From the World Society: On Our Wounds and Our Healing

From the World Society: On Our Wounds and Our Healing

Dear Members and Friends of the Anthroposophical Society in Canada,
Many years ago, I was very fortunate to be part of the architectural group at Emerson College in Sussex, England when one of the leading anthroposophical physicians from the Netherlands visited the college and spoke about wounds and their healing. He made a seemingly simple statement, one that affected me deeply and has been a guide in my life since. What he brought as a distillation of his long career in anthroposophical medicine was this:
“The wound that is healed becomes a sense organ”
We all have the experience of scar tissue formed by the healing of a physical wound. We can experience how this tissue becomes more sensitive than it had been. He used this example of the physical process to help us understand the much more significant wounding of our souls. This is the wounding that is the path of human incarnation we have chosen before birth, reaching back into intentions arising out of our previous incarnations. Perhaps the greatest gift of anthroposophy is this knowledge, this startling revelation, that what we meet in life, what we draw toward ourselves in life, arises out of the mysteries of destiny, the countenance of karma. This reality, the fundamental understanding of the working of karma and destiny in our time – and the centrality of the Archetype of Humanity in these processes, Rudolf Steiner saw as his primary task, that which he was meant to bring to humanity at this time.
As we journey through our lives, meeting the situations and conditions we have pre-planned for ourselves, we meet what we seek so that we can accomplish what is only possible in a human incarnation – the transformation of the hindrances we have built up in this remarkable journey toward becoming fully human. If we pay attention to our biographies, we can recognize that it is at those points where we feel deeply hurt, deeply wounded, that have provided the doorways to fuller self-knowledge.
But we must choose to step through.
As we reflect on this extraordinary process, we can also recognize that in truly walking this ‘path of life’ toward our true self, we develop remarkable sensitivities of soul that do indeed become soul organs. To be conscious of this process, to awaken to this, is especially critical in our time at the beginning of a completely new stage in human development.
The age which came to its conclusion at the beginning of the 20th century awakened the unique experience of ourselves as distinct individuals that we now take for granted. We feel ourselves enclosed within our own experience of being, standing in the midst of a surrounding world that is separate from our sense of identity – a necessary step in our human journey. It has left us with the deep soul wound of experiencing ourselves as being alienated from our fellow human beings and from the world; isolated in our individual identities, the illusion of a self.
It is within this great world condition that we are given an extraordinary gift of how to begin healing this wound of isolation – our Society of seekers in anthroposophy with its central principle being the cultivation of the life of soul in the individual and in the world. This Anthroposophical Society is a place of healing for the wound of the age that is now behind us.
It is extraordinary to realize that Rudolf Steiner’s initiatives made conscious what was awakening within the shared soul life of humanity. We can marvel that the development of the psycho-therapeutic path of healing, which had its birth in a form necessary for our time, struggled through its infancy at the same time as Rudolf Steiner brought clarity to what the soul drama of humanity is now. What can touch us deeply is to observe how this collective mood of soul sought new language to describe these newly developing experiences. What developed was a new way of perceiving our interrelationships that we have begun to describe as the cultivation of ‘empathy’: a collective recognition, a collective human longing, that Rudolf Steiner so remarkably places into the context of our life reaching back before birth into our previous incarnations.
The Council had its midwinter meeting in Calgary, Alberta and took the opportunity with members there to turn to the fundamental human process of facing our soul wounds within the context of our shared life in anthroposophy. We spent a day together, working in small groups, with the intention of creating spaces of deep listening, of non-judgement, with focused attention on each other – the foundation for cultivating this newly developing capacity. We can consider whether this would have been possible in a previous age where the insertions of sympathy and antipathy, the activity of counter forces in our souls, could so easily be activated. Once again, the awareness given to us by Rudolf Steiner is immensely helpful, therapeutic. There can be something in our souls that rises up in relationship to one who has not been able to heal. On the one hand we may have an urgent need to take on the healing process, to expedite it, to heal the wound for them. Sympathy flows into the relationship; a luciferic insertion into the life of soul occurs. Or we can have an inverse response; we can have a deep need to rid ourselves of the wound – to cauterize the wound – and an ahrimanic insertion into soul life occurs. In both cases we can ask, perhaps we must ask, am I supporting or am I hindering the healing process?
Or we can ask, in seeking to meet each other within the context of this Anthroposophical Society – dedicated to the cultivation of the life of soul in the individual and in the community – have we made a commitment to each other to find a way between these two counter poles, to seek for the middle way?
What is this middle path? How can I recognize its presence in my own soul? How can I experience it in our meetings with each other? These are the questions that we are left with as a Council – significant questions that can perhaps inform and guide us all.
As our days together in this cold midwinter drew to a close, we shared a deep gratitude for having had the opportunity to work together with such sensitivity and care. As we made our various trips to the airport, breathing in the frigid air, crunching through frozen snow, our shared experience was the deep warmth of our fellow seekers in anthroposophy – a profound longing for healing.
Facing these fundamental challenges is perhaps not so apparent in most of our centres across the country, where larger groups of members can find those with whom they can undertake this sensitive task of becoming truly human. As we move away from these vibrant centres into areas of our vast country where circles of members become smaller, where they become isolated, finding the right way to carry this fundamental pain of humanity, our current soul condition, becomes ever more difficult.
For those who have the privilege of being in active vibrant centres of anthroposophy, where we too may be ‘snowed in’, perhaps it is critical that we cultivate together the consciousness that across our country there are small, isolated, groups of members working sincerely and conscientiously to cultivate in the right way the wonder of our shared cosmos of soul. Carry them with you, warmly.
With warm regards,