karmic violence

I read Steiner’s own words about karma this morning, and came to think about this recent comment over at DC’s Improbable Science:

The famous line, ‘Anthroposophy is not taught to the children,” which I heard Steiner teachers parrot many times to questioning parents, is indeed disingenuous because while the dogmas and creeds of anthroposophy may not be taught as words or concepts to children, that is not because Steiner educators don’t wish to convey anthroposophy. They refrain from teaching concepts mainly because they have a far more effective pedagogy. Steiner schools are like anthroposophical Sunday School. Anthroposophy is not so much “taught” as enacted and embodied. The life of the school is anthroposophy. [. . .] Belief in karma and reincarnation makes a potent example of this effective pedagogy because while the children do not have to learn the definition of the word “karma” and repeat it on a test, this belief underpins teachers’ and students’ relationships in a Waldorf school, and it would be disingenuous to argue that students do not thereby learn the concept. They learn it *better* than if they were tested and drilled on the concept; that is the genius of Waldorf pedagogy. [. . .] The belief also implies that ongoing conflicts between children, such as bullying, are karmic. A child who is victimized by his classmates, or even by the teacher, may have been the victimizer in a past life, and now simply the tables are turned. If the conflict is interrupted, its resolution may be postponed until another lifetime.

It’s worth reading in its entirety. The book I’m reading — in Swedish — is Karmic Relationships, the first volume, and it contains some of Steiner’s lectures on karma. I’ve read parts of these lectures before, online on the Rudolf Steiner archive’s website. Now I’m reading from the start, every word, in Swedish. Not taking anything ‘out of context’ as Steiner defenders regularly accuse critics of doing. And, as usual when one bothers to read all of it, Steiner’s statements don’t look much better in context, at least not if by context one refers to the entire lecture or series instead of isolated quotes.

Anyway, he does explain karma, as the title promises; it’s a basic to intermediate course in karma, if you will. The reincarnating individual — the spirit hanging out in the spirit world —  chooses, he says, the circumstances which to incarnate into, based upon karmic needs. Steiner apparently realizes that this could strike some people as cruel; that someone would object, saying that nobody would choose to be born into a family setting where his or her parent is a batterer. But, says Steiner, it’s only to us — living here and now in the material world, with our spiritually limited perspectives — that this notion seems improbable. In the realm between death and a new birth into the physical, the individual’s spirit has insights we cannot reach during our earthly incarnation. Steiner assures his audience that, indeed, the individual who is battered by his or her parent, has chosen this parent precisely because, during the stay in the spiritual world between lifetimes, he or she has come to the realization that he or she needs to be battered.

So, would it be possible to trust that a teacher, who subscribes to such beliefs, would act if a child is in danger? Acting in such a situation would actually be to interfere, not with crime, but with karma.

As for my own experience — of children’s actions towards each other — it is that waldorf teachers remain steadfastly passive. Before I knew better — some years ago now — I thought this too was due to a general head-in-the-clouds attitude. Now it seems far more likely to me that they base their passivity on Steiner’s teachings; they believe children have sought out the bad things that happen to them because they have a karmic need to do so. The teachers believe karma must be allowed to be acted out without interference. It also explains the unintelligible statements — explanations which explained nothing — that I had deserved what I got.

I hadn’t. I didn’t deserve it. But Steiner tells me, in no uncertain terms, that I had greater insights before incarnating — before being born — than I have now. Thus, the waldorf teachers would listen, not to the child in front of them, but to what they guess were the wishes of this child’s incarnating spirit before it came into the present physical existence. The obvious needs of the child in front of them don’t really matter. Waldorf teachers believe there’s a greater wisdom behind the child’s suffering, and that it benefits the child to endure what hurts him or her. They believe it’s in the child’s interest — in a perspective extending over multiple lifetimes — to have his or her karmic ‘needs’ fulfilled, no matter what the temporary cost is to the child.

Waldorf defenders are likely to claim that no teacher would be so cruel as to passively allow a child get hurt, that they don’t ignore suffering, that they don’t neglect their duties to act, that bullying is no more allowed to happen and continue to happen on waldorf schools than anywhere else. But with knowledge about anthroposophical beliefs and knowing the experiences of myself and others — is this claim really believable?

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209 comments

  1. alfa-omega · ·

    This is in agreement with my observations while being part of a waldorf school for a while.

  2. To start with your last paragraph first, I would not wish in any way to deny what you have described as happening to you. I am sure it has happened to others as well – ie., that teachers/adults have failed to intervene to protect children when it has clearly been their duty to do so and it would be cruel and immoral not to intervene. And this happens in other settings as well as Waldorf.

    As regards the karmic aspect. unless you happen to be an angel you cannot know what is in someone else’s karma and what is not. It might very well be that when one sees a child being bullied, it is part of one’s own karma to rise to the challenge and stop the evil you see happening before you, even if there is danger to yourself. (physical danger etc)

    If there are half-witted waldorf teachers around who think that they know what is in the karmic interests of ANY child they should be removed from all contact with children as soon as they are discovered.

    Karma is often what happens to human beings when all our own efforts and ingenuity have failed to protect us from something that is happening to us. If I have understood you correctly you are saying something like, ‘If I was walking on a mountain in Austria and saw that high above me an avalanche had started then I would just think this is my karma coming to get me and just stand and wait for it’. Well it isn’t like that. If I see the avalanche then I have to do everything I can to avoid it.

    Steiner is talking about things which affect our lives in ways which we are powerless to avoid. For example, if I develop an incurable disease, when I have done everything within my power to ameliorate the effects of the disease and tried to gain a cure, when everything has failed THEN I might say to myself, ‘This is my karma’.
    And if I see this happening to someone else, I still wouldn’t be so arrogant as to say to them, ‘this is your karma’. (Not being an angel, I can’t make such judgements for others) This insight(of something being karma) is something the person has to come to understand themselves, or not as the case may be.

    What we are here for is to learn compassion. so it may be true that somone has chosen to be born into a violent family, but that does not absolve any of us from doing our absolute best to change that situation and prevent suffering in whatever way we can. You could say it is a karmic obligation to prevent and ameliorate suffering whenever we encounter it according to our ability and circumstances.

    So again I repeat if there are any Waldorf teachers who think that notions of karma absolve them from protecting the children in their care they should certainly be banned from having any contact with children or vulnerable people at all.

    There is no excuse for the teachers who failed to protect you.

    Yes, rudolf steiner says we make choices before birth and we may incarnate into either a difficult or a more supportive situation, but he also says we are FREE to see these things are karmic or not. Whether what happened to you was karmic or not is something for you to decide – no-one else. Certainly not anyone who had a duty of care to you.

  3. The problem with karma is that no one seems to understand it but act like they do. Now, I’m not saying I understand it but it has been my experience that it can be used as an excuse for justifying behavior. Like when I was fired, there was a current running through the faculty (and perhaps even the parents) that this is my karma. And that pissed me off.

    I do agree with you Zooey about teaching the children Anthroposophy. Either directly or indirectly there are many ways to teach something. At the same time, I wonder how much do the children really catch? I mean they seem to grow up fine and capable. . .I guess that is the mystery. How much are we screwing them up, if at all???

  4. “If there are half-witted waldorf teachers around who think that they know what is in the karmic interests of ANY child they should be removed from all contact with children as soon as they are discovered.”

    How many times have I heard that? Why is it, then, that they are NOT REMOVED? Do something about it, if you believe it.

    “Karma is often what happens to human beings when all our own efforts and ingenuity have failed to protect us from something that is happening to us. If I have understood you correctly you are saying something like, ‘If I was walking on a mountain in Austria and saw that high above me an avalanche had started then I would just think this is my karma coming to get me and just stand and wait for it’. Well it isn’t like that. If I see the avalanche then I have to do everything I can to avoid it. “

    Say what? Where do you find this in Steiner? This is not what Steiner said, sorry.

    “And if I see this happening to someone else, I still wouldn’t be so arrogant as to say to them, ‘this is your karma’. (Not being an angel, I can’t make such judgements for others) This insight(of something being karma) is something the person has to come to understand themselves, or not as the case may be.”

    Yet by the same token, to interfere in their karma would seem equally arrogant. That’s if you believe in karma. You do, right? Why do anthroposophists actually back away from their own beliefs when the implications are pointed out?

    You do get that Steiner said we choose misfortunes *before birth*? We actually choose parents who will SET US IN FRONT OF THE AVALANCHE. What kind of possible sense would it make to try to back away from it, let alone pull someone else away from it? If you avoid your karma in this lifetime, you‘ll just have to face it in the next. N‘est-ce pas?

    “You could say it is a karmic obligation to prevent and ameliorate suffering whenever we encounter it according to our ability and circumstances.”

    You could say it, but you wouldn’t be making a whole lot of sense. Think through what karma really means; and what Steiner actually said about it. This stuff you’re posting is a whitewash.

    “Whether what happened to you was karmic or not is something for you to decide – no-one else. Certainly not anyone who had a duty of care to you.”

    Many see the “duty of care” as not to mess with someone else’s karma. It’s actually the only position that makes sense if you actually believe in karma.

  5. “so it may be true that somone has chosen to be born into a violent family, but that does not absolve any of us from doing our absolute best to change that situation and prevent suffering”

    Actually that’s exactly what it implies. Think it through. If suffering is chosen for a reason – a weighty, cosmic reason, no less; necessary for a person’s spiritual growth – alleviating it is exactly what one should not do.

    That is the meaning of karma in anthroposophy. If you dispute this you either don’t understand Steiner, or you just wish Steiner parents wouldn’t.

  6. “I do agree with you Zooey about teaching the children Anthroposophy. Either directly or indirectly there are many ways to teach something. At the same time, I wonder how much do the children really catch? I mean they seem to grow up fine and capable. . .I guess that is the mystery. How much are we screwing them up, if at all???”

    That’s a big question. The pedagogy is very effective. However, it is offset by the usual incompetence and mayhem going on in the classroom. Also, children have pretty good bullshit detectors. I think that a majority grow up not actually believing the Steiner stuff they’ve been exposed to, though they’re likely to be deficient in science. The damage, if any, results from the unhealthy psychological environment.

  7. “The problem with karma is that no one seems to understand it but act like they do. Now, I’m not saying I understand it but it has been my experience that it can be used as an excuse for justifying behavior. Like when I was fired, there was a current running through the faculty (and perhaps even the parents) that this is my karma. And that pissed me off.”

    Lani, look, if no one really understood it, it wouldn’t be much use in practice, would it? If no one understood it, the movement would abandon the notion. Unfortunately, it *is* put into practice. I wish you were right that “no one understood” it. The problem is actually that lots of people understand it and APPLY IT. Why wouldn’t your firing be karmic? Of course it was karmic. It’s what karma *means*. Of course it pissed you off that they used it against you, but the problem isn’t that they “don’t understand” it. The problem is that they do.

  8. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Falk –

    imo (I’m not a Buddhist) there is no such thing as karma. It is an imaginary concept, like unicorns or mermaids. As imagined by Steiner, it has NO PLACE at all in any classroom. None. It is tantamount to abuse.

    I agree that you should have been pissed off Lani, that kind of assumption is arrogant and unkind, a way to avoid responsibility for the nasty actions of ordinary humans. Your class was lucky to have you.

    If ‘karma’ means for some: ‘what goes around, comes around,’ then it may be a useful colloquial word for: ‘you shouldn’t have done that, mate’. The US comedy where the lead character believes his luck will change if he makes up for all the ropey stuff he’s done to others – improving his karma – is all about this life & nothing to do with reincarnation. Fine as a comic device. That’s not what Steineristas mean by it.

