March 2012 Vol. 13 No. 1 ISSN 1175-2653 $10.00
Q UA RT E R LY J O U R N A L F O R A N T H R O P O S O P H Y I N N E W Z E A L A N D
A Glossary of Terms Relating to Rudolf Steiner’s Spiritual Philosophy
Henk Van Oort udolf Steiner’s spiritual philosophy is the inspiration for many successful initiatives in the world today, from the international Steiner Waldorf school movement to biodynamic agriculture and its increasingly popular produce. Steiner developed his philosophy in dozens of books and many thousands of lectures. His teaching contains dozens of new concepts and ideas, and as a result he had often to create his own vocabulary. In this practical volume - a companion to his Anthroposophy, A Concise Introduction - Henk van Oort gives concise definitions of many terms and concepts in Steiner’s worldview, from the most commonplace to the more obscure. Anthroposophy A-Z can be used as a reference guide, but also as a gateway into Rudolf Steiner’s manifold world of spiritual ideas and concepts. Anthroposophy can be seen to be a new language - a language that can lead to the world of the spirit. It was with this awareness that Henk van Oort took the initiative to write this glossary. Ultimately, he has written the sort of inspiring handbook that he wished had existed when he first became acquainted with Anthroposophy over 40 years ago.
140 pages, paperback • ISBN : 9781855842649 Price:
SEXUALITY, LOVE AND PARTNERSHIP
From the Perspective of Spiritual Science
Rudolf Steiner e live in a sexualised society, surrounded by sexual imagery and content in almost every area of life. This presents us with many challenges, including an increasing blurring and confusion between love and sex; strife between men and women over their roles in society; and a consistent assault on the innocence of childhood. Despite the sensibilities of his time, Rudolf Steiner made a huge contribution to our understanding of the complex theme of sexuality. In this freshlycompiled anthology, Steiner describes the point in evolution at which human beings split from being androgynous and single-sexed to becoming male or female. He traces the changing roles of the sexes in society, from the matriarchal past to today’s patriarchal dominance. The division of the sexes brings suffering, but also the possibility of achieving higher stages of love. In the distant future, humanity can evolve sexuality into a new form, with even the possibility of reproduction being metamorphosed. Refreshingly, Steiner is not judgmental and does not preach asceticism. He recognises the ‘all-too-human’ frailty people confront in their personal lives, even in the case of great individuals such as Goethe. Sex is a necessary stage of human evolution, and the split nature of the human being is a fact of our age. Its healing will be gradual but, like Amfortas in the Grail story - whose wounded groin was a metaphor for amorous misadventure - we can all be healed through love and compassion. 244 pages, paperback ISBN : 9781855842601 Price: $39.95
RUDOLF STEINER’S INTENTIONS FOR THE ANTHROPOSOPHICAL SOCIETY The Executive Council, the School for Spiritual Science, and the Sections
Peter Selg lthough the fruits of Anthroposophy— Waldorf education, biodynamic agriculture, Camphill, anthroposophic medicine, and so on—are relatively well known, their relationship to Anthroposophy and its vehicle for transmission, the General Anthroposophical Society, and the School for Spiritual Science, remains mysterious and unclear; sadly, the same is true of the meaning and purpose of those institutions. Related to this is the fact that though these offshoots of Anthroposophy are well known, eighty-five years after his death and eighty-seven years after the re-formation of the Anthroposophical Society, what Rudolf Steiner brought into the world, what entered the world through him and what he sought to accomplish—that is, what spiritual science and spiritual-scientific research are and how one practices them—remain virtually unknown. Written both in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Rudolf Steiner’s birth and in the context of the long-standing, episodically erupting, and ongoing confusion surrounding the mission and task of the Anthroposophical Society, Peter Selg seeks to recover what has perhaps been forgotten or overlooked in Rudolf Steiner’s own words and life. He does so by describing, clearly and objectively, the historical background of Steiner’s vision of the “civilisational task” of Anthroposophy and how he had hoped it might be accomplished. This book has two parts. First, the author offers a lucid description of the development and gradual sharpening—in the face of the crisis of Western culture epitomised by World War I and its aftermath—of the vision of spiritual science as a truly Michaelic task for the Michael Age. In part two, Peter Selg takes up the events following Rudolf Steiner’s death, outlining deftly and subtly the struggles and developments that ensued, commenting tactfully on the questions and perspectives that arose and continue to arise. Rudolf Steiner’s Intentions for the Anthroposophical Society is a book for all those who care about the reality and future of Anthroposophy.
86 pages, paperback • ISBN : 9780880107389
CELEBRATING FESTIVALS WITH CHILDREN Freya Jaffke n this thoughtful book, Freya Jaffke describes festival celebrations in relation to child development in the first seven years. She considers in detail the main festivals throughout the year: Easter, Whitsun, St John’s, starting school, harvest, Michaelmas, lantern time, birthdays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas, Epiphany and carnival. Drawing on many examples, she shows how we can celebrate festivals with children at home and in kindergarten in a meaningful way. Every festival is prefaced with a deeper contemplation for adults, before considering preparations with children, followed by the actual organisation of the festival -- with games, craft activities and decorations, stories, songs, poems and the seasonal nature table. 150 pages, paperback • ISBN : 9780863158322 Price: $27.95
email@example.com • www.ceresbooks.co.nz
Toward An Enabling Society: A New Language of Anthroposophy.
The End of the World as We Know It.
Reflections on Early Childhood Conference.
10 Foreword to the Second Edition of A History of the School of Spiritual Science. 10
An Aramitan Experience.
Spirit at Work.
The Challenge of Rudolf Steiner.
Spring Break—Every Autumn.
Weaving Together the Summer Youth Gathering.
Dance of the Planets Workshop with Brian Keats.
Meditation Workshops with Arthur Zajonc.
Eurythmy in New Zealand Today.
2012 EurythmyTherapy Training Course.
Reflections on Eurythmy Therapy.
Book Review – Thirty Three Meditations on the Paradox of the Self.
Chirophonetic Therapy in Australasia.
Our Brain and Us: Are We Our Brain?
Society’s 2012 Conference: Roads Less Travelled – working and engaging with a changing world.
From the Council: Meetings with Members and Friends.
The Expanding World of Storytelling. Sawubona: We See You.
Front Cover: Polarity and Contrast: Light and Darkness - Birth and Death. Coloured pencil on paper by Van James who teaches the Art as a Basis for Education at Taruna (see article on page 14). Van writes of this cover: This drawing is a combination of themes: Rudolf Steiner’s pastel sketch, “Light and Darkness (Lucifer and Ahriman),” and the north blue window of the Goetheanum, “And he Sees - The World Gives him the Power of Seeing - And he Develops Seeing.” It is the colour spectrum between and within which we live between birth and death, with all its pushes and pulls, warmth and coldness, light and darkness, grace and suffering. Editorial: Vee Noble – 68a Gilletta Road, Lynfield Cove, Auckland 1041 Tel: (09) 627 2044 or 027 642 2074, firstname.lastname@example.org Editorial Assistants: Mary Paterson – 41 Waterloo Crescent, Hokowhitu, Palmerston North 4410, Tel: (06) 356 2043, email@example.com Anne Swann, 28 Ledger Avenue, Motueka 7120. Tel: (03) 528 6882, firstname.lastname@example.org Production: Karl Grant – P.O. Box 1109, Hastings. Telephone (06) 870 9028 email@example.com Distribution: Doug Green – P.O. Box 1109, Hastings. Telephone (06) 870 9029, firstname.lastname@example.org
Anthroposophical Society in New Zealand www.anthroposophy.org.nz General Secretary Sue Simpson, PO Box 8279, Havelock North. Ph: 06 877 6656, email@example.com Council Members Chairperson: Noel Josephson, PO Box 291, Auckland. Ph: 09 378 9254, firstname.lastname@example.org Lesley Waite, PO Box 8103, Havelock North. Ph: 06 877 71 74 email@example.com Trisha Glover, 46 Hamlin Road, Mt Wellington, Auckland 1006. Ph: 09 570 9720, firstname.lastname@example.org Treasurer: Glen Saunders, PO Box 55, Diamond Harbour, Christchurch 8941. Ph: 03 329 4156, email@example.com,
Sphere is published quarterly by the Anthroposophical Society in New Zealand. Sphere is circulated quarterly in March, June, September and December and the deadline is the 1st of the month prior to publication. Details of the editorial guidelines are available to any contributor on request to Vee Noble. The responsibility for the content and accuracy of all articles is taken by the individual writers and is not necessarily the opinion of any member of the editorial group or of the Anthroposophical Society in New Zealand. Sphere is available on subscription. Contact treasurer, Glen Saunders.
The thoughts here are the core of an address given by Philip Thatcher, the outgoing Canadian General Secretary during the Annual General Meeting and Conference of the Anthroposophical Society in North Vancouver in May 2011. This article will also feature in a volume due to be published by the Anthroposophical Society in Canada in early 2012 and entitled Enabling Warmth: La Flamme des Possibles, a compilation of letters to the members during Philip’s time as General Secretary.
Toward An Enabling Society: A New Language of Anthroposophy by Philip Thatcher
arly on in 1977, I had come to a crossroad in relation to Rudolf Steiner’s indications concerning reincarnation and karma. For a number of years, I had resisted this aspect of Steiner’s research, in part because I knew only the older, Eastern understandings of karma that seemed incompatible with the understanding of Christ’s deed on earth that I had come to during my years as a priest of the Anglican Church. Then I went through a narrow passage in my life and, upon emerging from it, reincarnation and karma became possible for me. In the months following upon that opening out, I discovered that some of my colleagues in the Anglican Church believed in reincarnation; yet they held that possibility aside from their teaching and pastoral work and kept it as a personal belief. For me, such an act of setting aside was not an option. If reincarnation and karma were truths integral to understanding myself and others, then they had to have meaning. How then could I experience reincarnation and karma as meaningful? An answer came through a member of Alcoholics Anonymous who asked me to hear her fifth step - the step on the path of AA when the recovering alcoholic admits to God, to oneself and to another human being the exact nature of his or her wrongs. The woman arrived at my home; I made and poured the coffee for each of us, and then I listened for the next two hours as she courageously took me into every dark corner of her life that she could remember. At the close of our time together, she felt she had come to terms with and even made peace with her life, with a single exception: She could not forgive herself for the pain her alcoholism had inflicted upon her children. We sat in silence for a few moments. Then I heard myself saying, in effect, “Are you open to the possibility that each of us has come into this life out of previous lives, and that upon coming into this life, we not only chose our parents but also what we need to experience in order to bring balance to earlier lives? So perhaps your children chose you as their mother, knowing the pain your drinking could bring them; yet they chose you and that pain because in some way that choice was essential to their path in this life.” After a moment, she said, “Do you really think that is possible?” And I replied, “Yes, I think that is possible.” That conversation was life-changing for each of us. She was able to carry in a new way the consequences of what she had done, and I had experienced the healing truth of karma and reincarnation. Looking back at that time, I recognise that our meeting, our speaking and listening, was supported by a mood that I now call an enabling mood - a
mood that I have experienced in meetings across Canada and elsewhere during my years as General Secretary. It is a mood, I am convinced, that needs more and more to pervade the life and work of the Anthroposophical Society. In our language, there are several moods that can colour a configuration of words and our speaking of those words. One mood is the indicative, the mood that has to do with the way things are or the way they were or will be, to the extent we can discern what the future will bring. The indicative mood may have a matter-of-fact tone to it, or a mood of necessity, or even carry a touch of pessimism or fatalism. However, the indicative gesture can also be lightened, even lifted up, by an enabling mood, a mood that sees into and through things as they are to something that could be. Another mood has to do with the asking of questions, the interrogative mood. A question may be spoken matterof-factly; it may also carry a note of doubt or judgement, or within it, the refusal of any answer that might be forth coming. A question may be in the gesture of catching someone out or pinning her or him down. Or a question may be leavened by an enabling mood, opening a new doorway or pathway in the one who receives it. And then there is the imperative mood: Something needs to happen; something needs to be done, here and now; something should be done or not done, in this way or that way. This mood can carry a note of urgency: Take note; pay attention; wake up. And this mood has a long history of taking form as a commandment, coming to us from without as a directive wanting to give shape to our thoughts and deeds. Yet, this mood too can be transformed out of the gesture of the commandment of Christ that brings all commandments to an end: Love one another. Within the new mysteries, out of the Christ event, it is no longer a matter of how anything should be but the urgent need to awaken to what is needed now and to how things could be. Here, too, the imperative mood can be permeated by an enabling mood. How then can we, who are engaged in the life of Anthroposophy, become a Society that practises this enabling mood? What follows are three enabling gestures: Awakening To what do I need to awaken? To myself as a spiritual being; to the other as a spiritual being; to my deepest intentions for this life and the intentions of the other; to the golden thread of the self that I never entirely lose hold of, yet which is obscured again and again by so much that is less than who I truly am.
How then to practise a manner of speaking and listening that enables such an awakening in one another? How to cultivate an enabling voice that is an awakening voice? The Parsival story centres around the capacity to form an awakening question; yet the awakening word can also arise out of the indicative or imperative mood. Consider these lines from Postscript by Seamus Heaney1:
And some time make the time to drive out west
Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,
In September or October, when the wind
And the light are working off each other...
Or these lines from In Blackwater Woods by Mary Oliver2:
Look, the trees
their own bodies
Each of these poets turns the imperative and indicative gestures into an enabling gesture. Nothing is commanded, yet an awakening to an experience of the world without and the self within is made possible. How then to bring this artistic touch into our meeting and speaking within our Society? Unbinding After calling Lazarus forth from the tomb, Christ Jesus turns to those others present with the words, “Unbind him, let him go free.” (John 11:44: Jerusalem Bible) This moment is one of the most telling in the Gospels: Upon awakening, upon being uprighted within myself from above, I also need to be freed of the bonds that would hold fast the awakening self. And each of us needs others to participate in the act of unbinding that self - from narrow thought forms; from habitual patterns, from karmic knots, and, as those on the path of the new mysteries, from last threads of the old mysteries. The bonds that continue to claim us are legion and often subtle in their effect. There is much we can do for one another in loosening them and eventually casting them aside, an ongoing work within a Society that practises an enabling mood. Encouraging As with natural science, a spiritual science true to itself lives at those boundaries where what we know is ever searching out what is yet to be known. Living at a boundary asks for the extending and deepening of our faculties of thinking, feeling and willing; for the practice of humility and vulnerability in our work with one another; for a readiness to experience the manner in which we speak and act; for the courage to move beyond the fear, cynicism and self-doubt that would cripple any initiative we might take. In the words of Heraclitus3, centuries ago:
Whoever cannot seek
the unforeseen sees nothing,
for the known way
is an impasse.
