Monday, December 10, 2012

Letter from Arie van Ameringen - December 2012

Dear Friends,
In this article I shall attempt to provide a brief summary of the recent meetings I attended in Dornach and shall also take up the question of our personal relationship to Rudolf Steiner as we prepare to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Anthroposophical Society.  And lastly, I shall offer some details as to the ongoing preparations for our next AGM conference, which will be held in Montreal in May of 2013.

General Secretaries’ Meeting 

On November 6th, the General Secretaries gathered with the Executive Committee and the Section Leaders for a three-day meeting.  

Our work together focussed on the theme: The Being and the Life of the Anthroposophical Society.  This was also an opportunity to share news of the work being done in various regions of the globe.  Joan Sleigh, a teacher from South Africa, was welcomed as the newest member of the Executive Committee.  Her energy and enthusiasm are sure to bring to the Goetheanum a new impulse for the work of members belonging to the English speaking world.  We also took the opportunity to express our sincerest wishes for a speedy recovery to Sergei Prokofieff, who is still convalescing.  It is hoped that he will be able to once again join in the work of the Vorstand in the near future.  

Thanks to the initiative of Virginia Sease, the representatives of the English speaking countries met among themselves to discuss the activities in their respective countries, including performances of the Mystery Dramas, English language publications of Rudolf Steiner’s works and guest lecturers.

The Work at the Goetheanum 

Paul MacKay described the new approach being taken regarding the organisation of the work at the Goetheanum.  Important decisions are now made by the Executive Committee in partnership with the Section Leaders, thus establishing a greater degree of collaboration among the members of the School for Spiritual Science. The challenges involved in the renovation work on the Goetheanum reveal the dawning of a new impulse; not only will certain exterior structures be repaired, but the plans include redoing parts of the stage in order to provide a space for the School for Spiritual Science and to make it possible for the statue of the Representative of Man to at last be given its rightful place.  

The slogan for the fundraising campaign is Maintain, Renew, Empower. Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Anthroposophical Society, this slogan can be a stimulus for our own activity: while connecting with the Society’s past we are urged to look towards the future to reflect upon how anthroposophy can offer a response to the present and future needs of mankind.

Our Relationship to Rudolf Steiner    

On another note, I would like to share several personal reflections concerning our relationship to Rudolf Steiner and the Anthroposophical Society. (As space is limited here, I hope to be able to elaborate on this theme at a future time.)  We know that Rudolf Steiner united his personal karma with that of the Anthroposophical Society during the 1923/1924 Christmas Conference.  This deed must be contemplated with the greatest possible reverence, for it points to an immense sacrifice and implies that Rudolf Steiner cannot be separated from his creation.   

As anthroposophists, we can ask ourselves: what is the right way to establish a connection to Rudolf Steiner?  One hundred years have gone by, and this question remains relevant and legitimate. Even a relatively short time ago we could still encounter individuals who had met Rudolf Steiner and could speak of him with great enthusiasm.  As a teenager at school in The Hague, Netherlands, I had teachers who had actually met Rudolf Steiner and some who had even been present at the Christmas Foundation Conference. Their lively accounts gave us precious insights into these special moments of their biographies.

There are times when we hear speak of anthroposophy without any specific acknowledgement of the fact that it was Rudolf Steiner who brought it into the world.  And even within our Society, one can on occasion note a tendency to actually avoid mentioning his name when speaking about anthroposophy.

Steiner and our personal biography 

Every one of us has “met” Rudolf Steiner in his or her lifetime, be it through artistic activities, biodynamic farming, Waldorf education, or simply by reading one or the other of his books.  This meeting is always a unique moment in one’s biography. It may even radically change the course of one’s life.  

At the outset, we experience an initial interest for Steiner’s work.  Then, gradually, a sense of trust sets in and we have the urge to pursue our quest into anthroposophy.  In the course of our study activity, we begin to deepen our understanding of anthroposophy and we have the sense that what we are seeking to understand is true and has a direct link to the reality of everyday life.  We may actually find that this is a turning point in our biography.  A feeling of gratitude for what has thus been given to us arises within us.  What would our life have been like had we not met Steiner and his work? 

In Knowledge of Higher Worlds, Rudolf Steiner draws our attention to the fact that a student of Spiritual Science can establish a pupil-teacher relationship. However, no matter what level of bond is thus created, one remains at each and every moment free within this relationship. It is never a question of a faithful follower’s relationship to his guru, but rather one of an apprentice to a master craftsman in the context of the New Mysteries.

The four levels      
 S. Prokofieff describes in his book Relating to Rudolf Steiner (2008) four possible successive levels of relationship to Rudolf Steiner as we deepen our study of anthroposophy: 1 – trust in the method; 2 – a sense of truth concerning what we learn; 3 – a feeling of gratitude.  Finally, at a yet higher stage of development of our consciousness, our higher “I” enables us to become a co-creator with our spiritual friend, while at the same time retaining our full independence.  This experience is perhaps not attainable by everyone at the outset. Ernst Katz speaks of the higher “I” uniting with the cosmic “I” in the Spiritual Sun sphere; there, our individuality can perform deeds devoid of all egoism.  Becoming aware of our relationship to Rudolf Steiner can be of great help to us in our work and in our anthroposophical initiatives; and our lives in general are much the richer for it.

The 2013 AGM Conference
Our preparations for the AGM conference to be held from May 17th to 19th are well underway. Dennis Klocek will be the guest lecturer, and the conference theme is: The Challenge of our Social Will.  Dennis will give two lectures and lead a conversation workshop.  For several years now, the AGM meetings have brought mainly only local members together.  We would like to make it possible for various groups from all over the country to come together to share their experiences during a morning session on May 17.   

Could such a meeting of representatives from various groups around the country become a reality? In order to make this possible, we would have to create a special fund; basically, this would mean appealing to both local and national members to help support the visiting members’ traveling costs. Last year we had begun the practice of creating a forum in which younger members could express their questions and viewpoints. It is our wish that this meeting of the generations be continued. We welcome your comments and suggestions concerning these and other questions. 

May this period of the Holy Nights be a source of inspiration for you all.

Arie van Ameringen
General Secretary
Ernst Katz, About your relation to Rudolf Steiner, 1985
Sergei O. Prokofieff, Relating to Rudolf Steiner, 2008


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