Camphill at Trigonos. It strikes me that we all have a technology biography – first experiences of TV, for example; encounters with computers, games – here there is a generational divide, which it would be good to explore. In other words the main purpose of our time together might be to explore what we have already experienced, and try to find concepts that make sense of it, rather than bringing concepts that may or may not relate to experiences.

Here’s a link to my page on this, with preparation material.

Purpose – owned and unowned

Friday, March 26th, 2010

One big problem in organisational life comes from the discrepancy that may exist between the stated purpose of an organisation and the actual purpose. Normally we think that we have a purpose, which is our ideal, and what hinders us from reaching it is our human shortcomings. It’s frightening and strange to think that there are other purposes at work – are we to think that we’re conspiring against ourselves? This is a place where the concept of the system of an organisation helps. Let’s say for the moment that this is made up of all the unconscious drives and motives that the human beings in the organisation bring into it. The less these are acknowledged, the more power the unowned motives will have. Far from being frightening, it’s liberating to step back from our organisation, in which we invest so much hope and effort, and see what purpose it is trying to realise. A crass example is the organisation with a charismatic leader: the stated purpose may be education, or care, but if we examine the evidence we find that, whilst these are important, they take second place to the aggrandisement of the leader, or his protection from painful self-knowledge. Some anthroposophical institutions make conducting an experiment into consensual decision-making without clear leadership structures into their purpose, sacrificing their stated purpose to this end, even in the face of very strong evidence that their stated purpose is being hindered.
(This is not to dismiss the importance of trying to find appropriate forms of leadership for today; in fact if we examined what ‘appropriate’ means, we might find that our definition included the idea of enabling us to work to our purpose. )

The mirror we look in when we examine this discrepancy is a great liberation. The problem can of course be on either side: we may need to realign to our stated purpose; or we may need to restate our purpose to include new elements which have become important to us. Then we can integrate these into our mission statement or leading thought, and all stakeholders will have the opportunity to decide whether they can identify with them. In the crass example of the charismatic leader, could we imagine what would happen if the mission statement was recast to say “the purpose of X is to provide Y with an opportunity to realise his aims, and to mirror positive reflection to him in doing this. One of the tasks that enables us to do this is Z (eg education etc).” Leaving the absurdity to one side for a moment, how liberating would that be for all concerned! How much time have I spent agonising to understand how to square my experience of unstated purpose with that which was stated.

To recognise all this is one thing. The next challenge is to find ways of communicating it that don’t alienate, but liberate!


Thursday, March 25th, 2010

I posted this on Facebook a few days ago: Ok, here’s one for the anthroposophical FB friends. In Michael Debus’ Maria Sophia book (see, he posits that the totality of the hierarchies are what Arius means when he talks about the Logos as the first of all creatures, through whom the rest of the creation happens. Anyone have any thoughts on this, or any references? when I ask…ed him about it, he just said that he thought it was obvious. There are some problems, however.