Podcast December 30 2019
Host Daniel Mackenzie engages Lisa in questions about contemporary spirituality, meditation, sex, gender, love and the pitfalls of using drugs in pursuit of spiritual growth. A compelling peek into Anthroposophy for those who are new to the term and some expansive views for those who are familiar.
A Webinar recorded March 13 2019 by the Anthroposophic Society America (ASA) and the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA)
Connecting with the Dead – Lisa Romero. A Webinar recorded February 27 2019 by the Anthroposophic Society in America
We will grow in our understanding of how inner development supports and deepens our connection with those who have crossed the threshold– both those with whom we want to relate and those who wish to relate to us. (photo credit: Mary Stewart Adams)
A podcast in Autumn 2018, Voices of the Biodynamic Conference Portland Oregon, USA. Lisa describes important parts of her biography that led her on the path of inner work and the first 5 books. The books and associated programs with Developing the Self Developing the World are described from 20mins to the end of the podcast.
Interview on the Heart of Wellness Show – Driftless Community Radio, Viroqua USA October 2018.
A three part webinar series hosted by the Anthroposophic Society in America that aired on August 29, September 12, September 26 2018. Accessible by clicking here and linking to The Society and making a donation.
Podcast with the Anthroposophical Society in America – “The Anthroposopher” August 2018. Lisa describes the practice of inner work.
Podcast with Empowering Motherhood radio Australia – 2015
In a world that in some ways can be seen to be waking up and progressing (a greater consciousness overall around human rights, civil rights, the environment, etc. than 100 years ago) how can we make sense of the forces at work that enable and encourage political power that runs so completely counter to progression? We of course can recognize that in many ways political power has worked against progressive ideals and their accomplishments throughout history, so this is certainly nothing new, and yet our current climate is quite extreme – the line between lying and telling the truth more overtly blurred than ever before. How can the wisdom of anthroposophy help us understand our current political climate?
To begin with this question around lying and telling the truth is an important one, because it is an experience for many people around the world, supporting the various political movements that are aligned with national self-interest and self-preservation, that those parties are being honest and that’s what they like about those leaders. They actually perceive them as being extremely honest because they put forward what they experience as a true voice in comparison with the common persona of political correctness that they generally see in politics, which generally acts according to ‘how we should behave’ and ‘what we should say’. I think that’s a very interesting thing because this means that a lot of people believe that speaking out of this aspect of the inner being – the un-ennobled self, the shadow self – is equivalent to being honest. And it’s quite extraordinary to see that someone that’s expressing their opinions in this way is so appealing to others, but it also gives us the insight that people are in fact looking for something that is real and true – this seeking actually lives in the human soul in our times in various ways – and although they’re not actually finding that in this leadership – we can see that they are actually looking for that on some level.
This question of honesty not only has an effect in the realm of politics but we are seeing people being so-called more honest about their feelings, about what they’re experiencing at the level of communication between two human beings. For example, when someone says “I need to be honest with you: you make me really upset!” From the perspective of inner work, the honest thing to say would be something like “there are parts of my being that I can’t control.” What’s honestly occurring in such a situation is that an interaction is bringing up parts of an individual’s untransformed self. And the reality is that these parts are for the individual in question to consciously work with and seek to transform for themselves, rather than telling the other all about it, rather than putting that on another human being to change.
So supporters of, for example, Donald Trump, speak about him as being refreshing, honest, and genuine, but that isn’t actually honesty. And I think that it is important to recognize that as a humanity we don’t even really have a collective sense for honesty. And because we don’t have a universal experience of what honesty is, there are those that are saying that he’s being dishonest, and they generally mean this with regards to the line he is blurring between facts and false information, and on the other hand you have others that are saying he is honest, and in that they are often speaking about his undeveloped self, the shadow self. This is not just a Trump problem; it lives in the collective consciousness.
Interesting. So that’s a picture of the Trump presidency – that it’s revealing something that lives in our collective atmosphere. Could you say more about that?
Every community has its own collective consciousness, and this consciousness affects the inner life of each individual in that community. And each individual in the community has an effect on the collective consciousness for that community. The weight of the balance falls with the majority; so in order to bring change to the practical life, the majority of the collective must be ready for change. The collective consciousness does not develop through the “political correctness” of what we want the other to think we believe; rather, the collective consciousness actually reveals to us the deeper beliefs of the community – even though these naturally do not equate to the deeper beliefs of every individual within that community. We are all subjected to the collective consciousness, we are influenced by it, and we each impress upon it what genuinely lives within us.
However, what we impress upon the collective consciousness is not who we are in the sense of how we like to see ourselves, but rather, how we truly are in our unconscious and subconscious thinking and feeling. If we merely suppress outwardly what actually lives in us as our thoughts and feelings, it does not change the collective atmosphere, because this atmosphere will reveal what lies hidden in the human being.
We are caught up in an external picture of the other that originates in the judgmental inclination of the personality, and that grows into very wide and deep divides that continue to inflict pain in the form of the collectivist sentiments of racism, sexism, and other prejudices based on outer appearances.
And how do we change this in ourselves, and in our work with children, in education?
Well, we can find some forward orientation in the first principle of the Anthroposophical Society which was to form a group of individuals without differentiating on the basis of sex, race, denomination etc. and that is the social attitude that we need and lack today. It’s that social attitude that we need if we are to continue to evolve as a humanity and its absence is currently reflected in a head of state in the White House whose attitude does differentiate on the basis of sex, race, religion, etc. So our task is not to focus on who stands in front of us as a mere external person embodying a certain skin color and certain sexual characteristics, a particular religion, etc. In every encounter we have to ask ourselves, do I bring my same self to a meeting, whether the person I’m meeting with is a man or a woman, for example? Or do I adapt and change what I bring or how I bring it, not because the individual circumstances call for it, but because this collective conditioning is at work. When you speak with a receptionist do you bring your same self to that meeting as you do when you speak with a doctor? Do you hold the same quality of listening, or connecting? In this age, we will need to see each other anew. In this age, we will need to begin to treat each other as individuals – to look upon the other as an individual with certain capacities, talents, and gifts that can contribute toward an ever-progressing and evolving society – a society that is not devoid of the spirit, but that is working to reveal the spirit more fully as it evolves.
The social element of education is very important, as all young people are already being educated about various aspects of life through conditioned behaviors, through social media, etc. The majority of individuals experience an upbringing that supports the development of only certain capacities in their being, or that supports the development of their capacities in an imbalanced way. This generally happens not because we want to cause disturbances, but because we ourselves are not fully awake to the new flow of consciousness now calling upon us to awaken what is individual in each child. We have no choice but to strive to meet this with an education that supports growing young people in a health-giving way, and that adds truly social pictures as a balance to the often one-sided influences of their surroundings. As an educator, we are doing our task well if we are able to elicit the individuality from the other – if we’re able to call it forth and make room for all that the individual truly is. Every generation that is entering into the world comes with creative impulses for the future. So when we stand as parents and educators and think, “I have got to teach you,” the reality is that they also have something to teach us.
When human beings are not allowed to bring their individual spiritual capacities to expression fully into the world, the results are some form of diversion of their fundamental creative force, in a distracting or even destructive manner, onto the other or themselves. All of these diversions in the thinking, feeling or will lead the individual toward becoming a persona, a caricature of itself in the personality.