    As Diana suggests, many Steiner Waldorf teachers have little idea what they’re doing, it’s chaotic (that was certainly my experience). It’s chaos because the whole edifice is nonsense. ‘Things fall apart, the centre will not hold…’

  9. Diana, over 37 years I have read plenty of Steiner, and nowhere does he say we are not to a certain degree in control of our lives. We can, within our limitations, make choices about things.
    You seem to have misread what I posted.
    You say. ‘Actually that’s exactly what it implies. Think it through. If suffering is chosen for a reason – a weighty, cosmic reason, no less; necessary for a person’s spiritual growth – alleviating it is exactly what one should not do. ‘ You are letting logic determine the course of your thoughts here rather than looking at realities and seeing how they are logically connected.
    I said that one, as a human, cannot know what is another person’s karma. If I am confronted with another person’s suffering, it may well be MY karma to try and alleviate it. I also said, karma is that which in the end, after all our efforts, we cannot avoid. And that furthermore it is a choice we have, whether to see something as karmic or not. Read Steiner for 37 years and you will see that all those three statements are consistent with his teaching.
    The picture of karma that you have seems to be derived from a very vague notion of eastern mysticism. In Steiner’s teaching it is not some inexorable steam-roller which we can’t avoid. There is room for compassion and mercy.
    Though it is one of your business I have been involved in the professional disciplining and removal of teachers at various stages of my career.
    My experience of Steiner schools is that most teachers are conscientious and caring and do not have simplistic notions of what is karmic and how they should respond to events.
    I do not deny that there are some very silly, woolly headed and sometimes damaging people working in Steiner schools, but if you have the broad experience of education that I have you will know that that is true in the state schools also. A teacher can do great damage to a child whether the teacher is wearing pink mohair or not.

  10. Should read, ‘none of your business’ above.

  11. alfa-omega · ·

    http://www.regeringen.se/sb/d/12489/a/153933

    Next step in getting the gnomes, including the karma concept, out of the Swedish school system. FINE!
    (Lärarlegitimation = teacher-certificate).

    Diana and Thetis:
    thank you for all the effort you put in. The posts at DC’s are much needed.

  12. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Falk:

    ‘…do not have simplistic notions of what is karmic…’

    what are you talking about? It’s all flannel. If these ‘teachers are conscientious and caring’ they should not be lying to parents about what they’re doing, which they do all the time.

    Re Karma: show me the evidence for your extraordinary claims, it had better be extraordinary evidence or it is purely a religious idea. Anthroposophy is of course a religion. It is certainly not in any way a science. Parents should be made aware that Steiner Waldorf schools are religious schools, and they should be informed EXACTLY what this religion is – at the very beginning of their association with the school. There should be no room for magic tricks and esoteric ‘knowledge’. It is, in our opinion, fraud.

    Thanks alfa! Getting back to your link.

  13. “Diana, over 37 years I have read plenty of Steiner, and nowhere does he say we are not to a certain degree in control of our lives. We can, within our limitations, make choices about things.”

    Yes, but the things that are often described as karmic are a result of choices we made *before we were born*. Did you miss that part? I didn’t think you did, because otherwise the concept means nothing. Obviously, within a lifetime we make a lot of choices, and we already have words for that that don’t require karma.

    “You seem to have misread what I posted.
    You say. ‘Actually that’s exactly what it implies. Think it through. If suffering is chosen for a reason – a weighty, cosmic reason, no less; necessary for a person’s spiritual growth – alleviating it is exactly what one should not do. ‘ You are letting logic determine the course of your thoughts here rather than looking at realities and seeing how they are logically connected.”

    Silly me, letting logic determine the course of my thoughts!

    “I said that one, as a human, cannot know what is another person’s karma. If I am confronted with another person’s suffering, it may well be MY karma to try and alleviate it.”

    I understand that “karma” makes room for that. It just doesn’t make sense. That’s not my misunderstanding; the concept is nonsensical. If karma is stuff we’ve chosen out of spiritual necessity, anyone else who interferes with our karma, by helping us avoid disasters, for instance, is not doing us any favors. That, unfortunately, *is* the logical part of it; Waldorf teachers who act according to these implications are in fact making sense. As I said … unfortunately. Attempting to rescue it with “well it’s my karma to help you” may make you feel better but it doesn’t actually make any sense if you believe karma means what Steiner said it means.

    “I also said, karma is that which in the end, after all our efforts, we cannot avoid.”

    If it is “avoidable” with our best efforts, there is no need for the concept of karma. With this understanding, those who believe in karma will behave in exactly the same way as those who don’t, i.e., we will all try to avoid or mitigate disasters, help others etc. The concept of karma withers up and floats away then, as it has no meaning.

    If some disasters are in fact unavoidable despite all efforts, then there is little sense in trying to avoid them, or help someone else avoid theirs. Again, those who see this and act upon it are simply following and understanding the doctrine. That’s the trouble defenders have trying to cover for the Steiner teachers who do this – those Steiner teachers are following Steiner.

    “And that furthermore it is a choice we have, whether to see something as karmic or not. Read Steiner for 37 years and you will see that all those three statements are consistent with his teaching.”

    LOL. I understand all these statements are *in* Steiner. Consistent we can’t make them just by proclaiming it so.

    “The picture of karma that you have seems to be derived from a very vague notion of eastern mysticism.”

    No, sorry, it’s derived from reading Steiner.

    “In Steiner’s teaching it is not some inexorable steam-roller which we can’t avoid. There is room for compassion and mercy.”

    He certainly didn’t say you can’t act compassionate and merciful. It’s just going to be inconsistent with the karma teachings in certain circumstances. The fact that some Steiner teachers do ignore all this crap, and act compassionately and mercifully, is to their credit. The problem is the ones who actually follow Steiner where he logically leads.

    “Though it is one of your business I have been involved in the professional disciplining and removal of teachers at various stages of my career.”

    Great. Then you are completely familiar with teachers who follow this dogma.

    “My experience of Steiner schools is that most teachers are conscientious and caring and do not have simplistic notions of what is karmic and how they should respond to events.
    I do not deny that there are some very silly, woolly headed and sometimes damaging people working in Steiner schools, but if you have the broad experience of education that I have you will know that that is true in the state schools also. A teacher can do great damage to a child whether the teacher is wearing pink mohair or not.”

    I agree with you there. Damaging children is not limited to Waldorf schools.

  14. Sorry, anonymous above is me (Diana) using another computer.

  15. “karma is that which in the end, after all our efforts, we cannot avoid.”

    What’s missing here is that we “cannot avoid” some disasters because we actually actively need them. We have actually called them to ourselves for purposes of our spiritual growth, or spiritual tasks we need to fulfill. Therefore it is not merely that we can’t avoid them, we *shouldn’t* avoid them.

    If this point is really taken on board, the anthroposophist will see that trying to help someone avoid a disaster, even if it were possible, is not helpful to them. Steiner said this explicitly a number of places. In the context of vaccination, for instance, he mentioned that if some epidemics can be avoided entirely, the people who sought their karma in the disease will have to seek it some other way. In every epidemic or natural disaster, warfare, etc., the victims have sought their karma together there.

    Steiner isn’t necessarily saying therefore don’t try to mitigate the epidemic, or avoid war, etc. It does, however, logically follow. The anti-vaccination stance of many Steiner teachers suggests to me that many follow the logic here just fine.

  16. Dear Thetis, you love to state your opinions very emphatically, indulge in a little name-calling and make sweeping generalisations. I suspect a choleric temperament lurking under that sophisticated, fleet-footed veneer.
    Yes, absolutely, I cannot imagine that anything at all would count as evidence for karma. It is not the sort fo thing that there can be evidence for. It is something one chooses to believe in or not.
    And I would agree with you wholeheartedly, Steiner schools are based wholly on unusual beliefs in spiritual matters and the schools should be absolutely open and up-front about it, so that nobody enrols their child under a misapprehension, and no misled teachers end up wasting their talents in such schools.
    Again it has been my experience that most Steiner teachers are open about what underlies what they are doing, but I do recognise that some teachers and some schools are not . This is unethical and unprofessional.
    Lets hope that Gove and his minions see that openness, where education is based on a very unusual belief system, is crucially important. (In passing I would say that I am wholly against state-funding for Steiner based initiatives of any kind)
    And I would agree that anthroposophy is not a science in the sense that physics and chemistry are. It is called spiritual science to characterise the objective approach to spiritual research that Steiner was advocating. He knew it wasn’t science in the way that physics and chemistry are. But then neither is biology, sociology, psychology, history, and a host of other ways of knowing the world.

  17. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Falk – there is no such thing as spiritual science. It is, as we say when we are being kind, nothing but wibble.

    ‘objective approach to spiritual research’ is in reality: ‘narcissistic navel gazing’. Define ‘spiritual’. Define ‘research’. Define ‘objective’.

    Anthroposophists, when cornered, arrack the personality of the pursuer. It’s so familiar I’m surprised to have been neglected so long.

  18. alfa-omega · ·

    Thetis,

    on the right side at the government page I have send a link to, it says
    “LAGSTIFTNINGSKEDJAN … Proposition (1 piece) Utskottsbetänkanden Riksdagsbeslut Lagar (SFS)”
    The legislation chain is simplier when compared to the UK (imo). I believe the law will get through.
    Too bad for the gnomes and their proponents.

  19. ThetisMercurio · ·

    won’t they apply for exemptions? In Sweden?

  20. alfa-omega · ·

    Oh yes, they have been and they will be shouting “exemptions!!!”;
    the question is who will be in charge of making decisions.

    In Sweden anno 2010, the parents who do not wish a community comprehensive for their children (for any reason) have a choice. Real choice (also often limited for various reasons). Here, a particular school following legislation (or not), employing certified teachers (or not) a.s.o., will be a part of the parental choice. As the time goes by, this will influence the waldorf-community population.

    This particular legislation will have many consequences, none of them wished by the anthro/steiner/waldorf.

  21. ThetisMercurio · ·

    good. Great to have this information. Cheers!

  22. I didn’t see any namecalling in thetis’s posts, unless you count “steineristas,” which wasn’t actually directed at anyone here.
    Feel free to call us criticistas :)

  23. I apologize for not having had the time to read through all the comments yet (I was away all morning, and will be busy with other things the rest of the day too, unfortunately). However, I thought I should post the quote I was referring to in my post, the one about the child choosing an abuser for a parent. I found it online at rsarchive.org. Steiner says:

    ‘The judgments man has in physical life on earth are, in fact, different from the judgments he has between death and a new birth. For there the point of view is changed. And so it is, if you say to a human being here on earth — a young human being, perhaps-that he has chosen his father, it is not out of the question that he might make objection: “Do you mean to say that I have chosen the father who has given me so many thrashings?” Yes, certainly he has chosen him; for he had quite another point of view before he came down to earth. He had the point of view that the thrashings would do him a lot of good … Truly, it is no laughing matter; I mean it in deep earnestness.’

    http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA235/English/RSP1972/19240301p01.html

  24. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Diana- ‘Steineristas’ is rather a nice name, they might adopt it themselves.

    Perhaps I should get better at calling a spade a charming type of …hat. Garden ornament. Tea-tray..

  25. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Were they laughing … when he said it was no laughing matter?

    I think of Baby P. Horrible. Indefensible. Sadistic.

