steiner

Finding Inner Security

“Knowledge in respect of the human self — that is, self-knowledge — is one of the means of ensuring inner security and our true alignment in the order of life's development. The impulse to self-knowledge is found in every soul; it may be more or less unconscious, but it is always present. It may vent itself in quite indefinite feelings which, welling up from the depths of the soul, create an impression of dissatisfaction with life. Such feelings are often wrongly explained, and their alleviation sought in the outer circumstances of life. Though we are often unconscious of its nature, fear of these feelings obsesses us. If we could overcome this anxiety we should realize that no external measures, but only a thorough knowledge of the human being, can prove helpful. But this thorough knowledge requires that we should really feel the resistance of the two obstacles which human knowledge is liable to encounter when it would enter more deeply into the knowledge of the human being. They consist of two illusions, towering as two cliffs, between which we cannot advance in our pursuit of knowledge until we have experienced their true nature.” - Rudolf Steiner, Stuttgart in 1908, CW 35

I found this quote after my weekly talk with Christopher Bamford. I shared that six years ago my husband and I downsized into a family life where we all could be together and be ourselves, a life that feels like a favorite pair of jeans.

We opted out of Kindergarten with our boys to explore the world of homeschooling in 2014. We began with the support of the Treehouse Learning Community, a Waldorf-inspired class for homeschoolers in Georgetown, Texas and found a group of families who celebrated the freedom to guide their children according to their needs and to nurture them through nature, storytelling, and the arts.

We did not know why handcrafts and storytelling were so crucial in nurturing the spirit and minds of children. We did not realize that homeschooling with the indications of Rudolf Steiner nurtures the entire family.

We found a subtle gift that weaves into your life with new rhythms and seasonal festivals. We found a philosophy of life that allows each parent to take the ideas into their mind and spirit and decide for themselves what that means to them. It is never imposing, but rather encouraging and enriching in so many aspects of your life.

It changed how we see education.

We are still homeschooling, although earlier this year my husband took responsibility for the daily lessons. The boys are learning that to be guided in learning by someone that loves you and loves the subject matter has the most significant effect on your success. They are excited to share their latest math discovery or a tale of the middle ages. After a long spring Saturday outside, running from backyard to backyard with friends, they are ready to come in and share their new kitchen skills and their latest recipe - pad thai anyone?

“The soul has a natural trust in thinking. It feels that it would inevitably lose all certainty in life if it were unable to have this trust. Healthy soul life ceases when doubt in thinking begins.” - Rudolf Steiner, The Threshold of the Spiritual World: Aphoristic Contemplations (CW 17), Chadwick Library Edition

Our children come to us to teach us that to be happy, truly happy, we must pursue our self- knowledge to experience our true nature and push away the noisy modern world of doubt. It is they who show us that we once had that natural connection to certainty and will bring us by the hand back to ourselves.

The Waiting Books

This week, I had a wonderful conversation with our dear friend, Christopher Bamford. I say our friend, because Christopher is one of those rare people who can inspire you through words on a page. Long before I came to work with SteinerBooks, I read his introductions to books as if  I had this great teacher sitting in front of me introducing me to the material.

This week, I am sharing a bit of our chat with all of you with his blessing. Our conversation veered in a new direction as I asked him how he was feeling. For those who are not aware, our dear friend is in a treatment regimen for cancer.

He described a space between understanding and beginning. The time that you are aware of a new protocol and beginning it. I shared with him the story of my father’s cancer journey, or at least the part of that journey I experienced.

We talked about the many faces of our biographies and how we share only parts of those with those in our lives. The cancer patient versus the writer, the cancer patient versus the father.

We spoke about my sharing books with my father over the years and how that selection changed when he was fighting and healing. I remember wondering what waiting books are best to share. The waiting books as I call them to help you pass the time, but also can become a tool in your own recovery and acceptance.

Chris told me that he was rereading Rudolf Steiner’s Autobiography, and with each new reading, he gained a new lesson. The chapters in the course of all of our lives give us a new perspective on life’s experiences and a panoramic view of the activities that led us here.

It is in times of challenge that we turn to the observational practice of looking back at events and remembering them from a sensory perspective instead of the actual image. As I look back at the trading of books with my father, it is the emotions that these memories evoke that are housed in my mind.

Chris shared that we can all learn about our lives through the lens of another's biography. It is this type of book that can bring meaning to our journey through the lens of another.

Separating Grief and Trauma

How do we proceed with such important matters so that, by cultivating the right attitude and taking the right actions, we might even prevent certain developments? Because that also is part of our task since Anthroposophy would be meaningless if we only practiced it privately for ourselves.—Ita Wegman, 1933


Over the past week, I attended the London Book Fair and was able to meet some friends of SteinerBooks in the UK. This meeting of people from around the world was united through the written word and its ability to bring people together. While we were there, we heard about rising knife violence in London, a tragic plane crash in Ethiopia, and a shooting at a mosque in New Zealand. The outside world kept moving, while we learned of new thoughts and ideas that could help the world.

How do we help our communities overcome the trauma, begin to grieve, and finally heal? How do we continue to live in the world, while learning new ways to engage and support our fellow citizens? Today, I will share some books that are helping me work through these questions.

“Despite some essential similarities between trauma and grief, there are obvious differences that one needs to be aware of. As part of a sociological study, William Steele and Melvyn Raider (2001, 155) listed the following differences between trauma and grief responses. While the grieving process involves feelings of sadness that have no effect on the griever’s self-image or self-confidence, trauma evokes a sense of horror and overwhelming powerlessness and leads to a loss of any sense of safety, a distorted self-image and the loss of self-reliance. Grief results in despondence while trauma leads to silent suffering.” - Bernd Ruf, Educating Traumatized Children

We need to understand the difference between trauma and grief if we are to help our communities heal after tragic events and to provide a process to help others restore their faith in the world. We can do this through soul nurturing activities like reading fairy tales to children, connecting to nature, and establishing rituals to ground us in times of inconceivable world events. We need to practice activities that interrupt what Bernd Ruff calls “shock energy”.

Many of us would like a handbook for working through trying times such as these. No matter how we work through this shock energy, we must move through it.

More Radiant than the Sun will be a valuable companion for anyone ready to move beyond reading verses into working with verses by Rudolf Steiner. This handbook offers verses, exercises, and original instructions from Steiner, along with commentary, suggestions, and context from Gertrude Reif Hughes, a student of Anthroposophy for much of her life.

Centering Prayer and the Healing of the Unconscious is an essential work for all those interested in the history and practice of centering prayer. In addition to describing the background of this unique and effective practice, Fr. Ó Madagáin offers unique insights into the ideas of one of its leading contemporary teachers and practitioners.

Our world will continue to swing between tragedy and joy, but we have an opportunity to grow stronger and wiser during the times of conflict so that we can live more deeply in joy in times of health.