Saturday, October 31, 2009

strings and yarn

the best moments of life

Autumn's warm, dappled sun and crisp, cool air drew me, my daughter, and youngest son outdoors to enjoy a joyful moment. Guitar strumming and singing. Knitting. The synchronicity and spontaneity of the soul forces - it is an awesome feeling when the vibrations and rhythms of family, earth, and heaven just hum together.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

verse for sleep

soul as nocturnal being

"spiral spirit" by rick tan, acrylic on canvas

an angel's inky blue veil
descends from the heavens
i close my eyes to welcome sleep
so that my body may rebuild
and my mind may release
the nocturnal nature
of my spirit self

free to travel
about the cosmos

chance meeting
with destiny
exploring all
making unbiased
digging deep
into the unknown
seeds of hope
flying high
by simple will
dancing with
the stars
finding insight
into worldy matters
God's graces.

reincarnation and karma

a study group seeks to understand

People come together drawn by a collective motivation to seek truth and order, or to activate the will towards a common goal. Our study group aims for both. In a book titled Reincarnation and Karma, a compilation of five lectures by Steiner, he makes a bold statement: "The whole of life I now lead has no foundation for me if I cannot know anything of my former incarnation."

Our study group, comprised of anthroposophists and those new to Steiner's works, all academics with advanced degrees, educators, administrators, and authors, artists and musicians, philosophers and scientists, does not simply accept things as written. Even Steiner would agree, we must discover the truths within us, we must first seek to understand. Then we can act with full intensity.

So, in diving into the first lecture (some have read the book more than once), the subject opened the floodgates as important questions and concerns poured forth!

Steiner poses the first question: "To what extent can we find, in the facts of life, proof that the conception of repeated earth lives and karma is true?"

The group offered more to ponder:

"If knowing that our abilities in this life are determined by faculties of a former incarnation, can this lead to a position of surrender and non-accountability?"

"What is a soul-kernel?"

"Upon death, we discard the physical body and our most penetrating thoughts. What then does the soul take with it into the spiritual realm?"

"If thoughts are so central to Steiner's philosophy, why does the soul not take them with it? Or does it, in a different form?"

"Is there a practical application, a usefulness, in knowing that my soul had former incarnations?"

"When Steiner says we must have knowledge of former incarnations, does he mean we should have a literal and direct knowledge of a former life, or does it mean we should have an openness to the general concept of renincarnation?"

"Does that knowledge mean being mindful of consequences?"

"Does that knowledge mean the acceptance of a spiritual reality?"

"Are we anxious for meaning?"

"What is the origin of the concepts and beliefs of reincarnation and karma?"

In the course of our discussion in the next few weeks, we hope to answer some of those questions.

To start, I would like to present a thing that Steiner describes in this first lecture that, for me, may answer some of those questions (well, at least, it will help me answer mine), and that is the word "force." Steiner uses this word to describe an intensified form of the thoughts or whatever else that is passed into the next life.

In our layered human existence, the kernel is our striving. Striving is a force. A powerful force. If in your striving you have layered positive thoughts and pure will, the force that Steiner speaks of will carry much weight in the spiritual realm. And into the next incarnation.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

autumn storm

beauty in chaos and decay

organic material of Nature's body
through the spirit of God
receives Life and gives Death

storm fashioned from Earth and Heaven
through the eyes of Humankind
receives Death and gives Life

Thursday, October 15, 2009

dalai lama

from syrendell's world leader series

I am pleased to announce a new member of our Syrendell family of wood crafts: Dalai Lama in the Dell! Freshly carved, sanded, and painted, he is available through our Etsy shop.

Along with Mother Theresa and Gandhi, our Dalai Lama reminds us to seek peace in our daily lives.

Here is my verse for peace:

born from the cosmic seed all
humankind begins as a cellular ball
with potential energy to proceed in love

growing in the womb of our earth mother
tethered to spirit cords of one another
a family cared for by our heaven father above

we crawl then walk and talk and interact
with innate sense for mindfulness and tact
yet some brothers choose to push and shove

a downward spiral created by the unthinking few
ending our earth stay in a catastrophic brew
so I offer now suggestions to extend our lease

close your eyes and inside you will find
your earth family connected by oneness of mind
think collectively and goodness will increase

the blood of angels from your chest the flow starts
coursing with others via oneness of heart
feel in empathic wisdom and be naturally at ease

sift through wartime rubble or play in timeless sand
we choose our actions through oneness of hands
so in kinetic energy let us proceed today in peace

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

calendar of the soul

for the week of october 13 - 19

watercolor painting by Ricky

Inwardly revived again, I can feel
my own being's vastness.
I can pour forth powerful beams of thought
rising from the soul's Sun-like might -
to solve life's mysteries
and give fulfillment to many wishes
whose wings loss of hope had lamed.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

east bay waldorf

serenity in el sobrante

Nestled atop a ridge along Wildcat Canyon Regional Park in Contra Costa County, East Bay Waldorf School nurtures its children in the spirit of anthroposophy, educating them through the gifts of art, music, and nature. The rolling chaparral with coast live oak, eucalyptus, and maple provides the setting for this 11-acre K-8 school founded in 1980. Lavender and wild grasses grow along the perimeter, maples dot the school grounds, and a lone pepper tree stands guard next to a stuccoed bell tower in the central courtyard. A straw-bale structure houses wood-working tables, and an earthen chicken coup shelters hens and a couple of roosters. Wooden decks and large overhangs extend out from the classrooms to give students the continued feeling of protection in their daily lessons. Wood pegs lined one railing with colorful rubber boots made for small feet, apparently to let children play in puddles on rainy days - wonderful!