Within an enabling mood stands the courage of our initiatives and the willingness to live at those boundaries to which an initiative might take us, if it is truly Michaelic in character. Rudolf Steiner makes it clear that even now each of us is crossing the threshhold. How then to encourage one another in that crossing, in whatever form the crossing may take in each of our biographies? And now we can ask: What can ground the cultivation and practice of this enabling mood? My response, out of my experience since taking that leap into the dark many years ago that brought me to Emerson College, is that an enabling mood true to Anthroposophy is best grounded in ongoing spiritual scientific research out of the trials and tensions of the consciousness soul. At the core of such research is knowing that every question I direct toward the world returns to me as a question about what it means to be a human being in our time, and so returns me to myself. This core research is the work of the General Anthroposophical Section of the School for Spiritual Science. In this context, research is not only a matter of seeking new knowledge but, returning to my earlier story, also of uncovering the meanings that can light up within the world and within myself along any path of inquiry. In Rudolf Steiner’s words from the 1894 preface of the Philosophy of Freedom (or Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path): “If it were not aimed at heightening the value of existence for the human personality, all science would be nothing but the satisfaction of idle curiosity. The sciences attain their true value only by showing the human significance of their results.” So then, to what end could we cultivate this new language of Anthroposophy? This leavening of the moods of our speaking with an enabling mood? In the Foundation Stone Meditation, Rudolf Steiner begins each of the first three tablets with what I would now call an enabling imperative: Practise Spirit-Recalling; Practise SpiritAwareness; Practise Spirit-Beholding. To these I would add the practice of spirit-soul enabling, so that good may become - not a preconceived good or idealistic good or established good, but that goodness that is truly a possibility and fruit of our consciousness soul time. The good that becomes is the good to be realised here and now, in the situations that each of us engages out of her or his destiny path, the good that is awakened, set free, encouraged - and so enabled - by the mood of our speaking and listening as colleagues in Anthroposophy. In that light, I will lead the practice of the enabling mood into the Sunday Rhythm of the Foundation Stone Meditation:
Practise spirit-soul enabling
That good may become
What we from our hearts would found
What we from our heads would direct
1. Seamus Heaney, Opened Ground (Faber and Faber, 1998) 2. Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems (Beacon Press, 1992) 3. Fragments: The Collected Wisdom of Heraclitus, tr. Brooks Haxton (Viking Penguin, 2001) 4. Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path Translated by Michael Lipson (Anthroposophic Press, 1995)
The End of the World as We Know It
Understanding the present in the light of the evolution of consciousness by Paul White
epending on your perspective, the world in which we are living is either a very scary place to be stuck right now or the venue for an imminent and extraordinary transformation in human consciousness; we humans are about to enter a golden age of tolerance, mutual understanding and plenty of public holidays or we are about to suffocate in clouds of carbon monoxide and toxic radiation. The future is pregnant with opportunity and/or disaster. Which is it to be? How did we end up here anyway? Of course, this is not the first time humanity has felt the winds of change. There does, however, appear to be an important difference this time around. In past times, there was always the reassurance of the beneficence of God (or the gods). As God’s special creation, we could expect to get through whatever calamity befell the planet, at least those of us who said our prayers at night. Such reassurance is spread pretty thinly around the place nowadays. In fact, it has been getting thinner and thinner over the last five hundred or so years since a Polish bishop (ironically) effectively launched the scientific revolution, at the height of the Renaissance in Europe, with his book, De Revolutionibus (dedicated to the Pope incidentally), in which he posited a sun-centred universe. So radically different was Copernicus’s idea from the accepted wisdom, and indeed everyday experience, it took some decades to gain traction, but the eventual scientific triumph of Copernicanism paved the way for Kepler, Gallileo, and then Descartes, Newton and a whole new cosmology. Far from being the centre of the universe, the human being became an ephemeral speck on an insignificant rock revolving around a star among billions of other stars in a universe of inconceivable vastness. The celestial – terrestrial dichotomy was gone; the heavenly bodies were simply material entities moved by the same forces of gravity and inertia as those found on the Earth. Any numinous significance for humankind attributed to them was merely ancient superstition. God was not gone. On the contrary, these early scientific revolutionaries were all avowed believers in the creator God. Once created, however, the creation could be left to run like clockwork, without God’s intervention. No, God was not gone, but the parent-child relationship between God and humankind was no longer a given. Things got a little more awkward for God when Darwin came along. The evidence of natural history suggested evolution occurred through processes of natural selection and random mutation. Instead of being the centre of God’s Divine Plan, Man was simply the most recent manifestation of a random, amoral and brutal struggle for survival. God was superfluous in a survival-oriented Darwinian evolution in a vast mechanistic Newtonian cosmos. Just as we human beings were coming to terms with being only slightly more sophisticated than apes (in most instances!), Freud came along and whipped away our remaining dignities. The virtues we prided ourselves on - our rationality, our moral conscience, our compassion
etc. - were things we deluded ourselves into imagining were under our conscious control. Instead they were simply manifestations of unconscious desires, neuroses and instincts. Reason, our last claim to stand above nature, was nothing more exalted than a recent development of our primordial id. True human freedom was a will-o’-the-wisp. Being scientifically unverifiable, belief in scriptural revelation came increasingly to be seen as wish-fulfilment fantasy and the religious outlook as anthropomorphic projection. The qualities ascribed to the omnipotent God were called into question by, among other things, the extreme suffering and injustice in the world. What sort of loving God would allow World Wars, pogroms and natural disasters to happen? No, there was no deeper meaning for things. Things existed because they existed; the universe was devoid of meaning, so we were best just getting on, abandoning our existential angst and enjoying the short lives we had. On the positive side, though we might be just transient accidents of material evolution, things were not all bad. Our modern scientific outlook had not just cleansed us of primitive, religious notions but had also made possible extraordinary material progress. In place of ‘hoping’, there was ‘planning’. Utopia did not have to wait for death and new life in Heaven. We could build it here! And so it was we marched into the Brave New World.
The promise of science? Yet the Brave New World did not prove quite as consoling as we might have hoped. Our trail-blazing science did indeed bring significant material progress but without delivering a concomitant increase in human happiness or reduction in human misery. The world was shocked into scepticism of science’s claims by some of the catastrophic consequences of its creation: nuclear disaster, arms proliferation, environmental degradation to name but a few. For all its claims of objectivity, science was found to be not above social, political and economic bias. Developments within science itself in the early twentieth century shook the very foundations upon which the scientific hegemony had been built. The quantumrelativistic revolution revealed the extent to which the reductionist perspective was likely to miss the very nature of things. Matter’s hard substantiality and its mechanistic causality was an illusion. The previously reliable scientific world view could no longer claim a monopoly on the truth. Indeed, the philosopher, Kant’s conclusion of a century and a half before, namely that we cannot know the world-initself but only the world-as-rendered-by –the-human-mind was becoming the conclusion of science. Though it has taken several decades for the revolution in physics to send its shock waves through the other sciences, we have entered the twenty-first century bereft of universally accepted certainties. In the words of Gertrude Stein, “In the twentieth century nothing is in agreement with anything else.” On the positive side, this weakening of the old materialistic world view has created opportunities for other viewpoints to gain
“A mood of universal destruction and renewal… has set its mark on our age. This mood makes itself felt everywhere, politically, socially and philosophically. We are living in what the Greeks called the kairos – the right moment – for a “metamorphosis of the gods”…. Coming generations will have to take account of this momentous transformation if humanity is not to destroy itself through the might of its own technology and science… So much is at stake and so much depends on the psychological constitution of modern man…. Does the individual know that he is the makeweight that tips the scales?” Carl Jung1 a sympathetic hearing. The negative side of this has been a near dogmatic relativism. Reason, upon which, from the time of the Enlightenment, so much hope has been pinned, far from justifying universal values to guide our lives, has brought instead a legalism and numbing bureaucratic rationality. The separation of self and observable world which had enabled the development of abstract thought and scientific objectivity, and that had fostered our sense of individual autonomy, has left us isolated, cast alone into an impersonal universe that meets our striving to understand the nature of our humanity with complete indifference. Tarnas (1991) suggests that many of the soul symptoms of our age can be understood in the context of this picture of reality. We may resign ourselves to the indifference of the universe by denying our feelings, becoming cynical, apathetic or numb, slavishly giving ourselves up to the world. Or we may instead inflate our feelings in compensation, becoming narcissistic and egocentric, objectifying and exploiting the outer world. Alternatively we may take the flight course, escaping our harsh reality through addiction, be it to drugs, shopping, Justin Bieber or whatever! Where such avoidance mechanisms cannot be sustained, we risk descending down a spiral of anxiety, victimisation and psychopathological disorders. So maybe the brief recapitulation of recent history to discover where we are was not such a good idea after all! Certainly the picture looks pretty bleak, and I have not even touched on the collapse of the global financial system and world economy! But wait, I hear you say, there is more to this story than this cursory description of the thrust of western intellectual development since the Renaissance suggests. And you’re right.
An alternative paradigm Rewind to the Enlightenment in Europe, circa end of the eighteenth century, and just as the dualistic paradigm was reaching its philosophical culmination in Kant, an alternative epistemological perspective was emerging which saw the relation of the human mind to the world not as dualistic (me here, world there) but participatory (me world same). This view originally expressed at this time by Goethe (though a given pre-Renaissance) was developed further by Hegel, Coleridge and Emerson in the 19th century and then by Steiner2 in the 20th. In this perspective, nature pervades everything, including the human mind and imagination. The truth and order of nature does not exist outside the human mind, such that the mind is only able to produce concepts that ‘correspond’ to the external reality. Nor is it something that the human mind imposes its own order on. Rather, there exists an order and truth of nature that the human mind can directly know because nature and mind are of the same essence. According to this perspective, we will never arrive at nature’s deep truths by detaching ourselves from
nature and observing it like a machine. Instead, through developing our power of perception, we can come to ‘see’ the archetypal form in each phenomenon, and through developing our power of imagination, we can directly contact the creative process within nature. For most of us, our normal ‘seeing’ is dulled by our ‘stuff’: old, established ways of seeing (“That’s typical of …”), our intellectual educations, our fears, doubts, conditioning. A developed inner life is necessary for this heightened cognition, but the potential to achieve such cognition exists for us all. Deepak Chopra (2011) recounts a parable that captures well the nature of this perception. In a remote town lived a gifted sculptor. His work decorated the town’s streets and parks, and everyone agreed that it was extraordinarily beautiful. But the artist was reclusive and remained out of sight. One day a visitor arrived and so admired the statues that he insisted on meeting the sculptor, but no one could tell him how to find the artist he sought. In fact, it turned out that none of the townspeople had actually met him: the sculpture had just appeared, as if on its own. Then an old man stepped forward and said that he had been fortunate enough to meet the elusive sculptor. “How did you manage that?” the visitor asked. The old man replied, “I stood before these wonderful works of art and kept admiring them. The more I gazed, the more I saw. There was intricacy and subtlety beyond anything I had ever observed before. I couldn’t stop marvelling. Somehow the sculptor must have become aware of my rapture, for, to my astonishment, he appeared by my side. “I said, ‘Why did you pick me to show yourself to, when no one else has found you, no matter how hard they searched?’ “He said, ‘No creator can resist appearing when his work is loved as intensely as you love mine.’” This perspective, eclipsed by the force of the dominant materialistic paradigm, has, with the weakening of this paradigm and the opening of contemporary intellectual debate to different perspectives, re-emerged with new vigour and new champions, like Deepak Chopra himself. So, were Goethe, Steiner et al just ahead of their time or is this perspective simply a throwback to the naïve ‘participation mystique’ of pre-enlightenment times? Seen from another angle, was the whole journey down the path of reductionist science one monumental blind alley of human arrogance propelling us down or a necessary phase in our evolving? Is the human race simply careering through the darkness along some crazy helter skelter or is there some underlying method in the madness?
1 Taken from “The Undiscovered Self” as quoted in The Passion of the Western Mind (1991) by R.Tarnas 2 *Steiner’s strong reaction as a teenager to Kant’s conclusion that as the human mind is fundamentally distinct from the external world, we could never hope to go beyond the mind’s interpretation of the world and thus could never know the true reality of the world, marked his first steps into philosophy.
The evolution of ideas Perhaps a place to start in attempting to answer these questions is with another question: what explains the progression of science from one paradigm to another? Is it simply a matter of a boffin coming up with a better theory and if so, where did he or she get the theory? Here we touch on a dilemma in the development of scientific knowledge that the philosopher, Popper, drew attention to. It runs as follows. Science has proceeded through the insights of individuals that have led to theories that have been found to work in the empirical world. But if the human mind does not have access to a priori certain truth, how is it that the mind can come up with such extraordinarily successful theories as, say, those of a Newton? Popper’s own conclusion – luck – seems, at the very least, to ignore declarations of the discoverers themselves of the revelatory nature of their breakthroughs. Newton for instance declared to God, “I think Thy thoughts after Thee!” It’s not just a question of the laws of motion or relativity theory. What is the origin of pure concepts like the sum of the internal angles of a triangle being 180 which seem to be absolutely objective and universally shared? A ‘materialist’ might argue these concepts reside in the brain, but to give a material source to such concepts is no more convincing than to posit an origin beyond the physical part of the human being, in a spiritual, Platonic world of ideas. Rudolf Steiner in his seminal book, The Philosophy of Freedom, put the point strongly when he wrote: “Materialism can never offer a satisfactory explanation of the world. For every attempt at an explanation must begin with the formation of thoughts about the phenomena of the world. Materialism thus begins with the thought of matter or material processes. But, in doing so, it is already confronted by two different sets of facts: the material world, and the thoughts about it. The materialist seeks to make these latter intelligible by regarding them as purely material processes. He believes that thinking takes place in the brain, much in the same way that digestion takes place in animal organs. Just as he attributes mechanical and organic effects to matter, so he credits matter in certain circumstances with the capacity to think. He overlooks that, in doing so, he is merely shifting the problem from one place to another. He ascribes the power of thinking to matter instead of to himself. And thus he is back again at his starting point. How does matter come to think about its own nature? Why is it not simply satisfied with itself and content just to exist? The materialist has turned his attention away from the definite subject, his own I, and has arrived at an image of something quite vague and indefinite. Here the old riddle meets him again. The materialistic conception cannot solve the problem; it can only shift it from one place to another.”
www.drhauschka.co.nz Email firstname.lastname@example.org
So then, what is this spiritual source of the new paradigmshifting ideas that have determined not only the course of science but of all forms of human thought? Tarnas (1991) offers the following suggestion: “…a paradigm emerges in the history of science… is recognised as superior, as true and valid, precisely when that paradigm resonates with the current archetypal state of the evolving collective psych” (p.438). In other words, paradigm shifts occur not simply as a result of improved data gathering and reasoning connected to data, but as a response to shifts in consciousness over time.
“As the inner gestalt changes in the cultural mind, new empirical evidence just happens to appear, pertinent writings from the past suddenly are unearthed, appropriate epistemological justifications are formulated, supportive sociological changes coincidentally take place, new technologies become available, the telescope is invented and just happens to fall into Galileo’s hands”(p.439). Thus, theories arise in human minds from something far greater than the individual minds themselves, coming instead from a universal unconscious that, in the words of Tarnas, “is bringing forth through the human mind and human imagination its own gradually unfolding reality” (p.437). Paradigm shifts, he argues, occur at times of ‘ripeness’, where the existing paradigm has fulfilled its purpose having been developed to the point where it comes to be experienced as constricting. The new breaks out from the old, creating new opportunity for growth. Just as Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler and Brahe, among others, facilitated the shift out of the ancient-medieval worldview, so are we now perhaps standing at the threshold of another revolution and a definitive shift away from the materialistic-reductionist mindset that has enabled the tremendous intellectual development it has, but that now appears to have become mired in irresolvable contradictions. So, according to this view, we are, in a certain sense, facing the end of the world as we know it. Defenders of the materialistic-reductionist ‘faith’, virulent in their rigid skepticism of whatever does not conform to their paradigm, will continue to resist perspectives that smack of anything of a spiritual nature. That consciousness emerged out of the
cosmic soup some 13 billion years ago and its evolution has followed a random process of natural selection that, given the second law of thermodynamics, must ultimately end in entropy and heat death, is a view that is still widely held and lauded for its dispassionate realism. Yet, still unable to explain the emergence of consciousness or why nature follows laws without recourse to hypothesising the existence of trillions upon trillions of other universes – none of which has yet to be seen let alone proven – this view can claim to be nothing more than science’s best current theory. Its staunch defence may hold us indefinitely in our state of metaphysical and epistemological irresolution and, in doing so, our scientific community will ironically be echoing the stance of the Church five hundred years ago. On the other hand, our current state of deep uncertainty and sense of impending radical change, together with the growing impetus towards a more holistic and participatory vision, may perhaps be a true precursor of a major shift in consciousness that will manifest in a new world view based around ideals and principles fundamentally different from those that have marked our post-modern age to date. It may be that we are simply the latest manifestation of an indifferent evolution, hamstrung by our psychological conditioning to being unable to do any more than strive to make the best of our briefly endowed lot. Or it may be that we are indeed co-creators of reality here on earth at a unique time in the evolution of consciousness, faced with the extraordinary opportunity and responsibility this brings. If this is so, may we have the courage, insight and imagination to respond to this special calling.
Paul White was The Director of the Faculty of Education at Taruna before leaving for overseas in February.
