How and Why I killed the Idea of Rudolf Steiner
In my recent post on Internet conversation, I made reference to some experiences I had when I was introduced to the psychological work of Eric Berne, called Transactional Analysis. The local association of leaders of this kind of practice was called Group House.
I spent three years in the application of this work, which was actually very eclectic – we borrowed from many of the psychological groups, which were growing like wild flowers everywhere in California in those days (‘60’s through ‘70’s).
Given my intuitive talents, I even created some of what we were doing. The groups had to have two leaders, one male and one female, and we called our version: “Reparenting”. My partner was a daughter of two PhD psychologists, whose large practice was centered in Evanston Illinois, a wealthy suburb just north of Chicago.
They bought a former nunnery in Kenosha Wisconsin, which main building was suitable for what at that time were called: Weekend Marathons. Clients would gather on a Friday evening, and then leave at noon on Sundays. As a former nunnery, there were dozens of individual rooms, each with their own bathroom facilities. Included were a number of meeting rooms, a sizable kitchen and dinning area, as well as a chapel.
My co-leader and I were invited to do three Marathons, and the first one had about twenty-five participants. The main gathering room was full of mattresses, whose sheets were brightly colored, and also covered with dozens of pillows of various sizes and colors.
When we gathered, folks wore loose fitting clothes and left their shoes at the door. Touch was a significant aspect of the “work”, although only if initiated by the clients. Around the room were small tables, on which were baby bottles filled with juice, and tootsie-pops.
Eric Berne’s basic ideas included what he called three basic ego states: Parent, Adult, and Child. His observation had been that people “transacted” (spoke to each other) from these different states, such as Parent to Child, Adult to Adult and so on.
Our work was designed to encourage people to be in the Child Ego-state, thus the juice and the candy. This was not as simple as it sounds, yet experience had shown that if people could see that the place was “emotionally” safe, they would become more conscious of their feelings, and thus better able to share them.
The first marathon had about 25 people, most of whom were studying to be lay therapists, as was typical of Transactional Analysis groups. What my partner and I brought was the meetings on the “floor”, and the touching and holding, which were not typical of TA group work.
We were invited back to do two more marathons, with each group being more “troubled”. For the third group, one of them had just been released from a mental hospital, and she told me, when she arrived late on the Saturday morning, that she had hitchhiked, and had had to stab one of the drivers in the thigh, because of unwanted advances.
I did this kind of work for about three years, and even gave a lecture to a TA conference on the role of love in psychotherapy. If you – the reader of this – are familiar with the idea of “transference”, which involves the client developing “feelings” for their therapist, it is very much a no-no. We, on the other hand, accepted this emotional connection, which allowed us greater depth of intimacy out of which our help then could be more effective.
I had asked my partner, why her parents kept asking us back, … she replied that anyone who came to our marathons, became leaders in their individual TA group.
Keep in mind that in this early period of my incarnation, I was initiating many changes in my own personality, and my partner broke away, saying she couldn’t handle the constant changes. Around the same time, my former wife remarked that I had become a completely different person … I didn’t walk the same, sit the same, talk the same, or think the same.
As a consequence of this therapy work, I had acquired a complex view of human behavior. Once I stopped that work, I noticed that I was seeing every one through the lens of this world view, and noticing this made me very uncomfortable in a moral sense … mote and beam issues.
I then set out to master this defect, and it took over half a year to control those thoughts. I didn’t eliminate them, so much as park them, where if needed, they could be called forth.
During my Group House years, I had also become interested in the work of the Tibetan Lama Choygem Trungpa. I knew many who had become intimate students. I read his books, and attended his lectures.
I became aware that, as with the Group House paradigm, my mind had become captured by this exotic world view. Once I realized this, I set out to master these ideas present in my mind – again, over half a year was required to tame the impulse to see this Way, unless I wanted to draw spiritual water, from that well of wisdom.
On meeting Rudolf Steiner through his books, I began to read lecture cycle after lecture cycle. This went on for many years. At the same time, there was a hunger in my soul that was not being satisfied, however many lectures I read. During facing this riddle I became aware that once more my mind had been captured, and the content ruled me, instead of me being the master of it.
It took a year before I could stand outside that content, and view it independently. When I started to view it as a whole, it became clear to me that it was both a method of cognition, and a content. What I needed for my hunger, was to become able to consciously apply the method. No amount of lecture reading would satisfy this need.
As a member of anthroposophical culture, my awake thinking realized that few us actually knew Steiner. We had an inflated idea of him, which excluded his necessary humanity. So I had to search for that as well. Those ideas too had to be mastered.
“One must be able to confront an idea and experience it, otherwise one will fall into its bondage” Last sentence, original preface, to “The Philosophy of Freedom”.
The retired Christian Community priest, Carl Stegmann, gave a last lecture in Fair Oaks, California around 1985, before returning to Germany, in which he stated that the downfall of the A. Society began when people started to look for Steiner in his books, instead of in the World of the Dead.