I was a guest teacher on Thursday, having done a main lesson for the third grade class, and an art lesson for their fourth grade class. Culturally diverse, and altogether endearing, the chidlren shared with me their joyful energy and youthful spirits.

For the third grade child, who is transitioning away from the security of oneness, and into the adventure of separateness, I had each one introduce him or herself while striking a pose, and repeating what each of their classmates also had done. As you might imagine, some had quite lively and exuberant poses, while others simple and quiet. It was my barometer to see what the students were like, and a way for me to remember their names.

Paying attention to the rhythms of our activities, I had them do a controlled exercise of passing a wood squirrel I had made, with words:

This is Sally Squirrel
There she goes
She will stop
Where the acorns grow!

Then they all placed acorn caps on their heads, and while balancing, sung to the tune of Little Tea Pot:

I'm a giant acorn
Here's my crown
When the wind blows
I fall down!

I then played my harp for them. After the end of each song, they asked for another one, and another. I was so glad they enjoyed the harp music.

The students were learning about time, so I brought as our new content and practice, wood blocks I fashioned from branches, along with sticks, and a circular mat (from our Syrendell Etsy shop). It was a partner activity where I instructed the children to count by ones using the short stick, and by fives using the long stick. Then, the sticks became the hands of the clock, and I gave them a time to match with their clock faces.

For storytime, I recounted from my own childhood the story of The Sleeping Giant, about my grandfather's adventures with me and my brothers through the countryside of the Philippines - the Sleeping Giant was a mountainside whose silhouette was that of a reclining man. The students are also learning about Cain and Abel, so I wanted to bring up in my story about my loving relationship with my younger brothers.

I closed with a simple verse, and their teacher then lead their rituals of getting ready for snack time. I felt blessed to have had the chance to be with the children and offer them some jewels of my life and work.

For the fourth grade class, I taught an art lesson on basic shading techniques using colored pencils. Their curriculum is all about the adventurous spirit of humankind - Norse mythology, Native American studies, California history. This is tied to their studies of zoology, geometry, and map making. The fourth grade child is expanding his or her boundaries, meeting the world with a mix of trepidation, wonder, and courage. Heroism is called for, strength and boldness is essential. Guidance is absolutely necessary.

I offered them the Warrior Code:

Fight for love
Aim for victory
Embrace fear
Accept destiny.

With reverence for the art instrument, I also asked them to recite with art pencil raised high above their heads:

In my hand I hold
The power to express
The beauty of my world
I use it with respect.

A classroom of 19 students, I prepared a drawing for each child from which they practiced shading corners and circles, creating three-dimensional spaces. In the end, using an extended version of the Warrior Code, with each word of the code I printed on the backs of their art papers, they reassembled their individual works to reveal the Midgard sea serpent! I had first prepped 20 sheets of paper by drawing a sea serpent (with artistic elements that allowed for the lesson on shading), then distributing them randomly in the classroom. It was like putting a puzzle together. The reveal was the coolest part of the lesson!

I was very thankful for East Bay Waldorf for welcoming me that day. It was clear to me that the teachers of the school cared deeply for the welfare of the children. I sensed in those I met, genuine and gentle souls.

In the peaceful setting of the school, through the spirits of the teachers, I
know that the children were loved and supported through their individual strivings.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

inner work

the six essential exercises

Once we develop these inner qualities, we stand above all the dangers that can arise from the division in human nature. We can no longer stray from the path. These qualities, therefore, must be formed with the greatest precision. Then we enter the esoteric life.
-Steiner, Berlin, December 7, 1905

Steiner describes a series of qualities that are essential to our growth and development. Inner work is a major construct of anthroposophy, and one can easily understand the importance of it for the Waldorf classroom teacher, and for anyone else who wants to work on their inner Self.

The six essential qualities are as follows:

1. Control of Thoughts. Mastery of one's thoughts begins with setting aside a short time each day to focus consciously on a thought, placing it center in one's mind, and actively arranging other thoughts related to it in a logical manner. In this way, one practices creating order and logic in one's mind.

2. Self-Initiated Action. Often, our actions are a result of reactive circumstances, obligations to work and family, and environmental stimuli. This exercise asks one to initiate an activity or task that is derived solely from one's own inner drive, creating a connection with one's individualistic, unique Self.

3. Eveness of Feelings. Steiner describes it as detachment or imperturbability (detachment sounds too emotionless, and imperturbability is a funky word!) so I am using "eveness of feelings." One simply practices in regulating one's emotions to weather the ups and downs of life. Also, it decribes one's ability to take an objective perspective to fully evaluate the circumstances of one's surroundings. Sometimes, it helps to step outside of the self to see oneself clearly.

4. Goodness of a Thing. In everything, there is goodness. One must practice in seeing the silver lining in every situation that arises. Yin and yang. We are confronted everyday by what appears to us as negativity. It is a higher state to see the positive within it.

5. Having Faith. In the esoteric sense, this means that every new experience is met with openness. One must practice in avoiding past events and circumstances to color how one may approach a new idea or thought or concept. This allows you more freedom to experience the fullness of the world. You become fearless.

6. Balance. This is key to any esoteric or practical training. One must practice in harmonizing one's activities so that there is time for meditation, for practicing these exercises, for family, and everything else that develops one as a fully functioning human being.

Friday, October 2, 2009

my children

joyful hearts, hands, and faces

The kids were each watercoloring an autumn image. Picture op!

(Click on the kids' pictures to view their blogs.)