Reflections on Early Childhood Conference by Jill Duncan
early 100 early childhood practitioners from all around New Zealand and various parts of the world gathered in Tauranga during October last year for their bi-annual conference. The theme for the five day conference was ‘Joy’ (Koa). The conference began with the key note speaker, Eleanor Winship’s enthusiastic introductory presentation on ‘The Mood of the Fifth’. There was very little time for sitting and listening to a lecture as she immediately and magically organised us into three parts to sing “Joy in the Gates of Jerusalem”. The rest of the evening was a mixture of movement, singing and inspiring information. We came together for the next four days and were treated to Eleanor’s beautiful singing voice, her clarity of knowledge on the mood of the fifth and a lot of unusual breathing exercises. Eleanor assured us that the exercises would enable us to increase our vocal range so we could sing in a high register for young children. She has a unique way of introducing the notes used when playing the mood of the fifth. I have played music for many years and have always thought of the starting point of the notes as being Middle C. Eleanor, however, introduced the start from A and called it “the musical alphabet”. This made so much sense to me because the mood of the fifth centres around the A note. She then went on to explain the notes you would use when
playing in the mood of the fifth. The fifth note above the A, being the E (not including the black notes on the piano) and fifth note below, being the D, adding in the occasional B or G for more tonal variety, playing different rhythms and beats and keeping the ending of the song so it is still floating, described some logic of the mood of the fifth. Putting all this technical information aside, she often stressed it is the word ‘mood’ which is important when we are trying to play music with the young child. Now all that is needed, as she pointed out, is the conviction to practise on the lyre and the confidence to use it with the children. Keeping it simple was the key. The morning lecture was followed by various workshops: eurythmy, writing music in the mood of the fifth, lyre playing, puppet making, planning and review, and needle felting, just to name a few. The evenings were well cared for with various gatherings, the highlight for me being the TKT (Titirangi Kindergarten Team) who entertained us in their ‘Beeautiful Bee’ outfits, followed by the thought provoking movie Queen of the Sun. The conference was held at the time the container ship Rena ran aground on the Astrolabe Reef. Many of the delegates offered physical support to help with the oil spill, Continues page 11
Johannes Kiersch, author of A History of the School of Spiritual Science (2006) was the keynote speaker at the 2010 conference of the Anthroposophical Society in New Zealand. Since his visit, he has been working on a second edition of A History of the School of Spiritual Science: Steiners individualisierte Esoterik einst und jetzt. Dornach: Verlag am Goetheanum, 2012. This book is due to be released in May or June 2012. Following is a translation of the foreword to this second edition, in which Kiersch makes specific reference to ‘friends’ in New Zealand.
A History of the School of Spiritual Science
ne hundred years ago, Rudolf Steiner dared to make an enigmatic experiment. In December of 1911, he initiated – in the form of a working team that he called the “Society for Theosophical Method and Art” – a special organisation, possessing no defined objective and no specific programme, in which the principle of guidance through a spiritual teacher, the ‘guru’ customary in traditional esotericism, was moved aside. Instead, Steiner relied on the autonomy of those active in this organisation, stressing “principles of development”, as opposed to the usual adherence to honoured traditions. However, this venture failed. He quietly continued work on a number of aspects, especially on the seasonal meditations, known as the Calendar of the Soul, which has unfolded an astonishingly broad influence since then. In 1922 he stepped forward again with the idea of the “cosmic cultus”. He ultimately transformed the intention inherent in this idea successfully into those successful social realities of a number of spheres of practical life for which Anthroposophy is known today. Steiner individualised the mystery streams concealed in European history, and he took it up and carried it further. The new edition of my survey places more emphasis on these events (chapter 3). At the same time, it formulates, in more concrete terms, the problematic karma of 1925 (chapter 5), and describes more clearly the future-oriented development of Ita Wegman’s cognition (chapter 7). Moreover significant endeavors to re-enliven the work of the Esoteric School, which we owe in particular to Jörgen Smit and Heinz Zimmermann, are appreciated in detail (chapter 8) and the appendix has been expanded with several newly discovered documents. My continued preoccupation with research has led to the addition of a new concluding chapter (chapter 9) from the results penned in the first edition. I thank my friends of the Anthroposophical Society in New Zealand who invited me in October 2010 for a discussion of the questions raised in this study. The open-hearted, confident mood I encountered there is in keeping with the pioneer situation that exists in this country of daring entrepreneurs. At the same time, it is the expression of a living need for freedom, in forms of anthroposophical life, of a kind I would wish for in old Europe as well as in other places in the world.
An Aramitan Experience by Camille Iona
his is about my time spent in Associação Aramitan and São Paulo, Brazil. My connection to this wonderful place started many years ago when Santiago and Sandra, the founders of this project, came to live in New Zealand. I experienced how it grew over the years through photos and videos, listened to many stories recounted; and from this, a strong relationship developed and also a hope of perhaps one day, like many others before me, have the possibility to go and work as a volunteer. Aramitan is a Socio-Cultural Development Centre in Embu Guaçu (São Paulo-Brazil) which offers the local and international community a safe and open space where a wide range of projects and cultural events take place that contribute to making the motto “another world is possible” come true. Aramitan encourages young people and adults who are willing to take responsibility for and make a commitment to social renewal. With involvement of people from all around the world, they are building another kind of globalisation, a globalisation of love, commitment and responsibility. After making the decision to leave university after one year, I found myself with the opportunity to save money while working at Hohepa to finally begin that journey. A friend, Maia Boonen, also had intentions to come to Aramitan, and so we began to plan together. I remember the first evening that I arrived at Aramitan very clearly. It was a wonderful feeling to finally be inside it and see it with my own eyes. The beauty of the environment and its people was apparent everywhere. One feels strong foundations here, ready for people with an impulse to create in this beautiful open and safe space. São Paulo is a city of extremes, which seem to co-exist on each other’s doorsteps. The wealth in the centre is undeniable, yet on the pavements, at the feet of churches, apartments and high-rise buildings are the poorest people of São Paulo, living off the scraps that the rest of the city has left behind. The realities of the peoples’ lives here in Embu Guaçu and the favelas (favela is the generally used term for a shanty town in Brazil) of the periphery are very different to of other parts of São Paulo: the favelas, themselves, are, to me, very beautiful in a way, without actually looking at these people’s situation within a capitalist system, of which the ‘favela’ is just one of the results, and is so hard to escape from its challenging realities. However, this is very much a familial orientated environment; the kids play together on the streets and families have many neighbours close by; on the other hand, the children are playing and growing up in a very adult world where there is an inappropriate exposure to funk music, alcohol, violence, and the many problems which come alongside that. This definitely takes away some of the innocence of childhood, imagination and play. So, when you see the great impact that the organisations, Aramitan and Monte Azul, have on the people as well as their environments, plus the richness they create, it is very apparent that these driving forces carry an impulse in the form of a true gesture of social work. Creating events to commemorate the traditions of Brazil and seasonal festivals is one of the strong qualities of Aramitan; it is in these moments that one sees the affect that Aramitan has upon the lives of the people in the community, particularly the children and the young people. Dia das Crianças (Children’s Day), Dia da Independêcia (Independence Day),
From page 9
Reflections on Early Childhood Conference but as we did not have appropriate clothing with us to partake in the clean up (overalls and gumboots etc.) and the organisers had had a huge response of help, our offers were not needed at that time. However, from the beginning of the conference to the end, Eleanor wove into her presentations our spiritual support and heartfelt songs of the sea and people who sail upon it. Baking at Aramita
Consciência Negra (Afro-Brasilian Race Day), Dia dos Disafios (Challanges Day-Michaelmas), São Nicolau . . . many moments to be remembered. My daily rhythm of activity has been diverse and varied apart from my work at Aramitan. I have also volunteered at the Chácara of Monte Azul in the crèche and the biodynamic garden, and at the Parque da Várzea, an ecological low lands to preserve the rivers of Embu Guaçu and prevent deforestation. Within Aramitan, one of the parts I cherished most was the time spent with Juliana’s group of children (ages 6-10). They came twice a week to engage in watercolour painting, wax crayon drawings, baking bread, and other activities in preparation for festivals and the seasonal rhythms. It was a challenge to hold strong boundaries while still creating a space that allowed them freedom to explore their environment! Another challenge was giving English lessons to some, and discovering that to teach your own language is not so easy, but I managed to stumble along somehow! From my experiences of the past months in Aramitan, the strongest feeling I take away is of the true heart forces which are at work here. There are truly dedicated and inspiring people in this space, and I hope that more people will have the chance to experience some of what I was privileged enough to experience, and for them to bring initiative and energy to help evolve this wonderful space. I know that, personally, this is a place which I hope always to be connected to in some way, and one day perhaps I will be able to return with something more to give.
The conference closed with many of the workshop participants presenting their creations and achievements. I am always amazed at how much people achieve in such a short time. One thing for me which makes a good conference is the food and we were well sustained over the five days by Mairi Bristow and her wonderful team of caterers. Finally, I would like to acknowledge the exceptional Eleanor Winship job Tauranga Kindergarten did to host and organise the conference as a last minute request, due to the Christchurch earthquake,. The next conference will be held in 2013 which I will await with great anticipation. The better we sing The better the children sing The deeper they breathe
Jill Duncan is a kindergarten teacher at Te Ra School
To all who have shared this journey with me at Aramitan, I am humbled by your presences and cherish deeply the many moments we have created together. I wish you all the strength in continuing ‘Creating Trust and Hope for the Future’.
Camille Iona is from Hawke’s Bay 15-17
Sphere’s Vee Noble recently spoke to Elaine Beadle, founding partner of Mira Companions for Development, about training programmes planned for New Zealand.
Spirit at Work Vee: Elaine, what does this mean, ‘Spirit at Work’?
Vee: What is Mira’s aim with ‘Spirit at Work’?
Elaine: In the 1950s, a Dutchman named Bernard Lievegoed was asked to help in the rebuilding of organisations in Holland after the war. He gathered a group of young anthroposophists around him and founded the NPI, Dutch Institute for Organisation Development. In America at the same time, The Boston Group began similar research and development but for Bernard, it was essential that such work should allow the creative spirit to be active, through the people but also through the organisation itself, to allow people to find sense and fulfillment in their chosen task . That was over 50 years ago. We are still breaking this new ground in this part of the world!
Elaine: For more than 20 years, we have been offering training programmes in Europe to help people to manage change and development in their work environments as well as to build their leadership skills. We actually ran this programme in New Zealand in the late 1990’s and in Australia a few years ago.
Vee: OK, but what’s Organisation Development? Elaine: In brief, it’s working professionally with an organisation and its people to find the most effective ways to meet the challenges and changes of today’s world so that they satisfy the often diametrically opposed interests of both! And that especially means developing the potential of the whole human being – head, heart and hands – and developing the organisation so that it allows that. Too often, change is focused only on economic outcome and the people who have to deliver that are forgotten. Vee: Who or what is Mira Companions for Development? Elaine: Albrecht Hemming and I founded this group in 1992. We were both graduates of either the NPI or its offspring in the United Kingdom, and worked in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. There are currently 12 Mira consultants working around the world in commercial, public, cultural/ educational and not for profit establishments. We are all members of the worldwide Association for Social Development which is inspired by the work of Bernard Lievegoed and Rudolf Steiner.
My New Zealand colleagues, Rhyll Stafford and Jan Fowler, and I sense a strong need here, a strong questioning among people, for insight, emotional strength, and practical tools to stand tall against encroaching impersonal directions in their workplace; to bring new leadership. Our work, which stands strongly based in Anthroposophy, can offer that. We want to serve those needs. So the programme offers insight into people, their organisations and the skills to develop both. Vee: Who is it aimed at? Elaine: Anyone who is tasked to design, organise or implement development and change in an organisation, however large or small, whether it is building a new team/ organisation or developing an existing one, restructuring, improving processes or developing leadership and collaboration between work areas. It is also very useful for someone starting a new initiative. The programme is project based so we will work with participants on their own specific tasks and questions. It runs over nearly 15 months so there is time to implement the acquired insights and skills and learn from their review – an essential aspect for us. Vee: And presumably it costs money? Elaine: Sure, but we will be looking for ways to make it accessible to all who wish to take part.
e-Mail: email@example.com www.goetheanum.org
The Challenge of Rudolf Steiner by John Pickin
preview of Part One of Jonathan Stedall’s documentary film, ‘The Challenge of Rudolf Steiner’, took place at Rudolf Steiner House in London last month. Over 18 months in the making, and involving filming in five countries and three continents, the two-part documentary (each part runs for 90 minutes) gives an historical overview of Steiner’s life, as well as looking at examples of his legacy around the world. Other scheduled showings for Part One and Part Two (both of which have been made to stand on their own) are: Stroud and the Goetheanum in March, and at Michael Hall School in Forest Row in June 30th (Part One) and in July 1st (Part Two). DVDs of the film will be available for purchase at the showings and are generally available from 1st March priced £15 (or £8 as a download from the internet at www.rudolfsteinerfilm. com). Filming took place during 2011 in Austria, Switzerland, India, the United States and Britain. As well as relating the story of Rudolf Steiner’s life, the film looks at some of the current work inspired by his indications and insights – in particular the Waldorf School movement, biodynamic agriculture, eurythmy, Camphill communities along with Ruskin Mill, Weleda, and the worldwide network of anthroposophical medical work, including the Hiscia Institute in Arlesheim and the Blackthorn Medical Centre in Maidstone. In addition, filming took place during an Annual General Meeting in London of Triodos Bank, at a Biographical Counsellors’ training course at Emerson College, at a conference in Hyderabad of the Asia Pacific Region of the Anthroposophical Society, and at an international medical conference at the Goetheanum. Also looked at are moves to take Waldorf educational ideas into mainstream schooling through the Charter School movement in the USA, and Academies in Britain.
Future Developments Cupola Productions Ltd. www.rudolfsteinerfilm.com has been set up specifically to enable the making of the film and its distribution. Television broadcasters, independent cinemas and film festivals worldwide are being approached. There are also plans, if funds are forthcoming, to make available – including as downloads from the internet – some of the unused material, and in particular interviews at length with: Arthur Zajonc, Dr Michaela Glockler, Dr Peter Selg, Christopher Bamford, Bodo von Plato, Dr James Dyson, Aonghus Gordon (Ruskin Mill), Dr David McGavin (Blackthorn Medical Centre), Richard Tarnas and Robert McDermott (California Institute of Integral Studies), Jeremy Naydler, Peter Blom (Triodos Bank), Fraser Watts (Cambridge University), Aban Bana (India), , Martin Ping (Hawthorn Valley), Tho Ha Vinh, Torin Finser (Antioch University), Jack Petrash and Natalie Adams(Washington Waldorf School), Hans Mulder, Craig Holdrege (Nature Institute), John Thomson, John Bloom (Rudolf Steiner Social Finance), Patricia Kaminski and Richard Katz (Flower Essence Society), Sue Simpson (New Zealand), Heide Herrmann (Natural Bee-Keeping Trust), Dr Ursula Flatters, Dennis Klocek and Matias Baker (Rudolf Steiner College, Sacramento), Martin Large and Neil Ravenscroft (Land Trusts), Allegra Alessandri and Deborah Lenny (Charter Schools, United States), Ninetta Sombart, Alan Swindell and Ian Powell (Waldorf Education), Jakes Jakayaran and Steffen Schneider(Biodynamics), Penny Baring (Camphill), Bob Ballard and Michael Bate (Weleda United Kingdom), Dr Michael Evans and others – most of whom feature in the main film. The year 2011 marked the director, Jonathan Stedall’s 50th year as a documentary film-maker, 27 of those at the British Broadcasting Corporation. His previous films include documentaries on Tolstoy, Gandhi, Carl Jung, and on the work of Camphill. His book Where on Earth is Heaven? was published in 2009. Further details about Jonathan Stedall can be found at www.jonathanstedall.co.uk
John Pickin is a director of Cupola Productions Ltd
Spring Break—Every Autumn By Van James
or the past ten years, I have spent my spring break in the autumn!
