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Archive for December, 2020

Advent 2020 Week 4

The fourth light of Advent,

It is the light of Man,*

The light of love, the light of thought

To give and understand.

 

Of course, in the modern age we would substitute “human being” for “Man,” but the verse is not intending to speak of a gender but of the Human condition.

 

 

Even as a child, I was invited to partake in the magic celebration of Advent. Week by week, my family’s home was permeated with warmth and color and music, as we prepared for the festival of Christmas.

Now, as an adult, I cultivate the four weeks of Advent as a passage through wonder, taking time to witness and honor the majesty of the world we live in. In gratitude, I observe the minerals, plants and animals, mindful of both the visible world I see them in and also of the invisible dimensions of the etheric and astral worlds that they manifest.

 

Now, in the fourth week of Advent, my thoughts turn to the Human Being. And now, the considerations become more complex. I cannot in good conscience write a simple, one-dimensional essay. To write of the human being means to “go deep.”

 

What am I? what does it mean to be a human being? Am I only body? Am I only nature? Am I only my desires and dreams? When the vicissitudes of inner and outer life toss me hither and thither, do I have any freedom?

 

These are the questions of the ages. And in the asking of the question and the seeking for the answers, we create our future, and the future of the planet.

My personal life journey took me far and wide before it led me to the work of Anthropo-sophy, the work of Rudolf Steiner, from which I gain great strength and understanding of the challenge and the miracle of being a human being.

Anthropo-sophy means “wisdom of the human being.” Never dogmatic but always engaging, it is an invitation to embark on a path to be a modern spiritual seeker, fully and completely engaged in contemporary life yet always considering the spiritual dimensions that underlie all things, all circumstances, all understanding.

After decades of anthroposophical study I understand that, even as the minerals have their highest self in lofty realms of pure spirit, the plants have theirs in a realms one step closer to the earth, and the animals have their group-souls very near to the earth, we human beings are completely here, on the earth. We are the ones in whom body and spirit are interwoven in complex and perfect relationship.

In contrast to those “lower” kingdoms, we are fully here, not living under the compulsions or mandates of the natural or the spiritual world. We have been bestowed the wonderful and powerful possibility of freedom, to choose what and how we think, and from there, what and how we do.

Admittedly, we do not always do a great job of it! But it is our challenge to recognize and tame the so-called “lower nature” in us, and to deal responsibly with the gift of existence. Each individual must choose for themselves what goals to pursue, what star to follow in writing the biography of his or her own life.

 

The journey of Anthroposophy is a continual encouragement to ask living questions of life. How am I related to the other kingdoms of nature? What is beyond the mechanical level of physical existence? What is the nature of thinking? Is there an objective morality? Can I know truth? How can I be of service?

 

And finally, these all lead me to the fundamental question: where do I come from? Who, or what, or where is God?

Must I abandon my thinking and freedom and follow blind faith and dogma in my search for “a god”?

In Anthroposophy, each human being must stand before this question in complete freedom.

 

    At last, this question may lead us to the profound Christmas question: how can I find a true, living relationship with Spirit? Can Spirit be born in me?

     And if so, what shall I do to make a place for Spirit?

     How can I sanctify my own inner life, so that in the depths of darkness of my own free will I can make a space for the birth of spirit in my own self? 

 

      This is the true meaning of the story of Advent. At this time of the year, when the light of the outer sun fades into twilight, when the earth is shrouded in mystery, we can create a place for a new “sunrise of the spirit” in our own souls. The ancient mysteries that were celebrated in the great stone circles such as Stonehenge are now celebrated in the homes and houses of any deeply committed human being who creates a place of quiet in the darkest time of the year. Each year, the world offers us this sacred time of mid-winter to open ourselves to the in-flooding of spirit light and love.
 
    Now we can ask: how can I make my own self into a “womb?”
    Can I prepare a place in myself for the birth of the Divine in me?
    Am I ready to evolve?

 

We human beings are far from being what we will evolve towards.

We are beings in the process of a great becoming.

We are vastly different from what we were in the ancient shadows of mythological history, where we felt as if we walked with gods.

We are different from what we were when we built pyramids in ancient countries, sailed the seas as conquerors or slaves, studied manuscripts in monasteries or labored in the farms or factories of the industrial revolution.

Here and now, we are changing again, working with a new kind of consciousness. We will continue to evolve into the far distant future. I believe a new human being will learn to perceive all the invisible and intangible beings who have brought this creation into being. And to the extent that we dedicate our work towards serving the creative forces that have made us, towards serving nature and our fellow human beings, we will also be serving the further evolution of our creator and of the entire universe.

  I believe a new human being will learn to perceive all the invisible and intangible beings who have brought this creation into being. And to the extent that we dedicate our work towards serving the creative forces that have made us, towards serving nature and our fellow human beings, we will also be serving the further evolution of our creator and of the entire universe.

     And the radical turn we may accomplish is that the human race may finally understand how to value the gift of life. We may finally understand gratitude. And out of gratitude, we may become bestowers of love—enough love to give birth to a new world.

     We can learn to hold space for the sacred communion that can happen in each listening heart when we become quiet on Christmas Eve.

     From these thoughts, we can prepare ourselves rightly for the holy evening of Christmas.

    In the fourth week of Advent, we have the opportunity of contemplating deeply the mystery of human life, and of the path we take in our own biography.
 
     From these thoughts, we can prepare ourselves rightly for the holy evening of Christmas.

     We can learn to hold space for the sacred communion that can happen in each listening heart when we become quiet on Christmas Eve.
 
   And the radical turn we may accomplish is that the human race may finally understand how to value the gift of life. We may finally understand gratitude. And out of gratitude, we may become bestowers of love—enough love to give birth to a new world.

 

 

In the fourth week of Advent, we have the opportunity of contemplating deeply the mystery of human life, and of the path we take in our own biography.

From these thoughts, we can prepare ourselves rightly for the holy evening of Christmas.

We can learn to hold space for the sacred communion that can happen in each listening heart when we become quiet on Christmas Eve.

And the radical turn we may accomplish is that the human race may finally understand how to value the gift of life. We may finally understand gratitude. And out of gratitude, we may become bestowers of love—enough love to give birth to a new world.

To practise love is burdensome.

 ‘Tis not enough merely to love.

We must ourselves, like God,

be Love.