So in these pictures you’re bringing of the untransformed in us and also these diversions in us, this certainly connects with trying to understand our current political situation. With these understandings it seems that it is in a way a symptom of an underlying illness.
Yes, exactly. So when we consider an issue like our political situation objectively, and in acknowledgement of the spirit, in that we should be able to look at it from different points of view with clarity. So can we look at the Trump administration and say what’s the point of this, that’s not just the shadow forces at work? What is that point of view? What is this a symptom of? What might that be? Because if we can see that, if we could truly find and acknowledge that point of view, we could educate that in the child, raise up that point when they ask us questions about the political situation, for example.
And it’s important to clarify that it’s not about condoning or affirming anything, but if this is the shadow of our collective consciousness and there’s actually a point of view for us to try and recognize in it – I think the basic point of view we’re getting is that the way we’re going is not alright!
And it’s helpful to remember that in the light of progression, the shadow gets stronger. And that’s connected to this honesty piece we spoke about at the beginning of our conversation. What we think is honesty is not actually honesty. It is actually the undeveloped part, the untransformed aspect, speaking out and being given center stage.
So there is a much deeper illness process of the soul at work and we need to figure out and work with the picture of what it is trying to free us from. And that’s a point of view that we can use as a way of talking to and educating younger people. Politics is speaking to this underlying pathology, so how can we bring healing, and keep working forward.
Many people are taking to the streets to express their objection to the current administration and its policies and seek change – protests, community organizing, petitioning elected officials – existing forms of activism have obviously spiked since/because of the possibility and eventual election of our current president. There is a powerful quote from Rudolf Steiner in your newest book (Sex Education and the Spirit: Understanding Our Communal Responsibility for the Healthy Development of Gender and Sexuality within Society) that comes to mind: “Every external revolution today, no matter how agreeable to whichever party or class, will only lead us into the worst of blind alleys and inflict the most terrible misery on humanity, unless it is illumined by an inner revolution of the soul. This involves abandoning one’s absorption in purely materialistic views and actively preparing to receive the spiritual wave that wants to pour down into human evolution as a new revelation (Rudolf Steiner, How to Listen to the Spirit). Can you say something in this direction?
We can go around and advocate and even succeed in securing certain changes with these so-called social laws for example, along the lines of what we see as progressive. Even in schools, we can start calling the children “students” instead of “boys and girls” in order not to impress gender bias upon them, but it only makes a difference to the freedom of the child if the teacher inwardly knows that this external bodily representation cannot be thought of as the totality of the individual being in front of them. The outer chatter does not change the collective consciousness, we have seen that; nor does it transform imbalances within the collective society. Only those revelations inwardly lived by the teacher of the spiritual reality of equality have a healing effect. It can matter what words are spoken but what matters more is the deeper being of who speaks the words.
This makes complete sense when we consider a Gandhi or a Martin Luther King, Jr. It wasn’t just the words they spoke, that anyone else could have spoken, that had such a tremendous effect on the world. I understand that nearly all of the Right Livelihood Winners over the years (the ‘alternative’ Nobel Peace Prize) who work in different fields like peace, conflict resolution, human rights, environment, culture, science, economy, etc. have an active spiritual life.
Right. But humanity is blocked from accessing revelations through the inner hindrances that we individually bear. Thankfully however, we are not merely left to our inner hindrances without the capacity to do something about them. We can adjust what lives in us. Just as Steiner’s six subsidiary exercises work upon external hindrances, serving to block the negative effects of the collective consciousness on our own inner world, so do meditative and contemplative exercises work upon our internal hindrances, lessening their effect on our clear experience of the spiritual world and its guidance.
Many meditative exercises serve to align us with the spiritual realities we have lost touch with through material life, as well as preparing us for a relationship with the living spiritual world and the experiences that we may receive through that relationship. In order to do this, the soul life needs to be reeducated in that direction, through which we may commune with spiritual life and become aware of the dimensions of our relationship with the living spiritual world. We become aware of just how much is still being bestowed upon the human race. We begin to see that we are still evolving, despite the great veil of materialism. We see how the next generation is coming with a new consciousness that brings with it continued hope in the progress of humanity. We begin to grow into the awareness of how assisted we are in our striving, and how we can connect directly with those guiding forces through our deeper soul activity.
The path of transformation is actually not so much a path of personal transformation, as it is a path of world transformation – a path toward re-enlivening the world. We can work to understand these qualities and activities in ourselves in a new way by engaging with meditative and inner development exercises but it is communities that will bring about political change. Each spiritual epoch of human evolution has its unique task in supporting our communal progression in the direction of developing love and freedom. In and through us, the world is taking shape. In and through us, humanity has the potential to become a greater and fuller participant of the living spiritual life.
LISA ROMERO is the author of several books (‘The Inner Work Path’ focusing on anthroposophic meditation practice, ‘Developing the Self’ written after years of working with Waldorf teachers to support their inner work and pedagogical understanding of child development, ‘Living Inner Development’ offering an understanding of the inner experiences and results of various inner development exercises, and ‘Sex Education and The Spirit’ to help awaken an understanding of our communal responsibility for the healthy development of gender and sexuality within society). She is also a complementary health practitioner, and an adult educator who has offered healthcare and education out of anthroposophy since 1993. Since 2006, the primary focus of her work has been on teaching inner development and anthroposophical meditation. Through The Inner Work Path, Lisa offers lectures, courses, and retreats for personal and professional development, in communities and schools worldwide. For meditation courses and talks, visit www.innerworkpath.com.
Sarah Hearn is a complementary health practitioner working out of anthroposophy, and with Developing the Self (www.developingtheself.org). Sarah has a background and interest in initiatives working for social health; she co-founded Think OutWord, a peer-led training in social threefolding for young people, and has taught in high school, adult education, and community settings. With Gary Lamb, Sarah edited Steinerian Economics, a resource guide, and she contributes to Great Song Farm (www.greatsongfarm.com), a biodynamic CSA farm in upstate New York, where she and her partner live and work.
A conversation between biodynamic farmer Anthony Mecca and Lisa Romero, a teacher of anthroposophical meditation and inner development and a complementary health practitioner.
Anthroposophy, or spiritual science, is the source and path of development developed by Rudolf Steiner that stands behind the wisdom of biodynamic agriculture. An understanding of inner development and the soul-spiritual nature of the human being is central to furthering the work of biodynamics if we are interested in supporting the evolving human being and fostering healthy communities.
AM: The topic of Cannabis is really complex and there are a lot of different layers to the issue, so I’m excited to explore it with you. I’m specifically interested in how we can find clarity about how Cannabis affects the soul and spiritual aspects of the human being, from an anthropos- ophical understanding. To start, I thought we could look at Cannabis in terms of its effects on human consciousness in both its recreational and medicinal uses.
LR: Yes, it’s an important topic, and I think as a teacher of anthroposophical meditation this is definitely the central question for me—around consciousness and also the necessity of true inner development in our times. Spe- cifically at issue here is the idea of a substance “doing it for you,”having something change your consciousness instead of having that change come out of your own inner freedom. That said, there are times when we are sick and we need someone or something to do things for us be- cause we can’t actually do them for ourselves. So, obvious- ly, in terms of personal care when we are very unwell, this need for the other to do it for us comes up in various ways, from ameliorating pain to putting us to sleep, to feeding and toileting, etc. This is also the case with something like a broken arm, which requires a cast to heal properly. However, if you were to leave the cast on far longer than necessary for the healing process, you would actually do detriment to the arm.