As the sun rises higher and higher in the skies above my home in Hawai’i, I say aloha a hui hou (goodbye, see you again) to the Honolulu Waldorf School where I teach during the year, and take off to New Zealand where the sun is descending in its arc across the southern heavens. But how wonderful to arrive in the crisp Hawke’s Bay region right at harvest time. In fact, the timing has often been just right to catch the Harvest Festival at Taikura Rudolf Steiner School in Hastings, and to plant some flower bulbs that will germinate at Taruna College throughout the Aotearoa winter. I have had the great pleasure of teaching a two-week course as part of the Diploma in Rudolf Steiner Education programme at Taruna College for the past decade. At the invitation of then programme director, Robin Bacchus, Art as a Basis for Education has grown into an in-depth overview of the painting, drawing and form drawing curriculum as it may be applied in Waldorf-Steiner schools. Although the sessions are designed specifically for the students in the diploma course, the block is opened up for outsiders interested in understanding the importance of art in general education and to have an intensive immersion into the two-dimensional visual arts. Teachers from other Steiner schools get relieved to join the course as do state school teachers and home school instructors. Artists, therapists, parents, business people, and even a fire chief have taken part in past years. Art as a Basis for Education has become a vehicle for self-transformation at the same time as being a means for learning and improving how to draw and paint. An additional aspect of the course is learning about the importance of visual thinking, cognitive feeling, and intentional artistic practice for one’s life. Besides engagement in the rich course material, it is the interaction with students from all parts of the world that provides a diverse and brilliantly coloured palette of backgrounds to this setting each year. The world comes to Taruna through its student body, creating the character of each unique year. But this vital student organism is received by an equally important vessel, Taruna College itself; its gardens, buildings, its setting along Te Mata Peak Road, and most of all, its teachers and staff. I love coming to Taruna because it is a human scale place. It reminds me of Emerson College in its formative days (I attended Emerson in the early 1970s) and yet it is even more intimate and family-like in character. Taruna has gone through changes over the years but it has always maintained this intimate centre of training for its various courses. Unfortunately, I don’t get to experience the other courses (in Steiner Education, The Art of Health, Holistic Health Care, Organics and Biodynamic Agriculture, and various short courses) that usually don’t overlap my twoweek course. Still, Taruna programmes and Taruna life are indeed rich and rewarding. I have also had the opportunity over the years to extend my visits in New Zealand to some of the Steiner schools in
Auckland, Hamilton, Rototua, Tauranga, and Christchurch. This exposure to school communities and anthroposophical centres has allowed me a view into New Zealanders’ way of life and the life of Anthroposophy in New Zealanders. For a country of its size, New Zealand has a remarkable number of Steiner school initiatives, biodynamic farms and gardens, anthroposophical doctors and therapists, as well as other related initiatives such as Weleda and the many anthroposophical artists striving in their work. Even though the country suffers from many of the drawbacks and antihuman symptoms of other industrialised nations in our time, the Land of the Long White Cloud is clearly a growingpoint for anthroposophical activity. How much this activity actually impacts the general culture is always an open question. But this influence is something extremely subtle and will reveal itself only over time. Alfred Meebold, whose ashes rest in the garden at Taruna, played a part in solidifying the anthroposophical life in Hawai’i before he settled in New Zealand. As a German citizen caught in Hawai’i at the time of the Second World War, he was prohibited from leaving the territory (not yet a US state). Vouched for by anthroposophists prominent in the Honolulu community, Meebold was released from a holding camp and gave courses and lectures in return for his basic living needs during those war years. Following the war, he settled in New Zealand and contributed to the anthroposophical work that would lead to initiatives such as Taruna College. Because I visit New Zealand for only two or three weeks at a time each year, I continue to work with the Calendar of the Soul verses for the northern hemisphere while Taruna students read the southern hemisphere verses. For me, this creates a remarkable world-harmony, a spanning of the globe. After all, New Zealand and Hawai’i are both a part of Polynesia - are island neighbours, even though thousands of miles apart. I sense how close Hawai’i and New Zealand really are from these annual visits, even if the community interaction and exchange between the two is hardly on the charts as yet. I would like to see this change. I will always remember a Class 9 Maori welcome of haka, chants and songs that I received at Michael Park Steiner School in Auckland and a marae visit with a Class 10 from Taikura Steiner School. There is great potential for exchange and interaction between Waldorf-Steiner schools in New Zealand and Hawai’i. I would love to see the Taikura Steiner Surf Club and the Honolulu Waldorf Surf Club meet and ride the waves of the Pacific together! It has been a remarkable first decade of the 21st century. Amazing world changes have occured and continue to take place. For my own destiny, these regular visits to New Zealand have played an important and uplifting role in my life, as far as holding a consciousness of the Pacific region. I look forward each year to the meeting of new people, returning to good friends, and I anticipate seeing what the future may bring by way of further connections between Hawai’i and New Zealand. Aloha a hui hou!
How did you get here? This is our story of the process of creating Being Well: Ōtautahi Summer Youth Gathering at Ōnuku Marae, 20 - 25 January, an initiative supported by the Youth Section of the Anthroposophical Society in New Zealand.
Weaving Together the Summer Youth Gathering by Emily Clark
t is one week since our poroporoaki (farewell) at Ōnuku Marae. Leaving the marae was an ending, but as we are still tying up all the ends it is clearly not all over. Just as leaving the marae was not really the end of the Gathering, our pōwhiri was not really the beginning. The first question we asked participants to share in our opening circle on the first night that we arrived at Ōnuku, was “How did you get here?” Sitting here reflecting on the process of putting together this event, I find myself asking the same question how did the Gathering get here? This Gathering was conceived at the end of last year’s Winter Gathering held in Purau Bay, in Lyttelton harbour, Christchurch. Out of this Gathering, a group formed with energy and commitment to create a Summer Gathering in Christchurch. The theme of health and well-being had been suggested by previous gathering participants. This theme felt wholly relevant for us living in ‘quakey’ Christchurch. Ana Pearson and I had been studying health and Māori concepts of hauora at Teachers’ College, and were inspired to hold this Gathering with this theme on a marae. We dreamed of finding a marae that we could build a meaningful relationship with, who would want to participate in some way in our event, and where we could give something back, perhaps in the form of a garden. We then began networking with our professors at Teachers’ College, picking their brains about possible venues, and getting advice about how to best approach and engage with a marae. Various signposts ended up pointing to Ōnuku Marae as a good possible venue. We made contact, and were instantly met with enthusiasm, especially for the idea of working together on a garden. We found out that Ōnuku Marae had just received a grant to develop a large food garden on a historic garden site behind the marae. It seemed like a magic coincidence. We went for our first visit to the marae, and were blown away by the beauty of the spot. The marae sits on the edge of Akaroa harbour, between the water and the hills. What a place to meet and be well in! We agreed with the marae that we would provide some volunteer energy to help start their garden during the Gathering, and made our booking.
The team prepare the land for the herb garden.
We had a theme and a venue. This thing was really happening! The end of the year was rapidly approaching, and it was a busy time, growing and developing our infant Gathering. We learnt about budgeting, had plenty of late night skype sessions, developed our networks, found mentors, and began fundraising. We began to hunt and gather supporters or godparents from our networks: people who could present at the Gathering; young people who wanted to come; and crucially, organisations, businesses and individuals who were prepared to donate goods or money to help us make our budget balance. Key sponsors of this event were Crystal Bridge Gift and Loan fund, Helios Integrative Medical Centre, and Taruna Essential Education. There were many more individuals and businesses who helped make this event possible, who we are extremely grateful to. Several people from the Christchurch Rudolf Steiner School suggested we get in touch with Marinus La Rooij about our garden project. We bumped into him, told him our ideas, and he very quickly threw his heart and skills into the project, becoming ‘godfather extraordinaire’ for the Gathering. We arranged a second visit to the marae, to meet one of the key figures about our plans for the garden. We arrived, and the person we had arranged to meet wasn’t there! However, during this particular visit, we connected with several other people from Ōnuku. We met a young man from the marae, who is passionate about his place and his stories. He ended up sharing most of the Gathering with us, adding depth and richness to our experience, and taking away some great connections of his own. We met a young mother, and were thrilled when she came back to see us during the Gathering. She spent most afternoons working with us in the garden, and participated in a lot of our activities with her gorgeous daughter and baby boy. During this same visit, we met one of the Kuia (grandmothers), who came and sat with us for one day of the Gathering, listening, sharing stories, and teaching some of us some weaving. All of these meetings were ‘by accident’, and all of them planted seeds that bore fruit during the Gathering.
Months of planning, bucket-loads of elbow grease, and oodles of support from all sorts of unexpected corners pays off.
Dance of the Planets Workshop with Brian Keats by Christine Moginie
picked up a tired and travel-worn Brian from the airport on Friday 18th November at 4.30pm and after a quick dinner, shower and change of clothes we were at Rudolf Steiner House in Ellerslie by 6.30pm ready, for the first evening’s talk in the lead into to the Dance of the Planets BD Astronomy workshop that 15 people attended over the weekend.
The unexpected helpers
After several more conversations, it became clear that the big garden would not be ready to start by the time we would be there, so we developed a new plan with the marae, to help them set up a herb garden near the wharekai (food hall). Marinus and Ana planted out seeds in preparation. We are hugely proud of, and thankful for, this herb garden. It was really the centre of our Gathering. This garden brought together the hau kaika (homecrowd/place) and us manuhiri (visitors). Working on this together has given us something in common, an experience and project that binds together those who contributed. It is a reason and an excuse for us to visit again, to keep in contact. In our handing-over ceremony, Marinus ceremonially handed over one of his well-worn hoes. Long may it turn over the soil, and keep the weeds from crowding out the more than hundred plants that are growing there. The actual Gathering emerged into the light with a big sneeze, full of song, play, great food and inspiration. We were blessed to have the company of children, mothers and elders. And like other Gatherings, this was a meeting place that allowed young people who are striving spiritually to connect, and was a starting point for some who will go on to work with Anthroposophy. They are organised by a different group each year, and only happen if people have energy to create them. If you, or someone you know, are interested in being involved in a future event like this, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brian had come straight from presenting a week-long workshop at McLaren Vale Winery in Adelaide, South Australia, and two weeks before that, BD Astronomy workshops, as well as science teaching, in Sacramento in California. So he had already travelled half the world, sharing his vast knowledge and skills on biodynamics, astronomy and weather forecasting before landing in New Zealand. The glazed eyes of some of the participants on Friday night, as Brian wove a huge cosmic overview as a forerunner to the weekend’s content, said it all. This was fabulously mentally stimulating stuff! We all went home with the big view of cosmic and terrestrial influences filling our whole beings. The next morning, Brian used the BD Calendars to look at the various aspects and influences of the planets and zodiac: ascending and descending, seasonal solstice and equinox rhythms, elliptical and nodal influences, the elements and elemental influences on all aspects of life on earth and the response back to the cosmos. However, the lights really came on, and a barrage of excited questions and revelations poured out after the hands-on, practical ‘dress ups’ as the planets and the zodiac opposed, conjuncted, and squared each other, as we moved around the Earth before and after lunch later on the Saturday. The fabulous food, catered by Bettina Jeffs for lunches, dinner, morning and afternoon teas, grounded the content, and the expressions turned to enthusiastic excitement on the Saturday evening as the clouds begrudgingly parted to give us brief glimpses of stars and planets from the top of Mt Wellington. Brian shared indigenous stories and myths about the stars, and our dreams echoed the content that night.
This Gathering is not quite over. Now is the time for reflecting and learning from the process, and weaving together the loose ends. I’m still wondering how did the Gathering get here? Well, perhaps like all of us, it already existed somewhere; it chose the place where it would be born, the people that would carry it, and those who would surround it and help it grow. So now, I would like to thank the people, places, forces, spirits that wove together to make this event come into being. Thank you all.
Sunday arrived with graphs and equations relating latitude and longitude, solar, lunar, equatorial and polar influences, and the effects on the weather as the major planets cross and re-cross north and south over the equator. Extreme weather patterns, highs, lows, and their effects as minor through to major events, like the earthquakes, tidal waves, floods, droughts, etc. were linked to harmonic resonances, major and minor chords, scales and symphonies being orchestrated via the planetary and zodiacal conversations, influences and movements as sound and tone.
He whiringa takitahi, Ka hunahuna He whiringa ngātahi, Ka raranga, Ka mau “If you plait one at a time, the ends will fragment If you weave together, it will hold”
Amazing images, spiritual and scientific, for us to ponder and find ways to link into our daily gardening and farming practises. What a wonderful challenge! I came away very inspired.
Emily Clark was one of the organisers of this year’s Youth Gathering
Brian then conducted a similar workshop at Taruna in Hawke’s Bay on this visit to New Zealand.
Dance of the planets. mobile:
I have known Brian for over 20 years and can see just how much depth of knowledge he has accrued since the first Biodynamic workshops he regularly led on my small property in Mittagong in New South Wales, Australia. He has published a full year’s weather prediction for Eastern Australia which is available on his website www. astro-calendar.com and is looking at compiling the same for New Zealand in the near future. We are affected by most of the Eastern Australian weather influences in this country anyway, and over the past ten years I have found his weather forecasting to be spot on.
+64 (0) 21 393 299
+64 (9) 579 1112
PO Box 118, Ellerslie, Auckland
There is some interest already for a winter star-gazing workshop with Brian maybe around the time of the Biodynamic Conference in Cromwell in June this year. Please let me know if you are interested. Brian’s Biodynamic Antipodean Calendars, Moon Primers, and BD Growing Guides are also available from his website and at Vortex Creative Wellbeing Centre 70 Michaels Ave Ellerslie. Ph: (09) 5797615.
Christine Moginie is an artist and BD practitioner who runs the Vortex Creative Wellbeing Centre
Hastings’ only retail outlet specialising in sourcing a wide range of
Demeter certified Bio-dynamic products Large selection of organic and Bio-dynamic flours, grains, nuts, beans, dried fruit, dairy products, bread, meat, tea, coffee, fruit juices and wines. Plus gluten free products, Weleda remedies, organic skin care and cosmetics, (including Dr Hauschka), organic baby clothing and baby food, household cleaning products, organic seeds, seedlings and garden products and more. A qualified Naturopath and Medical Herbalist available all day every day to assist. We will always do our best to source items we do not have in stock. Come in and see us or phone.
221 Heretaunga Street East, Hastings Telephone (06) 876 6248 www.cornucopiaorganics.co.nz email: email@example.com
During his second visit to New Zealand in January, Arthur Zajonc again led meditation workshops at Tauhara in Taupo; visited Auckland where he gave a talk and a workshop at AUT University; gave another talk and workshop in Christchurch; and a talk with the title ‘Confronting the Challenge of Materialism’ to a packed Anthroposophical Centre in Hawke’s Bay. Here some of the participants share their experiences.
Meditation Workshops with Arthur Zajonc At AUT in Auckland
rthur Zajonc was invited to AUT by a group of academics who meet weekly and who have a shared interest in meditation and contemplative practice. Of these, I am the only anthroposophist but the group is open and inclusive, and we seek to explore meditative practice together. The title of Arthur’s evening talk was ‘The Place of the Contemplative in Teaching, Learning and Research’. It was a general introduction to the development and practice of contemplation in tertiary institutions, especially in the United States. What is clear is that huge numbers of people are introducing contemplative aspects to their courses, whether they work in medicine, the arts or engineering. It is a trend which is growing rapidly. Arthur outlined the ways in which contemplation can be used in higher education, as a relaxation technique, as a means to increase concentration or as a research method. The audience of around 20 was mixed: some students, a few Steiner school parents and a fair number of anthroposophists. The workshop the next day drew 32 participants, the majority of them academics from AUT. The subject was ‘The Contemplative and Spiritual Dimensions of Tertiary Education’. Interest in Steiner at AUT is centred in the School of Education, but most people were from other faculties, predominantly Health. The Head of Psychology and the Director of Student Learning at the university attended along with, a number of lecturers plus a handful of professors, students and a few anthroposophists. Speaking to these people during and after the workshop, it was clear that they had all got a great deal from the day. Many commented on how quietly and smoothly the day progressed. The exercises which Arthur brought suited everyone in the room, despite them coming from many different spiritual and meditative backgrounds. It was appreciated that Arthur’s approach was strongly inclusive and that he drew on different spiritual traditions as well as the work of Rudolf Steiner. Speaking personally, aside from the depth of content Arthur brought, it was remarkable to see people I regard as being from different sides of my life - the university and Anthroposophy - happily chatting away together in the breaks. Arthur commented on the open-mindedness of the attendees, not the first thing you think of when you imagine academics. The visit was very worthwhile in that it spoke to the needs of those who attended but also it raised the profile of Anthroposophy and the work of Rudolf Steiner within the university. Twelve people are writing personal responses to his visit and they will be published in a Journal for Contemplation and Mindfulness which AUT puts out twice
a year. Our weekly meeting will be discussing the workshop when we meet again. Many people have asked me when Arthur can come back to AUT - I sincerely hope that we will see him again in Auckland.
Neil Boland In Christchurch
n January 26th at Helios Integrative Medical Centre, 45 people gathered to attend Arthur’s talk, ‘Seeking the Heart of Self-Transformation’. Following Sue Simpson’s introduction, he first of all expressed his sympathy and acknowledgement of the suffering and devastation that our city experienced in the past year. Arthur then shared with us the path that led him to Anthroposophy, his spiritual quest so far, and the significant people in his life who shaped his destiny deeply. In quoting his personal experiences, he highlighted the importance of ‘spiritual fellowships and friendships’ in our lives, and asked the audience to pair up and share with each other who or what awakened their spiritual interests and which spiritual friends brought something into our lives. Perhaps these questions are the kind that we would normally hesitate to ask over a cuppa, but Arthur used them in order to awaken our awareness of how our destines may be guided, and how through our beloved mentors, friends or those with whom we take initiatives, we may find the space and forces to transform ourselves. An all day workshop, ‘The Path of Life as a Path of Becoming’, was held at Helios the following day for 35 participants. Some of them were visiting from overseas, and some came from other parts of the country such as Dunedin and Hawke’s Bay. Arthur guided us through various contemplative and biographical exercises, quoting from his book as well as from many authors such as Rudolf Steiner, Maguerite Porete, Henry Thoreau, and Simone Weil. The focus was on the theme of what it means to be ‘fully human’, with an emphasis on the importance of a moral and ethical orientation (for example, reverence and gratitude) for a meditative life. In between the exercises, Sue Simpson taught us a few eurythmy movements, which refreshed us.
