Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Opening Address at Rudolf Steiner Centre Open House

Address given by Marjorie Thatcher at the Open House for the renovated Rudolf Steiner Centre in North Vancouver, on October 21, 2012:

On behalf of the anthroposophical community in Vancouver and the Board of the Rudolf Steiner Centre Association, I welcome you most warmly to this open house marking the completion of the subdivision and renovation of our strata.

The difficulty of finding tenants, the need for renovation, and the desire of our last tenants to purchase the space they were renting from us led to our decision to subdivide. Five years ago at a meeting of our association, when agreed to begin this process, someone said, "It will be a piece of cake and take only a few months." It proved to be quite a cake and gave us several bouts of indigestion during this five year process!

When we began, the strata council and management said it was not possible for us to divide a business strata. Yet with the help of a lawyer and a number of consultants, the subdivision and sale were completed in February 2011. Aspects of the strata complex challenged us, and we are grateful to our former tenants who worked with us to meet these obstacles and shared equally in the costs incurred.

We could now proceed with renovating the Centre itself. Many in our community were involved moving out the contents of the Centre, then moving them back in. On behalf of the Board, we thank them. An special thank you goes to Bert Chase, who served as architect, artist, and project manager. He steered us through the whole of this process and you can now see the result of his work.

We  are fortunate to own a centre in Canada devoted to the work of anthroposophy. It is with gratitude that we acknowledge Steven and Helga Roboz, along with others who in 1969 founded the first Centre on West 4th Avenue in Vancouver. We are  building on their legacy. In the late 1980's the Centre moved to a house on Keith Road in North Vancouver. Then, due to zoning restrictions on that site, we moved to this location in the Delbrook Plaza. Rhoda Meier and Mary Speck worked to make that move possible. We thank them for finding and first creating this space that has served us for many years.

May this renovated and beautiful space, with its large library and kitchen make possible new opportunities for anthroposophical activity. We trust that everyone will contribute to support it.

Toward a Bibliography of Rudolf Steiner

- by Mark McAlister

“I’d like to buy a copy of Occult Science by Rudolf Steiner.”
“I’m sorry, it’s out of print.”

This dialogue happened recently in a Waldorf School bookstore.   (English-language editions of this book are in fact available, even though the US edition is out or print at the moment.)  Even experienced booksellers and librarians have difficulty keeping track of our vast and complex literature. You might think that Internet search engines and database tools would help, but they only seem to be making things worse.  It’s all so confusing!

In this article, I will discuss some of the bibliographical issues involved with Rudolf Steiner’s work, and give some guidelines for making sense of it all.  I hope this will be helpful – not only for experienced anthroposophists – but for anyone wanting to learn more about anthroposophy.  Please offer your comments and suggestions so we can continue to make improvements to our library services.

The “Gesamtausgabe” – Rudolf Steiner’s complete works in German
The “Gesamtausgabe” (GA) contains approximately 350 volumes, with another 40 or so in preparation.  It is organized under the following main headings: Writings, Public Lectures, Lectures for members of the Anthroposophical Society, Lectures on particular subjects, and Artistic works.  Most of the lecture publications are based on shorthand notes unrevised by Steiner, and inevitably contain many errors and omissions.  Today, the Rudolf Steiner Archive in Dornach employs people to scrutinize the archival material and ensure that the published GA texts are as authentic as possible.  This continuing editorial work is the basis of their claim for copyright protection.  (Rudolf Steiner’s original works are now in the public domain.) 
The entire GA is available in searchable electronic format from the Rudolf Steiner Verlag in Dornach for 999 Euros.  The texts are also available for free download on many websites, although they are not always reliable on account of scanning and computer errors.   In many cases, such downloading violates copyrights.

Rudolf Steiner in English translation
In his book After Babel, George Steiner (no relation) makes the case that translation is in fact a process of cross-fertilization that can result in the enhancement of culture.  From this point of view, English-speaking readers of Rudolf Steiner may be seen to have an advantage.  By wrestling with the (sometimes awkward) translations, we experience new shades of meaning that are not available to the German-speaking reader.  (For instance, think of the difference between “philosophy of freedom” and “philosophy of spiritual activity.”)   Who can really say what Rudolf Steiner “meant”, or how he would have said it in English?

Keeping track of translations and assessing them is a very difficult task. Modern editions are often prepared by professional translators, but this does not always lead to a better result.  It can be healthy to have several translations in circulation.  For instance, there are countless versions of the “Calendar of the Soul” and no-one seems too concerned about agreeing on a “definitive” edition.

Having said that, there is a need for a standard edition of Rudolf Steiner’s work in English translation.  The Collected Works (CW) is a joint project of Steinerbooks (USA) and Rudolf Steiner Press (UK).  They have adopted the same organization as the GA, so the contents of books in the CW series will match those in the GA.  An important feature of the CW project is the commissioning of Introductions that help readers to see the work in a modern context.