  26. And some waldorf folks really are Steineristas. They’re steineristas more than they’re anthroposophists, actually.

  27. alfa-omega · ·

    PS:
    as for the exemptions:

    I have been reading the document Zooey mentioned earlier, the one from Feb 2009 with (among other goodies):
    “Federationen kontaktar pr-byrån Westander för att få råd om ett politiska arbetet.”
    and
    “Vad händer om en skola presterar dåligt resultat? Vi kan diskutera detta med politiker och
    eventuellt tjänstemän på skolverket.”
    and
    “I England har angreppet på pedagogiken lett till att föräldrar tagit sina barn från w-skolorna. Sune deltidsanställd av federationen att bevaka debatten.”

    Very clear that the waldorf federation hopes for pushing the political way. That will be more difficult now (imo).

    Thetis, I have asked Zooey to send you an email.

  28. thetis — I always suspected they didn’t laugh a lot, but I may be wrong.

  29. Thanks Zooey.

    Steiner:

    “Do you mean to say that I have chosen the father who has given me so many thrashings?” Yes, certainly he has chosen him; for he had quite another point of view before he came down to earth. He had the point of view that the thrashings would do him a lot of good … ”

    Can an anthroposophist answer me then: if the thrashings do the child a lot of good, what would be accomplished by preventing the thrashings, or trying to ease the child’s suffering?

    You don’t want to interfere with something that is doing the child a lot of good, do you? Aren’t you supposed to act in the child’s best interests? The thrashings are that, per Steiner.

    One might think at least easing the child’s suffering would be justifiable. Yet one would have to at least acknowledge that this would lessen the benefit of the thrashings. Spiritually, that is …

    Am I being too logical again?

    Steiner again:

    “Truly, it is no laughing matter; I mean it in deep earnestness.”

    Anthroposophists mean it in deep earnestness, too. They should simply have the courage of their convictions, not deny them or pretend that non-anthroposophists “don’t understand.”

  30. alfa-omega · ·

    Zooey,
    thank you for the source.

    http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/karmic-violence/#comment-5025

    (part of the collection ready to present at some good opportunity).

  31. I am surprised Thetis thought I was attacking her. I would have called it a little ‘winding-up’. In fact I was just charcterising what I found in her post. Calling someone else’s beliefs, ‘flannel’, is not a reasoned argument, it is ‘name-calling.
    ‘…teachers… lying to parents, which they do all the time..’ is a sweeping generalisation. Fleet-footed’ is the characteristic of Thetis in greek mythology, and of course suggesting she might be choleric, I was bringing in a little waldorfism to tease her.
    My apologies

  32. Regarding Zooey’s quote from Steiner, he is making a point about a being before birth. After birth everything is different. Then we are in the human world and have to make judgements and take actions from a human point of view. Thus if we encounter a father who is abusing his child there would be no excuse for us not to report the matter to social services or intervene in some other appropriate way. I don’t believe you will ever find in Steiner a passage where he says we should not defend the weak and vulnerable from abuse. The sort of question he was addressing would be one that comes from an adult reflecting on their experiences and wondering, ‘How did this come to happen to me?” And there is nothing in the quality of the experience that would point to it being a karmic choice. That thought can only come after many years of reflection and seeking for answers to existential questions.

  33. ThetisMercurio · ·

    if you give me something interesting, I will respond. If you give me flannel, I will give it its proper name. Think of me as one of those scientific fellows who stamped their feet with disgust at Steiner in the early 20th century. I haven’t their fine side-whiskers, but I do share their sentiments.

    I respect you as an individual and I respect your right to have your own beliefs. But I do not respect those beliefs. In fact Anthroposophy is potentially dangerous, for children, for vulnerable adults, for families, so it’s not a game.

    There’s no reasoned argument to have, it’s all just uber post-modernism with faerie wings.

  34. I question the logic of Diana’s statement here, ‘If some disasters are in fact unavoidable despite all efforts, then there is little sense in trying to avoid them, or help someone else avoid theirs.
    When one says in english that something was unavoidable the characterisation is not one of logical necessity, but a statement of fact. So if I am unable to run for cover and the avalanche kills me, then it was in fact, for me, unavoidable, I wasn’t able to avoid it. If in fact I manage to out run the avalnche and survive, then clearly it was avoidable.
    So when I was say something is unavoidable I mean quite factually , after the event, it proved to be unavoidable. Nothing I or others tried to do prevented it from happening. If I or somone else managed to prevent it from happening then it wouldn’t be a karmic event.

  35. “Regarding Zooey’s quote from Steiner, he is making a point about a being before birth. After birth everything is different.”

    What? How so? The whole point is the choices made “before birth” count! They actually matter – they have effects. Otherwise, the concept has no content. If you disavow this, you disavow the meaning of karma in anthroposophy.

    “Then we are in the human world and have to make judgements and take actions from a human point of view. Thus if we encounter a father who is abusing his child there would be no excuse for us not to report the matter to social services or intervene in some other appropriate way.”

    You just don’t want to follow your guru’s logic. There absolutely is an excuse (reason) Not to report it or intervene. The “excuse” is that Steiner said it is actually good for the child. A damn good excuse! Don’t Steiner teachers think they have the child’s spirituality in their care?

    Please don’t try to tell me they don’t; it’s the whole point of the education. If you don’t want the teacher to provide spiritual care, pick a different school. I am a veteran of Waldorf faculty meetings and I know the teachers do indeed see themselves this way, and speak of it openly when parents are not present.

    “I don’t believe you will ever find in Steiner a passage where he says we should not defend the weak and vulnerable from abuse. The sort of question he was addressing would be one that comes from an adult reflecting on their experiences and wondering, ‘How did this come to happen to me?” And there is nothing in the quality of the experience that would point to it being a karmic choice. That thought can only come after many years of reflection and seeking for answers to existential questions.”

    There is “nothing in the quality of the experience that points to” it as a karmic choice except that Steiner SAID it is a karmic choice. You can’t avoid that.

    News flash: coming to such a notion “after years of reflection” and “seeking” doesn’t make it somehow not sadistic and cruel after all. It doesn’t matter when you reach the notion that a child needed a karmic thrashing; frankly, I think it’s more repulsive if you reach this conclusion after years of searching than if you just take it from Steiner at face value in the first place.
    I’m sorry but there’s no prettying up such notions; they stink worse with spirituality attached.

  36. “When one says in english that something was unavoidable the characterisation is not one of logical necessity, but a statement of fact.”

    Lol. Really, the mind reels.
    I have heard this little jewel before. It’s only karma after it happens. Did you know we already had words for things that already happened? Words like “what happened.” Or “history.”

    That isn’t what karma means. Karma doesn’t mean “what happened.” If it wasn’t karma *before* it happened also, then there’s no such thing as karma.

    What would be the point of calling it karma afterwards?
    Really, it’s so funny. You can’t see that you’ve just argued the concept out of existence?

  37. Dear Thetis, in your last post to me I mainly find assertion. I could also assert opinions, say this is all rubbish, etc., but I am interested in good reasoned argument so I engage with Zooey’s blog.
    What I have been trying to do in all my posts on this thread is to unpack what Steiner really meant by karma, to distinguish it from the rubbish that is admittedly adhered to by some steineristis.
    And also to point to where there seem to be logical flaws in some postings.
    Maybe I would not have felt at home with the scientific fellows who merely stamped their feet in disgust at Steiner, but I believe I would have felt at home with David Hume or Doctor Johnson, who, even if they disagreed profoundly with what I was saying, would have engaged in reasoned discourse about it.

  38. “So if I am unable to run for cover and the avalanche kills me, then it was in fact, for me, unavoidable, I wasn’t able to avoid it.”

    There is nothing to this statement. It is a statement of the obvious, eschewing meaning. Karma is not about stating the obvious, it’s about *meanings*. Events have meaning. Humans *choose* the meanings of the events in our lives, per Steiner.

    It’s a distortion of a humane idealism: we do of course give meanings to the events in our lives. Just some of them – not *all* of them. Basically to believe otherwise is not quite sane; it can’t work, believing every accident, natural disaster etc., has “meaning.” It makes a mockery of real meaning in the world.

  39. ThetisMercurio · ·

    All I hear, Falk is the slight twitch of those faerie wings.

    Think of my responses as sceptical irony, if you look to Hume. Dr Johnson is on twitter, if you want to play games: http://twitter.com/#!/drsamueljohnson

    I have attended to you, but you haven’t said anything sensible. Hume might have indulged your fantasies, replying with some fine-tuned benevolent mockery; perhaps he had more time on his hands.

  40. Let’s make it simple. Do you think, Falk, that the things that happened to Alicia in her Waldorf school were allowed to continue because the teachers believed it was her karma?
    I do.

  41. ThetisMercurio · ·

    A real incident: a Steiner kindergarten teacher is told that a child’s father has been abusive to its mother, they’ve been in a safe house, have now relocated without telling the father where they are. The mother has confided this to the school, so that no one inadvertently informs the abusive man where his victim is.

    The kindergarten teacher takes it upon herself to contact the father and tell him where his child is.

    When the mother finds out, she has no choice but to move once again.

    Whose karma?

    Sorry if I don’t feel like playing those games that anthros like so much, with their ever-expanding lives stretching before them, like games of chess over 100 generations.

    Diana I’m going to go back & read your comments properly later, after a trip out with a family set of 3D glasses.

  42. The strange thing about Steiner’s universe is that things that weren’t meant to happen, happen anyway because spiritual beings manage to thwart the evolution of… like everything. In the same manner he’s able to simultaneously assert 1) that someone was karmically pushed towards a certain fate (needed to go through certain harships, e g) and 2) that this shouldn’t cause people to treat the suffering of others with indifference.

    No matter what Steiner’s ideals were though, I think there’s reason to suspect that a certain defeatism comes into play. That teachers find reasons to remain passive because… it’s easier. And, really, some of their beliefs tell them it’s not necessarily a bad idea. A regular teacher wouldn’t really have the opportunity to begin to think about the fates of the students in terms of karma… they would need to excuse inaction in some other way. It doesn’t really matter that Steiner also talked about responsibility, compassion, helping people (and so forth) — for a simple reason: people are too lazy, too stressed out, too busy…

    As for Diana’s question — I definitely think it had to do with karma. I’m pretty convinced it did. My kindergarten teachers were old school steineristas, no doubt about that.

    It’s not just that they didn’t intervene. It’s that it was impossible for them to say that I wasn’t doing well there, that this environment didn’t suit me (though it was patently obvious!), that I’d be better elsewhere. I think this was because they figured it was in my karma to be there. That I needed it. Not just the particular treatment or whatever. But the being there no matter what. It’s a kind of education that supposedly fits all those kids whose karma leads them to it. No matter the actual circumstances or the actual likes or dislikes of the child.

    I do think that whatever we do to unpack what Steiner said and meant about karma, in real life, this will matter little. Steiner waldorf teachers are human, and bound to fail like humans. In that context, karma will do harm rather than good. Because then the implications are real rather than philosophical.

    That said, Steiner’s Karmic Relationships (and his other lectures on karma) are totally fascinating. There’s some wild stuff in them, but they would be rather dull otherwise… ;-)

  43. I’ve seen lots of karmic justifications for why Waldorf didn’t work for a particular student.

    I know a family whose older child went to Waldorf for a couple of yeras, and they took him out because it was clearly not a fit, i.e., the kid was bored out of his mind and needed some academics, and the family, not being anthroposophists, simply said “Let’s find a more academic environment for him.” The kid didn’t have a bad experience, and the family didn’t leave unhappy. He has thrived in an academically rigorous private school.

    This kid had a sibling with special needs, however. That child is now in an anthroposophical special-needs setting. So according to the powers that be, the child that had karma with the school was actually the special-needs child. That child’s sibling wasn’t the one “really” intended for an anthroposophic education; he was just the conduit for his sibling to come into contact with the anthroposophists. He was used, karmically speaking.

