16 Mar From the World Society On Seeking the School
Dear Members and Friends of the Anthroposophical Society in Canada,
We have all experienced the weight in our souls of an imposed distance between us throughout this past year.
Reflecting on this absence awakens an awareness of how we have taken for granted our ability to come together as fellow students of anthroposophy. We can appreciate how the life that we share in our groups, these common strands that are incorporated into our lives, give our lives meaning. This shared sense of life’s significance has become the chapel that we return to, ever and again, to renew our orientation to a world that at times seems without order. The gift of being together in our groups, supporting each other’s quest for understanding that anthroposophy provides, has become an anchor in the unsettled waters of contemporary life.
This is the loss we have experienced over this past year. The surface of this sense of absence is this inability to meet together. The deeper current is the loss of support we provide each other for maintaining equilibrium in the increasing disorientation that our contemporary life presents us. It is this anchor of anthroposophy, that we cultivate when we meet together, that is the ache of absence that we have all been grappling with.
Can this ‘time of separation’ make it possible to see more clearly that the underlying structures in our biographies have led us, guided us, to meet the ‘one’ who has made it possible for us to form our relationship to anthroposophy? With reflection we can recognize that this introduction is a profoundly significant point in our lives, a doorway that has led us to connect ourselves with the vessel, the body, that Rudolf Steiner brought into the sense world during the Christmas Conference of 1923/24, the Anthroposophical Society. This intersection between our individual biographies and the ‘biography’ of the being who stands behind anthroposophy has led to fundamental changes in our lives. We can consider our lives before this meeting, this intersection, and recognize that something fundamental was missing – an empty place within ourselves that we can also see as a kind of vessel prepared to receive what flows into it from the being who stands behind anthroposophy – Anthroposophia.
These points of intersection become signposts in life, points where its accustomed flow is redirected and becomes something different from what it was. We can recall with gratitude the ‘one’ who was the bridge from a life before and a life after this meeting. We can sense, intuit, the presence of guidance working through these events. That there is a hidden order in the forming of our biographies that has led us to this shift in our lives. It is to this unseen ordering that Rudolf Steiner often calls our attention, the shaping hand of destiny.
In our familiar life, the life that comes into being when we wake and conceals itself again with sleep, recognizing these significant points is possible. Each point of recognition is a profoundly significant step in learning to read the story of ourselves. Learning to apprehend our biographies once we have learned how to read them is far more difficult. Understanding ‘why’, is an even more challenging journey. We can appreciate the extraordinary complexity and majesty of our biographies and not ask why they have been shaped as they are. Why were we led to the one who would become the way for us to anthroposophy? Why did we not turn away? Why did we step onto this path that has ‘re-sculpted’ our lives?
These questions demand of us a much more subtle perception, one that intuits beyond our ‘known life’, the life that comes into being with birth and conceals itself again with death. We are called to cultivate a delicate perception beneath the formative patterns of this ‘known life’ to deeper currents that flow beneath what we experience as the boundaries that define ‘my life’, deeper currents that appear in life as these critical turning points. From this perspective Rudolf Steiner asks us to see that what has shaped our lives, bringing us to anthroposophy, has not to do with this ‘known life’ but rises from deeper intentions that stream unhindered from life to life. When an awareness of these underlying currents wakes up in us, it stirs a deeper longing for understanding – an understanding that cannot be found in the sense world. It leads us to seek for a comprehension that can only come from within our own souls. We seek not only an understanding of the sense world, but a knowing of a hidden inner presence, this continuity-of-self that rises up with each life. It is this quest for inner comprehension that brings us to another step in our journey ‘within’, a longing to take up the path of inner knowing.
With this new threshold Rudolf Steiner opens up a wealth of practices brought to us as spiritual students. He provides multiple pathways by which we can take up this inner schooling. Here too there is another ‘meeting’. Out of the great wealth of inner guidance offered us, there comes a point when we ‘recognize’ that way that we intuitively grasp as appropriate. For some, this inner discovery becomes the precious gift that they cultivate throughout the rest of their lives. For others, one inner gateway leads to another. Then a sense for yet a third threshold, a third bridge, lights up. Then, once again we seek for a community of fellow companions on this inner way. The communities of our anthroposophical groups that have provided our anchors for understanding the world, now become a longing for the community of those sharing this inner journey.
This becomes a quest for the circle of sisters and brothers to which we belong. This is one of the organs of the new mystery school that Rudolf Steiner points to in the Christmas Conference and becomes an established reality in the following months, as the School of Spiritual Science. Here we are faced with great enigmas. With the birth of the School of Spiritual Science, Rudolf Steiner no longer speaks of himself as a teacher, but as a brother among a community of sisters and brothers. This is a very great mystery. He also makes it clear that this is not only an esoteric school, but the re-establishment of an active, working, inter-relationship between the human being and spiritual beings, whose intention it is to bring about a transformation of human culture. In order to become an active participant in this process, the complete re-formation of human societies, each of us must take responsibility for the hindrances within ourselves that block this transformative process. In order for a community dedicated to this process of re-creation to arise, two conditions must be met.
The first is to consciously commit ourselves to being a fellow carrier of this new mystery impulse – the impulse to reshape all human relationships. In asking to become an active participant in this mystery steam for the future, the School of Spiritual Science, we face a fundamental personal question that brings us to the second condition. Am I willing to take up the task of transforming myself so that I can be recognized, be seen, as one who stands for this completely new humanity? Do I will to truly become a representative of anthroposophy? It is this dual commitment, as an intention, that forms the gateway through which we enter the School.
Having set these intentions, we are immediately confronted by our inability to realize them! We are confronted by all that we bring with us in the nature of hindrances, built into our souls by the very time in which we live. These are the barriers that confront us and that the School is structured to address. The first step toward realizing our intention to be a representative of anthroposophy is to recognize, and take responsibility for, these hindrances. This is the path that is taken together with the circle of one’s sisters and brothers within the School through the lessons of the First Class. This is the preparation taken, over and over again, to address the barriers we bring with us into our present life. This preparation makes it possible for us to take up our vow, the vow to be collaborators in the creation of a new human culture built on fundamental principles that holds to humanity as spiritual, rather than solely material, beings.
It is then that we can take a third step. First making a vow to truly become a living example of anthroposophy in life. Then taking responsibility for all that we bring that prevents us from being able to do this, taking up the inner development needed to do this. It is then that we can seek for our collaborators in realizing our intentions, those who share these commitments in life. We can then recognize those who seek to spiritualize their daily tasks as we would ourselves. We find those with whom we can take up our commitments to help transform human culture, lifting it from its material foundation into its spiritual possibilities.
This is the work of the Sections of the School of Spiritual Science. In these Sections we can engage our individual volitions, engage our wills, in such a way that we do so within the context of others striving to bring about this re-forming of all human striving. Together we turn the ship of culture from its earthly horizons to the spiritual stars that would guide us into a new future. This is the mighty impulse of the new mystery inaugurated by Rudolf Steiner during the Christmas Conference and made present with the first lessons of the School of Spiritual Science in the following months.
It is into this mighty responsibility as co-committed communities of sisters and brothers that we ask to enter in seeking to become a member of the School of Spiritual Science.