Monday, April 1, 2013

DEEPENING DELIGHT~Open the door to more!

If you would like to learn new ways to listen, 
greater confidence in getting through tough moments,
greater resiliency to return more easily and quickly to Loving each other...
more joy, more fun, then this is for you!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Toward an Art and Science of Wholeness

2012 Living Questions Research Symposium

Co-Sponsored By The North American Collegium
Of The School Of Spiritual Science
September 20-23

Color Wheel, Goethe
How can we develop a research methodology that connects the physical, life, and soul-spiritual realms? Where do art and spiritual research connect, and what can they tell us about being and identity? How can we transform our personal life questions into objective questions for research?
Join us in a working conference where we will share in one another’s efforts to wake up to the realms of existence where solutions to today’s most pressing problems are to be found.

Click here to register.

Keynote Speakers

Craig Holdrege, Co-founder and director ofThe Nature Institute, Ghent, NY.
Robert Karp, Executive Director, The Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association.
Michael Howard, Artist and educator,Living Form Studio.
Malcolm Gardner, Biologist, translator and editor.
Lisa Romero, Homeopath, inner path and health educator.

Research Perspectives

Space has been made available for eight individuals or organizations to present and discuss their research directed to developing and applying new capacities for observing and investigating the world, including phenomena beyond the sense perceptible. The following researchers will receive a grant of $500 from the Threefold Educational Foundation, and will present and discuss their work during the Friday or Saturday Research Perspectives session.

John Cunningham
John Cunningham
John Cunningham has been involved in Waldorf Education and Anthroposophy since 1978 as a parent, class teacher and consultant-trainer. In 1999, he began working with Marshall Rosenberg and set about integrating his work – Nonviolent Communication – into an anthroposophical-Goethean way of seeing. In living and doing his research, John has traveled internationally to share his unfolding work. At present, in support of their initiative, Behold Belovéd Becoming, John and his wife, Cat, split their time between the Pacific Northwest, New England, and Australia.
Research question: Can we establish an anthroposophical understanding and basis of Nonviolent Communication such that we can know it to be a true path based in spiritual scientific reality?

To view the entire Symposium information go to

Monday, May 21, 2012

Interview with Jennifer West of Sophia Mundi Steiner School: Restorative Circle Process

In January 2012, we gave a one-and-a-half day introduction to the Restorative Circle Process to the faculty and staff at the Sophia Mundi Steiner School as part of their Professional Development days before first term. In addition, over the course of the first term, we presented at three College meetings, established a Restorative System within the College and facilitated four live circles: one within the College itself as a “fishbowl” demonstration, one with four class eight students and two of their teachers, one that addressed a current situation among teachers working with class six, and one that addressed an event that had happened two years earlier. We also presented two weekend workshops that were open to the school community and general public. At the end of term, we conducted the following interview with Jennifer West, the administrator at Sophia Mundi.

Jennifer West Interview with Cat Gilliam Cunningham

Jennifer, what was going on at Sophia Mundi that you became interested in the Restorative Circle process?

We had a teacher here last year and he was very interested in this work.  He’d been working with Nonviolent Communication and he’d been bringing that to the teachers here, and something of the restorative justice process. We were starting to build up a little bit of the experience of working with that but we weren’t quite getting hold of it. So when the opportunity for you and John to come seemed possible, I thought that might be just what we need.  I looked at it for the beginning of the conference when all the teachers are here and we’re all fresh. In particular we were looking for a whole school approach to working with the general area of bullying. It’s not a huge thing in this school, but it’s something that is there - and discipline – we were to looking to find something that everybody felt comfortable in working with and would be able to work with in the same sort of way, so we could have a unified approach in the school.  We didn’t know what that was going to look like.  We thought that this work seemed to be absolutely in sympathy with the direction we wanted to take.  Once we began to work with it, I realized that this is something worth going further with.

How are you feeling now that we’ve completed several live circles and the staff is beginning to experience some consensus that this is one of the choices they can see using when conflict becomes painful?

I’m feeling really very positive for a couple of reasons.  The first is that it has the support of all the teachers here, we’re all pretty well on board that this is something we want to work with, so that’s really very satisfying.  The other particular area that I think has been very positive is that we’re actually able to apply it so quickly to our situation here. The staff and students can actually use it, it’s not practicing in an abstract way, and it’s real.

Something you can apply as a very hands-on, concrete solution.

