Living Arts Weekly: Inner Work as a Service to Others

November 5, 2023

With the passage of Halloween and the anticipation of the festivals of Light to come, we are settling into the season of darkness. We feel the pull to be in communion with others, providing for those in need with heartfelt gestures and sharing in joyful festivities. It is a season abundant with opportunities to give and support one another near and far, and while often we consider the monetary or material contributions, there is rich sustenance to be found in the soul and spiritual support we give. 

When we consider the larger, less ephemeral human experience, we recognize how we are contributing to both the moment we live in and the human consciousness that will endure beyond this lifetime. What imprint are we creating each day? What marks are we leaving? In this light, the uptaking of personal transformation (as anthroposophy describes it) becomes a service, a gift, to humanity. This rings true with our interactions and relationships with everyone, but it is particularly impactful on the children in our lives.

In his curative education lectures, Rudolf Steiner elucidated the pedagogical law, which (in short) described how the state of our own being or development works directly upon the development of the children we parent, teach, or care for in other ways.  In other words, what we think, speak and do directly influences the well-being and growth of children. We are quite familiar with the notion of being a role model, but with the picture that Steiner brought, we come to understand how deeply our development works upon them. For the child under seven, our habits and state of being literally sculpt their growing bodies. For all of childhood, our habits, beliefs and approach to life shape theirs. Consider how long it takes for us to shake the habits we inherit from our parents; how much work it takes to kill off a deeply rooted aspect of ourselves that does not serve us, only to put just as much effort into forming it anew!

Inner work coupled with a devotion to the other is a true service to the world. It uplifts our children, it can heal a lineage we come from, and it reverberates out into the greater consciousness. Rudolf Steiner shared this profound message in a lecture in 1912 that supports this statement: 

“Progress is not gained by the mere preaching of universal love, but by the extension of our interests further and further, so that we interest ourselves more and more in souls with widely different characters, racial and national particularities, with widely different temperaments, and holding widely different religious and philosophical views, and then approach them with understanding. Right interest, right understanding, calls forth from the soul the right moral actions.” 

It is clear that we are still working on this true form of brotherly and sisterly love! John Bloom, former General Secretary of the Anthroposophical Society of America shared an extended version of this quote in a recent
article. He offered it alongside his insight on the interplay of Identity and Individuality. Identity- as I understand it-  being ephemeral, contextual, and of physical or tangible material. Individuality being a part of us that was pre-existent to this life, woven of spiritual material that is integral to our spiritual work in this lifetime. It is our work to tease out the difference between the two that resides “within” us all. He shares some of what we can do to strive for this:  

“From the capacity to observe our sympathies and antipathies, starting with simple likes and dislikes, then moving more deeply into that to which we are attracted or from which we are 

repelled, including levels of somatic sensing, is a way toward insight. This path of inquiry may make visible what we have inherited from our cultural milieu in our early development, from our families across generations, and from our education and peers and our natural and sub-natural environment. In this process of excavating the layers of our conditioning, a new consciousness emerges. It becomes possible to say yes or no to carrying forward aspects of that conditioning, and what is best to let go of.

Work with deep biography is a venture in this process. Memories, images, and moments situated in time (past and present) also move us across spaces-where we were then, where we are now-with tremendous specificity. Along the way, one might start to have glimmers of individuality, resonances with experiences, which seem free of either space or time, that may begin to indicate an arc of one’s individuality across incarnations. All this is part of stepping fully into navigating individuality and identity. 

Such a profound discipline will take us into the complexity of our assumptions about the world, so that we can recognize, take responsibility for, and manage them in such a way that they do not cloud sight into individuality or create barriers to relationships. Make no mistake, this is an arduous discipline that takes time to unfold. It abides no sentimentality, no entitlement, and no lack of will. This path of inquiry is an essential blessing of anthroposophy; it is what makes the path real, present, alive, and not without the deep joy of discovery.” 

Stepping into the power of this awareness is to accomplish a modicum of spiritual freedom and reach a level of love that is a devotion to all of humanity. We all have a long way to go, but what encouragement can be found in this message! What a service we are offering, then, to keep reaching for a higher expression of ourselves and bringing it forth in action.


In gratitude and honor to be walking this path with you all,