Centre and Periphery
A manifesto for an online group.
I find myself within myself.
Here, at the core of my heart, is my deepest inner perception of myself. My secret feelings rest, quietly or otherwise, within this feeling-of-myself.
Around me I find myself in another way.
Here is how I have arranged my possessions, in my space, my room or my house, to suit my days. In my work – be that in this house or elsewhere. There also I find the patterns that express me as I am – and that make me who I am. Whether I work with tarmac or with money, with paint or with people, the ways of my days are as much who I am, as my secret feelings inside me are.
In my actions and decisions, I express this larger self. Evidence of my actions lie in these patterns.
In my feelings, my hopes and my prayers I express the inner self. My inner world is filled with these hopes (and fears.)
My social life is one part of the bridge between these two aspects of myself. My most intimate friends know something of my inner life. My work colleagues know – by experience – how I behave in both mundane and in challenging situations. The degree of crossover of these fields expresses my mental and spiritual health. If I am well grounded in myself, I become confident and strong enough to share some of my deeper feelings with my work colleagues and do not exclude my stronger actions and stances from my social ‘play-circle.’
We might use the terms microcosmic self to denote that ‘me’ I find in myself and macrocosmic self to denote that ‘me’ that I find – or lodge – in the space around me.
At the extreme edge of my macrocosmic self, lie those forces that impinge on my life. EG the need to work to live, the use of languages that others understand, be that ‘English,’ or ‘politesse’ or ‘honesty.’ In other situations the common language of a situation might be ‘toughness’ or ‘chattiness.’ In some situations we also need to use languages like ‘scientism’ or ‘socialism.’ You cannot work in the labour party and talk ‘pure freedom of action’ it gets interpreted as ‘selfishness.’ – If we do not use these languages, we do not get to relate to the situation and people we are surrounded by.
Then there are bigger gods that rule our outer life as well, so large we forget to notice them. ‘Night and Day’ for example or ‘Tradition.’ This last might even be at war with ‘Change’ in our lives. When we recognise these gods at work in our world, we discover again the relevance of the ancient myths in describing daily life. We can see the lined and hoary face of Tradition guarding the gates of his harmonious heaven against the lively, youthful and sneaky ‘Change’ that suddenly appears behind his back and bites his heel. These ‘gods’ of our lives are outside forces that also appear as inner movements. The modern mind sees them as psychological forces, the religious mind as angels and demons. Individually, we can approach them from either direction and find that we have some influence in their behaviour, but not full control.
Once we gain a clearer view of this inner life and this outer life, we begin to notice that there is a third aspect of who I am. The power to notice, itself, is the central nature of myself.
I can stand back and watch my inner life change and develop, it is I watching me. When I do that, it feels as if I am occupying the periphery, and yet within my own being.
In my outer life, this same power of noticing can watch events develop and issues change. Doing this, I feel as if I am a centre around which the world moves.
The power to be who I am in difficult situations is one that grows as we master this third centre. The more we can rest in the watcher, the more strength we gain to ride the waves of inner feelings and the events of outer change without being thrown out of our boat by the storms.
The question we will be addressing in the groups is how do we most fruitfully bring:
– space to our inner lives,
– understanding to our outer lives
– and harmony to the space between them.
We will be using the Anthroposophical language of Rudolf Steiner as our framework for this but not excluding insights that can also arise through other frames, Jung, shamanism, Buddhism, etc.
The techniques we will use to open up these spaces are a combination of individual experience (spirit-recollection), question and answer (spirit-vision), and co-meditative sharing (spirit-awareness.) Being part of this group will be vastly enhanced if you choose to take on some simple exercises and meditations, but what is essential is that you approach it with the willingness to be a full member and not an observer. Speaking or not speaking is always optional. Bringing your heart and mind is essential.
You may, possibly, recognise these three as the central injunctions of the Foundation Stone Meditation, the firm basis of the Anthroposophical Society itself. Like all earthly beings, you me and the house we stand in, the society has its shadow. The shadow is cast by its size, substance and form. We will seek, through the open honesty of our sharing, to soften the substance that casts this shadow. Also, by being flexible in our approach to our searching for wisdom we may, in ourselves, soften the outlines of what is regarded as the ‘society of Anthroposophy.’ Noticing, watching, and forgiving our shadow, individually, is what allows Love to find itself as an active force working through us into the world. Love and Wisdom exist together as the Christ Force, or Christ Being. A cosmic Creator that chose to enter human development in Jesus. Jesus, who prepared himself, then lost himself in his becoming of this Christ for us all. As the holder of the Sun-Centre in us, this love-force of our higher being is quietly central to the work.
When we seek, from our own centre, to understand and to grow into the light, we follow the ‘microcosmic way’ of spiritual development. When we seek, through our actions, to understand better the situations we find ourselves in and to compensate, in our own action, for what is happening, to steer events towards the goodness of love and compassion, we follow the ‘macrocosmic way.’
On the microcosmic way we discover who we are truly are. We bring our darkness into the light.
On the macrocosmic way we apply ourselves to the world’s needs. We bring our light into the world-darkness.
These two are the in-breath and the out-breath, the systole and diastole of our lives.
These thoughts are but an empty scaffold, thin and useless. Using this outline, we may build a temple if we choose.
This group first ran in spring 2023. Please enquire using the email link top left.
Tobias also offers 1:1 guidance in the awakening process from this same base of genuine experience. Please use the email link at top to enquire about this option.
Finding our centre in Space, Time and the Flow-of-Experience is the basis of this work. Here are some links to the (optional) background work:
Firstly, comes the daily exercises embedded within this article.
Secondly, the Foundation Stone meditation is the heart-centre of all of Steiner’s work, containing the keys to finding ourselves within our own lives. Tobias has developed a series of commentaries that may assist you in finding your place in, and a living relationship with, this fundamental meditation – Please ask.
The article Truth, Goodness and Beauty also touches on these same issues.