Bibliographical tools
Whether you are doing complex literature searches, looking for a single book, or simply browsing, there are several helpful tools available on the Internet.   They each have strengths and weaknesses, and unfortunately, you cannot find everything in one place.  They are relatively easy to use once you become familiar with them.  The following chart is a summary of some of the main ones.

Growing, searchable collection of lectures and writings by Rudolf Steiner, translated into English and available for download.   Includes chronological list of most of the lectures.  Many other helpful tools are available, but they are limited to works in this collection.
Full library calatalogue data for all available works in English by Rudolf Steiner.  Pathfinders (subject guides) prepared by the Librarians.
Collected Works plan; in-print catalogue; some basic titles available for download.
Overview of Gesamtausgabe in German.  (Some out-of-print titles not included.)
Tool for cross-referencing GA with English editions

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Reconquérir le cœur de l’anthroposophie

 Compte-rendu d’un congrès avec Peter Selg tenu à Great Barrington, au Massachusetts du 24 au 26 aout 2012

- de Heidrun Vukovich

Près de 200 personnes, y compris quelques Canadiens du Québec et de l’Ontario, se sont réunies dans l’auditorium d’une école secondaire publique de Great Barrington.  La salle était grande, mais purement fonctionnelle, vide et sans âme.  Peter Selg nous a enjoint humblement de travailler ensemble pour la transformer par nos propres pensées et sentiments en un espace propre à recevoir un contenu ésotérique.

Gene Gollogly de la maison d’édition SteinerBooks a présenté Peter comme étant un auteur étonnamment prolifique. En effet, celui-ci écrit énormément, la nuit, dans le but d’accomplir la tâche à laquelle il s’est voué, celle de servir l’être de l’Anthroposophie. 

Lors de sa conférence du vendredi soir, le docteur Selg a commencé par décrire sa recherche à l’Institut Ita Wegman d’Arlesheim. D’après lui, la recherche se doit d’arriver à des résultats; sinon, nous travaillons pour nos ennemis. Il était clair que ses ouvrages sont créés à partir d’un profond sentiment de responsabilité envers l’Anthroposophie. En publiant des livres sur ce qu’il appelle « les thèmes », ouvrages fondés sur des recherches approfondies, il cherche à protéger la sagesse ésotérique contre la vague d’attaques, d’intentions malveillantes et de mensonges qui font répandre des interprétations horriblement dénaturées de l’œuvre et de la personnalité de Rudolf Steiner et d’Ita Wegman.

Tout le long de ses présentations étendues, il a parlé librement et spontanément, à partir d’une compréhension à la fois intime et souvent très personnelle. Ses recherches approfondies sur ces « thèmes » ont donné à toute sa présentation une couleur particulière. On pourrait presque dire qu'il entretenait une conversation intime avec le sujet qu’il traitait, conversation imprégnée d’une vénération vivante pour les êtres dont il parlait. Quelques-uns parmi nous ont vécu durant ces « conversations » un sentiment croissant d’un extrême sérieux mêlé à une profonde joie – joie partagée possiblement par des participants invisibles voulant s’approcher des êtres humains réunis là.

C’était cette ambiance qui nous pénétrait de plus en plus à mesure que le congrès se déroulait, un engagement solennel par rapport aux thèmes dont traitait le conférencier. Et ceci à tel point que notre volonté en était enflammée; bien au-delà d’une simple admiration pour le conférencier, un feu brulant pour le cœur même de l’anthroposophie a été allumé dans notre propre cœur.

Voici quelques trésors glanés concernant différents thèmes :

La Souffrance de Christian Rose-Croix

1. Notre rapport avec la vérité est le résultat d’une lutte intérieure; ce n’est pas quelque chose que l’on nous offre sur un plateau d’argent comme une nouveauté. Christian Rose-Croix continuera à souffrir jusqu’à ce que nous soyons plus nombreux à vivre nous-mêmes l’expérience du seuil. Si nous continuons à dormir, rien ne se passera. 

2. Christian Rose-Croix est le serviteur du Christ; il s’est tenu au pied de la croix pour nous aider à comprendre l’évènement christique.

3. Quelques grandes individualités préparent l’avenir en vue des 1000 prochaines années, alors que la plupart d’entre nous tentent de prévoir les deux ou trois prochaines années seulement.

4. Rudolf Steiner avait d’authentiques rapports vivants avec Christian Rose-Croix; celui-ci était l’inspirateur de l’Initiation, de l’Éducation de l’Enfant à la Lumière de la science de l’esprit, et des trois premiers volets de la Méditation de la Pierre de Fondation. (Le quatrième volet a été inspiré par Maitre Jésus.)