Absolutely.  And this school, as I suppose many schools, has some things that have happened in the past that continue to ripple on underneath the surface. The opportunity to work with some of that, I think, is really beneficial.

 It sounds like you wanted to bring in something that could support healing.

Absolutely. And working with it with the students has been good.  That was our first intention - to imagine how we could actually work with it with the students - but the reality is that it is of great benefit also for the adults involved, and so it’s a whole community benefit.

So you’re seeing the value of it right across the board, for the students, faculty and staff, as a way to really support relationships that are supportive and clear.

Yes, absolutely. So to have somebody say, “This happened to me and I’m not feeling good about it”, and to be able to work with that and get it resolved, I think it is just a wonderful thing to be able to have that.

Is there something you could share about the characteristics of this work that align it with the school in such a clear way? 

 I think probably the first thing that springs to mind is the fact that it’s not working with blame and guilt and all those sorts of things, so you’re not getting into whether it was somebody's fault. Rather, it looks at how was it for each person; that ability to share and bring empathy is something that’s really important, where we learn to stand in someone else’s shoes and see how it was for them.  That seems to be a really powerful thing that makes it something that, in a way, can lift the burden that people carry about things. So that’s really important, I think.  The other thing is that I’ve been aware of just how it works through the feeling life rather than through the intellect as the prime mode. In doing that, by coming in through the feelings, then engaging with the intellect and the will, that’s absolutely in keeping with what we do with the whole educational philosophy.

Where do you see this going from here?  If we made an action plan together, how would you see that unfolding?

Well, there are two areas I think that we want to continue to work on and develop more.  One is the whole school approach, how you work with students in terms of their working together in their social relationships; so it includes areas like bullying, but it’s not just about that. That’s one thing, that as a faculty we want to build our capacity to support how we work with the students. The other area is how we work as the adults in the situation, too - how we work together and how we resolve issues and keep our relationships clear and well-functioning.  So, I think its building experience and developing good practices that don’t let things get buried and simmer away underneath but actually try to deal with them at the right time.

So you are really seeing that this process has the capacity to build confidence in relationship to conflict.

And I think that word “confidence” is an important word because it really supports a teacher in feeling able to work in this way - that they have confidence that it actually will work, and we’re sort of now at that point.

If you know I’ve really heard you, even if we still don’t agree about it, once we feel heard, connection can happen and possibilities open.

Yes, that’s what I like about it, you don’t have to all see exactly the same thing in the sense of all agreeing that this is what it is or what it isn’t, but rather that you have that opportunity to speak what it was from your point of view and be heard, and that I think has been a really important aspect of it, that people actually have the opportunity to say what it’s been for them and know that that can be heard.
I’d say that it’s something that has quite a potential to work very positively in the sort of situations you find so commonly in schools. Because of the ways we work together, there are times we rub up against each other. And that’s actually good, there’s nothing wrong with that – it’s actually what we do with it that matters. And I think this process is something that can help, where we otherwise can get caught and stuck and think, “ugh I don’t like that person”. Rather it gives us a way to move through that. I think that it’s well worth the time that we’ve given to it, which has been quite a good amount of time, but it’s been absolutely worth it. I think particularly, as I’ve said before, because it has now brought everybody onto the same page, and we’re working together. We feel this is something we want to work together and move forward with as a group. 
I don’t believe that we should aim to never have conflict, because conflict can actually bring about new understandings, I think.  And so it’s more that this is a process that can help us when otherwise we might draw back from conflict. This is a process that can help us go through it together and that’s what I like about it. It helps you find a way forward.
The Restorative Circle Process is the work of Dominic Barter
Sophia Mundi Steiner School
For more information about our work – Behold Beloved Becoming – which addresses the mystery of the human encounter, restorative community systems for embracing conflict, and improvisational social arts such as Playback Theatre, please review the rest of this website.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

...growing in what is.