  44. alfa-omega · ·

    Diana,
    do you remember what (not) happened, when you (in an other thread) posted a direct question to Sune N?

  45. LOL, not much happened if I’m recalling correctly.

  46. Much like every other time Sune was asked a question. He suffers a pathological inability to reply to questions. But he’s on twitter repeating what celebrities went to waldorf schools. I suspect this is all he’s good for. It may be all that waldorf is good for, for that matter…

  47. >But he’s on twitter repeating what celebrities went to waldorf schools.

    This is so funny.

  48. Only zooey can decide whether what happened to her was karmic or not.

  49. Diana wrote:

    ‘That child’s sibling wasn’t the one “really” intended for an anthroposophic education; he was just the conduit for his sibling to come into contact with the anthroposophists. He was used, karmically speaking.’

    That’s an interesting twist on this theme. Also, it means: if my waldorf experience hadn’t been so fucked up — or if I hadn’t existed in the first place — my brother would have spent many more years in waldorf. So I had to have the fuck-up for his karma to be fulfilled, and his karma was not to be in waldorf. (Except 2 years of kindergarten.)

    Thetis wrote:

    ‘The kindergarten teacher takes it upon herself to contact the father and tell him where his child is. [. . .] Whose karma?’

    Listening to Steiner, the only conclusion would be that it was the mother’s karma to be battered, the father’s karma to be a batterer (in their past lives, roles were reversed!), and the child’s karma to be a witness to this tragic process, which could potentially end in someone — in that case, the mother — being prematurely sent to the realm between death and rebirth. But who would want to intervene — other than apparently to ‘help’ karmic destiny along — it would be an attempt to thwart the karmic laws. Oh, and the teacher’s karma was obviously to be a messenger. And if teachers can help with the incarnation process, they could probably be trusted to help with the occasional decarnation process too.

    If we apply the unavoidable avalanche line of argumentation to waldorf education: what if somebody knows the avalanche is going to happen, and does nothing to aid you — to get you out of ‘unavoidable’ harms way, to warn you, send help if the worst happens, et c. If someone totally ignores all of it, because s/he thinks it’s in that guy’s karma to have the avalanche experience from inside. Unfortunately, this seems to be how some waldorf teachers use karma. In real life.

  50. falk:

    ‘Only zooey can decide whether what happened to her was karmic or not.’

    I thought these things were decided by the spiritual worlds. But anyway, anthroposophically speaking, karma ‘operates’ in everything. Whether we believe it or not.

    I could decide whether I believe it or not. But this doesn’t really change what factors my kindergarten teachers reckoned with when they dealt with (or ignored) ‘the zooey problem’. I may reject all of it, all of what they believed in. But the interesting thing is what my kindergarten teachers believed in, as what they believed in happened to be heavily influenced by anthroposophy; anthroposophical beliefs guided their everyday dealings with children they cared for. I don’t believe in karma in the manner anthroposophists do, because I don’t believe in reincarnation. So for me, the explanation for what happened to me was not karma, it was incompetence. Some of it may have been ‘unavoidable’ in some sense; human beings aren’t perfect, not even waldorf teachers. Things can go wrong without karma too.

  51. About Sune:
    ‘This is so funny.’

    And he’s doing it from 3 accounts. On one of them, he pretends to be Robert Mays. I don’t know why, because he’s so transparent due to his inimitable style…

  52. Mercuryrules · ·

    @Falk:

    “Only Zooey (Alicia) can decide whether what happened to her was karmic or not.”

    This is profoundly true, But there seems to be no will on Alicia’s part to experiment with a redescription and consequent re-experiencing of her own life in this manner.

  53. “Only zooey can decide whether what happened to her was karmic or not.”

    Really? Steiner didn’t say anything like that, either.

  54. “So I had to have the fuck-up for his karma to be fulfilled, and his karma was not to be in waldorf.”

    Well, no, I don’t think they’d see it that way. It’s always somebody’s karma to *come* to Waldorf, if someone does. Um, if you see what I mean. The karma of those not intended for Waldorf, this is not too interesting.

    Sometimes it might be the parent who was supposed to “come,” sometimes a sibling, etc. Sometimes a child is supposed to simply make certain contacts (you know, beat someone up or get beaten up) that won’t come to fruition spiritually until another lifetime. You just never can tell with karma!

  55. Mercuryrules · ·

    Well, it’s kind of implicit, Diana, do make an effort.

    Oh dear, that’s the essential problem here, isn’t it? that essential effort, the goodwill.

    I think I’m in a better position to say what he said and meant, because I make an effort to understand Dr. Steiner, whereas you make an effort not to.

    Understand?

  56. “But there seems to be no will on Alicia’s part to experiment with a redescription and consequent re-experiencing of her own life in this manner.”

    Ah yes, the failure of the will. A common diagnosis among imaginatively challenged Steiner dogmatists, especially when they have children in their care. Somebody’s not doin’ it right, they must have a failure of the will, or their etheric body isn’t tucked in right or something. Heard it often.

  57. I do understand, mercury, but only from long experience talking to people who believe this gobbledygook. Thanks for diagnosing me with “will” difficulties, too; it must be why Alicia and I get along. Don’t you want to tell me my temperament, too?

  58. Mercuryrules · ·

    well you need to chill or cut down on the caffeine for a start, is my first impression here.

  59. ThetisMercurio · ·

    mercuryrules: this is your drift, wherever you appear:

    what a cherub.

  60. Mercuryrules · ·

    Thank -you!

  61. Yes, I see mercuryrules is not big on substantive replies. Like so many anthroposophists, he starts by robotically reciting Steiner-speak, and when challenged drops all efforts to address the topic.

  62. alfa-omega · ·

    As I stated in the very first comment in this thread: everything is in agreement with my observations while being part of a waldorf school for a while. There is not much meaning discussing with the anthro/steiner/waldorf – just get them (including the karma concept) out of the education system.

  63. ThetisMercurio · ·

    couldn’t agree more.

  64. Mercuryrules — Victor Morrow — has another of Sune’s traits, ‘revealing’ people’s actual names. Notice how he even managed to insert it when he quoted Falk who did not use my real name in his comment. I wouldn’t have minded if Falk (or anybody else, really) did it, it’s just that he didn’t; I may not agree with Falk about everything, but believe me when I say it’s quite a relief to encounter a nice anthroposophist.

    I think it’s quite insidious of Morrow, though, and given that Morrow’s posting history has many elements of nastiness… well, you know, I think the insistence on adressing me that way is part of a pattern. Attempting to make people feel uncomfortable seems to be a national sport in some quarters of the anthroposophic community. And Thetis is quite right. Though the statue is too nice to represent Morrow’s behaviour. Interestingly, anthroposophists like Morrow fail to follow the most basic advice Steiner gives. Luckily for them, Steiner also gave advice that can be applied to ‘justify’ the unacceptable as far as interaction between people is concerned.

  65. Mercuryrules · ·

    What, we’re addressing intimate occult topics like karma and reincarnation, often deep affairs of the heart- and you don’t like it personal? When would you get personal? do you have a problem with intimacy?

    I like to think I make contact with people here in forums like this, Alicia, because I care deeply about this stuff, and I do live it, in a deeply transformative way, Basically I decided to investigate and see where it led me.

    What’s the deal with this “niceness” schtick? You say nasty stuff about me- I won’t go find it all, but you actually were saying stuff-not nice- about the state of my soul? And previous you being a real prima donna about me insulting you earlier?

    You revealed your own name on pages you lnked to-presumably because you, too, want to meet people, insofar as it can be done on the web, perhaps make friends, i dare say.

    I fail to follow Steiners basic advice? F*** me, Alicia, you’ve got no idea of my relationship to Steiner and the content of Anthroposophy, -what a facile comment to make.

  66. Mercuryrules · ·

    Sorry, that’s me above, posting.

  67. Mercuryrules — ‘What, we’re addressing intimate occult topics like karma and reincarnation, often deep affairs of the heart- and you don’t like it personal? When would you get personal? do you have a problem with intimacy?’

    Using someone’s first name isn’t a sign of ‘intimacy’. And if you wanted ‘intimacy’ why don’t you post under your own name?

    Since I don’t think karma and reincarnation exist, frankly, these aren’t matters of the heart to me, neither are they personal. But if you want to discuss personal affairs, why not start with your own? We could discuss how your behaviour, here and elsewhere, affects your karma, from the viewpoint of anthroposophy.

    I also want to point out that I say nasty things to you because you’ve been utterly nasty from the beginning. It’s disingenious of you to pretend it’s the other way around.

  68. And, indeed, my name is public. It’s public on this website even. And elsewhere. But it is irrelevant here. And it wasn’t in that quote by Falk. As I said, I wouldn’t mind if he had used it, and he could have, because he knows my name. What I do mind is your manner of demonstratively using it. It’s been a recurring habit of yours since you first appeared here. Even before I used it myself on this blog.

  69. Mercuryrules · ·

    Well once upon a time, I did want to discuss personal affairs, I asked you a simple question about the things you do with your life, you shut up.

    Using first names is a gesture in this medium, which can tend to be impersonal.

    The way that you go on, it’s clear that you are trying to objectify me, whereas I was trying to make contact with you.

  70. Mercuryrules · ·

    No-one used your first name before me on this blog?

    The reason I inserted in Falk’s post was because of the importance of the personal element when we are talking about things like life, destiny, and especially the wounds that we have to work through sometimes.

    Definately it’s a time for first names, not screen proxies.

  71. Falk wrote:

    ‘It might very well be that when one sees a child being bullied, it is part of one’s own karma to rise to the challenge and stop the evil you see happening before you, even if there is danger to yourself.’

    Absolutely! If one bases one’s actions (or inactions) on karma, this reasoning would be just as valid. Moreover, the results — whether one believes in karma or not — would be one step closer to being morally acceptable. But clearly, karma is not enough — there needs to be moral reasoning. As in every other situation, as for everybody else who doesn’t concern himself with karma at all. The problem is, when applied to real life situations, karma offers a justification for all sorts of things, but it doesn’t necessarily prompt moral reasoning or compassion or anything that would make up for the possible bad implications.

    ‘If there are half-witted waldorf teachers around who think that they know what is in the karmic interests of ANY child they should be removed from all contact with children as soon as they are discovered.’

    They should. But I suspect waldorf schools and kindergartens tend to lack a proper mechanism for self-correction. Maybe one problem is rather fundamental: these things aren’t discussed as much as they ought to be discussed. And anthroposophists don’t question their beliefs to the extent they ought to, and waldorf teachers tend toward fundamentalism. And their education is insufficient, unfortunately. Focus is on insisting that ‘anthroposophy is not taught to the children’, and similar stuff.

    ‘What we are here for is to learn compassion. so it may be true that somone has chosen to be born into a violent family, but that does not absolve any of us from doing our absolute best to change that situation and prevent suffering in whatever way we can.’

    I get the impression that Steiner does way too little to stress the importance of this; he doesn’t talk much about it at all in Karmic Relationships. I e, he talks a lot about why this or that may occur, but little about how it may be the obligation of other people to act. In the horrid passage about choosing a batterer for a parent, he says nothing about the obligations of others, and how their actions in relation to the tragic circumstances may influence their karma. He could clearly and unequivovally state: being a witness to, or becoming aware of, some such thing is a call for action. But he doesn’t. He lacks a bit of… moral balance there, in my opinion. He could have laid more focus on this:

    ‘You could say it is a karmic obligation to prevent and ameliorate suffering whenever we encounter it according to our ability and circumstances.’