When Arthur closed the workshop by inviting us to experience gratitude for the time that we had shared together, participants commented on the helpfulness of this experience, appreciation of the way things were presented and the care Arthur took in answering questions, and how he covered so much, yet simultaneously took his time. One participant who had been unfamiliar with Anthroposophy said he enjoyed the day. Personally, what I observed that day – Arthur’s soft and gentle way of speaking, his seriousness and modesty – made a deep impression. I sensed that here is a person, as Penelope Snowdon-Lait commented, who is ‘walking the talk’. As Sue Simpson invited us to think about working meditatively together locally, Penelope and I would like to invite those who may be interested to come along to the eurythmy room at Helios Integrative Medical Centre on Wednesday March 7th at 6:30 p.m. to see if we can take this work further. For more information, please contact Penelope Snowdon-Lait (firstname.lastname@example.org) or myself (email@example.com).
Yuri Wilson At Tauhara, Taupo
udolf Steiner gave many guidelines and indications for a meditative practice appropriate for our times. This can be a bit bewildering. During the workshops in Taupo (20-23 January 2012), Arthur Zajonc presented an encapsulation of these guidelines and led participants in various meditative practices. The meditative path involves a journey through the gateway of humility along the path of reverence. This path of reverence begins with the cultivation of wonder which matures into a feeling of reverence and culminates in self surrender. For some, this path of reverence followed by a return path through gratitude and dedication (i.e., dedication of the fruits of the mediation to others) is sufficient. However, it is also possible to experience the birth of what Arthur called the ‘silent self’ after the cultivation of soul health during the stage of reverence. To illustrate the concept of this ‘silent self’, Arthur read Juan Jiménez’s poem ‘I am not I’: I am not I I am this one Walking beside me whom I do not see, Whom at times I manage to visit, And whom at other times I forget; Who remains calm and silent while I talk, And forgives, gently, when I hate, Who walks where I am not, Who will remain standing when I die. Translation by Robert Bly
How will one recognise one’s friends once they are dead? What is left after the physical body has gone? This essence is the ‘silent self’, the ‘not I’. One then practises the lemniscate of awareness: intense focused concentration on an object, sound, mantra, or situation, followed by a letting go and an open awareness for what might come. The ringing of a bell provides one exercise in this regard (one can get a recording of Arthur’s guided bell-sound meditation from http://www. contemplativemind.org/). To give an idea of this open awareness, Arthur mentioned our breathing. We breathe in, then out, and then pause a little before breathing in again. This pause, when nothing appears to be happening, is analogous to the stage of open awareness. If something
should come, ‘don’t look’. As Simone Weil1 has said, “Grace fills empty spaces, but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it, and it is grace itself which makes this void.” Looking can close the void. Bearing in mind that most of what one experiences at the threshold is oneself, it is advisable to resist judgement, at least until after corroboration. Treat the experiences as a Goethean botanist would treat their experiences in going to a completely new environment. For me, it is reminiscent of wrestling with some particularly gnarly mental problem and having to go home before it is resolved. Then on the bike ride home, whilst not thinking much at all, a glimmer of the path to the solution arises. This is not meditation, but perhaps it gives some idea of the nature of the lemniscate of awareness. After a period of alternating focussed attention with open awareness, one needs to re-integrate oneself into ordinary life. One can feel this as a sort of landing, or journey home. It is important at this stage to feel gratitude for the experience and to realise that meditative work is not done for oneself but for others and the Earth. There was a question as to how one can guide oneself through such an exercise without losing the moment. For this, we use a sort of meta-cognition and need to develop the capacity to discern: a moral compass. We need to act and watch what happens, being prepared to change direction mid-course if necessary. Take a step, assess, correct if necessary, step again ... It is akin to tramping in the wilderness with only a map (the arc of meditation) and a compass – in the mist. One is likely to go the wrong way, but provided one regularly checks the map and compass, and is prepared to change course or even back-track, then one will find one’s way eventually. I found meditating with a group of others in free association to be a special privilege. Although Arthur guided the meditative practice, he was careful to leave each individual free to participate to the extent that they found comfortable. Thus it was not so much group meditation as a group of individuals meditating. Apparently, this free association of individuals allows the higher beings to work in a manner analogous to the group soul but compatible with human freedom.
Peter Alspach travelled from his Motueka home to attend the workshop at Tauhara Reflections on the Workshop Often, when I discuss with a person a learning curve or a journey they have been on, I will ask, “…and what was the gem or one of the gems you gleaned from your experience?” The answer helps to instil an essence of something they connected with, or that made an impression. This ‘gem’ of which they speak is almost always heart-felt and imbued with contemplation. As I now reflect back on my time spent on the Meditation Workshop with Arthur Zajonc, I see a veritable treasure chest of gems before me; but I choose just one of these shining gems to elaborate here, The Road Map to Conscious Meditation – The Approach. Arthur spoke of how we approach the path with humility and reverence; this mood of the heart lifts us up to 1 1909 – 1943, a French philosopher, Christian mystic, and social activist.
consciousness of the Divine. One can cultivate humility and reverence in many ways; these may include: –
Lighting a candle and speaking a verse
– Prayer –
To wonder at a scene in nature
As we step through the doorway onto the path of reverence, on the out-breath, we can consciously surrender to “not my will, but Thy will be done.” Humility and reverence; surely this ‘approach’ is deserving of our attention everyday in all the inward and outward doorways we approach with our self and with others. Herein lies the possibility of resolving to consciously cultivate an empathetic nature that serves and strives towards a greater good – towards Spirit Love. Humility is important starting point if we are to discover the ‘higher self’ on this pathway, then, having attended to our ‘soul health’, our task is to find that fixed point to hold onto. Self and situational awareness in our meditation allows our moral intuition to unfold. Is this not the spiritualised force of Love? - as Christ said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” With tenderness this is able to happen inwardly or outwardly with others, a way of sensing into the heart of the matter. On this weekend journey of ‘Know Thyself’, we were presented with many doorways to enter into conscious meditative practices, both individual and in group work. Arthur shared lectures, the Road Map, inspiring stories, exercises, and had the ability to answer the questions raised with precision and humour. He also provided excellent facilitation in leading us through various meditative processes, for ourselves, for another, for group work with a focus person and for observation work. Arthur also held an open forum for scientific questions; my gem from that is “The context is set by the observer.” And on Monday, he led us through the Rose Cross Meditation, a sublimely profound renewal. Sue Simpson led the eurythmy which was of immense benefit for the unfolding processes that were occurring with everyone. This was an experience of our whole being doing an active meditation, an enlivening and enlightening experience. Mark Geard led us through three artistic exercises, –
Drawing three different vessels, with each having a contemplative reflection and experiencing the archetype.
A group exercise where one draws a pod and passes on his/her picture around the group to ‘grow’ the work vertically up the page, a sort of social vertebrae. The self discovery of how we receive another’s work and how we feel having others work on our creation.
A sensing into the quality of shapes. Guarding against judgements. A silent witness.
I am extremely grateful for the gems bestowed upon me from this workshop and the fun, food and friends I will treasure. Deirdre (Dee) Landon
These articles continue Sphere’s celebration of 100 years of eurythmy. The articles in the December 2011 issue gave a picture of its early beginnings in this country which is added to here. Sue Simpson writes of today’s eurythmists and their work in the 21st century.
Eurythmy in New Zealand Today by Sue Simpson
aking a good look around the country it is clear that eurythmists, despite their often heavy workload, make time to nurture the artistic eurythmy. While this aspect of the work is nourishing, it also requires effort to retain and maintain it. Eurythmists take pieces of music, verses and stories to work on as solos or group pieces, to ultimately share through performance. The importance of a place to perform in and an audience to perform to cannot be underestimated. We are fortunate to have the schools and conferences as venues and audiences. While we do not have the resources for a professional performing group, we continue to be gifted with some high quality eurythmy. For a few years the Foundation Stone verse was performed at conferences. Brief introductions with demonstrations helped make the mantras more accessible to the audience. The
2012 EurythmyTherapy Training Course by Leanne Sarah
n January 2012, the Hohepa School in Napier hosted the first block of a unique eurythmy therapy training course in the Southern Hemisphere.Twelve students, including ten eurythmists and two doctors from Australia and New Zealand, attended the course, bringing the possibility of a new wave of eurythmy therapists for our region by 2014 when the training is due to be completed. As a recent eurythmy graduate from Melbourne, this was a wonderful opportunity for me to meet, work with and learn from the eurythmists, doctors and teachers in the course. The faculty of teachers brought a wealth of experience and expertise to the training: Ute Stoll-Kuwilsky, Alfred Busch and Patricia Orange kept us going at a lively pace, always mindful of how we were managing our own care, health and wellbeing. This included plenty of breaks and a
seeds are now there to pick it up at any time and take the work further. In New Zealand we have a number of outstanding educational eurythmists, and we are fortunate that there is good will in schools to provide and support eurythmy. What we do need are the young enthusiastic eurythmists taking up the wonderful task of teaching eurythmy in the education sphere. Work in adult education provides the first stepping-stone to eurythmy for many adults. It is possible to integrate eurythmy into any course, teacher training, nurses, health, science and farming. Approaching a topic through movement can provide fresh insights and experience for the participants. Therapeutic eurythmists are active in at least four centers and we are fortunate to have experienced eurythmists bringing their knowledge and insightfulness to the task. They work in schools, the Hohepas and independently, with children and adults across a wide spectrum of society. In January 2012 the first New Zealand Eurythmy Therapy training, guided by Uta Stoll-Kuwilsky, Alfred Busch and Patricia Orange, was successfully launched in Hawke’s Bay. Eurythmists are also active in the social realm, working with aspects of life such as relationships, interaction, transitioning and development in organisations. More recently work has been undertaken with colleagues wealth of opportunities with guest therapists working with the students to introduce us to the wider therapeutic picture, including speech with Astrid Anderson, oilings and external applications with anthroposophical nurses Tessa Therkleson and Lisbeth Kouwenberg, and guest doctors, Roger Leitch, David Ritchie and Lakshmi Allamsetty. With them we covered topics from the human skeleton to modelling of the larynx and exercises in metamorphoses, the threefold and fourfold human being, the invisible man, embryology and the first three years of child development. Other experiences included rhythmical massage, visits to the Weleda shop, an evening with the New Zealand General Secretary, Sue Simpson, also a fellow eurythmist, an outing to see Arthur Zajonc at the Anthroposophical Society rooms in Hastings, and a cello concert with Reinhild Cleff. There was also the warm welcome and support of the Hohepa community and co-workers, and the organisational support of Heike Houben, another curative eurythmist who also works at Hohepa. What did we learn about eurythmy therapy? For me, it opened out to an amazing world which, with anthroposophical medicine and therapies, offers real help to people who want to work with healing themselves and those in their care. Lakshmi challenged us to look at a child from the child‘s point of view, staying connected to them, while asking deeper questions such as ‚how can we respect their spiritual choice?‘ and recognising illness or developmental obstacles as something that has to be worked with much consciousness from the inside to overcome illness or to help strengthen the body. In this way, the meditative life of a therapist becomes necessary to develop a healing will - the will and courage to facilitate healing. An important part of this work includes working with the soul and strengthening the I AM, helping to bring it more strongly into the body so that the human being can really
to deepen and enhance the meditative and esoteric work. It is challenging and exciting to take up and develop this impulse. Working in New Zealand can be very isolating and at the same time freeing. There are not the opportunities, as in Europe, to see major performances or attend the variety of workshops. What we do have is the freedom from traditions and expectations, so we can explore without hindrances of the past. At the same time eurythmists have seldom been distracted from the impulse of eurythmy, there has not been the need to have eurythmy accepted by moving into dance or gymnastics. With few eurythmists, each is challenged to find the support and sustenance for their work. It is important to have colleagues and for a number, to find the time and space to maintain and develop their artistic eurythmy. We all need the creative element in our work and it is often in working with others that fresh inspiration and ideas arise. A few years ago eurythmy conferences were re-activated and now take place on an annual basis. Sixteen eurythmists from throughout the country attended the 2011 eurythmy conference. This year a new impulse will be explored, as part of the conference will be open to the public, inviting interest and engagement in eurythmy. It will be held 15 -17 April in Titirangi, with the theme The Verses of the Calendar of the Soul by Rudolf Steiner. Continues page 22 find themself, to wake up to who they really are. David observed that healing happens better when people take up their destiny and working with the soul processes, meeting the healing process with their own soul/spiritual work. Eurythmists, he told us, need to develop a very fine feeling for whether a person is more metabolic or nerve-sense in order to help restore the balance in the body. I now have a renewed appreciation of how important rhythm is to ongoing balance and health, and why it is so important in the early years for health in later life. Our eurythmy teachers helped us to experience and practise many things, one of my favourites being overcoming gravity and entering levity. Have you ever wondered why in eurythmy therapy there is always (or often) jumping? It is the experience of levity, of the momentary space in lightly jumping where spirit can enter, where you are for a moment free, and it can be light and joyful, a space for the healing impulse to enter. My picture for this was the whales ‚breaching‘ where they lift their massive bodies out of the water into the air in sheer joy, a beautiful example of lifting into space and experiencing that freedom. We worked strongly with the vowel and consonant sounds, as they are represented as archetypal forms in the eurythmy figures and, through this, learn more about the organs and how they also have a psychological aspect. We will be back in July 2012 for three weeks at Hohepa, then again next year and with a final block in January 2014 . This training is veryspecial as it is a one-off, so we are all appreciating it and making the most of this wonderful opportunity in the beautiful land of New Zealand. We will try to keep you updated about the course and its progress in future articles.
Leanne Sarah is a eurythmy therapy student from Warburton in Australia Sphere
From page 20
Eurythmy has found roots in New Zealand and it is a wonderful country for eurythmy. Nature is in harmony with the movement or the movement with nature, it is as though you step into the flowing forces of air and water, which support the movement. Today the etheric forces are under siege, however, eurythmy works with and enlivens these life forces. A healthy lifestyle nourishes body and soul. In the increasing demands of life eurythmy can provide a tool to being whole, ie in developing creative thinking, equanimity and right actions, as well as maintaining health in our bodies.
Today’s Eurythmists From the mid eighties on the number of eurythmists in New Zealand increased. Some stayed, while others moved on, returned to Europe, or changed profession. To recall the eurythmists in Hawke’s Bay raises memories of the impulses they brought: Jacquie Barrington, John Allison, Miranda Ormond (de Boom), Karen Evans, Shona Feldmann, Heidi Kolb, Sue Pegler, Nina Roskotten-Gude, Nives Frigerio, Eileen Boland, Alfred Busch, Heike Houben and more recently Bevis and Nina Stevens. Taikura Rudolf Steiner School and Hohepa have always had one or more active eurythmists. Perhaps this too is a gift and legacy left by those first eurythmists! Whilst carrying full-time positions eurythmists have managed to produce many performances over the years. In the 1980s, the Persephone eurythmy group was founded in Hawke’s Bay. The impulse to bring eurythmists together from around New Zealand to prepare performances which were subsequently toured around the country was, for a number of years, highly successful. In Christchurch, Paula Lee worked alone until in the late 1980s she was joined by Anna Warner and Michael Buellingen. Another ‘High Season’ of eurythmy began, when Theresa Holzmer, Hans-Joachim Steingass and Gabrielle Grebhan also made Christchurch their home for the next few years. All were enthusiastic eurythmists, teaching,
performing and inspiring us. Today Simone Hamblett works in Christchurch Rudolf Steiner School and Anna Warner at Hohepa. After the early years of Nancy Hartmann and Janet Lodder in Wellington, Trudi Sladitz returned from her eurythmy training to teach eurythmy at Raphael House Rudolf Steiner School. She was followed by Karen Brice-Geard in the 1980s, who for a number of years was the lone eurythmist in the city. Later Uta Stoll-Kuwilsky, Elien Hoffmans who is the eurythmy teacher at Te Ra School, Sue Pegler, Janet Thomson, Elisabeth Vontobel, then Melanie Treadgold arrived and more recently Arnhild Wolpert. There were a number of eurythmists who completed their training at this country’s first eurythmy training school Gaea Gardens with Therese Mahon, as mentioned in the last issue of Sphere. Some of those eurythmists are still in Auckland. They are Titirangi Rudolf Steiner School eurythmy teacher, Kimberle Haswell, Kath Beattie, and Brigitte Fischer and Fern Winslow who are both at Hohepa. Heidrun Leonard continues to provide therapeutic eurythmy, has eurythmy classes and teaches eurythmy at Michael Park School. She was recently joined by another therapeutic eurythmist, Eileen Boland. Other Auckland eurythmists are Helmi Thompson, Nanette Doering and Jonathan White. In Hamilton, Mynda Mansfield teaches eurythmy at the Waikato Waldorf School and works with an adult eurythmy group. For a time Nina Gude taught in Hamilton and the Tauranga Waldorf School. Other centres have not been so fortunate to have an on-site eurythmist; instead educational and therapeutic eurythmists provide short periods of eurythmy when they visit. During the 1990s and on into this century, all of these eurythmists have continued to strengthen the foundations of eurythmy for the future.
