COLLABORATING TO AWAKEN INNER CULTURE by Robert McKay
As part of his on-going work as a member of the Executive Council of the General Anthroposophical Society in Dornach, Bodo von Plato made a cross-Canada tour this summer seeking colleagues who want to collaborate in awakening inner culture. Accompanied by our Canadian Society’s General Secretary, Arie van Ameringen, Bodo met with colleagues in Vancouver, Nelson, Calgary, Toronto, Thornhill and Montreal, giving lectures, leading workshops and providing Class Lessons.
Deeply grounded in Rudolf Steiner’s indications regarding meditative work, Bodo’s fundamental gesture in awakening inner culture is liberating, energizing, and collaborative. His approach helps free us from dogmatic, overly simplistic, or self-limiting conceptions of the path of knowledge that can block us from finding authentic starting points for soul exploration. As he explains
The courage to develop one’s own way based on the multitude of Rudolf Steiner’s indications has not yet overcome the idea that there is a defined path of schooling that must be travelled according to certain guidelines. This is a place where we can help one another.1
Yes, we need to study Rudolf Steiner’s indications carefully, deeply, and repeatedly, but we must also take our experience seriously in finding effective starting points for the cultivation of inner culture. Interestingly, taking our own experiences seriously is greatly facilitated through honest conversation, through meeting others and hearing their experiences. As Bodo notes, his own meditative practice is “determined to a very substantial degree by conversations with others and the stimulus they provide.”2 Bodo brings a decidedly collaborative dimension to the foundational task of cultivating a rich inner life. As Steiner explains: A person who darts from one impression of the outer world to another, who constantly seeks distraction, cannot find the way to higher knowledge. The student must not blunt himself to the outer world, but while lending himself to its impressions, he should be directed by his rich inner life.3 But how does one develop a rich inner life? Bodo is a genius at opening pathways for cultivating inner culture. His talks and workshops are full of intriguing and accessible suggestions for soul exploration. For example, in his public talk in Toronto on Thursday, July 30, he provided a cornucopia of suggestions for bringing life back into consciousness. A) Pay attention to transitions. What were you like before you fell in love? As you were falling love? After you were sure you were in love? B) Take seriously that you are free to direct your attention as you wish. What do you encounter when you try to wield this freedom? C) Take seriously that you are free to set your own values. What do you value most? Is this really your choice or the legacy of what you were given? D) Pay attention to velocity. What is moving quickly in you? What moves more slowly? How does this differ over time? Even as he was speaking, one found oneself trying out these new avenues of self-exploration. Bodo’s workshop on meditation in Thornhill on Saturday, August 1, was highly participatory with most of the time taken up by exercises and sharing. At one point, as each individual in turn was responding to a deep question, Bodo stopped the process and asked the participants to sense into the moment. Half of the people in the room had spoken. The other half were waiting to speak. What could we be aware of at this moment? Again and again, Bodo shows how to pull what is in the background of awareness into the foreground, or explore the everyday from a new vantage point. In so doing he provides warm encouragement, as if to say: “Yes, we are all the craftsmen of the inner culture we crave. Look! Some of the tools we need are already in our hands! ” Toronto Branch Newsletter – July, August 2015
Notes: 1. See “Meditation is a Matter of Civilization” by Lydia Fechner (www.goetheanum.org/fileadmin/meditationssite/Meditation_is_a_Matter _of_Civilization.pdf)
3. Chapter 1, Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment