Posts Tagged ‘anthroposophy’

Rudolf Steiner as a resource

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

An important question is how to combine honest scholarship with a desire to deepen one’s knowledge of Rudolf Steiner. One can adopt a statement by Steiner as a hypothesis, and try to gather evidence to confirm or contradict it. However, there’s always a danger with that kind of reasoning that one overlooks the contrary evidence. One can try to take Steiner’s statements as self-sufficient truths; there are dangers here too.

One method that I have developed increasingly in my courses on church history is to try to immerse myself in the material and discover its inner dynamic. For example in the case of Arius and Athanasius, I can feel the deep importance of what each is trying to uphold. I can describe the seeming contradiction between them. Arius has a vision of the cosmic logos, the creator-god at work in the world, part of the created order. Athanasius understands that the experience of Jesus Christ opens a window on the being of God himself.

With that dynamic in mind, and with the question whether there is some way that both could be right – ie that both are describing a different aspect of the logos, I can search in Steiner’s descriptions of the spiritual world to find concrete data that fills the space within the paradox. This doesn’t ‘solve’ the problem, but it gives me more to work with.

Suffering

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

Here’s a wonderful quote by Rudolf Steiner. He just came out with it as an answer to a question about the meaning of suffering – what must the person who asked the question have thought?

Suffering is a side-effect of higher development. It is the very thing which cannot be dispensed with in attaining knowledge. Human beings will say to themselves one day: What gives me joy in the world – for this I am grateful. However, should I be faced with the choice of retaining my joys or my sorrows, I would have to choose my sorrows; I cannot do without them for the sake of knowledge… There is no development without suffering, just as there cannot be a triangle without angles. When we have attained unity with Christ, we will recognize, that all the suffering that preceded this harmony was the necessary precondition for such unity. Suffering must be there so that unity with Christ can be there; this is an absolute factor in development.

GA 110, Question session 21st April 1910

Training

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.

Training

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.

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.

Training

Monday, March 15th, 2010

It struck me that it would be good to get my thoughts about this in one place, otherwise they’re scattered through 100 emails. So this is a bit bitty – all my thoughts about what would be needed in trainings in the spirit of Anthroposophy in the 21st century.

  • Leadership emerging from self-leadership is at centre, because this is the way to work to our purpose. So it all begins with finding purpose, which gives rise to the need to become effective.
    Deborah’s work on “Becoming a Self” could be a way in to this.
    Use Knowledge of Higher Worlds and group dynamics as tools for self-observation
    working to purpose of taking up tasks in world

    At a later stage: organizational theory. Fieldwork.
  • Anthroposophy is brought in a spirit of inquiry as to how best understand the world in order to work to my purpose. Ie if I want to lead, it works better if I understand 3fold dynamic of social life etc.
    The test is its usefulness in working to purpose – not reductive, because my purpose is holistic
  • The specific content of each course.
  • Could we work like the dutch medical training where course goals were articulated and students were left to develop own agency in fulfilling them? Stringent assessment, everything described and documented (no mystical criteria).
    Adult learning starts with finding purpose. We must tell the students ours, so they know what system they’re in. Very important to describe criteria that we will use for assessing their progress.
    Then space for them to reflect on their purpose, set out aims for their learning journey.

    Module 1: becoming a self, artistic exploration, evolution of consciousness (you can’t be a self if you don’t know where you’ve come from) – not as intellectual fodder but for self-understanding.
    Constant reformulation of personal purpose. Introduce PoF, Knowldge of Higher… as *resources* available. Resources: journalling, conversation, biog work.

    Module 2: leadership. This includes a transformed BME type experience. Group work and guided group reflection. Self-leadership including Getting Things Done. Everything from module 1 serves this too – now it becomes clear we do 1 in order to give it away.

    If I had a free hand I’d do 1 intensively and exclusively for 4 weeks. Then introduce anthroposophical content relevant to whatever course it was. Anthroposophy takes people to a place of self-knowledge. 1 would be emphasis in 1st third of the course. Then in middle third introduce 2; in final third, 1 is in background, 2 is central. Anthroposophy all the time, plus the factual knowledge they need for training.