Monday, February 20, 2012

spirit being being free

human striving for divine connection

Over 600 years ago, an Incan stronghold of dry-laid fieldstone buildings, pastures, and terraced gardens stood perched atop the Andes near the Urubamba River of modern-day Peru: Machu Picchu. A community of about 1200 Incan religious leaders, teachers, farmers, and their families lived there for about 100 years until it was mysteriously abandoned. Remaining relatively intact, one of its remarkable features is Intiwatana, the Hitching Post of the Sun. It is a rock positioned perfectly to meet the noonday sun of the southern hemisphere Winter Solstice. It was designed to honor the Incan Sun-god, Inti. The people had known intuitively that celebrating divine grace gave them a sense of belonging to the vast, miraculous spirit realm.

Over 30 years ago, an anthroposophical stronghold of stuccoed geometrical buildings, lawns, and biodynamic gardens was founded, and remain perched along a bend in the American River in lovely Fair Oaks, CA: Rudolf Steiner College. A community of spiritual beings, teachers, farmers, and their friends connect and learn and dance and sing in wild abandon. One of its remarkable features is the Flowform, a water sculpture employing vortex technology. It is a cascading series of symmetrical catch basins where water often flows with a lemniscate movement. It was designed to honor the spiritual nature of mankind. Flowforms were designed by English sculptor John Wilkes, who was inspired by the teachings of Rudolf Steiner. Rudolf Steiner had known intuitively that celebrating divine grace gives us humans a sense of connection to the vast, miraculous spirit realm.

Steiner also knew intuitively that human freedom is what connects us to the spirit realm. Human freedom allows us to be connected with each other as well, in thought, in feelings, in deed.

Recently, I was informed that some folks out there were uncomfortable with my blog. I will not elaborate on what reasons they may have for feeling this way. I was saddened to think that these individuals who have spent more years than I learning about Steiner, and who at this point have reached a truly enlightened state, would find offense with my blog. It is, after all, only my striving to practice a literary medium, to share in my creative endeavors, to share the pride I have with the work of my students, and to further my learning about Waldorf. And if truly they believed that we all have the freedom and capacity to think for ourselves, as Steiner believes we do, then it would follow that I have the freedom to write about my personal experiences, and that my readers also have the freedom to read my blog posts and decide for themselves what gems they may find in my blog, if any. I would have to add that for those who dislike my work, you also have the freedom to not read my blog. I did a stat check on Blogger, and it appears that I have had over 55,000 visitors to my blog since I started it three summers ago. Hopefully, most of them enjoyed the pictures, drawings, and writings of my blog.

It was at the Teacher Conference at Steiner College this morning that I was informed about the negative feedback. Interestingly enough, just a few minutes later, as a large group of us were gathering to hear the keynote speaker, Aonghus Gordon of Ruskin Mills, I was stopped by a nice gentleman who extended his hand out to me. He said, "Dr. Tan! I recogninze you from your picture on your blog. I wanted to thank you for your ideas on the Roman history project. It is wonderful to see how teachers are so creative in their own ways." (For the blog post on the Roman aqueduct, click here.) That was a welcomed comment! And it is for that very reason I write my blog.

My objectives have not changed: 1. to share my teaching journey in the Waldorf classroom 2. to serve as a companion in my studies of anthroposophy, Steiner, and waldorf education 3. to share inspired crafts, stories, verses, and other jewels of our life's striving, and 4. to catalyze spiritual, creative paths for those who happen to chance upon my blog.

We all strive for some kind of spiritual connection to the divine, and to each other. The Waldorf Way is just one medium of my personal striving. I am a family man first, and my spiritual connection is to my wife and children. I am a teacher, and my spiritual connection to my students is through the curriculum and to my being present in the classroom. I am also an artist, musician, and occasionally, I like to think I am a writer.

Am I an anthroposophist? No.

Do I claim to be an anthroposophy scholar? Never have.

Am I spiritual? Yes.

Am I free? Absolutely.

Do I want to visit Machu Picchu? That would be super cool!


Rochelle's Lenz said...

Thank you for posting your reflections and learning. Blogging is an open forum in which it takes courage to share with honesty - and you do. Machu Picchu is a beautifully connected and spiritual space which infects you with a passion to respect our past, mother nature and reflect on our present and future and where we sit with this. I hope you continue to blog for those who choose to read enjoy. Freedom is choice after all. Kia Kaha

Cathy said...

Rick, I am saddened to hear of the negative comments about your blog. I hope you know how much all you and Jenn do for the Waldorf homeschooling community is appreciated, and without your family blogs you would not have reached so many people out there in the big wide world.

I think that if Waldorf education is to be alive in the world it NEEDS people like you! Take courage.

cara said...

I recently found your blog and it is always wonder-full to read and to look at your drawings.
I am very grateful for your sharing.

Cara from Germany

Victoria said...

It's been quite a while since I last visited your blog and it saddens me to learn of this development. I teach 6th Grade in a Waldorf school in the Philippines and your blog has given me lots of insights and inspiration in my own journey as a teacher.

I believe it is the teacher's earnest striving to bring the Waldorf curriculum to the children that is most important. Please continue the good work you have started! All the best!

Anonymous said...

Thankyou for your courage to share. I know I gain much inspiration from your artwork and from your philosophical musings. It saddens me to hear others have dicouraged your generous gifts.

Jenn said...

I am always perplexed at the elements within Waldorf & Anthroposophy that want to treat WE as though it is a closely guarded secret to which only "initiates" or those with deep enough pockets to send their offspring to an AWSNA affiliated school should be privy to. At the same time those same folks feel like Waldorf brings a type of social & educational renewal that mankind needs to take us to the next phase of evolution of spirit. I find tremendous cognitive dissonance in their views. Many of us see the beauty, warmth & completeness in the education methods & sequence first described by Steiner in his many lectures, and want to learn to bring that to our own lives. I think Steiner would be pleased by that. I think he would be pleased with your striving & sharing. Waldorf, as you know was started with common man, the plebian, in mind. It was not meant by Steiner to evolve into a well meant only for the privileged to drink from. Waldorf Blogs place information in the realm of possibilities for the world. You can't change the world from inside a cloister. I know the comments of these pedantic people is hurtful, and you have to exist & navigate the politics within that world, but please do not quit sharing & bringing light to a world that needs it so badly.

tali said...

i thoroughly enjoy the way you write, Mr Tan. It inspires me and I appreciate the effort you make to reach out and share in what looks to be a very full life. Boo! to the negative people.

kind regards,

Tali in Australia