AM: In an agricultural context, it makes me think of the health and benefit of temporarily separating a newborn calf and its mother from the herd, which, if prolonged, would be of detriment to the calf, its mother, and the herd as a whole. In the plant world, I think of the utility of spraying a crop or the soil with a substance that can help stimulate its growth forces but, if continued, would not allow it to form its own sustaining relationships with the soil, etc. Could you give an example of medicinal Canna- bis where it can serve in this way—providing something that the human being cannot do for itself?
LR: From an anthroposophical understanding, what is happening in a seizure, for instance, in epilepsy, is that the astral and etheric bodies are struggling to be in right relationship to one another. They are “bouncing off ” each other in an attempt to form a new connection. The astral body can’t find a harmonious relationship to the etheric or physical sheath, and specifically to a particular organ. In anthroposophical medicine, harmonizing that poor relationship would be the approach, but would not have an instantaneous effect. What we do in stopping seizures through other means, and the reason marijuana is useful in this context, is that it has the effect of pulling out the as- tral body so that it no longer tries to find the right relation- ship and the sign of that—the seizure—also stops. The lifting out of the astral body is exactly what is happening in other instances of Cannabis use, medicinal or recreation- al: it lifts you out of your normal waking-day experience. So, while we can understand its medicinal use in this context, this idea of the potential detriment of something doing something for you would exclude a great majority of the reasons that people are using Cannabis.
AM: Right, so I can imagine that with any substance there is a fine line in discerning whether it is necessary to have something done for us, or whether it would be better to seek a more conscious strengthening process. How can we better understand how we can make this discernment in striving towards holistic health and healing?
LR: We need to be vigilant about when we actually need something done for us and for how long. That’s the question, and I think that line has become blurred in our comfort-orientated society; we don’t live with discomfort very easily. Too often medicine is about comfort and it’s not about the individual’s consciousness. So when do you actually need something to do it for you, and when do you think you need something to do it for you? If you say to your doctor, “I need something to do it for me,” versus “I have a child who’s having seizures and that’s the only thing that’s working,” these are clearly different situations. We’re actually attracted to someone or something doing it for us in this day and age, and it is part of the culture of comfort. On the other hand, it’s also because of the imbalanced way that we live our lives. If someone lives so materialistically into their day, not only outwardly spending many hours on the computer, under artificial lights etc., but also inwardly if their thinking, feeling, and internal will all engaged in a material existence— then they often become so gripped into their bodies that they then look for something to release them from that experience. They may smoke marijuana at night to get this opposite effect, to release them from this grip. They could say, “That’s medicinal marijuana!” because they need to let go and release, they need to change their state of mind. However, they’re using a substance to do something for them instead of doing something out of themselves, they’re not looking at the whole picture of the imbalance, or working consciously to change their lifestyle in a way that helps the human being to be healthy.
AM: There is growing support for Cannabis in today’s society, and I wonder if there is some connection here between this support and humanity’s interest in things that “do it for us”?
LR: When we talk about the recreational use of marijua- na, it is what I would call the next “big nipple” for human- ity—meaning the thing that rocks us to sleep—and it’s understandable. The world is getting harder and rougher, but comforting ourselves with something that weakens the human being is not the way to go. All conscious- ness-altering substances disengage the higher ego, and our direct connection to the true spiritual world. And it’s worth mentioning that it may be quite useful for collective control: individuals don’t rebel against the state if you can be guaranteed the comfort of getting out of the pain of life with a joint! Marijuana disengages an individual’s will forces. So, for instance, although an individual who is under the influence of alcohol is more likely to act out the unconscious will impulses that live in him or her (in an age when, as Rudolf Steiner described, we need to be cultivating the self-consciousness soul), a marijuana user is known more for lethargy, apathy, etc. And the way we work into our will is such an expression of our individu- ality and our capacity to create change. Out of anthropos- ophy, we know that our conscious individual will is the spirit expressed in life, and this individualized will doesn’t come under the direction of the ego until the ego comes into full expression—around nineteen to twenty-one years of age or later. As such, using Cannabis, especially prior to this time, while the brain is still developing, can have a great impact. I deal with so many cases of major problems from marijuana use. If the ego forces can develop properly as a teenager, inner development can be more readily taken in hand in adulthood and the capac- ities that an individual brings can more readily unfold to support the progression of humanity.
AM: There are a lot of people who point to various points in history where marijuana had a notable place in culture and society. How can we make sense of these earlier uses and understand how they relate to the needs of humanity today?
LR: Yes, people come in and say, “Oh look, it’s a natural substance with a history of use,” but the reality is that the consciousness of humanity was very different at earlier points in history. In the distant past, indigenous and First Nation peoples had a very clear and direct relationship to the elemental world. Unlike the waking-day conscious- ness of today, they lived and breathed with the elemental realities just as we now live and breathe with physical realities. For these people, the elemental world was far more real than physical life. They could make use of that world in order to unite with the group soul of the animal kingdom, and here they would also meet the thoughts of their ancestors. Substance use by indigenous cultures only began once their earlier states of consciousness that connected them to the elemental world were being lost. It’s important to point out that even then it was only par- ticular people who would make use of substances in this way, and it was on rare or special occasions. It was part of a task that required preparation, and was done with the aim of helping others. Who really does it like that today? And, even if that is the purpose, the help we need now is stronger inner capacities that we freely develop by taking hold of inner realms consciously.
AM: I think this connects to the fact that some people praise marijuana with regards to their experiences of creativity, artistry, and innovation. How could these expe- riences be explained, and are they fundamentally useful in today’s self-consciousness soul age?
LR: That’s right. While there is this expression of marijua- na as one of apathy and lethargy—that it’s a “downer”— it’s not the only experience of someone taking marijuana. In being open to the elemental world, you can sometimes feel this creative flow of thoughts and you can perhaps connect to other thought forms to which you otherwise couldn’t connect on your own—because you’re in the sea of the thought world. However, from Rudolf Steiner’s perspective, that’s akin to putting your head into an ant’s nest, so to speak. That’s not something you would neces- sarily want to do with your undeveloped consciousness, because it produces erroneous effects by combining one’s personal self with impersonal realities. In our contemporary age, there is a real necessity to evolve our consciousness out of our own free inner activity which, in turn, gives rise to being able to perceive useful insights for humanity’s progress. As Steiner and others expressed in various ways, human beings have to consciously do for themselves what the plant does unconsciously: they have to grow themselves up. Anything that does this growing up for us into these realms, in time, weakens us.
AM: Could you briefly characterize what the path of de- velopment looks like, that comes out of anthroposophy? What is needed in our modern age, from the perspective of anthroposophical inner development?
LR: What’s needed is a meditative life that develops a strengthening of self—a meditative life that cultivates the strength required to develop the faculties to experience other planes of consciousness, in freedom. We need to develop our capacities and evolve ourselves, in support of world evolution. What we get from marijuana takes us back to an earlier point in the evolution of humanity’s consciousness. That’s also why Steiner avoided inner practices that utilize the body; they are practices that access a world of the past through the body that is built with the wisdom of spiritual forces of the past. In Steiner’s words, “[t]he spiritual can no longer reveal itself to hu- man beings in all kinds of subconscious and unconscious processes. The time has come for human beings to receive the light of the spirit through a free inner deed.”1 We need to find a way towards living, present spiritual realities, and this is not where we are led when we take substances that alter consciousness. They lead us away from true progres- sion, which can only be accessed through inner capacities that we develop for ourselves.