Sue Simpson is both the General Secretary and a eurythmist
Reflections on Eurythmy Therapy by Uta Stoll-Kuwilsky
n February 1921, the young Dutch student of medicine, Henk van Deventer, asked Rudolf Steiner whether he was willing to give indications for some kind of therapeutic eurythmy. Rudolf Steiner’s reply was, “Of course, Mr Deventer, it would be possible to develop something in this direction. But do you know any people who would be interested and willing to dedicate themselves to it?” Henk van Deventer replied somewhat shyly, “Yes, Herr Doktor, my fiancée, her colleague Elisabeth Dollfus and myself. Rudolf Steiner laughed and only said: “But of course! These are enough people!” One almost gets the impression that Rudolf Steiner had waited for this question and now quickly picked up the opportunity to answer. Just two months later, between the 12th and 17th April, the promise was fulfilled. Six introductory lectures on eurythmy therapy were integrated into the second course of medical lectures: the purely medical lectures were given in the mornings, the eurythmy therapy lectures in the afternoons. Some 50 doctors, medical students and scientists participated. Rudolf
Steiner developed and introduced the exercises, often demonstrating them himself with the assistance of Erna Wolfram–v. Deventer and Elisabeth Dollfus–Baumann According to the memories of the two eurythmists, it must have been a challenging and at times almost overwhelming experience. Both had been eurythmists of the first hour having dedicated themselves to this new art of movement since 1913. They both carried a strong impulse towards healing as they encountered abnormalities and health problems in their daily work – Erna gave introductory courses on eurythmy throughout Germany and Elisabeth was the first Eurythmy teacher at the newly founded Waldorf School. Their experience triggered questions to Rudolf Steiner concerning Eurythmy exercises that would be helpful in these cases. Erna, Elisabeth and Henk had attended the third cycle of lectures on natural science in January 1921. One of the themes of those lectures had been the laws of the forms of geometrical movements of planets and stars and their connection to the forming of the human embryo. To their surprise, the three of them recognised these forms in some
of the eurythmy exercises. Many intense conversations between them followed and these, combined with their work experiences, finally led to the request to Rudolf Steiner for therapeutic eurythmy. But was this the actual beginning of eurythmy therapy? Ilse Rolofs was one of the first Eurythmy therapists. She recalls sitting, as a five-year-old, on the lap of Rudolf Steiner as he taught her an exercise to do with her finger and hands to help her recover from an illness. This was in about 1908. Perhaps eurythmy therapy began even earlier when the young Rudolf Steiner taught 11-yearold Otto Specht. Otto suffered from severe hydrocephalus and Rudolf Steiner later described how certain strong, meaningful limb movements were necessary, among other pedagogical measures, to help the forming of the brain of the boy. In time Otto Specht was completely healed and later became a doctor.
For therapeutic purposes, these vowel or consonant movements are modified. The emphasis lies on the repeated practice of a single vowel or consonant or specific sequences of them, often in connection with the strong involvement of the legs and feet. For example, the consonant of B can be repeated for up to 5 minutes. If our organism has suffered and fallen out of its cosmic harmony through illness, Eurythmy therapy lifts our physical body into the laws of the etheric for the length of the exercise, thereby stimulating it to ‘remember’ it’s cosmic archetype.
As a pharmacist would modify or potentise a substance to turn it into a useful medication, Eurythmy therapy potentises and modifies the vowels and consonants out of the cosmic sphere of the zodiac, where the movements of eurythmy originate, into a specific medication in movement. Eurythmy therapy IS medication in movement. The indications are manifold. eurythmy encompasses the whole of the human being The healing aspect of eurythmy is mentioned as a being of spirit, soul and body; hence all by Rudolf Steiner for the first time, when he These photos of Erna Wolfram were disturbances in this threefold organism can done in 1917 on the request of Rudolf be addressed. It is not indicated though for taught Lori Smits the ‘Halleluja’ exercise. Marie v. Sivers was present and spontaneously Steiner and depict the consonants highly inflamed, feverish conditions. M and P and the soul gesture of exclaimed, “But this must give enormous cordiality. Elisabeth Dollfus in 1919 Since the lecture cycle in 1921, a strength!” steady stream of eurythmists Rudolf Steiner and doctors has answered, “Yes, we taken up working not only want to with therapeutic dance. We also want eurythmy. It is to help ill people.” applied in hospitals, Later he described schools, private artistic eurythmy practices, curative homes and work as the periphery, with the elderly. one could also say Here in New cosmic periphery and Zealand about ten eurythmy therapy dedicated eurythmy as the centre. If therapists are at we represent this work. As I write graphically we come this, I live in anticipation of the one off, part time eurythmy , the symbol of the sun – highly to something like this therapy training course that will start in Hohepa, Hawke’s appropriate as, according to spiritual science our ether body Bay, in January 2012. It is possible with the support of our was formed during the sun phase of earth evolution, and eurythmy colleagues and the anthroposophical doctors eurythmy has its origin in the laws of the etheric body of which we are fortunate to have in this country. It will be man. Imagine all the different forms of pedagogical, social one of the contributions that we New Zealand eurythmists and hygienic eurythmy moving and weaving between this offer to celebrate 100 years of eurythmy. cosmic periphery and its centre! 100 years is very young. We still stand at the beginning But what leads from the cosmic periphery of artistic with our art. Eurythmy, born out of Anthroposophy, comes eurythmy to its centre – eurythmy Therapy? towards us like a stream out of the future, able to shed light on the past. Rudolf Steiner has given the eurythmists an If we study the two interlinked courses from April 1921, enormous wealth of indications: we now have the challenge we discover the thought of metamorphosis running through of studying, practising and making them our own. This is them like a red thread. In the case of eurythmy therapy not an easy task in this day and age, for we swim against this means the metamorphosis of the basis of eurythmy, the stream of our materialistic time in many ways; but it is the vowels and consonants. When listening to speech, our a beautiful and extremely fulfilling one. As Rudolf Steiner etheric body moves. In his spiritual research Rudolf Steiner states in the lectures on Eurythmy therapy: observed these movements and they are our eurythmy “In our time the will is developing slowly, the intellect movements: visible speech and visible song. They originate swiftly. One task of the practice of Eurythmy is, among in the etheric, or formative forces, and work most strongly others, to bring the will back into the whole of human on the form of the growing embryo and its subsequent evolution.” development in the following seven years. They are also the forces of restoration which we experience after a good Uta Stoll-Kuwilsky is a eurythmist living in night’s sleep. Wellington
Roads Less Travelled – working and engaging with a changing world Michael Park School, 55 Amy Street, Ellerslie, Auckland 4–7 October 2012
lans for the 2012 conference are moving apace. We will be based again at Michael Park School in Auckland, and we are anticipating greater numbers than last year as we are advertising the conference in Australia as well as in New Zealand. We think it will be of interest to many people involved in practical social, environmental and cultural organisations devoted to finding ways of building a new social future. Our main speaker, Peter Blom, has devoted his life to financing such organisations and understanding how that can be done. More about him and his work below. The programme for the conference is taking shape. It follows the broad format we have used before with talks from Peter first thing in the morning, with time for some questions while we are still together. After coffee, we will go into groups combining artistic activity and the opportunity to discuss the talk and what it has raised. After lunch, we will then have a more open space where people can arrange meetings and events of their own choosing. This can be specifically on the theme of the conference, a section or other meetings, or around a question you would like to discuss and so on. If there’s something you want to address, there are probably others that do too. Take the opportunity of this time to do that. It
sounds chaotic but it works well and brings much variety and interest. The conference will start on Thursday evening, 4 October 2012. The AGM of the Anthroposophical Society in New Zealand will be held on Friday evening, and on Saturday, there will be a performance. There will be a class conference (3rd-4th) before the main conference. A separate announcement about this will be made soon.
Peter Blom and Triodos Bank Peter joined Triodos Bank when it started in 1980. He had attended the Leiden Waldorf School and then studied economics at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam from 1975-1978. While there, he was co-responsible for one of the first centres for organic food in the Netherlands, running an organic shop, restaurant and information centre. In 1980, instead of military service, he started working at the new Triodos Bank in the Netherlands, one of the first European social banks and part of a new movement in social finance which subsequently grew across Europe and elsewhere. And then he’s never left. So Triodos’s progress over the last 31 years is intimately connected with his own
biography. But rather than being named in 2009 by the London a grey banker who couldn’t think Financial Times and the IFC, the of anything else to do, Peter’s most sustainable bank in the world work is a practical example of – recognition from the lion’s den. what Steiner called the Basic And Peter personally has been Sociological Law; the idea that widely acknowledged: a board in times gone past an individual member of the Dutch Banking subsumed themselves and served Association, a Knight of Oranje an organisation or a group but Nassau – rather like a Dutch that we now live in a time where version of the Order of Merit organisations and groups serve in New Zealand – and recently individuals, so that they achieve invited to join the Club of Rome, a more than they could alone. Peter long-standing environmental think has lived that ideal in a practical tank from the 1970s. way. This is an idea in transition, He is part of the co-ordinating of course, but the bank’s and group of the Section for Social Peter’s achievements have been Sciences in The Netherlands. remarkable. It has grown from He has taken a direct personal a very small organisation until interest in Triodos’s investments in it now has funds of over €6.8bn Prometheus here in New Zealand, (about NZ$10.8bn) invested in and also more recently, in a new many thousands of organisations social lending organisation, SEFA, internationally. Peter is its in Australia, also financed by the chairman and CEO. He has been Australian government. directly responsible for taking He’s also an excellent speaker: it into many new areas such as Peter Blom. relaxed, open, conversational, and renewable energy, microfinance who carries his achievements lightly. with the very poor in the developing world, sustainable agriculture and many other areas. Triodos has been a leader The talks and now mainstream banks follow that lead. “I think with my knee anyway” It may appear strange to have a lifelong banker speaking From a famous quotation of Joseph Beuys (1921-1986), to us at this time after the destructive financial events of the last few years, but banking, when based on ethics and values the German social artist. This will focus on the discrepancy for me as an individual between how I think I operate and and not just the narrow value of so much money, brings the what I really do. The subtle interaction between action and necessary counterpart to all those who are trying to take reflection but starting with action. initiative and do the good: they need money to realise what they wish to do. Coupling that money with a deep insight From directing to connecting into the nature of initiative-taking and the new needs of the Expanding on the previous day, looking from the aspect of time, creates something very powerful. So Triodos is not the individual to how we work with others to the interaction ‘just’ a bank, but something which has brought insight and between individuals, organisations and society at large. funds into many thousands of organisations and touched the How do we find different approaches through a different lives of millions of people. In growing recognition of that, consciousness.Peter will talk about some examples from his Triodos has seen a surge of growth throughout the banking own work in Triodos Bank, the Global Alliance for Banking crisis as many people seek something different in the way on Values and the Sustainable Finance Lab. money is managed. True banking, when successful and based on values, has a ring-side seat into the struggles and triumphs of many organisations and people. The banker can be an initiative taker too. Peter will be speaking from these many aspects from his long experience. How do we find the true shoots from which new directions can take hold? What qualities do we need, do our organisations need, to achieve this? How do we find ways to attune ourselves to what is possible with our times, which can take real steps forward? With these thoughts and the need to reclaim a different approach to banking, Peter, with others – including the anthroposophical banks, Merkur in Denmark and GLS Gemeinschaftsbank in Germany – set up the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, an association of some of the most interesting new banks in the world. Another mark of Peter and Triodos’s work is that it stems from deep spiritual insight – money is ‘the spirit realised’ – but stands four-square in the world as well. Triodos was
An emerging culture for the future Lastly, how can we attune ourselvesto the spirit of the time and to what is seeking to come. Rather than just high concepts, this will be based on practical examples from today and their significance.
From The Conference Group
he following membership changes took place between December 2011 and February 2012. New Member Mechteld Schuurmans Auckland Transfer Overseas Simon Bednarek
firstname.lastname@example.org • www.sonett.co.nz • Ph 09 3611368
On-line shopping now available
Hidden Geometry of Flowers; Living rhythm, form & number Floris Books 2011
Keith Crithchlow 448 pages, paperback
Can we imagine a world without flowers? Flowers are beautiful, offering us delight in their colour, fragrance and form, as well as their medicinal benefits. Flowers also speak to us in the language of the plant form itself, as cultural symbols in different societies, and at the highest levels of inspiration. In this beautiful and original book, renowned thinker and geometrist Keith Critchlow has chosen to focus on an aspect of flowers that has received perhaps the least attention. This is the flower as teacher of symmetry and geometry (the ‘eternal verities’, as Plato called them). In this sense, he says, flowers can be treated as sources of remembering away of recalling our own wholeness, as well as awakening our innerpower of recognition and consciousness. What is evident in the geometry of the face of a flower can remind us of the geometry that underlies all existence. Working from his own flower photographs and with every geometric pattern handdrawn, the author reviews the role of flowers within the perspective of our relationship with the natural world. His illuminating study is an attempt to re-engage the human spirit in its intimate relation with all nature.
Humanity Books & Fine Arts
ph 06 870 7069
Meetings with Members and Friends
ver the last few years, the Council of the Society in New Zealand has tried to find new approaches as to how the Society should work and how it might go forward. Can it serve its members, friends and the wider community better? Is it looking at issues relevant to people today? We want it to be contemporary, innovative, flexible, open and of interest to a much wider group of people interested in Anthroposophy and the practical work which flows from it.
Many themes arose from this. This is some of what we heard:-
Much depends on who people come into contact with and what they are seeking. Some approach the Society, looking to find a more philosophical discussion, while others are looking for a spiritual home, a place of solace and rest from the world, of light and joy. In the conversations, it was evident that what people were seeking coloured We had already taken some first steps:their viewpoint. The Society seeks to be a place for all, where anyone who finds value in Anthroposophy will find New approaches to the Annual Conference a sympathetic place to connect with others, whatever their We started changing the conferences in Christchurch approach. Often it fails, but the intention remains true. Many in 2009. The first attempt was feel they are more comfortable in controversial – “this is not In December 2010 and during their circles of colleagues and friends Anthroposophy at all,” said some. 2011, Council members of the and meet others in their initiatives “This is the first truly anthroposophical the good’. But others feel the Anthroposophical Society in New ‘doing conference I have ever been to,” said Society could be a place where they others. Opinions varied. We listened Zealand met with members and meet others around common themes and tried again, trying to keep the friends throughout the country. of interest. ‘What’s happening in our spontaneity which had been a much This is a report of those meetings. area?’ ‘What are others struggling appreciated hallmark of Christchurch with?’ ‘How do I cope with this or that but also bringing more content. issue?’ This is important to many. That led to Hawke’s Bay in 2010, with Johannes Kiersch Organisation as our main speaker. His talks looked at the history of the Many have had experiences of poor and dysfunctional Society in the period up to and after Rudolf Steiner’s death practices in the Society: an unpleasant encounter, lack of in 1925, based on his detailed historical studies. And then clarity around what to pay, unnecessary bureaucracy, others in Auckland in 2011, Rene de Monchy, David Ritchie and imposing spurious duties and responsibilities on them. Even Lisa Devine took up the theme of inner chaos which many so, no one really wants the Society to disappear. Everyone people find in their lives. These conferences retained the wanted, instead, that the Society improve and become free space of Christchurch but brought more content. This something relevant and efficient. seemed to find a better balance; content and insight closer to people’s questions with better processes to discuss and Worldliness digest the ideas being brought, with more time for free The Society needs to be in step with the world as it is initiatives. now and engaged with the many current questions which We’ll continue this at the 2012 conference in Auckland we face. Education and testing of children is an example. in October, but this time the focus will be on questions of What does the Society have to say and should it not have how you can work in the world and bring real change and an active role? And, it should be better grounded, embrace development. Peter Blom, who has led Triodos Bank in new technology, let go of forms and practices based on our Europe for many years and built it to be a leader globally in ‘traditions’ which leave us isolated from others in the wider social investment based on its anthroposophical roots, will society whose interests and concerns we share. be our main speaker. Our theme will be the outer threshold: Purpose and openness how do you retain the integrity of a deep spiritual impulse Some questioned whether we need a Society at all, while engaging fully with the contemporary world? More or asked, what exactly does the Society do? This pointed information on that can be found on page 24 in this issue of to a lack of direction or vision in and around the Society Sphere. and the need to make this clearer. This is perhaps the Conversations and meetings key question facing the Society worldwide. And it was related to questions about the many friends of the Society Our second step has been in many individual and movement, and the Society’s relationship to the conversations carried especially by Sue Simpson. anthroposophical movement. Sometimes things feel closed, Our third step, and our focus here, has been in the round or they carry an additional burden where help is needed. of meetings with members and friends, starting in December Overall 2010 in Christchurch. The Council meets four times a year, While much does need to change, there is much to value moving between the four main centres of Christchurch, as well and we should not lose sight of that. And where Auckland, Wellington and Hawke’s Bay. This gives us the change is needed, it’s not just ‘them’ – the Council – that opportunity to meet with many people around the country. should do it: it’s for all of us to contribute and we should In addition, Sue Simpson has many other meetings in make that more obvious and accessible. smaller centres. We try to listen and hear what’s happening.
