- by Dorothy Lebaron
I attended the Worldwide Biography Conference held from June 28 to July 3, at Emerson College in England. This was the first conference taking place under the new initiative on the site of Emerson College, called “Emerson Trust.” The theme for this year’s conference was “Living in an Awareness of Karma.”
Biography, as a new profession, is much more established in Europe and also Brazil, than it is in North America. Its roots go back to the late 1970s, in Holland, inspired by the work of Bernard Lievegoed. The first worldwide biography conference was held in 1987, and they now take place every two years.
There were more than 100 participants in the conference, from the Netherlands, the UK, Switzerland, Japan, Romania, Brazil, Israel, Germany, the USA, and myself from Canada.
Many of these countries have biography training programs, with graduates often working in the field of biographical counseling or biographical coaching. However, there is also a recognition for “biography workers” or “biography practitioners,” who are professionals who work with human development out of anthroposophy but not with a “counseling” specialty. As Michaela Glöckler said in her keynote lecture, everybody will do their jobs better when they have done biography work. Everybody needs it.
The conference was rich and exciting. It began with two days of master classes, allowing participants to experience the deep learning that biography can offer. In the shorter presentations offered in the marketplace, one could learn about techniques other people are researching and using in the field. There were two evening dialogues where we all gathered in silence and conversation around the theme of “Listening to the Earth” and “Listening to the Karma.”
One of the conference participants from Japan, Yukiko, had assembled fifty-five beautiful photos of Fukushima that were taken before the area was hit by the disaster of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant destruction. It created a powerful entry into our theme of looking at the time and circumstances we are living in, and recognizing the place where our personal destiny meets the destiny of humanity. Through working individually and in groups we were guided into finding a world event that touched us, recognizing in this event our own personal struggle, meeting the forces at work there, and allowing that struggle to show us a future step. It was very powerful.
There is a pioneering quality to biography work. Questions living in the conference participants were about growing this work, finding applications for it, and a sense of how much it can offer people living in these complex times and searching for deeper meaning and understanding in their lives. As Michaela Glöckler said, in each person’s biography lives their own initiation path. This is a very new branch of anthroposophic work.
Dorothy LeBaron is a faculty member at Arscura, School for Living Art, where there is a biography training program called Biography—Life as Art.