AM: Not surprisingly, I think that this “growing ourselves up,” and being able to give through our strengthened in- dividualized will, is also what our farms and communities need. It makes me wonder how much wine and Cannabis are “doing something for us” in the food and farming movement, and how it would be if we, instead, focused on working harder to create, deepen, and manifest new forms of community engagement and education, to help people develop a love of and interest in vegetables, fruits, grains, and more.
LR: It’s quite a picture, really. It’s often quite difficult for farms to get by, so it’s understandable that growing marijuana as a profitable side crop seems reasonable. But, there it is again, doing something for us that we can’t quite do for ourselves. It’s really hard to create and grow consciousness around something like new community forms if you have your back-up marijuana plot, because then you don’t have to worry as much about whether or not the community is on board. The role of the farm is central to healthy community life and to helping to grow new forms of community, so it’s important that we work to foster deeper relationships between individuals in community. This not only reveals to us where we need to keep growing, but is a necessity to renew our cultural life. In Rudolf Steiner’s words, “[a]s this epoch progresses people will find it more and more difficult to achieve appropriate relationships with one another, for this attainment of appropriate relationships now entails the application of inner development, inner activity.”2 The work of true inner development, although it is not an easy path, is what is being called for in humanity’s evolution.
Lisa Romero will offer a one-day inner work workshop especially for the biodynamic agriculture community in the spring of 2018 in New York. Please contact email@example.com for details.
1 Rudolf Steiner, “How to Listen to the Spirit,”in The Meaning of Life and other Lectures on Fundamental Issues (London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999).
2 Rudolf Steiner, “How Can the Destitution of Soul in Modern Times Be Overcome?” (lecture, Zurich Switzerland, October 10, 1916). Accessed March 19, 2017. http://wn.rsarchive.org/GA/ GA0168/19161010p01.html.
Lisa Romero, the author of four books on inner development published by SteinerBooks, is a complementary health practitioner and an adult educator whose primary focus is on teaching inner development and anthroposophical meditation. Through the Inner Work Path (www.innerworkpath.com) Lisa offers lectures, workshops, and retreats for personal and professional development in communities and schools worldwide. Previously, Lisa has worked at an anthroposophical addiction clinic and has served as the lecturer on Health and Nutrition at Rudolf Stein- er College in Sydney, Australia.
Anthony Mecca began farming twelve years ago, in search of a place to won-
der, explore, and serve. In farming, he found hot sun, hard physical work, and
community to be potent medicine. Anthony began Great Song Farm (www.
greatsongfarm.com) in the Hudson Valley of New York in 2010, where he continues to live and work. There, he found his kin and began deepening his work with biodynamic farming, anthroposophy, inner work, and community life. Fostering direct and meaningful relationships between nature, agriculture, and community is central to his work. Anthony also coordinates the farmer training program, the North American Biodynamic Apprenticeship Program (NABDAP), at the Biodynamic Association (www.biodynamics.com/ nabdap).
Sculptures by Gustav Vigeland, Frogner Park, Oslo, Norway.
Interviewer: There has been a lot in the news this past year about sex and sexual abuse – the scandals in England involving politicians and celebrities and, also, what’s happening in India around women’s rights and protections against sexual abuse. There’s also now this report from a Waldorf school community documenting sexual abuse that took place over the last decades. I read an article a few years ago, “The Sex Addiction Epidemic,” (Newsweek, 11/25/11) that exposed how intense and dark our relationship to sexuality can become. One of the theses in that article was that our relationship to sexuality has changed and intensified because of the easy and anonymous access to internet pornography, which can become an incredibly strong addiction. How has our relationship to sexuality changed over time?
Lisa: In response to the internet question, it’s not only about accessibility to the images, it’s actually more about what happens when we engage with only certain aspects of ourselves and, therefore, don’t have a balance. So, with the use of technology driving our nervous system the way it does, which alters our inner rhythm, we find that there’s also a correlating counter-force of imbalance in the metabolic system.
I see different examples of this in my practice that I hadn’t seen before, for instance, I see young men struggling to have ejaculations. These aren’t men for whom something specific has happened in their biography, but rather that some change has come and interfered with that healthy activity in them. For example, the continual use of the technology (and I don’t mean porn at all but just the intensive use of computers in general) is having such a strong effect how they live into their bodies, the over use of the nervous system is creating a correlating disconnect in the use of the metabolic system.
“Mobile Lovers” by Banksy”Mobile Lovers” by Banksy
The hermetic saying begins “as above, so below.” Whatever you do to the conscious pole you’ll have a correlating effect on the unconscious pole – if you disturb the nerve-sense system you disturb the metabolic system, even though it’s an unseen disturbance.
So a young man like the one I mentioned, who can’t ejaculate because he is so bound in his head, has lost his connection to the inner streaming of feeling in his body. In this same way, the sex to which an individual is drawn becomes cruder, and the experience some have is that there is less joy even in the sensual aspect of sex and more of a need to gratify something biological in a hardened way. People learn only how they have the sex, what works for them, what is their way. They then try to impose their way on everyone they have sex with. It’s an extraordinary thing, the sexual relationship between one human being and another. Not only is it unique to that relationship, but it’s also a continual and growing path, and all the dimensions including the soul aspect and even spiritual aspect of the relationship, raise the relationship over time into something far beyond sensual love. You can really see that in relationships over
time. It’s one of the benefits in a long-term relationship, that one can perceive the growth not just of myself but also of what happens between us. One sees the potential in this living reality of deep transformation.
The poet Rilke talking of his own gender said that one shouldn’t have sex as a man, that we shouldn’t put our sex onto another in that way, but rather we should have sex as an individual being. This can also be a reflection of a disturbance in the metabolic system, when you have the need to gratify something biological that’s not the joyous experience of giving and receiving which is possible between two people. It’s more of an assault on the system of both bodies rather than an experience of sex as a potential gathering place for both individuals
It really is a multi-dimensional question and another important aspect relates to what Rudolf Steiner said would happen if we didn’t take up the work of transforming our astral body. In “The Work of the Angels in Man’s Astral Body,” Steiner indicates that if we don’t do this inner work by the turn of the twentieth century then certain forces that work in a healthy way in the astral body would then descend and work in an unhealthy way in our etheric body. This is what goes into effect through the blood, the metabolic system, and he predicted potential sexual debauchery because of this.
If humanity had continued to develop soul strength to the level necessary, then technology would not be able to have such a strong effect. It’s not useful to just say that what’s happening in the world of technology is wrong, but rather the question is: Are we ready to meet it? It’s our lack of readiness to meet whatever this world brings that can mean it becomes detrimental. The technology itself is not detrimental, but it’s detrimental in that we lack the capacity to use it instead of letting it use us. And to use it and not have it use us we need great strength of soul.!