    But even if he had, I’m not sure karma is a very helpful concept. Not that something being helpful necessarily means it’s true, but in this case it would be easier to accept something if it was helpful. Were it helpful, it could possibly be used normatively. But I don’t think this is the case. As a theoretical construct, it’s rather entertaining and interesting. But as a practical application, it’s not of much use.

  72. Mercuryrules:

    ‘Well once upon a time, I did want to discuss personal affairs, I asked you a simple question about the things you do with your life, you shut up.’

    And why do you think that was? Why did you think I had any interest in discussing these things with you after your behaviour towards me and towards other steiner critics? Why did you think my personal life had anything to do with the discussion had in that thread? It was just an obvious diversion tactic. This was the comment, by the way: http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/05/29/supervising-the-attacks/#comment-2835
    Then it continued: http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/07/29/disturbingly-irrational/#comment-3577

    If you think ‘this medium’ is impersonal, then maybe, just maybe, this has got a lot to do with how you adress people. If you insult them, the first thing you do, than attaching the person’s first name won’t change the negative impact of the message. And then the person you’re adressing loses all interest in a personal contact of any kind with you.

    ‘you, too, want to meet people, insofar as it can be done on the web, perhaps make friends, i dare say’

    No. I write because I want to write, and because I want to express what I think and what I believe and want to discuss this with others. Making friends or meeting people was never a main objective. When it happens, it’s nice. But make no mistake: you’ve never been a presumptive candidate. That much was quite clear from the beginning.

    ‘The reason I inserted in Falk’s post was because of the importance of the personal element …’

    How come you thought this was important, when Falk apparently didn’t? He, at least, would have been justified to think this. You weren’t.

  73. “Definately it’s a time for first names, not screen proxies.”

    That’s very aggressive behavior, really. You should use the name the other person wishes you to use, not the name you feel they should use. It’s not up to you to decide the level of “intimacy” an online discussion should aspire to, and impose it by calling the other person a name they’re not comfortable with or haven’t invited you to use. Just a tip for achieving “intimacy” in the future, mercuryrules. (The opposite of intimacy is stalking; there are a few anthroposophists online who’ve come pretty close to crossing that line with Zooey, if they haven’t actually crossed it.)

  74. Falk:

    ‘You could say it is a karmic obligation to prevent and ameliorate suffering whenever we encounter it according to our ability and circumstances.’

    Zooey:

    “But even if he had, I’m not sure karma is a very helpful concept. Not that something being helpful necessarily means it’s true, but in this case it would be easier to accept something if it was helpful.”

    When we’re talking about moral reasoning, this makes a lot of sense, I think it is indeed the right criterion, or at least one of them, for judging. Karma is quite useless as a moral guide to anything. It’s a nifty means of rationalization of anything you might choose to do, maybe the best rationalization ever invented.

    Think about it, when you say “maybe it’s my karma to help other people or relieve suffering,” what does this show, what does this mean? What if it’s *not* your karma to help other people? You won’t do it, then? And if you were going to do it anyway, do you need “karma” to justify it? No, you really don’t, you can’t do anything with this notion, it offers either no guide to action at all, or at worst, it encourages a non-interventionist stance when one ought to intervene. Morally useless.

    There are many Waldorf kindergarten teachers (and others, I’m sure; just speaking from experience) who long ago recognized that karma is a useless notion in the classroom, an invitation to complete breakdown of order and harmony. How in the world do you role model anything for children, how do you even begin to resolve conflicts or teach kids how to get along with each other? Those with the sense or the moral independence to ignore Steiner when necessary have to set aside their belief in karma when they enter the classroom. It’s the ones who don’t, the ones who parrot Steiner every time they open their mouths, who cause such trouble.

  75. Diana:

    ‘“Definately it’s a time for first names, not screen proxies.”
    That’s very aggressive behavior, really.’

    And weird. Assuming Mercuryrules isn’t his first name. It isn’t. Anyway, it’s not really about the name in itself. But I think there’s something totally inappropriate about a complete stranger appearing on this blog adressing me like this:

    ‘What a bore you are, Alicia. Do you actually do anything constructive with your life?’

    If that’s your first comment — and at this point in time, I had no idea who Mercuryrules was — it’s not particularly nice to assume we’re on such a cosy level that it’s ok to choose a name I didn’t sign my comments with. And with an insulting and irrelevant message at that. I mean, even if Sune adressed me by first name on the blog, it would be understandable (though he also does this to upset people, even if it isn’t me these days); I mean, I know who he is, he knows who I am (since long, to use Sune-speak), it wouldn’t exactly be surprising. But this was a random person on a first visit. (Well, maybe not — but it was the first comment he wrote using that name.)

    To return to karma:

    ‘Karma is quite useless as a moral guide to anything. It’s a nifty means of rationalization of anything you might choose to do, maybe the best rationalization ever invented.’

    Indeed. It’s probably easier to abuse the concept for bad purposes than to use it for good purposes.

    ‘What if it’s *not* your karma to help other people? You won’t do it, then? And if you were going to do it anyway, do you need “karma” to justify it?’

    Exactly. And lots of people manage to do the good or right things without karma guiding them (or without a god setting up rules for behaviour, to mention a related example). Karma doesn’t really add anything here. Though I sometimes think *some* anthroposophists could certainly need some guidelines and I do encourage them to be a little bit more concerned about their own subsequent incarnations… I mean, some things they do cannot be good for karma.

    ‘Those with the sense or the moral independence to ignore Steiner when necessary have to set aside their belief in karma when they enter the classroom. It’s the ones who don’t, the ones who parrot Steiner every time they open their mouths, who cause such trouble.’

    True again. Even if they parrot Steiner (or Steiner’s teachings) only in behaviour, and not in words, trouble is a huge possibility.

  76. Karma …
    “It’s probably easier to abuse the concept for bad purposes than to use it for good purposes.”

    I think so. I’ve thought about this for a very long time. If you are looking for a guide to action, a belief in karma may often be harmless, but it is not any real use. If you want to do good, you do not need to do it because it’s your karma to do so. If you want to believe it’s your karma, go ahead and believe it, but it isn’t going to change your actions. If it’s your karma and you don’t even know about it, what difference does it make?

    OTOH if your motives are not so good, that’s where karma can cause a huge amount of trouble in offering a very handy excuse.

    In short I see a belief in karma as much more likely to tip someone in a negative direction, toward a negative action, than the other way around. I’m sure it must sometimes drive people to noble deeds, too.

  77. whoops that was me again.

  78. One aspect of what Daina says is right. All the normal morality applies to every human being regardless of their faith or belief system. This is why we can say people like Hitler, Stalin and Polpot were evil, regardless of their own justifications for what they did.

    Where karma makes a difference is in giving a person the insight that something in their life has meaning for them over and above the usual meanings. So something that is apparently a random occurence, for example getting cancer, when they have led a very healthy life-style – because of the its consequences for the person, it can take on a cetain significance. They may be able to say to themselves,’I don’t understand why this has happened to me, but maybe there is something that I can learn from this situation I find myself in.’

    This is why I say only the person themsleves can decide if something is a karmic event for them.

    Any one who tries to see what is in another person’s karma, or tries to use such a judgement as a reason for not being compassionate or for avoiding the normal duty of care or for lying or whatever, is doing something seriously wrong.

  79. Again all fine, Falk, but we already have words for things like “trying to learn from the situation I’m in,” and the word isn’t karma. If this is your personal definition of karma, lovely for you; it certainly isn’t Steiner’s. Steiner’s is very clear, and it’s punitive and retributive.

    However, I’m also very familiar with anthroposophists softening and sanitizing their views in discussing karma with non-anthroposophists. We often get a kind of “karma lite” in these discussions; karma for people who aren’t “spiritually ready” or spiritually advanced enough to handle the rough stuff … “Steiner is difficult.”

  80. Mercuryrules · ·

    Excuse me, Alicia, I did actually apologise for calling you a bore and stated plainly that I regreted do so.

  81. And so you go on calling her Alicia? This is not a pleasant personality trait. More spiritual exercises for you! I thought Steiner said spiritual progress wasn’t possible as long as you go on acting like a jerk.

  82. Mercuryrules — ‘Excuse me, Alicia, I did actually apologise for calling you a bore and stated plainly that I regreted do so.’

    And then you continued in the same vein. If you could even call this an apology at all:

    ‘Well I’m not sure it was meant to be especially nasty, but it is essentially true. Apart from that, could I ask you what you do for a living?’ http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/07/29/disturbingly-irrational/#comment-3580

    Diana

    ‘I thought Steiner said spiritual progress wasn’t possible as long as you go on acting like a jerk.’

    I think he did, actually. That’s one message he didn’t manage get through to everybody. It’s a curious fact that the more fundamentalist the anthroposophist, the less prone he is to understand this particular teaching. Perhaps it clashes with some other anthroposophical tenets these individuals tend to hold especially dear. I don’t know. But it is strange.

  83. Diana thinks Steiner’s view of karma was ‘punitive and retributive’. I know of no one else who has read Steiner seriously who believes that. It would be like reading Marx and coming away thinking he was in favour of capitalism. Steiner says quite clearly, for example, that if you help someone in this life, in another life you will have the impulse to help them again.

    I don’t find in any of the sequences of lives that Steiner writes about in Volume IV on karmic Relationships (the book that fell to hand off my shelf) anything the least bit punitive. He speaks only of how various individuals were able to unfold the special qualities or tasks they undertook. You will find the same approach in all the other volumes.

    There are challenging manifestations of karma. Illnes as I mentioned before. Here are Steiner’s own words, “‘Thus we see a true karmic understanding concerning the curability or incurability of disease leads to our doing everything possible to help the person who is ill, and on the other hand, it also leads to our being comforted if a different decision comes from another sphere. ” (He means if our efforts are fruitless and the person dies).
    from Lecture 4 ‘Manifestations of Karma” Rudolf Steiner Press 1969

  84. “Diana thinks Steiner’s view of karma was ‘punitive and retributive’. I know of no one else who has read Steiner seriously who believes that.”

    You know of no one who reads Steiner *sympathetically* who believes that. Plenty of people who aren’t starstruck by the guru get the gist of the karma teachings with no difficulty.

    “It would be like reading Marx and coming away thinking he was in favour of capitalism. Steiner says quite clearly, for example, that if you help someone in this life, in another life you will have the impulse to help them again.”

    Do you see a contradiction there?

    “I don’t find in any of the sequences of lives that Steiner writes about in Volume IV on karmic Relationships (the book that fell to hand off my shelf) anything the least bit punitive. He speaks only of how various individuals were able to unfold the special qualities or tasks they undertook. You will find the same approach in all the other volumes. ”

    And you will find notions such as smallpox as karmic outcome of unlovingness in a previous life, or that victims of natural disasters (earthquakes etc.) have karmic debts to pay from previous lives. Those notions are punitive.

    “There are challenging manifestations of karma.”

    Ah, “challenging” LOL! Yes, Steiner is difficult.

    “Illnes as I mentioned before.”

    Yeah, Falk, that’s the punitive part. Illness and misfortune are ways of paying off karmic debts or making recompense for misdeeds.

    ‘Here are Steiner’s own words, “‘Thus we see a true karmic understanding concerning the curability or incurability of disease leads to our doing everything possible to help the person who is ill, and on the other hand, it also leads to our being comforted if a different decision comes from another sphere. ” (He means if our efforts are fruitless and the person dies).’
    from Lecture 4 ‘Manifestations of Karma” Rudolf Steiner Press 1969

    You know Falk I’ve got most of the same books you do, so we could have a quote war if you like. It seems silly though, because the “nice” Steiner quotes don’t cancel out the nasty ones.

