Saturday, October 31, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
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
into the unknown
seeds of hope
by simple will
into worldy matters
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
Thursday, October 15, 2009
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
Inwardly revived again, I can feel
Saturday, October 10, 2009
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
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
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
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
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
Sunday, October 4, 2009
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.