All of these pictures speak to the human being’s lack of soul strength. Their ability to encounter these forces wherever they come from and use them for the benefit of human evolution is the soul’s journey. It’s important to note that these forces can’t show us anything other than the weaknesses that still live in us. When somebody drinks alcohol and becomes aggressive, it’s because those forces already live in them, or the doorway to those forces lives in them – they’ve just gotten rid of their “Chief Executive Officer,” the one that usually holds those forces in check. Only then do you see what’s there and what is untransformed. And it’s very similar with the internet addict, we also get to see what’s there, the untransformed self. However, in someone who has transformed those forces, if they were to watch pornography it would have a very different effect. If you have transformed those forces you would not receive any food that you would want from pornography. In turn the consciousness behind pornography would not receive any food from you.
What Does Transformation Look Like?
So how does one begin to transform these forces? Of course there’s abstinence. One of the things described in that Newsweek article was that when people look at pornography it feeds an addiction and only becomes worse. One can try to stay away from those things but is that actually transforming it? What does transformation look like?
Well, there’s a quote from Rudolf Steiner on this question. It comes from a lecture called Popular Occultism:
“Sensual love gradually leads to the highest, purest spiritual love. The soul should transform all experience and then bear it up to the altar of spirituality, for nothing, absolutely nothing is lost. Sensuousness is the school without which the human being would never come to spirituality… The earth is no vale of tears, it is a gathering place… Spiritual pleasure grows out of physical enjoyment and transforms itself into spiritual pleasure. The pleasure of the senses is a necessary detour.”
It’s not about suppression. You can see that with some priests, where the forces are not actually transformed at all and so they come out distorted. But that’s not the way forward, and the difficult thing is that when we focus on something singular that has to be transformed – like our relationship to sexuality – we bypass the beginning steps. One great difficulty is that sexual energy is not the first thing that gets transformed on the path of development; there are other aspects of transformation that must come first. You can’t shortcut the steps and try to just grab hold of sexuality and only work on that. To begin with, it’s a question of how does one change one’s thinking and how to take hold of the sentient soul. And I think this is one of the great difficulties about this question around sexuality – if you try to transform or work on this aspect alone you’ll end up with some form of suppression or distortion. One really has to take up the whole path of the inner work and then this sexual force is redirected. It’s a very powerful force of procreation and without this sense-born love it is impossible to evolve our earthly sense world. So we can’t just look at sexuality exclusively, we have to ask the question: What do I need to transform before I can even get to that biological drive? What lives in the astral body and etheric body that needs working upon first?
I: So if one is working on oneself and knows that sexuality is a necessary detour, as the Steiner quote indicated, then what does it look like to actually redirect this force? You’ve said in the past that when people are working on themselves, that these forces can become more intensified and more difficult to transform…
L: Yes, there are different stages to this work. At the beginning of our development, unknown to us, many of those forces are held in check by a higher spiritual activity that is bound unconsciously to them. As we step into development, those spiritual capacities detach themselves from those baser, instinctual human forces, which then begin to act more intensely, because they’re not governed in the same way. That’s one relevant aspect of the path of development that Steiner cautioned us on numerous times. The student on the path of spiritual development in some ways meets in a new way the state of adolescents wherein the sexual energy fueled by the astral desires can easily divert into eroticism or into power over others
Another aspect is that as you gain in soul capacity – the power that the spiritual world brings to those on the path – if you haven’t taken hold of your inner life correctly then that power can actually be utilized by the lower nature for its own gain and gratification. And so it has two common aspects – one is that, at a certain point, the unconscious supervision is removed, and the second is that the intensified powers gained from spiritual activity can also be diverted through our untransformed nature.
Many people on the path want to gain more and more by connecting themselves consciously with the spiritual world through meditation and the study of spiritual wisdom, but they don’t actually want to work to transform what lives in them. Rudolf Steiner brought the essential schooling picture of the need to take many steps in moral development for every step in spiritual development. There’s a danger in the depth of anthroposophy because there’s such wisdom poured out through Steiner’s lectures that we are able to gain in knowledge and sound so wise without taking up for ourselves the necessary transformation that allows each of us to access this wisdom. This is what we all must do in order to have a living relationship to the truths traced out in the spiritual world.
The Role of Community
People wrestle with sexual impulses on their own and also in partnership, but is there a role that the community can have? The pictures around gender and sexuality that you’ve brought in the past have been helpful for my circle of friends in terms of recognizing those things in ourselves and in our relationships with each other. They’ve helped us see each other better, to be more understanding, to not shame each other. So I wonder if there’s a way we can better hold these things in a community and also, what’s the role a community can have especially when it comes to aberrations, misconduct, and abuse? Are there social forms to help hold this?
It is important to be really clear that, given how hard as it is to grow up and develop in a healthy way, we have to be completely protective of children. So if you look at the essence of Waldorf education, it almost reads more like the Hippocratic Oath in a certain way – to ‘do no harm’ – and to completely respect the soul and the spirit of each incarnating being. One role of the teacher is to make sure no harm is brought towards the instrument, the different outer sheaths, that the soul-spirit is incarnating into.
So, yes, most human beings struggle consciously or unconsciously with these sexual biological forces, we must therefore have compassion towards this human struggle and at the same time we have to be absolutely clear that we stand for the right of the child not be interrupted or impinged upon in their incarnating process. What lives in the inner life of the community also develops part of the vehicle for the child’s incarnating soul. The community as a whole has the duty to ‘do no harm’ to the vehicle of the incarnating soul because the soul has to use its vehicle to live out its destiny, to mold it according to its own destiny needs. The community has a major part to play in how the individual is able to take up its destiny.
In situations, though, where sexual abuse is not the issue – but just knowing that these sexual impulses are so strong within people – are there ways that we can work with this as a community? Are there ways to take it up before it manifests as aberration? A friend told me that after the recent report on sexual abuse at one school, the school where he’s teaching would probably put more rules in place. This is kind of a bureaucratic response. I think it’s necessary, especially if we can’t find other ways to deal with it more directly, I’m just wondering if there are other ways, more human ways, to hold this intense sexual force and help direct it so it finds a healthy expression?
Yes, you have to have rules in place, because we need laws that hold the community’s truth because individuals sometimes can’t hold that morality themselves. This can also lead to more and more distortion. It’s the same with crime – criminals find other ways around the laws, they just get more calculating. We have to work with these things more openly. You can’t do what some religious institutions have done at times and pretend it doesn’t happen, or just move people on. We need to have open conversations, we need to have education that meets our times, and Rudolf Steiner actually indicated that it would be now in our present times that we would face this. We need conversation, education, we need to be able to talk about something that 100 years ago, in Steiner’s time, wasn’t talked about and wasn’t needed in this same way.
We can get blocked within anthroposophy when we try to do something that Steiner didn’t do. We go over and over what he brought instead of asking what we have to meet and work with today, or even how would this be met if he were alive today. I’ve been to a lot of schools and at one school a teacher said to me that children shouldn’t be conscious of the questions of sexuality because Steiner said they don’t need any education in this way. But the reality is that today they’re already dealing with it. They’re already getting their sex education through pornography and the like, so we should be giving them something that can help them understand the questions of sex and gender from a healthy point of view. And if it’s not being worked through by the adults in the community then it’s not going to be met in the younger people, and they won’t even recognize the imbalance that is so prevalent. So it’s absolutely essential to give them other pictures of what is taking place, from puberty onwards. This allows them to recognize what is healthy and what is unhealthy in what they are seeing in the world
And in a community where these kinds of distortions and misdeeds have happened and come to light, how can we work with this? What good can come out of such circumstances?
