The conference held in Montreal during the AGM weekend in May was an opportunity for meeting friends and sharing thoughts and experiences centred around the research theme presented by guest lecturer Dennis Klocek: The Challenge of our Social Will. The conference ended with a eurythmy presentation by a group of French-language Montreal eurythmists and performances by professional singers and musicians. I came away from the weekend with a sense of having been greatly enriched by the experience, and I express my deepest gratitude to all those involved in making the conference a success. I would like to share with you some of my personal recollections of the keynote lectures.
Dennis began his lectures by relating the various levels of current technology to our will forces. He described how technology as magic – meaning a force which we cannot explain – manifests through abstraction and data and is spread through media. Threatened by adverse spiritual forces, the human being can learn to activate his personal will, which is different in quality from the will in nature. He is being called upon to work to “disenchant” the elemental beings, to free them. This is the image of the Fall and of Salvation. Taking control of one’s inner images allows one to become a “magician” oneself. In the age of “manas” we are called upon to create living images in the social sphere.
Secondly, Dennis drew our attention to the fact that the thing that characterizes the human being is his personal inner activity. When we are under the influence of adrenaline we are not human. Substance dependency creates an excess of dopamine and brings about an inflammatory process in the brain. We must find a state of balance between inflammation and inhibition. The Rosicrucian path trains our thinking forces and allows us to be able to live with questions, since higher truths express themselves in paradoxes. We must learn to enter actively into the images which come to us from the sense world; entering livingly into images in order to experience the underlying human activity allows us to stimulate our social will. For example, when looking at a brick wall, we can stop to think of all the human effort that went into building it. The backwards review at the end of the day is another exercise which can be of great help in this sense. The transformation of our abstract pictures of our inner world into living images is a gift we can offer to the gods.
The General Secretaries’ meeting in Dornach, March 2013
You have perhaps read the reports of the Annual General Meeting of the General Anthroposophical Society in Anthroposophy Worldwide. Indeed, the meeting took place in an atmosphere of cordiality rarely seen in recent years. Seija Zimmermann was reconfirmed as member of the Executive Council and Joan Sleigh was elected as a new member of the Council. Virginia Sease spoke of Sergei Prokofieff’s withdrawal from the Executive Council, and explained that he will remain an honorary member.
The General Secretaries and national representatives met during the days leading up to the Annual General Meeting. The development of anthroposophy in the world was discussed. The overall number of members remains relatively stable; although a slight decline in membership has been noted in Europe, there has been an increase in membership in other parts of the world. I must mention the report given by Hans Mulder of New Zealand who has been active in various Asian countries. He informed us of the development in the areas of education, biodynamic farming and the First Class, most notably in India and Taiwan. In China, there are now a dozen schools and several hundred kindergartens.
The theme of the year
We also spoke of the theme of the year: “The I Knows Itself”. This theme is presented in connection with 100th anniversary of the laying of the Foundation Stone for the first Goetheanum on September 20, 1913. On this occasion, Rudolf Steiner spoke of the importance of spiritual work in our time as he gave the “Macrocosmic Lord’s Prayer” and, a few short weeks later, the first cycle of lectures on the “Fifth Gospel”. This theme of the “I” which recognizes itself raises many questions: Who is this “I”? Where is this “I” to be found? Which “I” is it? How can one experience one’s “I”? The relationship of the “I” to the self is not the same as the relationship of the “I” to the lower ego. The consciousness soul requires a true knowledge of one’s self. The people we meet and the decisions we are forced to make reveal aspects of our “I”. For the seal of his fourth mystery drama Rudolf chose the image of a serpent devouring itself. Consciousness is not developed without meeting obstacles along the way. Darwinism denies the spiritual aspect of the human being and goes no further than does Hamlet in his reasoning: speaking to the skull of Yorick, the King’s jester, Hamlet reflects upon the fate of human beings, lamenting the fact that we return to dust and that nothing remains after death.
We are all urged to explore this theme; Christiane Haid has given us references to help us in this work (cf. AnthroposophyWorldwide 1/2 – 13). In this connection, two events worth mentioning will be taking place at the Goetheanum in the coming months. From the 22nd to the 28th of July the four mystery dramas will be presented as part of the conference entitled The Renewal of Rosicrucianism through the Spirit of Michael. In September, in connection with the annual Michaelmas conference (September 24th to 28th), there will be a celebration commemorating the centenary of the laying of the Foundation Stone for the first Goetheanum (September 20th).
And in closing, I would like to inform you that our colleague and council president, Jean Balekian, will be taking a temporary leave of absence for the entire fall season. Jean needs some time off to care for his health so he can join us again next year in fine form. We all send him our warmest thoughts and are anxiously looking forward to working with him again in the new year. While Jean is on leave of absence, Dorothy LeBaron will be the contact person.
Wishing you all a wonderful summer,
Arie van Ameringen,