5. L’impulsion rosicrucienne qui cherchait à réunir les courants de l’orient et de l’occident n’a pas été reçue par la Société théosophique. Le Calendrier de l’âme a suivi peu de temps après – une possibilité de créer un lien entre ciel et terre, un chemin qui prépare l’apparition du Christ éthérique. Ce texte profondément ésotérique a été donné aux personnes les plus « publiques » — à savoir les soldats au front.

6. À Bruges, en Belgique, Peter a visité un hôpital tenu par la fraternité (rosicrucienne) de Saint-Jean. Depuis ses origines, cet hôpital est voué au courant thérapeutique de guérison, à un travail de guérison dans la communauté. On y voit un tableau représentant deux enfants, Jean le baptiste et Jean l’évangéliste, ainsi que Marie et l’enfant Jésus. 

Centre et périphérie : recherche et action

1. La recherche est au cœur de l’École de Science de l’Esprit. Celle-ci est un lieu pour se transformer, pour apprendre à acquérir une conscience dans le monde suprasensible, pour apprendre le chemin de l’initiation. Nous travaillons à partir d’une science d’incarnation, et non pas seulement à partir d’une cosmologie.

2. Les Sections ont besoin de la périphérie – d’une communauté éveillée et réceptive. Il s’agit d’un travail altruiste qui se fait au nom de tous. La culture de l’altruisme se voit par exemple dans l’activité transformatrice de Marie Steiner. On peut reconnaitre l’influence guérissante du travail des Sections dans tous les secteurs de la vie publique contemporaine.   

3. La Société anthroposophique a une tâche objective dans le monde, et nous devons nous efforcer pour pouvoir la comprendre réellement. Si nous concevons l’anthroposophie comme étant simplement un ajout à la science officielle, comme une source de « réponses » ou encore comme un outil pour nous enrichir personnellement, nous passons à côté de l’essentiel.
Soyez prêts à vous engager contre toute résistance extérieure, à étudier l’anthroposophie de la bonne manière et à projeter une image conforme à l’anthroposophie.

4. Dans toute rencontre avec l’anthroposophie dans les profondeurs de notre âme, le Christ est là, même si on est seul et qu’il ne s’agit ni d’une conversation avec un autre ni d’une conférence ou d’une leçon. Rudolf Steiner nous attend; si nous oublions le but, les êtres du monde spirituel ne peuvent pas nous venir en aide.    

Ita Wegman : une collaboratrice de premier plan

1. Son approche pratique de la vie et sa volonté forte et concentrée se sont révélées dès sa jeunesse quand, lors d’un déplacement en voiture à cheval, elle a pris les rênes elle-même, les arrachant aux mains du voiturier, trouvant que celui-ci ne roulait pas assez vite à son gout. Plus tard, elle posait toujours la question : qu’est-ce que l’anthroposophie veut de moi? Comment est-ce que je me tiens devant Rudolf Steiner? Comment servir les intentions de Rudolf Steiner? Comment faire pour commencer, tout simplement, sans penser à devoir réaliser des choses grandioses?

2. Elle avait besoin d’être seule pour faire son travail de médecin anthroposophique dans la clinique. Elle était la seule à se tenir aux côtés de Rudolf Steiner devant le spectacle de l’incendie du Gœtheanum (cet incendie était une tentative flagrante des forces adverses de détruire Rudolf Steiner). Les vies d’Ita Wegman et de Rudolf Steiner ont été prédestinées à œuvrer ensemble pendant une brève période de temps. Rudolf Steiner n’était pas une personne « normale ». C’était un initié. Ita Wegman était une guérisseuse; ce n'était pas une intellectuelle, mais elle possédait une grande sagesse. Elle pouvait transformer des forces en propriétés guérissantes. Elle s’intéressait vivement aux autres, et elle était un soleil qui rayonnait sur la petite communauté de sa clinique.


Le congrès s’est terminé dans les locaux de la Great Barrington Waldorf School par une lecture de la 16e leçon de classe lue par Peter Selg et par un rendu libre de la même leçon en anglais. Il y a eu une courte période de questions et réponses pour clore la fin de semaine.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Research and Action: 21st Century Biodynamics

- by Mark McAlister

In April last year, Otto Sharmer brought refreshing influences to the Agriculture Conference at the Goetheanum.  (See his blog post.)  This year's conference, apparently, was also very invigorating.

The theme of the year for the Agriculture Section is "Alliance For The Earth."  One could say they are working with the creative tension between anthroposophy (as we are receiving it) and the needs of our time.  Here is a quote from the Introduction to the Conference Report:  The next step is to increasingly take on our responsibility for current and global questions of our time, by actively drawing on our biodynamic impulse and bringing it in to shape the future; in the work with personal contacts, regional partnerships and global networks. The forming of alliances needs to be encouraged and learned. What is my and our responsibility for the planet Earth? What is my and our responsibility now and in the coming years? What does the contemporary situation demand of me and us? We have discovered that these questions do not only come from the outside towards us, but that they also belong to our inner burning issues. We have found that these questions are not alien to the biodynamic impulse, but on the contrary, belong to its very core.