Ultimately, any distortion that breaks through into the physical requires us to ask ourselves: How are we meeting this and how can we make this better? If it’s not addressed and nothing changes then we haven’t done the right service to what has taken place. It has to be addressed. And it’s not just about putting more procedures in place – though there is that, because procedures support those that do not have their own strength – but it’s about looking at how we’re not educated and why we wouldn’t want to be educated about these things. I think, ultimately, if an event happens and we are able to open up a new realm of discussion -new ways of looking and working – if it opens up into those things, then we’ve begun the process of healthy community.
If people want to keep it quiet, and say it never happened, then there will be no change. This exists now in the context of the anthroposophical and Waldorf community and that means we have to ask: what are we not doing consciously in relationship to this question of sexuality? Because if this question were being worked harmoniously in the soul life then it would not manifest itself as disharmony in the physical life. It has manifested and it must be met.
LISA ROMERO is a complementary health practitioner and adult educator who has applied anthroposophy to her practice since 1990 and delivered education enriched with anthroposophy since 1998. Lisa is currently working with Waldorf teachers and counselors to develop a curriculum and model of approaching the evolving consciousness and issues of gender and sexuality for grades 7 through high school. Since 2006 the primary focus of her work has been teaching inner development and anthroposophical meditation, about which she has recently written book The Inner Work Path – A Foundation for Meditative Practice in the Light of Anthroposophy” (available from Steinerbooks). For several years Lisa was the lecturer for Health and Nutrition and Male/Female Studies at Sydney Rudolf Steiner College (Parsifal College) where she now continues to lecture the faculty on inner development. She also designed and facilitated the Educaredo Towards Health and Healing course. This training ran eight, year-long courses working with therapists from all modalities as well as Waldorf teachers to bring the practical application of therapeutic and pedagogical methods. She continues to teach in numerous trainings and seminars for several organizations.
Related Events with Lisa Romero in the United States 2014-2015:
Lust, Lucifer, Abuse: a Challenge for the Spirit in our Time December 21, 2014, at the Anthroposophical Society in NYC Visit www.asnyc.org for details.
Sexuality & Self-Development
Building Community of Life in a World of Power and Eroticism
January 2-4, 2014, in Spring Valley, NY.
Sponsored by Think OutWord and Threefold Educational Center.
Conversations with Lisa Romero, a presenter at Sydney Rudolf Steiner College, are followed by comments from several long-term teachers.
The Journal plans to have interviews and conversations around the steps on the anthroposophical path of inner development. If there are schools or groups working with inner development in the pedagogical realm who would like to share a picture or conversation on their work in the journal, please contact Peggy Day, the coordinator of the Pedagogical Section in Australia at firstname.lastname@example.org
Q. How did you first meet the work of Rudolf Steiner and how has Inner Development Work unfolded?
Lisa – I was given Knowledge of Higher Worlds1 at 19 years of age by my first esoteric teacher who was in the Rosicrucian stream. I therefore knew Rudolf Steiner only as a spiritual teacher. Seven years later when studying homeopathy, I entered into a more conscious schooling in Spiritual Science. I met and learnt from Erwin Berney, Anna Havas and Susan Harris, all tutors at Parsifal College in Sydney. Later Erwin asked me to teach the subjects of Male-Female and Health and Healing when he retired from lecturing and also facilitated my involvement in the Edu-Care-Do course. This grew into the Health and Healing Course in which students studied practical applications in the health field which involved also practice in inner development.
The students increasingly noticed that the meditation allowed insights into their healing work and asked for further teaching. Thus there began inner development classes and workshops- and then 5 years ago the retreats began. The participants soon moved beyond the health field – teachers and parents came and it grew into the workshops and retreats.
I was invited by the Anthroposophical Society in New York to hold talks and this later grew into workshops for 30-40 people on How to Know Higher Worlds. Also many younger people there have an interest in the questions of gender and relationship and attend workshops.
Last year I was invited to the Meditation Initiative at the Goetheanum. Around 150 people from around the world, working deeply with meditation, gathered and worked together.
Q. How do the fruits of the Inner Work move into daily life and how does this help the teacher?
Lisa – I could not have so deeply understood the 3 and 4 fold pictures of the human being or the perceptions of human development without the living pictures of meditation. The inner practice works into the world in a living way and creative solutions for daily challenges arise. This taking hold through the inner schooling speeds up the path of development.
For the teacher several fruits become available:
The first way the teacher uses it is in not getting entangled in the daily struggles- they have a moment of freedom in which to choose.
They have more available capacity of forces to give to the work.
They recognise what would be helpful or progressive for the children with more
objectivity e.g. colours and forms they work with, the part in the play or the verse to
With their awakening awareness of their essential nature they become committed in a
whole new way to the evolution of the other.
We realise that lives in us is more important than what we know.
1 Current translation Steiner, R. (1994). How to know higher worlds [GA10]. Great Barrington, MA: Anthroposophic Press.
Journal for Waldorf/Rudolf Steiner Education 16.2 November 2014 November 1
Q. The development of this stronger inner life and the practices in How to Know Higher Worlds also connect to the College work in schools don’t they?
Lisa – The teacher becomes deeply connected inwardly to their colleague’s work and also to the unseen colleagues of the College Imagination2.
Q. Why this path based in the work of Rudolf Steiner and How to Know Higher Worlds?
Lisa – Through this path we recognise where we have been, where we are now and where we are heading- we are not attempting to go back where we have been. We are strengthening the ‘I’ not merging back into the primal oneness. We can reject the path of limited intellect but foster will-filled thinking and conscious reflection of the letting go of our limitations.
Q. What supports Inner Development and how is this incorporated in retreats?
Lisa – Through eurythmy the cosmic forms are connected to the body before breakfast so that participants are strengthened and ready to face life.
The lecture content twice a day allows us to understand what the practice entails, why we do it and how. It is content we can integrate into our lives. There are big cosmological and human pictures given by Rudolf Steiner which form a stability and foundation for journeying beyond our limited particular self.
The private practice time afterwards is followed in the morning by time for discussion questions. The artistic time after lunch gives the soul direct experiences in observations of nature, colour and light and dark. Supported rest with baths, massage and compresses allows participants to feel comfortable in a peaceful state, to be present sooner in the work and build resources, put their workaday self aside and feel at ease in an inner space.
Even though we are never really ready for the next step in the evolution of consciousness, the inner path of Spiritual Science calls us where ever we are, at any stage, to raise ourselves up. Whether we are exhausted or disenchanted we are called to enliven our life.
2 This is a verse given to teachers of the first Waldorf School by Rudolf Steiner in 1919
Journal for Waldorf/Rudolf Steiner Education 16.2 November 2014 November 2
Reflections on the Fruits of the Inner Path by Teachers Josefin Porteous – Eurythmy Teacher
Q. How do the practices work on into your teaching?
It makes it possible for me to stand in my busy life and being aware of the vertical as well as the horizontal dimension. This works like a thunder connecting me to the earth much more strongly. It brings a well-rounded experience for me as a teacher. It doesn’t make life easier but it makes it richer, fuller and more worthwhile.