  85. @falk
    May I salute my esteemed anthroposophical elder, Mr. Falk, I presume, (unless you are Ms. falk). I honor your 37 years being involved with anthroposophy and address you as Elder since I have 34 years of involvement. Therefore I feel both comfortable and confident in speaking to you here at the properly seasoned and advanced level of anthroposophy that such a discussion of karma demands.

    Therefore, I must express my puzzlement at your series of replies to both Diana and Zooey because frankly, falk, you are answering them as if you were a Theosophist and not an Anthroposophist. Admittedly, you are showing flashes of anthroposophical insight but in large part, you seem to be “beating around the karmic burning bush,” as it were.

    So what distinguishes a Theosophist from an Anthroposophist? Of course, the answer to that question is the answer to this question: Who is the present “Lord of Karma?”

    Yes, I speak of no other being but the Christ Being, the Christ Being, not in physical form, but in etheric garb, as it were, the Christ Being who has been returning to the earth since at least 1933, according to most anthroposophist estimates, and who has taken up the office of Lord of Karma from His predecessor, who is Moses.

    As a seasoned anthroposophist, falk, it is clear to me, therefore it must be clear to you, that the impressions, ideas and descriptions of karma that both Diana and Zooey are expressing here would be all accurate, true and valid if Moses were still the Lord of Karma. But Moses is no longer the Lord of Karma; now the Christ Being in the Etheric is the Lord of Karma, and therefore, why shouldn’t Diana and Zooey completely reject the entire concept of karma itself, since their conception of it is Mosaic in nature and not Christian in Steiner’s sense of Christian.

    And here I must recount a statement that Rudolf Steiner himself demanded that his followers even memorize:

    “Christianity began as a religion, but it is greater than all religions.”

    To which I add my own clarification: Because Anthroposophy is the new spiritualized form of Christianity which has outgrown all religions including the Christian religions.

    Now an aside to Thetis:
    Earlier you mention that anthroposophy is a religion. Leaving aside the issue of whether it is or not, I would only urge you to qualify your judgment of it as a religion by more accurately calling it a Christian religion because of the fundamental centrality of the Christ event in anthroposophy, which Steiner calls “The Mystery of Golgotha” — which he describes as “the turning point in human history,” or, in short, this event is the very MEANING of life and human evolution itself, and consequently, it is also the very meaning of karma itself, since Christ is now Lord of Karma.

    At this point, I will bid falk to elucidate just what the difference is between the Mosaic law of karma — “Eye for eye; tooth for tooth,” which is clearly punitive in nature as Diana rightfully points out — and the new “law” of karma as it is guided and directed by the New Lord of Karma, Christ Jesus, now within the Etheric aura of the earth itself, or, as normal Christians call him: Jesus Christ.

  86. Victor Morrow · ·

    No, Alicia, the apology was this, on aug 1st:

    “I do regret calling you a bore some time ago, for that I apologise.”

    @ Diana: If you’re interested, I get the impression you’re sort of choleric temperamentaly, and I’ve got you down as a smoker too, maybe a little on the thin side, black or dark hair. Maybe a little above average height for a woman.

    Thank-you to Falk for trying, and thanks to ThetisMercurio for saying something nice, (I think :) )

    thetis- are you ex-catholic?

  87. Are you expecting a response to that, mr. mercury rules? What the hell – just a tip, it isn’t a route to “intimacy” to describe to women online what you are fantasizing about them.
    I’ll give you a pass for this stupid behavior if you are quite young, otherwise, please learn how to behave online.

  88. Victor Morrow · ·

    Tom, Hi,

    I was discussing tonight with a friend how my life has suddenly changed dramatically in a way that was difficult to describe, and i have been a little puzzled as to putting my finger on what or why or how exactly it was doing this changing,

    I thought about it, I’m pretty sure it has been the fairly intensive study of karma, living with the idea of it, and working in a formal study with the anthro soc in edinburgh, we’ve been working with prokofieff’s booklet on the significance of group esoteric work, I don’t want to say much more, but life is transforming itself all around me.

    And it’s happening right now, more to do with the world that is coming into existence, than the one that would tend to overly influence us from the past.

    Anyway, I’ve got some issues with how you conduct yourself on the net, re: Anthroposophy, but thank-you for this pertinent and timely post.

  89. Victor Morrow · ·

    Diana! Decaf! Breathe!

  90. Victor Morrow · ·

    Diana- you make a jokey, angry comment to me about me commenting on your temprament so i thought I’d have a go, it was a fun thing, there was nothing sexual in it (“fantasizing??!!??”) just forget it.

    You don’t have to tell me how accurate or not my imressions of you were. I

    I wasn’t trying to antagonize you either.

  91. I feel a little bad I jumped on you so harshly, mercury. It finally hit me you are young. I don’t really think you want my physical description anyway, I’m likely old enough to be your mother. You’ve got the caffeine part right, I’ll admit :) But perhaps you might take it as a lesson learned; women really don’t want you to attempt to describe how you are imagining them physically in a setting such as this. (I guess there are plenty of places online where that’s appropriate.)

    I know that in trying to determine someone’s temperament, physical descriptions must come into play. It’s an instance of how anthroposophists can unwittingly come across as “off” to the rest of the world. I didn’t think you were fantasizing about me sexually, just unaware of how you would put your foot in your mouth writing such silly things.

  92. The Karmic Relationships series can be accessed here, for those who may not know this:

    http://www.rsarchive.org/Lectures/index.php?q=K

  93. I think Hollywoodtom has the hit the nail on the head here,

    ‘As a seasoned anthroposophist, falk, it is clear to me, therefore it must be clear to you, that the impressions, ideas and descriptions of karma that both Diana and Zooey are expressing here would be all accurate, true and valid if Moses were still the Lord of Karma. But Moses is no longer the Lord of Karma; now the Christ Being in the Etheric is the Lord of Karma, and therefore, why shouldn’t Diana and Zooey completely reject the entire concept of karma itself, since their conception of it is Mosaic in nature and not Christian in Steiner’s sense of Christian.’

    Thanks, Tom,

    p.s. I am not trying to persuade anyone of the reality of karma. People can believe what they like. I am just trying to set the record straight as to what Steiner’s teaching was.

  94. Victor:
    You regretted that particular statement, not because you realized you had been wrong, but because you felt you needed to save face. At the same time you ‘regretted’ it, you continued using the same kind of nasty approach. But, you see, by this point in time, you ‘regretting’ a particular statement (which you thought was essentially true!) was completely irrelevant.

    Diana:
    ‘I know that in trying to determine someone’s temperament, physical descriptions must come into play. It’s an instance of how anthroposophists can unwittingly come across as “off” to the rest of the world.’

    Indeed. Way, way off. Also, it’s quite bizarre in the context.

  95. Sorry, but nothing about the concept of karma is Christian. I’m not Christian, so that is not my objection to it, but seriously it can’t be prettied up by pronouncing Christ the “Lord of Karma.” For real?

    I think Falk and Tom both miss the basic point. Karma is not punitive and retributive based on what types of consequences are specified. It’s not like Christ imposes less harsh penalties in your next life than Moses might have done.

    The *concept* is punitive. It doesn’t matter which spiritual being you put in charge of it.

  96. No, Falk, you haven’t simply explained what Steiner taught. Thirty-seven years notwithstanding, you’ve got some notions of karma that you think Steiner taught that he simply didn’t. For instance, he definitely didn’t teach that you get to decide for yourself whether something is karmic. He didn’t teach that nothing in a given event indicates that something is karmic; he gave extremely specific indications for how to interpret karma. Associating specific diseases with particular types of misdeeds in a previous life is just one example. Smallpox makes a simple example. He didn’t say meditate on why you got smallpox and maybe you’ll figure out whether it was karmic or not. He said smallpox results from unlovingness in a previous life.

    Granted, there is room for individual differences, different circumstances etc. But it would be far from correct to assert that Steiner simply said you can figure all this out for yourself. It is all written in the Akashic record and the idea is to read it correctly and learn the truth. There isn’t a loophole for an individual to decide for him/herself.

    “Figuring it out for yourself” sounds a lot softer and will certainly appeal to a parent who is aghast at this notion being applied in the classroom. Oh, it’s just a possibility, it’s not something they would APPLY TO MY CHILD, it’s something the child would have to figure out for himself, someday, after “years of reflection.” The teacher doesn’t actually believe this about my child?????? Hm?

    Whether individual teachers believe what they are saying when they offer parents this pablum is a different question. I’ll give Falk the benefit of the doubt that he’s a little unclear himself on some of Steiner’s teachings.

  97. Z:
    “Indeed. Way, way off. Also, it’s quite bizarre in the context.”

    It shows quite how anthroposophists think. The whole idea of temperament is that physical and personality/spiritual characteristics are linked, so if Victor had developed an idea about my personality (I’m “choleric”), he figured he knew the physical profile to match. It would be cute except it’s so pernicious when applied to children – believing you understand something about their soul based on their body type!

    I find “choleric” confuses them most of any of the so-called temperaments. In online discussions with critics, they figure everybody’s choleric, because they confuse it with anger, or simply strong opinions. Our kindergarten teachers were also convinced they had classroom after classroom full of cholerics. You’d think a whole generation had been born choleric. In reality there were a lot of *angry* children, or children acting out to try to get some attention.

  98. ThetisMercurio · ·

    reading Diana & zooey atm –

    will just answer: Victor – I’ve never been a Catholic. None of my family are Catholic. In my (purely) cultural church, the CofE, belief in a deity is optional.

  99. It’s all about endless pigeonholing, categorizing, classifying, and ranking people. You said something I don’t like so you must be choleric, Catholic, you name it … spiritualizing of prejudices. I’ve noticed many anthroposophists have significant prejudices about Catholics.

  100. Oh, God, Diana, don’t get me started on the inherent anti-Catholicism in Anthroposophy! God damn it to hell in a hand basket, as it were, did Steiner ever hate those Jesuits!!! Wow!!! But let me tell you why this is so, since I was born and raised Catholic and came to anthroposophy when I was 28. I like to say that I took to anthroposophy like a “duck to water” because I already had a perfect ready-made Catholic structure in place to fit anthroposophy.

    Actually, before I go on, please read my post on WC today, entitled “How Steiner’s Brain Inspired Hitler” because it really begins to explain the virulent anti-Catholicism built in to Anthroposophy, and then I’ll expand on it more over here.

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/15422

  101. Sorry, I’m back at the beginning of the thread again…

    Lani wrote:

    ‘I do agree with you Zooey about teaching the children Anthroposophy. Either directly or indirectly there are many ways to teach something. At the same time, I wonder how much do the children really catch? I mean they seem to grow up fine and capable. . .I guess that is the mystery. How much are we screwing them up, if at all???’

    I don’t know if they do grow up fine and capable, actually. Not when considering they do come from stable, well-off families with educated parents. Their starting point is better than for many public school kids. One would expect them not to do too bad. But they don’t seem to do as good as they should. I’m not sure anthroposophy — implicitly or explicitly taught (I would prefer the latter!) — screws them up, at least not all of them (it screws some people up), but I’m also sure it hasn’t helped them reach whatever potential they have. These kids may not end up in the gutter, because their parents have the resources to make sure they don’t, but this should probably not be credited to waldorf education (and even less to anthroposophy).

    Diana — [about teachers applying karma inappropriately] — ‘How many times have I heard that? Why is it, then, that they are NOT REMOVED?’

