Thursday, March 8, 2012

School For Spiritual Science

Dear Friends,
In recent years there has been much focus on the question of research within the Anthroposophical Society. This has naturally led us to conversations about the School for Spiritual Science, the First Class and its task.  This in turn has had the happy result of making the School more visible to everyone, of removing what some experienced as a veil of mystery from it.

Concurrently the theme of the General Anthroposophical Section, often referred to as the Universally Human Section, has emerged as a foundational piece and with this the awareness of a need to bring still more clarity to other aspects of the School for Spiritual Science, namely the different Sections within in the School, the North American Collegium and developing section work in Canada.

In an effort to make the Sections more visible to the members here in Canada, I will identify them and list the Section Representatives in North America, together with their contact information.  But first, as it has been pointed out to me that not everyone is aware that there are representatives of Sections in North America as well as in Dornach, I feel that a brief history of the Sections and Collegium and its relationship to the Executive Council and Section leaders in Dornach may be of help.

In 1981 at a conference held in Spring Valley, New York, where all but one member of the Vorstand (Executive Council) was present, Manfred Schmidt-Brabant announced that the assembled Vorstand envisioned an eventual Goetheanum in the West. He also spoke of one in the East, perhaps Japan, where they had recently visited.

Whether this referred to a physical building or not is still a matter of debate today, 30 years later. What is clear though is that when asked what would need to be done, how one would prepare for such an eventuality, his response was unequivocal; Sections needed to be established in North America. This task was then taken up by members of the First Class who were already actively involved in specific fields of work. For example, a number of individuals involved in biodynamics who heard the call of Schmidt-Brabant began to meet with the question of forming an Agricultural Section in mind, as did others in the fields of medicine, the arts and so on.

In 1992 and 1993 active members within Sections were invited to join the annual meetings of Class Holders and Executive Council members and by 1994 an interim Collegium was formed. This body over time evolved into the Collegium of today, which consists of representatives from each Section. There is often a representative from the Executive Council in Dornach, and a member from the American Council. The General Secretary of Canada has been a member of the Collegium since 1994.  In 2011, with the evolution of the General Anthroposophical Section work, our council in Canada asked the Collegium to consider having a member from Canada join them out of this Section. After due process this step was approved.
Of course, this brief history does not answer the fundamental question of why Schmidt-Brabant answered as he did. Why develop Sections? What is their task? Why a Collegium? And in fact, the how was never really indicated either.

In truth, this is in and of itself a research question. There can be no ready answers.
Rudolf Steiner encouraged all students of Anthroposophy to be researchers: to question our very humanity and see if we could out of our own experiences support his findings; to ask questions of ourselves and observe the answers, as well as the new questions that arise, which will lead us deeper into the mysteries of our humanity.

I would like to share a gift that I received many years ago when attending a talk by Joop van Dam in the context of a medical conference. He was speaking about the patient study that doctors engage in when researching the mystery of the illness of a patient. He then described how he carried this question of what it was that was ailing his patient. It accompanied him in his waking and sleeping life. Then he and his wife took time to themselves to visit an art gallery. Dr van Dam then described how it was in the contemplation of a painting that he came to a certain clarity regarding the illness of this patient that he had been carrying in his heart and thoughts.

I refer to this as a gift, because my experience in this was one of being given permission and encouragement to see myself as a researcher, although for myself the gift was accompanied by a sense of responsibility. Of course, this is a very personal experience, but I believe it is indicative of a sense of forward movement in this area of research that is shared by many.

In finishing I would like to address a concern living for some members by stressing that while trying to develop Section work here in Canada, we are very sensitive to the truth that the School of Spiritual Science stands beyond the concept of borders. However, we are equally aware that to be a truly North American Collegium, it is essential that we be in a position to offer a Canadian sensibility.  I cannot emphasize enough that we do not wish to establish a separate entity; our impulse is to strengthen the work of the Sections here in Canada out of the recognition of the importance of this work.

With these words I would now like to introduce the different Sections and their representatives on the Collegium:

Anthroposophical Section~         
 Penelope Baring:
 Rüdger Janisch:
Monique Walsh:
This Section is characterized as both the starting point and the centre for the School for Spiritual Science. All members of the School, of the First Class, are members of this Section (although not all are aware of this, a point that I will address at a future time)

Section for Agriculture~ Sherry Wildfeur
Section for the Literary Arts & Humanities ~ Marguerite Miller,
Medical Section~ Gerald Karnow,

Natural Science Section~ Elizabeth Howe,

Pedagogical Section~

Performing Arts Section, Eurythmy, Speech, Drama & Music~ Helen Lubin                    

Social Science Section~

Section for the Spiritual Striving of Youth~ Kathleen Morse,

Visual Arts Section~ Bert Chase,              

General Council, Anthroposophical Society in America~ Ann Finucane
General Council, Anthroposophical Society in Canada~ Arie van Ameringen
Executive Council, Goetheanum~ Virginia Sease

Collegium Member
~ Michael Howard,

Please note that, other than the prerequisite of being a member of the School for Spiritual Science, which is common to all Sections, each one has its own protocol for joining. The best way to find out the protocol for a specific Section would be to contact the person responsible for the Section directly.
- Monique Walsh

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