What we will do We spent time digesting what we had heard and what was being asked for. We realised that responses needed to be concrete and focused on a few major points. Two major themes had emerged. Firstly, an internal question around how the Society functions and relates to members. Secondly, more external questions about being clearer about our vision and who the Society is addressing. Some of the things we were already doing addressed part of peoples’ concerns – so carry on and intensify it – but for others, new initiatives are needed. More concretely, we took the following for concrete action:
Administration The ‘machinery’ of the Society needs to function efficiently. Administration is not the Society’s focus of course. It should be in the background and just work. For instance, multiple mailing lists lead to people repeatedly having to say, ‘I don’t live there any more.’ You should be able to say that once and that’s it. We’re trying to get to one mailing list, securely held on the web and accessible to the area representatives and others who need it. It holds information about what you want and in what form. Any change should be instant. The annual financial contribution form has been simplified so that what is being asked for is clearer and simpler. We will try and improve on this in 2012. Other processes will simplify and clarify the functioning of the Society. We want members’ experiences to be that when they have a question, it is answered quickly and clearly, but where there is no issue, the administration recedes into the background.
of the Society are important. We think we need to act for the movement more clearly, but equally perhaps we can ask that those many activities within the movement also have regard for the Society as well. We think the first sentence of the booklet The Life, Nature and Cultivation of Anthroposophy is important here. It says, ‘The re-founding of the Society at the Christmas gathering in 1923 gave the Society the form most suitable for the development of the anthroposophical movement’. The emphasis is on supporting the movement, not just developing a Society. Accordingly, we will work actively to engage with everyone working out of anthroposophically-based initiatives, irrespective of membership of the Society. We especially want to engage with younger people looking to connect with the movement without any expectations other than their desire to work for the benefit and development of humanity. We will also be far more transparent in what we are doing and provide the means so that others can make visible what they are doing as well. The launch of the new e-newsletter, Ardent, is a first step to that. These are the points that the Council has come to for now, but this is work in progress and we will continue to listen and look for new opportunities. We want to hear what members and friends think and so we are beginning a next round of meetings in the major centres. We began in Christchurch in December and our next meetings will be: 2-3 March Wellington 18-19 May Auckland 3-4 August Christchurch 30 November – 1 December Hawke’s Bay Please let us know what you think, either in writing or conversation.
Noel Josephson For the Council
Working through initiative We hope that the Society and its common concerns are of interest to us all. We have very high aspirations to develop human consciousness and individual development according to each person’s own abilities. Everyone’s contribution is important to create the whole. The better way to work is through initiative, as this is what creates something new, that next development. All initiative is important, whether it be a small undertaking, a step forward, or a larger undertaking. We will be more active in encouraging and supporting initiatives taken for the Society and for the anthroposophical movement, whether the work of members or the wider community, and we will take initiatives ourselves to help develop anthroposophical activity. There also need to be points of common interest, of coming together and of collective development as a body. We think the annual conference of the Society is the key in this and we will continue to move from participation as just consumers to people being co-creators – an enlivening event which engages the will as well as interests the mind. We have chosen to keep the conference in the same location for a few years so that some experience and expertise can be built up, helping the deepening of what is done. We will take concrete steps to help members who have to travel.
Transparency and purpose The deeper questions about the purpose and openness
Thirty Three Meditations on the Paradox of the Self By Michael Hedley Burton,
ISBN-13: 978-1466272118, available at Amazon
ichael Hedley Burton works actively for the renewal of the art of speech through writing, speech therapy, chirophonetic therapy and live performance. He has written this series of poems and dedicated them to ‘those who will use them to strengthen their own self in accordance with a rightful development of humanity.’ What struck me as a subtle note of importance in the introduction, was the comment from Michael that, “Writing them was not undertaken solely that the book find readers, but that the activity of the writing would, in itself, have an effect in the world.’ This will have resonance for many who are questioning the unfolding of events in the world; floods in Australia, earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan and revolution in the Middle East, to name but a few. What is it that we can be working with ourselves? Will we (humanity) wake to the Paradox of the Self and the mighty battle occurring at this very time? A battle that is both soul size and cosmic size?”
Chirophonetic Therapy in Australasia by Michael Hedley Burton
hirophonetic Therapy (or Chirophonetics) is a form of healing that uses the creative power invested in the sounds of human speech. It was first introduced to New Zealand in 1986 by its discoverers, Drs Alfred Baur and his wife Gunde. Alfred was a speech therapist who worked for many years in Linz, Austria; his wife was an anthroposophical doctor. She lives still and is very active in the work; Alfred died just a few years ago. I was lucky enough to learn from them the year they first came to New Zealand. Alfred had heard that I wrote poetry and the first thing he said to me was that he had some poems he used in the teaching of speech to children and would I turn them into English so that we could do them at the first Chirophonetics course. His poems were extremely funny as well as masterful in the particular qualities of speech that they developed in children, and every night I did a few more translations and we practised them the next day with great hilarity. In the end, I translated (or turned into English equivalents – they were never true translations) almost every poem in his book Fliessend sprechen, and I have gone on to use many of them in all sorts of different situations in my own life. Alfred Baur was really the most creative person I have ever met. The source of his energy and creativity was the Word – for me, he is an example of what any person can become if they take hold of the ‘wellspring of life’ that is present in the sounds of human speech. In many ways, spoken speech is being attacked and broken down in our time, but side by side with this, the pure speech sounds
“We must remember that the evolution of the human self is the great drama underlying all outer events...” (Michael Burton). I found that this series of poems certainly made me think and contemplate myself; the everyday part of me that is shaped by my earthly experiences, and my other self that is sometimes referred to as the ‘silent witness.’ And how the relationship of both of these are critical to the development of humanity. As I read through the poems, one leading onto the next, I had the experience of myself being on a journey. I also found the book could be read as a whole and contemplated in meditation. At the beginning, there is, in the second meditation, a clear warning: …. Here you will find only that the self is a paradox and finish maybe (if you’re lucky) knowing less than when you began.
themselves are being released to work as a therapy in a way that has never been possible before. At that time – this was in Christchurch in 1986 – we were also introduced to his book Healing Sounds which doesn’t show how Chirophonetics is practised but lays a wonderful foundation for it. It has been my bible for many years and is relevant to every aspect of working with language and the sounds of speech. But it was the course itself that was a revelation. Something was awakened in me through it - from the smell of the oil, the intoned sounds as everyone spoke together while working the form onto their partner’s back, the concentration in the room of people working with the creative power of the Word and from the lectures by Alfred, much of which I have remembered and continued to work with all my life. In those first few days, I really didn’t know if these intense experiences were a sign of something that was coming out of the past or pointing towards the future or maybe both! After practising Chirophonetics at Hohepa in Hawke’s Bay under the supervision of Dr. Ken Friedlander, I then spent almost twenty years working in other fields – artistic work that was quite distinct from the therapeutic. Sometimes I was able to do some work with Chirophonetics, but it is hard to combine the practical demands of the artistic and therapeutic fields and I had consciously chosen to make performance speech and drama and the writing of plays my vocation. Then, working for a week in Manila in the Philippines and having just given a first course in what I
You have been warned. You can stop now. (Michael Burton) These words served to make me conscious and awake as I began to read. In the third meditation, there is a reference to the future epoch of mankind, of how that epoch is not now and yet it’s true unfolding really depends on the present; the development of our individuality, our relationship to ourselves and to the other. The meditations continue to move through and between our two selves, challenging us to find a relationship between the two. As stated in the ‘blurb’ at the back of the book: “The poems are like 33 ‘stations of the cross’ and can be used as a deep spiritual study. It is a journey of commitment to the divine within”. … “The two are in an intimate relationship and, through their interactions, our human experience is defined..... “(Michael Burton). As I came to the end of the journey, ‘arriving where we began’, stated in the first lines of the final poem, I was left with a thoughtful attitude which brought to mind the poem of Christopher Fry’s, ‘A Sleep of Prisoners’, that ends with the words ... “Will you wake for pity’s sake, will you wake! ...”
Reviewed by Trisha Glover Sphere
call Transformative Speech, I realised that Steiner’s form of speech, incredibly important for all humanity though it is, could at this point in our evolution only be practised by a relatively small number of people. Whereas Chirophonetics, with its quality of being able to be passed on by a therapist for a parent to do directly with their own child (something that is actually therapeutic for the parent just as much as for the child) seemed to me to have huge possibilities. I did some work with it in the Philippines at the Gamot Cogan Steiner School in Iloilo and also worked in an orphanage and saw the enormous potential that it carries. But before that, I needed to catch up with my own lapsed therapeutic practice. I got in touch with Ulrike Armansperg, who leads the International School of Chirophonetics from Kassel in Germany, and arranged to do some intensive work over a period of months in the summer of 2009, studying with her in Kassel and doing practice in a therapeutic institution nearby. I now live in Sydney and practise speech and Chirophonetics three days a week in my work with adults who have special needs at Miroma and Inala. And a group of us have at last got a new training going, beginning this February – the first in Australia for many years. Although Chirophonetic therapy wasn’t given directly by Rudolf Steiner, it was discovered through Baur’s intense study of Anthroposophy and the principles of Goetheanism. I believe it is as fundamental a therapy as eurythmy therapy. In the latter, patients make with their limbs the formative gestures of speech; in Chirophonetics, these formative forces are laid into the patient’s body through touch. In eurythmy therapy, the patient becomes with their whole body a larynx, while in Chirophonetics, the patient’s whole body becomes an ear. Chirophonetics is sometimes confused with Psychophonetics, the therapy developed and taught by Yehuda Tagar (which was known at first as Philophonetics). There are certain similarities between the two but they are separate healing modalities. The phonetics in both signifies ‘sound’ – the fact that sound is used to heal. But chiro means ‘the hand’ – the sounds, spoken by the therapist, are at the same time imprinted onto the patient’s back or legs or arms. Yehuda had done some Chirophonetics in Sydney with the Baurs and was undoubtedly influenced by what he learned there, but his work, as I understand it, goes much more into psychology. Both therapies are signs of the renewal of healing that can come out of the potential of the sounds of human speech, from the beginnings made in the work of Rudolf and Marie Steiner in the first part of the twentieth century.
Because the patient is still and outwardly passive during a session of Chirophonetics, there are certain conditions it is particularly suited to working with. Those who have had strokes or whose forces are depleted benefit from it – it is one of the early response therapies such as rhythmic massage, bathing therapies, compresses and oil-rubs that a patient can take at the very beginning of a healing process, while eurythmy therapy, and more especially speech, make more demands on the patient’s own capacities and may be more suitable at a later date. In my own work, which is mainly with adults who have special needs, I have many clients who do not speak at all, and I would be at a loss to know what to do with many of them if I had only speech in the techniques at my disposal. I am able to make a choice of one or the other – often a combination of the two – and I find this works very well. And I am getting results with Chirophonetics that go far beyond what I have ever been able to achieve in the past with speech alone. Those who have special needs tend to change very slowly, but I am finding much greater capacity for development through my present work than I have ever witnessed before. Overseas, those who are trained in Chirophonetic Therapy use it in a variety of settings: in extra lesson departments in schools, in medical therapies, in special education and in a great variety of individual situations and private practices. To use it professionally, one needs to have done a total of eight courses spread over four years. Those who practise it must already be trained in another professional healing or education modality; Chirophonetics is as a post-graduate course that they can then use within their chosen profession, as I use it alongside my speech therapy. Between the eight courses that they do, students have a strict programme of individual and group study and practice and must write a series of reports and research essays, culminating in a final research paper that will be read by others and make a contribution to the field of chirophonetic knowledge. I recommend almost anyone who feels drawn to it to attend a first week, regardless of whether they will go further in it. All those years ago, it seemed to me that I received from it a feeling for what the healing of the future can become. It introduced me to the sounds and rhythms of language from a totally new perspective, something that was for me very inspiring and gave me many new insights into my chosen vocation of speech. Although it is many years since Chirophonetics was last taught in New Zealand, there are possibilities that this may happen again in the future. Please contact me if you are interested.
Michael Hedley Burton currently lives in Sydney. His email address is email@example.com
Our Brain and Us: Are We Our Brain? By Diederic Ruarus
n main stream science, in particular amongst neuroscientists and some prominent philosophers, the idea holds that ‘I am my brain’. By that they want to imply that everything we do, feel or express is caused by the brain. By describing the processes that go on in the brain in mechanical and chemical (or biochemical/physiological)
terms, they also put into doubt the possibility of free will. The implications of no free will are far reaching. I’ll also endeavour to contrast this view with the view implied in Anthroposophy; in the process of this article, it will become clear how important the role of our belief system is.
A brief summary of the phenomena: A few years ago there was a party in Edgeware Road, Christchurch which turned nasty. One of the comments made at the time was that the amylgida (an organ in the brain) makes us react in a certain way. In this case it led to a disastrous reaction: the death of one of the party-goers. Modern brain research pinpoints areas of the brain that become active (or show a greater activity than otherwise) when a person does a simple task or is in some psychological state (agitated, angry or in pain). More blood than otherwise flows to the active areas. Generalising: All animal activities or psychological states, including human, are accompanied by or can be correlated with enhanced physiological activity in one or more parts of the brain. Or schematically: animal/human activity or psychological states <-----------> physiological processes in the brain The above should not be controversial. It only points to correlations between a person (you or me, for example) experiencing pain, hatred, anger, happiness or seeing red, hitting a ball or lifting a glass, to name only a few inner experiences or personal actions; the phenomena don’t lead to anything else. The mainstream view1 Many current philosophers, neuroscientists and other scientists and educated people adhere to the following view, which is not always expressed explicitly: all phenomena of our world including human activities (in the broadest sense possible) can (and should) be explained using the laws of physics and chemistry. As these laws apply to physical objects, this point of view is also called physicalism; another name, better indicating its philosophical origin and implications is ontological materialism. This is a point of view that restricts explanations to the material domain. The elements in the explanatory story are derived from concepts, interpreted as pertaining solely to the material world. Proponents of this view are, amongst others, Daniel Dennet2, and Patricia and Paul Churchland3 who basically maintain that our whole life is directed or determined by what goes on in our brain. Please remember that scientists are people and they choose this point of view; the experimental results do not necessarily imply metaphysical materialism. It’s a choice. This view has its opponents in mainstream science; M Bennett and P Hacker4, who argue comprehensively that the view that brains think, perceive or feel pain or rage is rubbish: we perceive, think and feel pain or rage. The brain is an organ, an important one, but still an organ of us, the whole, just like the kidneys or liver are separate organs, notwithstanding that they perform very specific functions. The research results of P van Lommel et al5 on near death experiences also seems to contradict the stance of scientists and philosophers, that physiological processes in the brain are the cause of us experiencing the world. Their findings indicate that people declared clinically dead; i.e., where no brain activity is detected, are able to report to
the researchers what went on around them during the state of ‘clinical death’. Not surprisingly, their results have been rubbished in some quarters. An alternative view If we change our point of view, phenomena will not change, but our insights into the relation between us humans and the rest of nature might well change. The new point of view says: everything in nature is an expression of actions of beings. We could call this point of view ‘ontological beingness’. Another way of putting this is to say that we as human beings are part of a host of beings, some of which are visible to our normal sight, many more invisible. Anthroposophy is one world view which bases its description of the world, its development and our place and role herein on ‘beingness’. In other words, we are agents among many other agents, each doing their bit. Agents respond in many different ways to what goes on around them and must also be able to be active in the physical world, either of themselves or through intermediaries. Humans respond to external and internal events: I feel the pain from an aching tooth, or from the cut resulting from the knife slipping while peeling an orange. I feel anger and incomprehension when I see the film Inside Job6. I also react to these, and other events, in various ways. In some cases, the response is nearly automatic (going to the dentist, grabbing a band aid); others, like deciding to understand more about the causes of the 2008 financial crashes, need more effort and are, in my case, not automatic. I come to realise that there must be some form of mediation or pathway between my I, a non physical entity, and my body to respond in the way I do. The only mediator I can think of which has both non-physical and physical qualities is warmth: non-physical as enthusiasm, we are enthusiastic7 about or have warmed to the development of a ‘green’ car and heat, measurable with a thermometer. In our body, the physical carrier of warmth is our blood. Could it be that our blood, in ways I don’t understand, is that mediator? The anthroposophical view of the human being8 considers blood to be the physical correlate to the ‘I’. To understand this process, more research needs to be done and research already done needs to be reconsidered from the anthroposophical view of the human being or stated more generally from the point of view of ‘ontological beingness’. One last point: If free will is an illusion, which it is for many accepting ontological materialism, then there is no responsibility and, therefore, punishment is unwarranted. Yes, we do need to protect others, so we put those who acted as they had to in simple, well guarded hotels, just like in our current system people deemed to be insane and have committed some serious offence, are locked away in special prisons or hospitals.
