In our town Santa Barbara, we have recently lost a beloved local healer & hero through a dark deep tragedy of death and destruction. He was a renowned healer and considered a national treasure in his own country.
This has been a blow to our community and the wider world. The question we are all asking is “why?” Why do we destroy that which promotes health & life? We all make these choices everyday, will we promote creativity & life or death & destruction?
It is was harsh Easter week and I have turned back to my spiritual practice and this has helped me a great deal. I have been rereading, “How to Know Higher Words; a Modern Path of Initiation” and am going to post Steiner’s thoughts on how an esoteric student practices to become a better human being. This translates for everyone.
Here Steiner gives an overview on the Creative impulse and Destructive impulse.
“He must so train himself that not only in his actions but also in his words, feelings, and thoughts he will never destroy anything for the sake of destruction. His joy must be in growth and life, and he must only lend his hand to destruction, when he is also able, through and by means of destruction, to promote new life. This does not mean that the student must simply look on while evil runs riot, but rather that he must seek even in evil that side through which he may transform it into good. He will then see more and more clearly that evil and imperfection may best be combated by the creation of the good and the perfect. The student knows that out of nothing, nothing can be created, but also that the imperfect can be transformed into the perfect. Anyone developing within himself the disposition to create, will soon find himself capable of facing evil in the right way.
It must be clearly realized that the purpose of this training is to build and not to destroy. The student should therefore bring with him the good will for sincere and devoted work, and not the intention to criticize and destroy. He should be capable of devotion, for he must learn what he does not yet know; he should look reverently on that which discloses itself. Work and devotion, these are the fundamental qualities which must be demanded of the student. Some come to realize that they are making no progress, though in their own opinion they are untiringly active. The reason is that they have not grasped the meaning of work and devotion in the right way. Work done for the sake of success will be the least successful, and learning pursued without devotion will be the least conducive to progress. Only the love of work, and not of success, leads to progress. And if in learning the student seeks straight thinking and sound judgment, he need not stunt his devotion by doubts and suspicions.
Simply listening to what others say with reverence and devotion, rather than immediately opposing it with our own opinion, need not lead to our becoming slavishly dependent on upon them. Those who have achieved something on the path to knowledge know that they owe everything to patient listening and assimilation, not to their own obstinate personal opinions. We must always remember that where we have already formed a conclusion we cannot learn anything. If we desire only to judge, therefore, we can learn nothing. Esoteric training, however depends on learning. As esoteric students, our willingness to learn should be unconditional.
If we cannot understand something, it is far better not to judge than to judge adversely. We can wait until later for a true understanding. The higher we climb the ladder of knowledge, the more do we require the faculty of listening with quiet devotion. All perception of truth, all life and activity in the world of the spirit, become subtle and delicate in comparison with the processes of the ordinary intellect and of life in the physical world. The more the sphere of our activity widens out before us, the more delicate are the processes in which we are engaged….”
When we hear someone speak and we immediately come back with our opinion to change, reduce, discount, minimize, refute, contain, negate, re-frame by adding our opinion to it, then we have closed the door on dialogue. We have just put our stamp, opinion, judgement, view, decision of our world view on it. This is where trouble begins in couples, groups, friends, in any discussion it sets up a destructive tone; the end of the conversation. We choose destruction or ill health.
The tools Steiner is giving us are used internationally now in non-violent communications, Speak-from-the-Heart, the many and varied conscious communication tactics. He gives us another task, to refrain from having feelings of either sympathy or antipathy while listening to others. The idea is of course to be able to enter “inner silence” so that the other can wake up within one.
If we are constantly editing other people while they talk, or even when they have finished speaking, we have already Shut the Door to Communication between human beings. We have entered into the war zone of “who is right?” and “who is wrong?” This becomes a conscious or unconscious battle of superiority and is ultimately destructive to the relationship.
The inability to listen in a neutral manner, is because we are interiorly flooded with our own emotions, beliefs, behaviors, prejudices, needs and the ways and means to get those needs met. Now the idea of critical thinking is the ability to change position, to take up the other side and present it as if it were one’s own thinking. So these communication and inner work exercises Steiner presents us with are simple yet extremely effective character transforming tools.
If we can overcome ourselves, time and time again, we develop gradually the habit of falling silent inside when someone is sharing something. Then the other, can wake up in myself. What does this mean exactly? If we can observe and listen from the heart, then perhaps the unsaid, pain, issue, struggle, problem, fear, picture can arise from the Other in you. This can be a felt-sense, or a pain in your own body, or feeling of the other; emotional flooding, fear, denial, perversity, obstinacy, pride and then you have deeper knowledge of the other. You can also receive a “picture” or “imagination” of the other that can help you to have compassion or knowledge to work creatively with the situation. Then we choose Creativity or Life promoting methods to bring harmony.
When disagreements, anger and rage prevail, destructive actions are made so much easier as we are riding the emotional wave of hate to “destroy!” But if each of us can remember to choose a more positive approach in the little everyday matters, that when we confront another in dispute and tempers flare, we can remember, we have a Choice. We can choose Yes to Life, a more positive approach to relationships. Our continued thoughts and prayers to our beloved healer and his family.
Photo Credit: Conversation of the Heart oil painting by Kristena West
Photo Credit : Michael and the Dragon pastel by Kristena West
Detail from the Goetheanum Red Windows