This from The New Experience of the Supersensible by Jesaiah Ben-Aharon
St. Paul came to realize that an enemy attacked human evolution, and that this enemy is the source of error on the Earth… Only in a world in which the human being could be influenced by the Ahrimanic forces—so Paul now felt—could the error occur that led to the death on the cross. And now, when he understood this, he realized for the first time the truth of esoteric Christianity. The assimilation of death into life: this is the secret of Golgotha. Previously man knew life without death; now he learned to know death as part of life, as an experience that strengthens life… Humanity must strengthen its life, if it wants to pass through death and yet live. And death means, in this connection… the intellect… the intellect makes us inwardly cold, makes us inwardly dead. The intellect paralyses us. Man must truly feel it, that man lives not when man thinks, that man wastes his life in dead mental pictures, and that man must have strong life in himself in order to feel creative life in the dead mental pictures… This I tried to do in my Philosophy of Freedom. This Philosophy of Freedom is in reality a moral conception that should be a preparation for the vitalization of dead thinking through moral impulse, in order to bring it to resurrection.
GA 211, lecture of 2 April, 1922
(untranslated, taken from
The New Experience of the Supersensible,
Jesaiah Ben-Aharon

Now if we read once again the Appendix to the Philosophy of Freedom, added when Steiner brought out the new edition in 1918. Here he addresses the question as to how we know within the context of the human encounter. Perhaps we can see something of the dying in the extinguishing. It's a bit lengthy, and its the most precise esoteric description of what happens in the human encounter that I have found.
What is it, in the first instance, that I have before me when I confront another person? The most immediate thing is the bodily appearance of the other person as given to me in sense perception; then, perhaps, the auditory perception of what he is saying, and so on. I do not merely stare at all this, but it sets my thinking activity in motion. Through the thinking with which I confront the other person, the percept of him becomes, as it were, transparent to the mind. I am bound to admit that when I grasp the percept with my thinking, it is not at all the same thing as appeared to the outer senses. In what is a direct appearance to the senses, something else is indirectly revealed. The mere sense appearance extinguishes itself at the same time as it confronts me. But what it reveals through this extinguishing compels me as a thinking being to extinguish my own thinking as long as I am under its influence, and to put its thinking in the place of mine. I then grasp its thinking in my thinking as an experience like my own. I have really perceived another person's thinking. The immediate percept, extinguishing itself as sense appearance, is grasped by my thinking, and this is a process lying wholly within my consciousness and consisting in this, that the other person's thinking takes the place of mine. Through the self-extinction of the sense appearance, the separation between the two spheres of consciousness is actually overcome. This expresses itself in my consciousness through the fact that while experiencing the content of another person's consciousness I experience my own consciousness as little as I experience it in dreamless sleep. Just as in dreamless sleep my waking consciousness is eliminated, so in my perceiving of the content of another person's consciousness the content of my own is eliminated. The illusion that it is not so only comes about because in perceiving the other person, firstly, the extinction of the content of one's own consciousness gives place not to unconsciousness, as it does in sleep, but to the content of the other person's consciousness, and secondly, the alternations between extinguishing and lighting up again of my own self-consciousness follow too rapidly to be generally noticed.
The Philosophy of Freedom
Rudolf Steiner

It’s the best I can do this evening. Something more is calling, another draft, something more of my own thinking in relationship to these quotes, something of the future is asking to arise…A final quote:
Social processes are death processes. Part of our ego-relatedness has to die and more than that. What is social is so difficult for us because we do not want to die. In GA 73/1973/178 Steiner considers the dying processes (in contrast to the growth processes) as in organic nature, “a bridge between that part of nature that we understand and the social spheres of life that need to be understood.” Thus, our social future is brought about at the expense of our social death processes. These occur at the beginning of the Archetypal Social Phenomenon. In one perceives the process of falling asleep, then one “learns to understand the significance of dying for the human being.” As we allow another to put us to sleep, we therefore “die.” Physical death removes our sheaths one by one. Similarly the social process is one of progressive disposing. Steiner cites Max Stirner’s words in GA 30/1961/144: “Only when nothing is said about you and you are merely named are you recognized as you: as long as something is being said about you, you are merely being recognized as something.” As we awaken in the other, we have an experience which is repeated and magnified in dying. When you have passed through the portal of death, “you are forced to live in the other person, if I express it in this way.” Then one experiences what one has done to him, and this life outside of oneself “makes the future compensation occur” (GA 236/1977/102f).
p. 167-168
The Mysteries of Social Encounters
Dieter Brüll

And the Steiner verse from the national conference:

We are a bridge
Between what is past
And future existence;
The present is an instant:
Is momentary bridge.
Spirit become soul
In enfolding matter
Is from the past;
Soul becoming spirit
In germinal vessels
Is on the path to the future.
Grasp what is to come
Through what is past;
Have hope of what is growing
Through what has emerged.
And so apprehend
Existence in growing;
And so apprehend
What is growing in what is.
—Rudolf Steiner