Diederic Ruarus lives in Christchurch
1 Weed, L (2011) Philosophy of Mind, an Overview in Philosophy Now, issue 87 Nov/Dec 2011 2 Dennet, D (1991) Consciousness Explained, Penguin Books 3 Churchland, P & P (1988) On the Contrary: Critical Essays 1987-1997. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press. 4 Bennett, MR & Hacker, PMS (2003) Philosophical foundations of neuroscience, Blackwell Publishing. 5 Lommel, P van et all (2001) Near-death experience in survivors of cardiac arrest: a prospective study in the Netherlands, Lancet 2001; 358: 2039-45. See also Frank Visser NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCE? Unique research of Dutch cardiologist Van Lommel gets worldwide attention (http://www.integralworld.net/vanlommel.html) 6 Inside Job by D Fergusson 7 In Dutch one says: “warm lopen voor” = (litt) ‘walk warm for’: be enthusiastic for or have warmed to 8 Steiner, R Occult Science, Study of Man and lectures 4 and 6 from the collection published as From Lucifer to Limestone
Once upon a time, a storyteller took shelter in an ancient hollow tree in old England. When the storm had passed and the sky had cleared, an idea had formed within the Storyteller. A School of Storytelling came into being and many people from all corners of the world studied there. One among them was a student who wanted to study further and who wouldn’t let go! At home again in Aotearoa, Judy Frost-Evans invited the now newly named ‘International School of Storytelling’ to bring their teaching of this ancient art to her land. And so on Waitangi Day 2011, fourteen eager students gathered on the hill above Pukerua Bay and began their study - together they studied for five weeks and that impulse has continued to grow.
The Expanding World of Storytelling by Vee Noble
n November 2011, the In The Belly of the Whale Storytelling Festival took place at Te Ra School on the Kapiti Coast. This was the latest in a number of storytelling events that have taken place in the Wellington area and which could mark the birth of a New Zealand-based School of Storytelling. It was just nine months since Sue Hollingsworth and Ashley Ramsden, from the Emerson-based School of Storytelling, brought The Storyteller in the Community course to New Zealand. Further plans are already well underway, under the guidance of the enthusiastic Judy FrostEvans, for other overseas storytellers to visit our shores. Sue Hollingsworth will return to this country in November 2012 to lead several storytelling workshops, including a weekend workshop and a beginners’ workshop. Sue will also present ‘taster’ workshops for the storytelling courses scheduled for 2013. (See advertisement below). She will also offer several performances and will be available to work with the students from the 2011 course. Prior to that, Annejet Rumke, Natalie Peters and Iris Pedroli will offer a Gilgamesh Workshop - Working with Images in Healing in October 2012 on the Kapiti Coast, in Hawke’s Bay and possibly in Auckland. Annejet, Natalie and Iris have developed workshops
that work with images in healing and use traditional stories to explore our inner worlds. Annejet has been a student at the School of Storytelling at Emerson, is a Doctor and Counsellor and has led many workshops in the Training in Biographical Counselling course in the United Kingdom, and teaches psychiatry in courses and institutions in both Holland and Russia. Natalie Peters is an art therapist in private practice and teacher of Art Therapy at Hogeschool Leiden (University of Applied Sciences). She worked for many years in curative and social/therapeutic communities. Natalie has contributed to workshops and trainings in Holland and the United Kingdom. Iris Pedroli studied music at the Richard-StraussKonservatorium in Munich then attended the Freie Musik Schule which is an anthroposophical guided music education - not only in pedagogical terms but also in a therapeutic way. Iris then completed a training in singingtherapy, and today she is living as a free-lance song therapist in Velbert-Langenberg, Germany. Iris has contributed to workshops and trainings in Germany, England and Japan. The weekend course will explore the realm of the imaginative, working with pictures from dream, myth and story. Inspired by Gilgamesh’s journey to places beyond the boundaries of this world, in search of an answer to the riddle of humanity, the workshop will examine how such images can nourish and enthuse us, and consider the processes by which they can be worked with to support and stimulate the healing processes in others. There will be talks, artistic exercises, and opportunities to share and discuss personal and professional experiences with the subject matter. Taking the question asked of Gilgamesh at a critical point in his journey, “Who shall convene for you the gods’ assembly, so you may find the life that you seek?” the workshop will also examine both personal themes and the more general issue of the use of healing images in therapy. In the first part of the weekend (Friday and Saturday) artistic exercises (musical, movement and drawing), based on archetypal themes from the epic, will allow development of a personal relationship to the story, as we interactively explore issues such as boundaries, thresholds, encounters, meaning and transformation. On Sunday there will be a focus on the use of healing images with participants exploring seven developmental steps that can form a bridge between ourselves and our client, and consider both the ‘ impressive’ and more ‘expressive’ use of images in therapy. This workshop has been developed by Annejet Rümke, Natalie Peters and Iris Pedroli for counsellors, psychotherapists, art therapists and anyone working with clients in a therapeutic relationship. For expressions of interest or to book a place in this workshop, please contact Judy Frost-Evans 04-2398346 or 021-1121244 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Vee Noble compiled this article after interviews with Judy Frost-Evans
Sawubona1: We See You
The journey towards creating an Urban Social Community Centre by Thomas Burton
am currently half way through my year of studying social entrepreneurship through the Youth Initiative Programme (YIP) in Sweden. As part of my studies, I am undertaking a personal initiative outside of my normal classes and tasks, the focus of which is entirely up to me. For my personal initiative, I have chosen to focus on developing the foundations for an urban social community centre, with the aim of developing and nurturing the social realm in the urban environment. This piece describes the journey that brought me to finding my area of focus, and my hopes for how this initiative will develop in the future. Four years ago, towards the end of two years travelling around the world after High School, I found myself in Edinburgh, Scotland. At that time, I was carrying the question: why have my most enjoyable and rewarding experiences been in smaller towns and communities? Having grown up in a large metropolitan city all my life, one could assume that I would be more comfortable in that environment. However, I struggled to feel happy and healthy in bigger towns and cities. I’m not sure when exactly it became clear, but I now know the answer to be that what I found in those smaller communities was a sense of a more relaxed and welcoming reception. Furthermore, there were generally closer and stronger relationships, and most importantly for me, a sense that I was seen and appreciated as an individual, something I imagine everyone can relate to seeking in life. Edinburgh is a special place to me for many reasons, most of which I cannot name. However, one experience stands out in particular as having a great impact on my memory of the city. I came across an initiative called The Forest Cafe, which describes itself as “a volunteer-run, collectively-owned, free arts and events space masquerading as a vegetarian cafe”. Initially I was slightly bewildered and unsure of what this strange place was all about, as there were no signs or brochures, explaining what was going on. However, this turned out to be a gift in disguise (and is just one example of how they create such a strong and unique community atmosphere), as I was immediately forced to break through the habitual and widely unspoken but accepted international city rule of not talking to people I don’t know. I spent several very rewarding weeks volunteering there, learning a lot, meeting and having great conversations with many people I had never met, and having the most fun I had had in a long time. This time taught me a lot, and is the first time in my life when I felt that I could see my purpose and role in this world. For as long as I could remember, I was fascinated by people, and especially why so many seem able to go on living in a way which doesn’t fulfill their dreams and make their heart sing. In my youthful idealism, I just couldn’t understand or accept it (for the record, this hasn’t changed, and I hope it never does). I knew I wanted to help myself and others to overcome the obstacles to happiness, but didn’t know where to start, as there seemed so many areas that needed attention (health, finances, relationships,
environment, etc.). Finally, after spending Thomas Burton at YIP time at The Forest Cafe, it seemed to make more sense, and from my own experience, I became aware that when I am truly seen and appreciated, I shine more brightly, and feel stronger and more alive than ever. I was captivated by this simple but profound initiative, and started asking about other urban establishments around the world where true social connection was being nurtured and co-created. I was told about many similar models being set up in different countries around the world, but what excited me most was hearing of two people in Auckland who had helped to run The Forest Cafe, and were wanting to create a similar initiative back in Aotearoa. When I arrived back home later that year, I sought out the two inititatives I had been told about, ready to dive into it with all my might. Unfortunately for me, they lived in the real world, and were now busy working on apprenticeships. While they still carried the dream, they reluctantly admitted that due to the huge commitment of time and money required for such an initiative, they had put the idea on hold indefinitely. I could understand their response, and as I didn’t know where to start on my own, placed the dream on the back-burner for the time being. I too was soon consumed by my own studies; however, the idea never completely died, as I would bring it up with anyone who would listen. We would discuss back and forth about the best possible location, people and networks to work with, etc., wanting to hear if there were others out there with the same impulse and dream that I carried. Gladly I received many encouraging responses, as others saw, like I did, that cities, such as Auckland, where so many people are looking out only for themselves, could greatly benefit from such a place. Somewhere where things were a little slower and more relaxed, where striving for the impossible and beautiful is encouraged, and where we look out for each other as much (if not more) than we look out for ourselves. Fast-forward to 2011, a year in which this initiative has taken some big steps. In January, at a Youth Gathering I helped organise and host at the Waldorf School in Dunedin, I invited participants to a discussion around this idea. The discussion led to many more questions, which challenged me to clarify and explore my vision further. I knew I wanted to create a space for true social meeting, but how, with what tools and structure, where, when and why? As I held these questions, all the time seeing new flickers of parts of my dream manifesting all over Aotearoa, I had what I describe as a ‘creative moment’. I was lying resting after a therapeutic treatment and was suddenly flooded with a vision during which all my questions and concerns faded away, and I had an experience like nothing I had known before. I felt a sense of tremendous freedom, as though anything was possible; I felt great excitement and simultaneously pure inner tranquility; I felt warmth, clarity, effortlessness and a sense of steadfast trust in all things. I then felt more strongly
than ever that this was my work, and struggled to focus on the semester of study I had left in Auckland, as my heart was yearning to run out and start building and creating.
importance of finding the delicate balance between form and freedom that is needed for such an initiative to meet the current needs of the world.
Meanwhile, throughout the years, another pathway had been quietly beckoning me toward distant shores. The sparkle in their eyes, the passion in their voices, and the amazing tools and techniques they carried meant participants of YIP had long-since convinced me that when the time was right I too would find myself studying there. Was that time now upon me? I still carried the same deep enthusiasm and dedication for my vision, but also carried a fear that I could lose the impulse if I did not act immediately. Eventually, I decided to harness my strong inner will and steer it towards the thinking and preparation of the vision, rather than straight into outward action, in order to create a really sturdy and sound foundation. YIP was to be my time of ‘finger exercises’, the practice of preparing myself for the challenges to come by initially accepting some smaller and more manageable ones. So, suddenly I found myself in Ytterjärna, Sweden, surrounded by 40 amazing young people from 18 different countries, all carrying unique and exciting new questions, callings and impulses. YIP quickly surpassed my wildest dreams of what I thought ‘formal study’ could be. I am repeatedly inspired and humbled by the enormous strength, radiance and authenticity which everyone involved in YIP carries. I can happily report that it feels quite clear that this is perfect culture for the ongoing development of my vision, and the numerous questions, ideas and initiatives that are related to it.
Looking forward now, I have many exciting projects planned in relation to this vision. I will work with a focusgroup over the next six months to continue to research and develop the vision further, and, in the process, create a business-friendly plan for its future implementation. In February, I will also be spending a one month internship in Kathmandu, Nepal, at the Kevin Rohan Memorial Eco Foundation(KRMEF) that Rosa Henderson wrote so beautifully about in the last issue of Sphere. Their current focus is on building a Home and Waldorf Kindergarten for underprivileged children and orphans from the local area, and a group of us from YIP are helping them raise the significant funding required to purchase the land and building materials required. Our hope is that we can help them meet their funding requirements by the middle of February, and that the five of us that will be interning there will be able to participate in the beginning of the building work for the new home. I am immensely looking forward to this experience, having never travelled in the Asian Continent before, while having spent so much of my studies researching the ways of the ancient Vedic peoples. Furthermore, I feel that it will be very relevant to developing my vision further, as I believe there are many similarities between the two initiatives, for as Rosa reported in her piece about KRMEF, their vision is about “striving towards a healthy, sustainable, vibrant and inclusive model village.” Furthermore, during my time there, I hope to learn not only practical skills around ecological building techniques, healthcare and biodynamic farming, but also more about what the key qualities and tools are which create a strong and healthy community and social sphere.
This dream has contributed greatly to my YIP experience (and vice-versa), and the search for practical application led me and others on an amazing and unforeseeable journey. What follows is a brief description of just one of those journeys: I initially held a ‘open-space’ discussion around possible ways to create or influence ‘Social Cultural Community Spaces’. From that discussion came many suggestions, a lot of them based on the idea of ‘random acts of kindness, as a way to wake people from the slumber and repetition of daily life.’ Another suggestion that came up was helping integrate in some way the largely segregated Middle-Eastern Immigrants, a large proportion of whom lived in what is known as the worst ghetto in Sweden, not far from where we study. Finally, the group that had formed to work on this question decided on using the ‘Oasis Game’ methodology we had learned earlier in the year (that is, a week-long exercise to strengthen and empower a community in a way that is fast, free and fun!). We discussed where and with whom we would want to work, and after seeking the advice and opinion of many different people, the opportunity arose to work with the Class 8 aged pupils from the school in the aforementioned ghetto nearby. After six busy weeks of meetings, research, presentations, trials, reconnaissance missions, more meetings, and a bit of fun, we stood in a circle with the 50 students and let The Game begin. Although this week turned out to be more rewarding than it was challenging, the challenges were indeed significant, and a great learning opportunity for everybody involved. The most rewarding aspect of The Game was not what the students created, although it was indeed spectacular. What really amazed us was that we achieved in one small week, our entire vision; to break through stereotypes, bring people together, enhance belief in the self and community, create co-operation within the community, and all in a manner that was fast, free and fun! One of the biggest lessons that I can take from this experience is the
Finally, in April, YIP hosts Initiative Forum 2012, aimed at providing a space for support, inspiration, collaboration and networking for those working for sustainable positive change in the world. I have been involved primarily in helping develop the content or framework for this event. This project also relates strongly to my vision, and the idea of creating a launching platform for such initiatives on a more local setting, that also acted as an example of what is possible when we work with each other, for each other. Today I stand at the half-way point of YIP, and although I do not yet have a finished business plan, or a location or building set aside, things are certainly taking shape very fast for what YIP calls the personal Initiative. In actual fact, I have found myself having to practise patience and restraint with this work, as I sense that to create too much form and structure would be as harmful as having too little, for it would cease to be alive and adapting to the needs of the world. Although I am now lucky enough to have an amazing group of friends and support from all over the world, I would love to hear from anyone in Aotearoa who is passionate about this vision, or has ideas or questions they would like to share with me. Thomas Burton has actively participated in the Youth Gatherings in New Zealand. He can be reached by email at: email@example.com 1. Sawubona is a Zulu greeting which means ‘we see you’, and for me represents the understanding I have that we can all achieve our highest dreams, and when we knowledge this in ourselves and others, powerful changes will occur.
Call today on 0800 776 648 or visit www.prometheus.co.nz