Diane Tatum – Eurythmy Teacher
Q. What does it bring to your life to give time and focus to your inner practice?
When an Organisation Focusses on Inner Work
I’m so grateful that the organisations I work in have made it a point to bring people focussed on the anthroposophical Inner Path in to do professional development on our inner work with us as a whole staff. Each time, we’re given an opportunity to work together in a way that is challenging and uplifting for everyone, whether one has already established a meditative practice or is just at the start of finding a way with it all. Through doing inner work together we become strengthened on an individual and collegial level simultaneously. We unite with one another in a deeper way,
Work on the College Imagination
As an example, Lisa came to our school to help guide our work with the College Imagination. The depth of understanding she brought us has helped to anchor the spiritual work of our staff as a collegial body -there is a more palpable core of inner work at the heart of what we do. Of course, it’s a long road and there’s so much still to be done, but at least – through placing the inner work at the core of our professional development – we have the sense of being on the right track!
Q. What does it bring to your life to give time and focus to your inner practice?
Wisdom and Love
Attending workshops and retreats allows me time to strengthen focus on the inner life. If we are overwhelmed and can’t stop the busy life of our day to day routine, then through this focus on inner work we become in awe of the magnificence of life and the spirit; the magnitude of wisdom everywhere and how to take this up with the gift and task of love.
Strength of Uprightness
Imagine a cross with its horizontal line as well as the vertical line, the horizontal line representing the daily life with its endless tasks and never ending little and big things we are doing all day. I feel that I am being pulled into the upright with all the practices and artistic activities. Being confronted by ourselves and the meaning of spiritual goals is a very grounding experience. You experience a real humbleness.
Journal for Waldorf/Rudolf Steiner Education 16.2 November 2014 November 3
Q. How did the continuing inner practices and activities work in you?
Firstly, I thrive on inner quietude – I guess we all do – but the act of will that it takes to forge that space is often lacking in daily, professional life, and so it’s life-affirming to have this modelled by someone. With that quietude, comes an enhanced sense of how to work with time in a more conscious way. There are so many ‘Ah-ha’ experiences that can come when the space is cleared for them to land. I’ve always felt connected to particular mantric verses but it was through the workshops that I began to experience a way of embodying them, inwardly, so their inner power can become more real.
Q. How do the practices work on into your teaching?
Fundamentally, the practices have become a core reference for my work as a teacher. For the longest time the capacities of Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition were ‘those big I words’ that seemed somewhat remote and beyond reach, at least for me. Not that I wasn’t meditating and trying to make sense of it all, but in retrospect it appears that a stronger context and some essential tools were missing. Through the refinement of the inner practices, bit by bit it seems as though preparing lessons, teaching them and then reflecting, in the way that they lead to being filled with lively pictures, ‘whisperings’ and creative impulses, in short, everything we do can start to take shape with greater clarity and contour in a more conscious way. This makes teaching much more of a creative dialogue with the spiritual world. It’s the best antidote to tiredness or burnout, when you realise just how much help from the other side is freely given and always at hand.
Vanessa Gardiner – handwork and painting/drawing teacher at Kamaroi Rudolf Steiner School and Sydney Rudolf Steiner College
Q. What does it bring to your inner life to give time to go to Inner Development retreats and workshops?
SPACIOUSNESS – For those of us actively working within Anthroposophical
impulses, this is not usually part of our day to day lives?! It is an extraordinary
gift to have the opportunity, for that with which I am ‘soul wrestling’ to emerge
clearly. To have been steeped in the earnest, real, compassionate and
humorous teaching gives me great courage and fuels my enthusiasm and will
to meet my life tasks with an integrity with myself and my own destiny , that I don’t feel I would’ve had access to otherwise.
Q. How did the practices and activities work in you?
Balancing the Giving Aspect of teaching with … Receiving
Part of what draws me to working out of Anthroposophy is how it meets the most human needs within us and connects us to the spiritual world and evolution so eloquently. This gives our lives such meaningful directives and has enabled a ‘receiving’ quality into my life personally- to be able to balance the ‘outpouring’ and to feel, much more palpably, the sense of ‘being carried’.
A living relationship to the inner development indications can form through engaging in the background wisdom, whilst also engaging in eurythmy, singing and artistic processes which all carry and move the teaching deeply into other aspects of our being. This enables a much deeper magnitude of the teaching to ‘land’ within me. Aspects which I have thought I ‘knew and understood’ have been relegated new ground within me and I have stretched my self- reflection to new realms. It’s very humbling but profoundly fulfilling.
Journal for Waldorf/Rudolf Steiner Education 16.2 November 2014 November 4
Q. How does it work on into your teaching?
There are deeply personal integrations that I draw on in my task of teaching. These are more invisible, connected to my own mysteries. But there have been poignant practical changes through the strengthening my own daily practices and meditative work.
The inner work deepened how I took up the child study and meditative work I engaged in for the students I teach (primary students and adult in teacher education programmes) and how I carried them. There were subtleties which developed and had what I felt were a significant ‘ripple effect’. I embarked on a year- long action research study, of the implications of this work on children’s capacity to meet learning outcomes. This opened many other doorways into the riddles and how we work with them. From this work, we extended our faculty meetings, to incorporate a rhythm of this aspect of meditative support for our teaching. This has furthered us living the
questions more honestly together, brought insights and nourishment. We have looked to the ‘inner work aspects’ and meditative work more strongly for a shared directive when needed.
Caduceus Painting by Vanessa
Inner Development and Collegial Work.
The most recent development now has been the decision for us to reform our ‘college’ work. This is naturally an extrapolation of many needs and workings but the inner work having such a renaissance within our collegial relationships has bought a new striving to create something that is very meaningful to the research aspects of college work, research of spiritual realities. I certainly see how the impact of us each striving within has allowed that movement quality, that the Archai need in order to do their tasks within schools, is activated by the meditative work and commitment of each individual.
I feel the onus on our own transformation as the portal to knowing the spiritual world is so significant for this consciousness soul age and something I feel we should all be taking up full-heartedly if we are truly to do credit to our work in the world. To be able to recognise what’s living in our challenges and to know how to orientate to them brings enormous clarity, to be able to see in the light of supportive and diverting forces and to have bigger pictures all supports ‘pedagogical love’ to really live in our schools.
Journal for Waldorf/Rudolf Steiner Education 16.2 November 2014 November 5
The Teacher and Inner Work: Thoughts from Lisa Romero
All the inner work exercises strengthen us to carry out our tasks in the world. The workshops, lectures, courses and retreats are given to support each individual in taking the next step in their own journey of self-development. They are not given only to meditators but to be supportive for wherever the individual stands in the relationship to the inner work and the spiritual world. The necessity of our need to strengthen our soul to meet the challenges of life is becoming apparent to everyone working out of anthroposophy. We see the battle in front of us and know we need to ready ourselves. This is becoming clearer and clearer to teachers working on the front line of trying to hold back the forces of materialism.
Education and training take on a completely new significance in our modern time in fact there should be no more teaching without insight into the relationship of the human being to the spiritual world. That is the battle that is arising!3
All that is given out of anthroposophy is imbued by the spiritual wisdom of the human beings becoming. We can look at Waldorf education through this lens and see how it is steeped in esoteric knowledge. Steiner himself states
it arises from complete dedication to human freedom. And it springs from our ideal to place human beings in the world so that they can unfold individual freedom4
We can all learn from what was given to the teachers. For what was given to the teachers was to advance the next stage of consciousness soul development.
The Teacher and the Future Inner Path of the Students
What teachers bring in the form of the fruits of their inner life and deepened insights into their work with the children is supportive not only in childhood but goes on as the foundations that they in future will stand upon as adults as they attempt to work with self-development of the soul. The healthy development of the physical, etheric and astral life is the foundation on which the higher self must work.