    Indeed. Instead their actions are reinforced by their colleagues. They all use the same methods. One methods used in my waldorf schools was to force the bullied kid — who had deserved being bullied — to invite the bully home. I don’t remember this, but my mum does. She thought it was peculiar, but then she’d heard it was all my fault being victimized by this particular kid. (Later they placed me in the same class with h** too; at least when kindergarten was over, you’d have thought they’d put us in different 1stgrades. But no!.) Only a couple of years ago, I learnt this awful practice was used in other cases, by other teachers! I thought I’d been subjected to some cruel aberration, but apparently this was not the case. Who’s going to correct a wrongful practice, when they all think it’s just splendid?

    ‘I think that a majority grow up not actually believing the Steiner stuff they’ve been exposed to’

    The important issue here is that they don’t know it’s Steiner stuff they’ve been exposed to. They think it’s just what the world is like, and that the ways and the knowledge they’ve absorbed is good. Except for the obviously nutty stuff about gnomes, et c, which they may laugh at and reject.

    But the subtle stuff, the not so obviously waldorf or Steiner stuff, they will simply just absorb, not understanding this is not what kids in other schools are absorbing. So they come to lack common sense, critical thinking… and of course also all those chunks of knowledge (particularly science, as you noted) they’ve missed out on. It’s important to remember that the way the learn — directly or indirectly — to interact with others, how to view the world, how to evaluate what happens, how to think about good and bad and right and wrong, and so forth, these things will all be deeply influence by what they’ve learnt — absorbed! — from their waldorf school environment. So what does happen when they absorb, from their teachers and from older students, that other people get what they deserve and that turning a blind eye is a relevant response to maltreatment?

    ‘Of course it was karmic. It’s what karma *means*.’

    And logically, if karma is a fact, then it’s an influence in everything. It’s not something that is a factor in what happens only if we believe in it. It’s not something that applies only to nice occurances. If it was a pick-and-choose concept, it would be even more meaningless. Moreover, then it would be truly pointless in practical application.

    ThetisMercurio — ‘that kind of [karmic] assumption is arrogant and unkind, a way to avoid responsibility for the nasty actions of ordinary humans.’

    Again it shows that karma is preferably used to avoid responsibility, rather than the other way around. It’s probably human, but then what it shows is that it’s a dangerous concept for humans to play with in real life.

    Falk — ‘My experience of Steiner schools is that most teachers are conscientious and caring’

    Well, the experience I have from the school I went to (which is admittedly a limited experience, of 9 years, but listening to others have led me to believe what I experienced wasn’t unusual), is that most teachers weren’t. Now, the school I went to wasn’t the kind of new, inexperienced, small waldorf school in the country side, where you would expect anything to happen. It was the opposite. Most teachers were anthroposophists and were trained and experienced waldorf teachers. They knew what they were doing. The problem is that their knowledge in no way assisted them in what they were expected to do: teach children and handle children. And the more fundamentalistically anthroposophical the teacher, the worse the inability. Unfortunately, waldorf kids don’t understand how bizarrely a majority of waldorf teachers behave and how different the doctrines followed are — unless perhaps they transfer to a regular school.

    And the comparison with wearing pink mohair doesn’t quite cut it. Of course pink mohair in itself, or any such superficial attribute, won’t harm anybody. It’s the philosophy guiding the behavior that harms. (The same philosophy may also dictate what a teacher ought to wear. But that really is a separate issue. It’s superficial. How the teacher treats the children and how s/he handles interactions between individuals in the class and what s/he teaches — those sorts of aspects are a different matter!)

    Diana — ‘Obviously, within a lifetime we make a lot of choices, and we already have words for that that don’t require karma.’

    Usually it suffices to talk about actions and consequences, causes and effects, and similar. Within a lifetime, the concept of karma is just another way of saying stuff happens due to other stuff that happened previously, which is rather trivial, and certainly not a domain in which anthroposophical explanations, in terms of karma, are needed. Unless, for some reason, one wants to use the word karma. It isn’t necessary. And I’m not sure Steiner spoke much about karma in that way. He talked plainly about causes and effects, and similar. (There’s a very funny Steiner quote about causes and effects that I posted on the blog long time ago.)

    ‘The fact that some Steiner teachers do ignore all this crap, and act compassionately and mercifully, is to their credit. The problem is the ones who actually follow Steiner where he logically leads.’

    Absolutely!

    Ok, now I’ll take a break ;-) (I’m stunned by all the brilliant comments, actually. Thanks!)

  102. Yeah, Tom, and there’s a combination caffeinated/alcoholic drink being sold here as a “sports drink” that is dangerous for teenagers. I can’t understand why it’s legal to sell it to underage kids.

  103. “Later they placed me in the same class with h** too; at least when kindergarten was over, you’d have thought they’d put us in different 1stgrades. But no!.) Only a couple of years ago, I learnt this awful practice was used in other cases, by other teachers! I thought I’d been subjected to some cruel aberration, but apparently this was not the case.”

    Absolutely nothing coincidental about that; they thought you two needed to be together to work things out. They thought if they separated you, you’d just have to resume the conflict in a future lifetime; better to get it worked out in this one.

    Either that or they were just stupid and incompetent; take your pick.

  104. “It’s important to remember that the way the learn — directly or indirectly — to interact with others, how to view the world, how to evaluate what happens, how to think about good and bad and right and wrong, and so forth, these things will all be deeply influence by what they’ve learnt — absorbed! — from their waldorf school environment.”

    Excellent point. I was thinking that most likely most Waldorf students don’t end up believing in Atlantis, believing the Norse myths are “occult truths,” gnomes are real, or other anthroposophical lore. (Though they probably are often puzzled to find that much of the rest of the world does *not* venerate the Archangel Michael every September.)

    But they probably do learn even more fundamental things about the nature of the world, about how to understand reality, etc. They certainly are in danger of imbibing an aversion to scholarly or creative efforts except in a carefully prescribed anthroposophical range.

  105. Diana wrote:
    Sorry, but nothing about the concept of karma is Christian. I’m not Christian, so that is not my objection to it, but seriously it can’t be prettied up by pronouncing Christ the “Lord of Karma.” For real?
    It’s not like Christ imposes less harsh penalties in your next life than Moses might have done. The *concept* is punitive. It doesn’t matter which spiritual being you put in charge of it.

    Diana:
    All week I have been scratching my head in bewilderment over your shocked surprise when I quoted Steiner’s motto from 1908: “Christianity began as a religion, but it is greater than all religions.

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/15306

    If I may quote you then:
    Wow, are we sure about this one? I’ve never heard of this one before.

    And now I am bewildered once again that you apparently have never heard of Steiner designating Christ as the new “Lord of Karma.” Admittedly, he only did it 3 or 4 times, all in 1911, and two of them are in the famous anti-Jesuit polemic “From Jesus to Christ” lecture cycle.

    But now I’m wondering if the reason is due to the fact that Anthroposophists and Waldorf educators have been completely successful in hiding the Christian religious basis of Waldorf from the parents and the public. You see, whenever the religion issue comes up, the Waldorf teachers typically say something like: “Well, we’re not really a religious school because we honor all religions here. We tell Bible stories and honor Jewish holidays and different teachers cover different myths from various religions, we’re really ecumenical and diverse,” etc., but they never say that the rock bottom absolute foundation of Waldorf is Christianity in the way Steiner interprets Christianity.

    Maybe when you say that the concept of karma is not Christian, that you really put on blinders that hide from you the fact that anthroposophy is, in its essential nature, a totally CHRISTIAN movement!!! It is not Jewish, it is not Muslim, it is not Buddhist, it is not Hindu. It is entirely and totally and utterly CHRISTIAN!!! Why? Because Steiner said Christianity is greater than all religions! Duh!!! Steiner said it!!!

    What I’m getting at is that because it doesn’t fit your definition of Christianity, that may be the very reason you miss seeing and understanding that the entire foundation and essence of anthroposophy is Christian!!!

    But don’t feel bad. I sense that most Waldorf teachers are so New Agey and paganistic in their religious outlooks themselves that even they miss the Christian essence of Waldorf. So they are not really hiding it from the parents because they themselves are oblivious to it.

  106. Tom, really I’m just senile. If you look at the critics archives you’ll find me all over the place saying “Wow I never heard that before …” over something that’s been posted 35 times.

    I definitely get the Christian part; our Waldorf school was very Christian-anthro, not so big on the New Agey part. I learned that other Waldorf schools were New Agey only from hearing this from others online. We certainly had a New Agey parent body (myself included at the time) but the teachers (those in charge, at least) were superanthro zealots; all Steiner all the time, no mixing and matching worldviews. Quoted Steiner verses to each other passing in the hallway; carried small Steiner volumes in their pockets. They were constantly trying to root out shocking New Age heresies among the parent body, and at the same time play down the Christian aspects to parents who had been told the school “is not religious.” They were not concerned to avoid being seen as New Agey because they *weren’t* New Agey. Different Waldorf schools are hiding different things; ours was hiding Christianity.

    So don’t scratch your head over it anymore; I was just having a senior moment.

  107. Diana — ‘I was thinking that most likely most Waldorf students don’t end up believing in Atlantis, believing the Norse myths are “occult truths,” gnomes are real, or other anthroposophical lore.’

    I think most of them ignore these things as ‘fairytales’, and probably laugh at waldorf teachers being so obsessed about them. So, they don’t end up believing Norse myths are occult truths. I do think they end up believing, though, that the version of Norse myths fed by Steiner teachers is the regular one. But I suspect that Steiner teachers get their knowledge from Steiner. And, as with christian beliefs, Steiner’s version probably contains a few idiosyncratic ideas. I guess nobody is going to notice the difference, but it’s possible they are taught what wouldn’t be taught elsewhere, and accepting it as the established version.

    ‘But they probably do learn even more fundamental things about the nature of the world, about how to understand reality, etc. They certainly are in danger of imbibing an aversion to scholarly or creative efforts except in a carefully prescribed anthroposophical range.’

    I suspect this danger is very real. (And this aversion goes hand in hand with their seeing the rest of the world as inferior… which they also learnt by their waldorf rolemodels…)

    About the classmate choice: ‘Either that or they were just stupid and incompetent; take your pick.’

    I think they were incompetent, though not regarded as incompetent within the waldorf system. Objectively speaking, they were incompetent. And based their decisions on some kind of idea about karma and karmic needs; of this I’m pretty certain. Given what they had already done (blamed me, had me invite this person to my home*), I definitely think it has to do with my supposed karmic needs. (*In the non-anthro world, it would probably make more sense that the family of the child who had done such things would invite the family of the child subjected to them. As a nice gesture only, not to help karma be acted out or anything. But waldorf is upside down. I cannot help but think it’s demeaning to the child. ‘This person hates you. You must now let h** into your home, into your room, share your toys with h**… and don’t you dare dislike it!’)

  108. alfa-omega · ·

    Zooey: “One methods used in my waldorf schools was to force the bullied kid — who had deserved being bullied — to invite the bully home.” in http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/karmic-violence/#comment-5107

    The part “inviting the bully in your home” is (imo) the most agitating part of the treatment Zooey received at her Waldorf school. It IS connected to the concept of karma. The anthros can “make it look a bit better” as they are trying, but the facts remain.

    There is bullying going on in community comprehensives and in secular free schools, and at workplaces – I am sorry to say. A bully may have a power-position at work, for example, and be able using it to carry out h** personal bullying needs. H** bullying needs, not the institution’s bullying needs. That is something else.