Many of the articles in the Conference Report are excellent examples of how to write about Section work.  The authors are grounded in practical work but never lose sight of the horizon.  (They are farmers after all.)  Reading the Report, I began to see how these strong individualities are learning to collaborate - not only with Section members, but with ever-growing networks of concerned people around the world.

What can members of other Sections learn from this?  How does the creative tension between inner work and outer demands come to expression in your field of work? Answers (or approaches to answers) will be warmly welcomed and included in the Research Corner of subsequent issues.

Here are some further quotes from the Report:

One can study the suggestions that Rudolf Steiner gave for federative cooperation. How do I engage, freely and in sovereignty, but fully in service to the cause, out of the responsibility I have to respond to the demands of the current time? what extent do the exercises which Rudolf Steiner gave us and which relate primarily to our inner life, form our foundations today for coping with everyday life? Many of the tools used by previous generations to deal with their reality are not appropriate for us. We need new tools that allow us not only to come to terms with reality but to generate spaces for what is essential.
- Edda Nehmiz

We do not find the essential in thinking or in doing alone...The anthroposophical movement, which is built upon a sophisticated theoretical foundation while placing the highest value on practical implementation and new ideas, is a wonderful example for me of how essence emerges when thinking and action come together.
- Monika Griefahn

I began to take time off from myself, as it were. I began to read again, meet people properly, spend time with them and think about my actions. I experienced what Rudolf Steiner pointed out in his Philosophy of Freedom: that we cannot think and think about our thinking at the same time. The danger is that we stop reflecting on our thoughts and actions. We become prisoners of ourselves. I did not really feel imprisoned behind those prison walls.
- Helmy Abouleish, after 100 days in prison

My first answer to the question as to where the essence of the biodynamic impulse can be found would be: I am myself, with my biography, my family, the farm, the debts and my hopes for the future, a fully valid and real expression of the essential of the biodynamic impulse. There is no beyond or above. This impulse includes the petty thoughts on falling asleep as well as the majestic sunrise in the morning. All that flows together, it is inseparable for me: the essential is everywhere. A second voice says the opposite: The essential is nowhere to be found in practical life. It lies underneath or above it. Because practice often consists of individual, repetitive actions: repositioning the mobile fencing, lubricating the tractor, gathering up stones, preparing vegetables, fixing the weekly prices, preparing food, setting up a new internal phone list. Then there is a third voice: the essential of my ideas or of my ideal can light up in one single action; an action that is suddenly lifted from its banality because circumstances present it in a special light. It seems to be there one moment, but not in another. Everybody knows these three answers; but they can differ depending on temperament, biographical situation or social constellation. They are archetypal soul gestures, and – because they are human – we live them in very individual ways. We are usually not conscious of how we experience our relationship with what could be potentially essential and we can be sensitive or vulnerable in these areas. On the other hand, the perspective of another person can help us to wake up to what is essential for us.
- Ueli Hurter

I have tried to convey the image that with our will we are always at the smaller level and with our thinking and perception we embrace worlds. The number of tasks that need tackling is enormous and many people ask what they should do. We can only ever connect with a small part of what happens in the world. Someone else, who is outwardly in another place but inwardly in the same place as me, will work on a different aspect of this wide panoply. If we all work in this way we can trust that much will be achieved. We must learn to choose events that are existential for us but we must also rid ourselves of the notion that we want to save the whole world because it means that nothing will happen. I am committed here and I trust that others do similar things in other places. Two hundred years ago Goethe said:
"Do not strive to make sure
that truth will happen.
Do what is true."

- Johannes Wirz

Individualization not only means that I increasingly distinguish myself from others, but that I can represent humanity. The individual person who is constituted out of himself and no longer out of his surrounding becomes even more the representative of humanity. It is rarely like that in our thinking, where being individual means being different from the next person. If we grow beyond our given social context, if we become homeless, we find a new home in being part of humanity. If we transfer this to the agricultural individuality it means that the more it can shape its very own character out of the given natural and social conditions, the more fully it will represent the nature of our earth. Just as the human individuality can represent humanity better the further developed it is, the agricultural individuality can represent the earth and its conditions better the more diverse, special and adapted to its location it grows. In this way the evolution of nature can find its culmination on our planet.
- Ueli Hurter

Shared Sources and Goals...There is a positive quality about the fact that the biodynamic impulse originates in the attitude of the people who are actively involved in it. The actual method, that is, the set of patterns for working with soil, plants and animals, is, from this point of view, secondary.
- Ueli Hurter