“To truly know the world, look deeply within your own being; to truly know yourself, take real interest in the world.”
Verses and Meditations, Rudolf Steiner
As some of you know, I have been studying biography work for the past year or so. It is fascinating work that goes well beyond the idea of listing off the events of our lives and even our thoughts about them. Biography work takes us the the core meaning of those events in our lives. Ultimately, it can take us to the purpose (or one of the intentions) we set for this life when we were planning it before birth. And in doing this it takes us out of ourselves and into a direct relationship with the world around us. In a way it allows us to explore the Law of Attraction in a much wider context: helping us see how who we are now and what happens to us in this moment is a product of many other events that happened to us and that we made happen — in the life and in lives before. Or as my mentor said it today: it allows us to get to that glorious moment of having a glimpse of or a panoramic view of the whole of our life and an understanding of all of the connections in it.
Biography work can not be done in the isolation of “what happened to me” just like we can’t live life without any connection to the world around us. What our neighbours, friends and partners do or say impacts us. What our enemies and total strangers think impacts us. What our parents’ and grandparents’ generations did impacts us today and in this train of thought, what we did in past lives had an impact on the world we live in today. Even our children’s generation and their future deeds have an impact on our choices now; just think of how many people are arguing that we need to protect the environment for our children, not for the sake of the environment itself or even for ourselves.
Life on this planet is an intricate web of connections. We all depend on each other, maybe not always for our survival but definitely for the creation of our life circumstances and our reaction to them. The old adage “do unto others as you would have done unto you” says more than “be nice so you get nice”. It is a call to recognize the other in us, to truly understand that we are all part of the same whole even though our expression of that whole is entirely unique.
That understanding can also help us ground in this life in a way that is safe and supportive. We can learn to look at the events in our lives, especially the confusing and difficult ones, and understand not only that but how they are expressions of the whole that help us be who we truly are. By doing so these events lose some of the fear that is attached to them. They become part of the tapestry, not a dark blotch on it. Or, as a friend and colleague sometimes puts it: we can learn how to feel all this turmoil and pain and fear, and at the same time have this observer there that looks at it all and goes “Huh, interesting; there I go again.”
With that observer self in place and with an image and understanding of the patterns of our lives in our minds, facing the unknown is less stressful. Being less stressed by the unknown means we can step into the world in a different way. Looking at the surge of anxiety related issues in our society these days, that seems to be a timely thought. When I look into the world with interest in this surge of anxiety I cannot but wonder what this mirrors in the souls of us who live in this world. What is it in the world that makes our souls and our minds so easily overwhelmed now, so afraid of this world and its activity? And what is it in us that creates more of this stressful environment?
One of the comments I have heard most in my case studies in biography work was how helpful it was to see and understand the patterns of our unique lives on the one hand and the archetype of our development through the journey of our lives on the other. As human beings we are beings of patterns and rhythms: birth, growth, ripening, death, reflection, planning, rebirth. We learn through repetition. Our physical life is build on patterns and geometries from the perfect harmony of an atom to the majestic architecture of a cathedral. Bringing our focus in our soul exploration back to include an understanding and appreciation of patterns and rhythms both in the inner and the outer world is healing, for us and for the world we live in.
We are part of this world, if we like it or not. We shape it as much as it shapes us. Beginning to accept and embrace this symbiosis gives us strength, creates harmony in the world and defeats fear and separation. Or, to quote Steiner once more:
“It is only wholesome when
In the mirror of the Human Soul
the whole community takes shape
and in the community
lives the strength of the individual soul.
This is the Motto of Social Ethics.”