When I left my home sweet home to travel to Dornach at the end of March, spring had just let us know it was coming; a burst of unforeseeable heat had coaxed the buds out of their winter slumber. And when I arrived in Switzerland I was greeted by another wave of spring – the fruit trees were in full blossom, as if to welcome the participants coming from around the globe to attend the preparatory gatherings for the General Anthroposophical Society’s annual general meeting. A number of meetings had been scheduled bringing the Executive Committee together with Section Leaders, General Secretaries and other national representatives. These sessions took place in a spirit of cordiality despite the intensity of the work. And as always, these gatherings gave us the opportunity of hearing how the Society is alive in the various countries. One noteworthy event was the news of the founding of the Anthroposophical Society in India last October. Indeed, Hans van Florenstein-Mulder’s work in the field of biodynamic farming has borne fruit in several Asian countries. And there are now members of the School for Spiritual Science in India and in Taiwan.
One of the items on the agenda was the theme of the year: The Identity of the Anthroposophical Society.
The 100th anniversary of the founding of the Society in Cologne was mentioned, and there are festivities planned for this fall to commemorate this founding. The question of the identity of the Society embraces many aspects and requires some serious reflection on our part. Do we identify it historically? Do we consider its most important aspect to be the various initiatives carried by the members? And what about its future? These and other questions are to be considered in the light of Rudolf Steiner’s fundamental impulse and the spiritual research of the School for Spiritual Science.
During these meetings in Switzerland I was able to confirm Bodo von Plato’s visit to Montreal on August 17th and 18th. Bodo von Plato has been a member of the Executive Committee since 2001 and is actively involved in the Goetheanum’s worldwide meditation initiative. He will give a lecture in English on Consciousness and Emerging Identity and will conduct a meditation workshop in French. There are at present several initiatives in the United States and Europe designed to support and encourage meditative practice, where experiences can be shared and with facilitators who can offer help. We hope to be able to join in this worldwide movement here in Canada.
In June, Monique Walsh and I attended the meetings of the Collegium held in Spring Valley. The arrival of new Section representatives has brought new life to this group: Prairie Adams (Pedagogical Section), Jennifer Greene (Natural Science Section), Bert Chase (Visual Arts Section), and Peter Buckbee (Social Sciences Section). The ongoing research question within the context of the School for Spiritual Science is that of the nature of the elemental world. Our conversation periods were enhanced by sessions of artistic activities. We also had the opportunity to meet with the Class Holders of the region and hope to be able to organize such meetings in the future in other areas of the continent. Virginia Sease participated in these gatherings and her presence served to strengthen the link between the North American Collegium and the Goetheanum. Indeed, the School for Spiritual Science is one of the essential aspects of the identity of the Anthroposophical Society. Rudolf Steiner referred to it as the “Soul of the Society.” The Collegium is now committed to sharing its research questions with members of the School across the entire continent.
During the course of the last two months I have had the opportunity to meet with members’ groups in Quebec and Ontario. In Sherbrooke, there is a very active members’ group which has chosen for its name: Vers les sources (which can be translated alternately as Back to the Sources or Back to the Spring/Wellspring). In Ottawa, I was invited in April to participate in a conference entitled: Building a Social Future. This event was organised by the Confluence of the Three Rivers branch and bore witness to the dynamic activity taking place there.
It is interesting to note that the theme of community was also an integral part of our May members’ conference in Toronto. In this day and age of marked individualism, being able to work together becomes all the more challenging for us, and this has an impact on the very future of the Anthroposophical Society. An additional challenge for us as Canadians is the fact that there are such great distances separating the various members’ groups across our country. For several years it has become apparent that the members who attend the general meetings are for the most part those who are local residents. This was particularly striking at our last AGM in Toronto where only a very few members came from the West Coast and five from Quebec and Nova Scotia.
How can we facilitate members meeting other members? Colin Rioux-Beauséjour, at the close of his article in the last issue of Glimpses in which he wrote about the activities of the Sherbrooke Branch, encouraged members from across the land to give us news of their work by taking turns writing about it, even if their activity is only described in a few sentences. This would give us the sense of belonging to a much larger community. Anthroposophy manifests as a spiritual being wherever members work together. This is another aspect to consider when we speak of the identity of the Society.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Regine Kurek and Monique Walsh for their devotion and commitment to the work of the Council. Working with them has been a great pleasure.
Arie van Ameringen, General Secretary