Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Freedom Mystery Quest and Conference (3)

Join us for the Adventure

- by Tim Nadelle

Two independent initiatives which have been in hopeful conversation since September 2014 have now  firmed up their collaborative intentions.  A conference devoted to the exploration and experience of the path of knowledge which is implicit in the Philosophy of Freedom will take place from Friday 23 October to Sunday 25 October 2015 at the Christian Community Church in Thornhill, Ontario.  Interwoven into the fabric of the conference, TQuest Productions of Toronto will perform the first third of the Portal of Initiation, from the prelude (Friday night) through scenes one and two (Saturday), up until scene three (Sunday afternoon).

Accompanying us on this journey, Christian Community Priest Daniel Haffner will open and close the conference with lectures which are intended to awaken a spiritual dialogue between the two initiatives.  Over the course of many years of study and activity, Daniel has worked deeply with both of these works, lecturing and leading workshops in Canada, the U.S. and Europe.  Daniel recently delivered four stirring lectures over the course of the festival and conference in August 2014 in Spring Valley, NY, where all four mystery dramas were performed.

These two masterpieces which were developed so long ago - The Philosophy of Freedom and the Portal of Initiation – are both works which carry us into the distant future.  In April 1922, Walter Johannes Stein asked Rudolf Steiner: "What will remain of your work thousands of years from now?"  He replied: "Nothing but The Philosophy of Freedom.”  The mystery dramas portray the life journeys of a circle of individuals who are in the process of developing the imaginative faculties of perception which humanity will increasingly evolve in the sixth post-Atlantean cultural epoch.

Our assay to bring these works together creatively, our imagined “Freedom Mystery Quest” is, therefore, an attempt to reach both backwards and forwards and to fashion through their interweaving a present moment where a new impulse can unfold, inspired by our anthroposophical heritage, yet carrying us into the future.

Join Us for an Epistomological Quest with The Philosophy of Freedom…
Rudolf Steiner wrote and spoke repeatedly throughout his life about the importance of the Philosophy of Freedom.  For example, in the introduction to Occult Science he wrote, “…The path leading through acquaintanceship with spiritual-scientific truths to sense-free thinking is completely reliable.  But there is another even more dependable and, above all, more exact, through for some people it may prove more difficult.  It is described in my books, The Theory of Knowledge Based on the Goethean World Conception and The Philosophy of Freedom.  These books point out what human thought achieves when thinking becomes absorbed in self-activity instead of working on impressions of the physical sense world…. A person who allows these books to work upon his entire being is already experiencing the spiritual world, although he perceives it only as a world of thought.”

As Steiner points out, this path is more difficult for some people and in fact the struggles which many anthroposophists encounter when working with the Philosophy of Freedom lead them to give it up altogether.  Happily, there is a way forward for even those who find the book too challenging to take up individually.  That way forward is to take it up with colleagues.  Now one way to do so is, of course, the study group and many people have found their progress quickened by the stimulation of such communal engagement.

While recognizing the value of the study group, the avenue of exploration we intend for the conference is different.  Here we wish to take up some of the many exercises for spiritual development which are implicit in the Philosophy of Freedom, exercises the discovery and fashioning of which are a process of individual, creative, epistemological experimentation.  While the exercises themselves emerge through working with the living content of the book, the performance of the exercises leads to a rediscovery through experience of the truths to which the book points. 

And - in a surprising and encouraging discovery - the engagement with such exercises is profoundly enhanced through working together.  In this spirit, the conference is an invitation to connect with others who wish to discover together how we can walk the spiritual path which is implicit in the Philosophy of Freedom, to strive to practice the Philosophy of Freedom.  This process of mutual engagement is essential to this endeavour, for the conference is not intended to be a sharing of received wisdom.  Rather, we are looking for colleagues who wish to engage with us in the work.  The work is experimental, not a finished product. 

And it is only a beginning.  There will be sufficient time at this conference to experiment with the exercises which are implicit in the seven chapters which form the first part of the book, entitled “Knowledge of Freedom”.  Whether we continue this work in a subsequent conference devoted to the second part of the book “The Reality of Freedom” will depend upon the momentum developed during this initial endeavour.

Join us for an Experience of the First Third of the Portal of Initiation
The cast of the mystery drama has been toiling since September 2014 to bring the production of the first third of the Portal to life.  Steiner said in a lecture on Oct. 31, 1910, “I have stated the fact that many, many things of an esoteric nature would not need to be described, that lectures would be unnecessary on my part, if only everything that lies in the Rosicrucian Mystery [i.e. the Portal of Initiation] could work directly on your souls…  I would have to use the enormous number of words necessary in my lectures and speak for days, for weeks, even for years, in order to describe what has been said and what could be said in the single drama…”  The experience of the watching a mystery drama is a unique and powerful experience, a kind of concentration of anthroposophy.  Anyone who sees one performed will attest to how moving it is to experience it “live” as opposed to merely reading it.

From another perspective, what’s unique about the mystery dramas is the depiction of individual experience in spiritual development.  On September 17, 1910, Steiner said about the Portal of Initiation, “This Mystery Drama exists now as a picture of human evolution in the development of a single person [Johannes Thomasius].  I want to emphasize that true feeling makes it impossible to throw a cloak of abstractions around oneself in order to present anthroposophy; every human soul is different from every other and, at its core, must be different, because each one undergoes the experience of his own development.  For this reason, instruction to the many can provide only general directions. One can give the complete truth only by applying it to a single human soul, to a soul that reveals its human individuality in all its uniqueness.”

And later, on October 31, 1910 he observed, “In a book like How to Know Higher Worlds, one can only speak about human development in a way that is more or less applicable to each and every human being… That means that no matter how concrete such a presentation is, it takes on a certain abstract – one could even say theoretical – character.  One thing we need to keep in mind: development is not simply development in general!  There is no development in and of itself, no generalized development; there is only the development of this or that or a third or a fourth or the thousandth person.  There must be as many processes of development as there are people on the earth.”

Perhaps it is because the drama portrays the unique development of a single, imperfect individual, who is nevertheless on a spiritual path of development – that witnessing its performance stimulates and challenges each of us at such a personal level.  The experience of the painful progress of Johannes Thomasius over the course of the drama is a deeply hopeful portrayal, for are we not all fundamentally flawed individuals aspiring to spiritual wholeness?

Actively Participate in the interweaving of these 2 initiatives
This evocation of the development of a single individual in the Portal resonates deeply with the work our planning group has been doing in preparation for the conference.  We’ll be sharing the various exercises we continue to discover in the pages of the Philosophy and inviting you to join us in experimenting with them.  However, these exercises – as fruitful as they have been for us individually – are merely examples.  Our hope is that the weekend will inspire participants to develop their own exercises, their own paths of exploration, with the Philosophy of Freedom as their guide and treasure map. 

Our imagination for the weekend is that conference participants will come to find in the experience of the mystery dramas a path to freedom and to discover in the Philosophy of Freedom a fundamental point of entry into the experience of the mystery drama which is at the foundation of every individual’s life.

If you’re intrigued, please visit the conference website:  And if you’re interested in attending, leave your contact information.  We’ll let you know when we’re ready to receive pre-registrations.

Tim Nadelle 

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