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Me & Anthroposophy

Many years ago, I was introduced to the eccentric and oft-misunderstood practice of Biodynamic agriculture, Rudolf Steiner’s spiritualized approach to farming. My formal study of it began in 2012 at Emerson College in the United Kingdom.

 

Like any thinking and feeling human being, I grew up susceptible and obedient to my over-culture. In the case of American society, this is an over-culture (as opposed to a subculture) that puts more weight on the doctrine of objective observation—the modern scientific method—than it does on subjective observation—delicate empiricism, or knowledge gained through the senses. It is worth mentioning that both methods of finding truth are valid. The issue is that problems arise when one method is given significantly more validity over the other. I don't think I have to explain which method has been historically given more attention. 

 

As a young person enculturated in such a setting, it was an entirely new—and even threatening—experience to sit in a classroom at Emerson College in which the Institution of Science was being put into question. In the beginning, I remained firmly skeptical of the Anthroposophical (Steiner’s philosophical school) view on science. Everything changed as soon as I met two instructors: Jonathan Code and Werner Wecker. Respectively, they taught the Plant Phenomenology and Animal Phenomenology classes within the Biodynamic Horticulture program. I credit these brilliant men with changing the course of my life. Phenomenology is a philosophical discipline that examines how people are able to find truth through their sense organs; the study of the objects of direct experience. The phenomenological study of plants and animals involves a sharp honing of the human senses in order to make deep and direct observations about qualities like growth, behavior, disease or even vitality. This instruction that I received fundamentally changed the way that I perceive our living earth.

 

Aside from the useful skills that arise from such observational abilities, the phenomenological study of the earth has even deeper implications.

The reality of giving credence to this style of observation is that it involves giving power to direct, human experience. This style of observation can actually empower an individual to trust their inherent, bodily intellect and embrace their ability to feel what is right or what is wrong. In our world today, legitimate and obvious stories of injustice are constantly being put into question in the face of hegemonic and oppressive systems. In light of this, the idea that we can allow individuals to trust their own experience through phenomenological thinking is compelling. On the micro-scale, I am interested in elucidating the worldview and practices that are offered by Anthroposophy. On the macro-scale, I am interested in introducing this way of perceiving and trusting life to a wider audience. Ultimately, this is tied to experiences of reality. In Deep Ecological thought, people who are connected to powerful experiences of truth are less likely to respond to authority. Because they have a deep sense of knowing what is right and wrong, they are harder to control. There are strong connections between this ability to know truth and the plight of indigenous and earth-based peoples across the globe. In this sense, the practice of strengthening the sense-organs could also be viewed as a method for non-native people to un-settle their minds. Could it be that I am trying to tie a practice as seemingly benign as Biodynamic agriculture and Anthroposophy to radical, anti-colonial schools of thought? Absolutely.

 

Today I am pleased to offer instruction about Anthroposophy through The Steiner Reading Room, and also work individually with people who would like more direct guidance around developing into Whole spiritual beings. If this interests you, please fill out my application work individually with me here