We recognise that the teachers were instructed to work out of the age of consciousness soul to support the next step of development for humanity. This means the striving of the ego to transform the consciousness soul. The more awake we are and open to what flows as support from the spiritual world the more we can participate in the healthy progression of humanity. In the age of consciousness soul, more than ever, we need to be strong souls capable of meeting and transforming what the world of materialism is placing before us. Meditation and inner schooling exercises are the surest and fastest way to strengthen the individual soul and connect it with the spiritual in us.
Out of the gravity of our times,
Must be borne the courage to act.
Give to teaching what the spirit gives you, And you will free mankind,
From the crushing mountain of materialism, Bearing down on it.
Lisa Romero’s website is www.innerworkpath.com. Her recent book, The inner work path: A foundation for meditative practice in the light of anthroposophy is published by Steiner Books.
3 Steiner, R. (1988). The new spirituality: and the Christ experience of the twentieth century (p. 103). London, United Kingdom: Rudolf Steiner Press.
4 Steiner, R. (2003). Soul economy: Body, soul, and spirit in Waldorf education (p. 195). Great Barrington, MA: Anthroposophic Press.
Journal for Waldorf/Rudolf Steiner Education 16.2 November 2014 November 6
Interview with Lisa Romero by Sarah Hearn. Lisa Romero has been a practicing homeopath for over twenty years and has applied an Anthroposophical approach to her practice for the past fifteen years. During the last nine years she has been teaching Anthroposophical health and healing throughout Australia and Asia and for the last several years she has been teaching workshops on the inner path and Anthroposophy throughout Australia and in Harlemville, NY
1. To start, how did you originally come to teach workshops on the Inner Path and Anthroposophy?
Well, I was first teaching health and nutrition courses, as well as male/female studies, at Rudolf Steiner College (formerly Parsifal College) in Sydney and then the Educaredo therapist training throughout Australia. While teaching I was often asked, ‘how is it that you managed to come to this content and share it with us in a way that is really living and accessible?’ In response, I would share the picture of Steiner saying “I don’t want you to believe me, I want you to understand me!” – I explained that I had worked really strongly with my inner practice and contemplation, and let the pictures of the threefold and fourfold human being come alive in me. In order to really understand these incredibe pictures that Steiner brings, I needed to be able to really live with them, rather than just knowing them intellectually. I then realized that whatever was living in me out of this work, could speak to others also, and people felt that this was valuable for them. From there, after about seven years of teaching full-time in various capacities, I needed to respond to the question that I was being asked: “How do I really enter into this work for myself?” or put another way, how can I really understand Rudolf Steiner and not just believe him? I then began teaching the Inner Work & Anthroposophy workshops to larger groups of people.
2. Even once someone turns toward Anthroposophy, people can often really struggle with taking up meditation or maintaining a regular practice. Could you talk about this struggle with the inner work?
Well, one thing is that I think it can really depend on how you come to Anthroposophy. With many spiritual teachers you meet them as a teacher of the inner life – first, and then, maybe after working with that teacher for some time, you find a way to work with those teachings into the world. In contrast, Rudolf Steiner, for many, is first met without calling him a teacher of the inner work – even though it’s imbued in all the outer work (Waldorf education, anthroposophic medicine, etc.) So for example, you can take up a training and become a Waldorf teacher without ever penetrating those realms of the inner work. For many, meditation is not their first point of access but comes after years of working with their professional activity or in whatever form they’ve met Anthroposophy. However, I do think that most people come to the meditative path at some point in their work with Anthroposophy, but for me, it was the initial point of meeting. That was my first encounter with him as a spiritual teacher and then I met and continued on to meet other aspects of his work, which changed my work with
homeopathy into an anthroposophical approach. . Many people are initially attracted or drawn to Anthroposophy because of all its practical application in the world, but it does seem that eventually it leads people to that same question I mentioned, How can I really understand Rudolf Steiner and not just believe him? And, it does, firstly, require inner change and transformation to begin that journey.
3. With such a wealth of resources from Rudolf Steiner, 6,000 lectures, etc. at our disposal, could you say something about how to forge a healthy relationship between studying the wisdom offered by Anthroposophy, and practicing this wisdom in the world?
Study is a component of the anthroposophical path, but it is only one part of it. So the study of those wisdoms is essential. Taking hold of oneself is also essential. For instance, in the Rosicrucian path – they would say – you must be able to observe your own one-sidedness and out of yourself bring a balance to that.
On this path there’s always a relationship between the healthy ‘I’ sense that we must develop in ourselves versus the ability to surrender ourselves. We have to first develop a healthy ‘I’ Self because if we don’t have that, what do we have to surrender? The next step is also essential for the evolution of the path of development. I would say that at the moment in Anthroposophical circles this step is indeed taking place – we seem to have far more interest in meditation than we had 5 years ago, or 10 years ago. There does seem to be a fundmanetal shift, because there also has to be surrender in meditation. When I come across people that are just wanting to devour everything that Steiner says – I see that as a stage of our relationship to this extraordinary wisdom, but generally you’ll see that in time, one stops wanting to devour and starts working to transform.
4. You’ve been giving Inner Path & Anthroposophy workshops in Harlemville for the last few years, could you explain how workshops are structured?
The workshops have been structured in the way that the path itself unfolds. The first stage is bringing the form and understanding of the exercises and how each step of the meditative work affects our consciousness. In a way, the first workshop is a clear picture of the meditative practice, from how we enter into it, to empty consciousness at the end, as well as the relationship between our various states of consciousness and the stages of consciousness met in the meditative activity. Many people do leave out stages of the meditative work – for instance it’s quite common for people to forget to work with empty consciousness — to work toward empty consciousness — but when you understand each of the stages in relationship to our conversation with the spiritual worlds then you would not leave that out.
Workshop II addresses the inner and outer obstacles that, as Rudolf Steiner says, anyone who is truly meditating will meet. Often, people can’t establish a committed
practice until they’ve actually worked with some of the inner and outer obstacles – and that’s what we really go into in Workshop II. So the foundation workshop is what we call preparation, Workshop II, purification, Workshop III, is in a way a reflection of enlightenment or illumination – it really speaks about how the spiritual worlds work with us and how we can recognize and align ourselves to the workings of the spiritual worlds. And Workshop IV talks about the initiation path and the encounter with the guardians. It should be said that you never give up preparation and purification, even in the stage of initiation. Even though they’re brought in this way, they are in fact, interpenetrated.
5. Having been present for many of your workshops here in Harlemville, I’ve noticed how each group brings something really different from the others and that a real diversity of people attend the workshops. Could you share a bit about the groups you’ve worked with so far?
I think what’s interesting for me in meeting such a diversity of individuals, from long term Anthroposophists and meditants to newcomers, is that the meditative path/workshop content seems to be able to bring something to all those levels, no matter what stage you’re at, because those ‘levels’ are interpenetrated. We’ve had people who are class readers, to those just getting their heads around saying the word Anthroposophy. These people work together not only intergenerationally, etc., but also, while there is a form that I am working to bring, the participants help build the substance of the workshop. That’s why people who have done the same level several times experience it very differently, because the workshops have that living quality to them – it’s about what comes between us, what emerges from and for the group.