    In a cult/sect, the bullying needs and bullying procedures are PART OF THE SYSTEM ITSELF, a means of carrying out the power: “you are bullied because you deserve it – you have no worth what so ever (because of …)”. The cult/sect may be religious or political, all the same. (That was why I could recognise the true face of anthro/steiner/waldorf so quickly: I saw the parallel between the religious sect’s and the political sect’s institutional bullying).

    In addition, on top of the institutional bullying, there can be the personal bullying needs of someone who happens to have some power within an institution. This is the experience I have made at the Waldorf school I have been a part of for a while.

    I wish to stress that I, the regular teacher cheated into Waldorf (cheated because IF the real requirements on me would have been presented to me truthfully, THEN I would never ever have signed the contract), was not the only one being bullied. The anthros and the pretend-anthros were involved in mutual bullying, too. Here, belonging to the core group was the means of power. (Later, I got to know from separate sources that the bullying has been going on for years there, and who was the bully and who the bullied depended on the local power constellation at this point.) Needless to say, education in the sense of school legislation was not the primary goal there.

    When reading what Zooey has written about her time at (another) Waldorf school some 20-30 years earlier, I recognise the procedures.

    Furthermore, there is karma as the reason for what happens (or not happens) – that is the karma concept at the institutional level (Rudolf Steiner hat gesagt),
    and,
    there is karma as a comfortable excuse for doing (or not doing) whatever it may be – that is the karma concept at the personal level (this can be perceived as incompetence by an observer).

    BOTH can apply simultaneously. That is what I believe happened at Zooey’s school.

  109. That makes a lot of sense, alfa-omega. I think you’re probably right that when bullying is going on, unchecked, in the classroom, it’s likely going on at higher levels too.

    When you decide to sit passively while someone is being hurt, when you could do something about it, out of misguided notions that it may be “karmic,” you are in effect permitting it, and even endorsing it. Well, if these are the values of the people in charge, these values will soon be in effect throughout the institution.

  110. ‘One methods used in my waldorf schools was to force the bullied kid — who had deserved being bullied — to invite the bully home’

    I have come across this happening in state schools without any notions of karma hanging around. In state schools the rational was/is that maybe the children involved will develop a better relationship in a different setting, maybe even become friends. And I have seen this view put forward by the parents of the bullied child as well as the teacher. Whether it ever works or not depends on the children. It may work or it may make things worse.

    Diana, two comments. If you are familiar with Steiner you will know that one does not find one’s karma written in the akashic record. That is the record of everything that has happened which exists objectively(according to Steiner), but it is the facts, nothing more.
    Secondly, materialism is a valid poiint of view – for everybody!
    From this point of view karma is clearly nonsense (read Human and Cosmic Thought)
    Nowhere have I said that karma does not exist objectively. Neither have I said that it exists objectively. That is because the notion of karma is intrinsically bound up with morality and responsibility. What happened in previous incarnations exists objectively in Steiner’s view. And if you believe in re-incarnation it may have implications for you in a particular life, it may become part of your karma, something you take ongoing resposibility for.
    But to me, speaking from a human consciousness in this life, it makes no sense at all to speak about karma unless one is talking about the way a particular person has chosen to recognise something that has happened to them as being of spiritual significance.
    But also I am not sure that it makes sense to say that anything that has to do with morality is objectively true in the way that theories in optics may be true. (One cannot derive an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’.) And if karma has any meaning at all it is in the realm of morality, of finding meaning and of taking responsibility for one’s own actions.
    As Hollywood Tom pointed out it is not a mechanical law which is it at work. There is room for mercy and compassion.
    Unless someone recognises an event or situation as being karmic for them, then it is meaningless to talk about it, as there is nothing that would count as ‘evidence’ for something being karmic.
    Finally I agree with all the posts above in condemning people who use or have used notions of karma to try and justify non- interevention, or wrong interventions which cause suffering to children. Cruelty and neglect can never be justified.

    It makes me sad to read about Alpha’s experiences in the work place. My only observation would be that bullying among adults is not peculiar to Steiner/Waldorf settings. They were clearly a shitty group of people to have to work with.

  111. ‘In state schools the rational was/is that maybe the children involved will develop a better relationship in a different setting, maybe even become friends.’

    A better relationship!?!?! This fucking IDIOT for a child was allowed to bite and scratch me ’til I bled. That’s how my parents realized something was up, and asked the kindergarten staff who apparently blamed me. I wanted nothing to do with her. Of course it doesn’t work. Of course the victim won’t become friends with a perpetrator. It’s silly. This child should have been banned from attending the kindergarten. Period. Or people responsible should have told us that they couldn’t guarantee my safety, thus I’d be better of some place else.

    We were persuaded to invite her and her disgusting anthroposophist mother to our home — to my safe place — there was never any discussion that they had obligations towards us.

    It was I who had a debt to pay to this child. Not the other way around. This child singled me out practically on the first day of kindergarten. This incident, which was so severe even my mum noticed the scars (I never ever told anybody — I truly absorbed the ‘knowledge’ I deserved being subjected to all kinds of shit), happened in the first weeks of kindergarten. I was 3 years old, and I don’t remember it. Then it went on. 3 years later, they placed this arsehole of a kid in my class. I had to endure her 6 more years.

    And, no, I had done nothing. I truly had done nothing. She hated me because I was afraid of her and didn’t respond to her attacks. I was petrified. I let people do what they wanted. And because I never responded — i e, I never cried, never asked for help, never did anything — they were justified in demanding a response from me. Karmically, maybe that’s what was supposed to happen. This kid was trying to correct a wrong from a previous life (remember, it started immediately upon entering kindergarten, we had no history together in this life!), and it was my obligation to not ‘ignore’ it by giving her passivity as response.

    The kindergarten teachers and that girl’s mother were anthroposophists.

    My parents did not suggest this course of action. The reluctantly gave in, because the kindergarten teachers demanded that I let this girl into my home, not the other way around. I very much doubt that parents in state schools would be expected to invite an abuser into their home. Everybody would expect the abuser’s family to take the first steps, to try to make amends, show good will. Any other suggestion would be outrageous.

    That’s one fucking way of continuing the abuse in the only safe place I had.

    Also, no teacher — regardless of whether he or she works in the state system or in waldorf education — should ever expect a child to become ‘friends’ with another child in such a situation. It’s disgusting.

    I’m sorry I sound angry, but this makes me angry and slightly upset. It’s not directed at you, Falk, it’s the whole notion… the phenomenon… well, whatever. I know it isn’t really fair, either, to be so hateful towards this child. It wasn’t her fault that irresponsible adults made her think there was nothing wrong with her behaviour, that she was justified in mistreating me, that she was the one applauded for it and I was the one blamed for it… it wasn’t her fault. But I do resent her. I still do. Though at the same time I realize that the person I resent is a small child, who, much like me, had no true responsibility for what went entirely wrong.

  112. “I have come across this happening in state schools without any notions of karma hanging around. In state schools the rational was/is that maybe the children involved will develop a better relationship in a different setting, maybe even become friends. And I have seen this view put forward by the parents of the bullied child as well as the teacher. Whether it ever works or not depends on the children. It may work or it may make things worse.”

    I’m sorry, falk, but I find this very hard to believe.

    If this really happened, I suspect you are not really talking about a bullying situation. I can see a parent deciding on such a plan in a far less severe situation where two kids maybe just don’t get along, or keep having little disagreements. In other words, a less one-sided situation, where both kids are equally to blame or the aggression is going both ways. Possibly to work out mutual difficulties, a meeting on neutral ground might be arranged – both parents and both sets of children at the playground or at a restaurant, perhaps, with close supervision.

    Do you know what bullying actually means?

    Loving parents would not invite the child who is bullying their child over for a play date. It would be cruel.

    Either we’re talking about 2 very different situations, or this is way, way off. I don’t know any parents who would invite their child’s tormentor over for tea and cookies.

    I have more to say on the rest of your post but am out of time for right now.

  113. Arggh – that’s me again above.

  114. Actually, I’m not even saying they were responsible for stopping it. But it was their obligation to not lie about it — as in saying I deserved it — and trying to minimize it, and it was their obligation to say that they were not prepared to protect me from this other child. That they were not prepared to keep her under surveillance so she could never come into contact with me. They should have said they were not going to do this, so if my parents wanted to be sure I was not hurt or harassed, they’d have to take me to another kindergarten.

    But no. They blamed me, and thought it appropriate to subject me even more to this child by having her come to my home.

    If they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, stop it, then they should have the guts to say so. But then, if they had, they would have interfered with karma.

  115. I don’t blame you Zooey, and I found falk’s response very “off” in an unfortunately not unfamiliar way from anthroposophists.

    Falk, you either seriously don’t get this, or – I don’t know what. Your reply was just a total fuck-up.

  116. ‘a meeting on neutral ground’

    Well, yes. Even in my case, such a course of action — if both parties wanted it — could be reasonable. I’m saying it could. Not that it necessarily always is. But assuming we were going to be stuck in the same children’s group over the next year(s) and both families really wanted their child in this setting, sure. It’s no harm trying. If in a neutral place, and if both children can choose to interact or not to. But basic requirements would be that both parties are prepared not to blame any of the children involved (though the wrongdoer of course must be told s/he did something wrong — which doesn’t imply blaming) and that one doesn’t create a basically unequal and potentially disturbing situation by choosing a locality such as the victim’s home.

  117. ‘I don’t know any parents who would invite their child’s tormentor over for tea and cookies.’

    Well, hm, yes. If recommended by experienced kindergarten teachers and if not given full information about what happened, insecure (and inexperienced perhaps) parents would give in. But otherwise you’re right of course. It would be highly unusual for a parent to happily take such action.

  118. Actually, if this child didn’t have me to go after, she’d choose someone else. She would have found somebody. Her siblings were hugely dysfunctional too, I’ve been told.

    I admit that there is a certain something the victim does to attract the victimizer. My seeming indifference would probably spark the interest of somebody with a latent tendency towards aggression. Maybe my behaviour was all that was needed for her to be prompted to act on her instincts to harm. So I’m sure I — by being passive — ‘rejected’ her. Any experienced — and properly trained — kindergarten teacher would work quite consciously to deal with these behaviours. On the one hand, stop the bully. I mean, these are small kids. Why not try to redirect the behaviour towards something constructive — something that doesn’t harm others? Give the child something else to do? Engage him or her in something meaningful? As for a reclusive child who avoids contact with other children and thus becomes a target for bullies — why not actively do something to engage this child in something to? Rather than simply leave the child unaided, alone, unprotected, to be the plaything for the dysfunctional, violent bully? I don’t really get it. Around 15 small children and 3 teachers, and it’s not possible to do anything to handle and solve the conflicts and other bad or dangerous situations that occur?

    It’s really quite strange.

    (What particularly angers me is when Sune Nordwall writes about me in a way that indicates I was the dysfunctional child in this situation and that he’s sure everybody did everything they could to help me. No!! That child was dysfunctional. She would have found someone else; she behaved dysfunctional in contexts which didn’t include me, too, by the way. (She probably did find another main target. I left, finally, as you know.) And ‘everybody’ definitely did not do everything they could. Everybody — yes everybody — ignored it all, and did absolutely nothing about it. What Sune Nordwall claims to be certain of, is plain lies. Disgusting lies.)

  119. Victor Morrow · ·

    So you’re saying that you potentially suffered attack that some other child would likely have had to suffer if you had not been there?

  120. Victor Morrow · ·

    Effectively, your prescence there stopped another little kid being victimized.

  121. ‘So you’re saying that you potentially suffered attack that some other child would likely have had to suffer if you had not been there?’

    Sure, if no responsible adults were around to help her find other ways to interact.

    Though, I have to say, I didn’t ‘potentially’ suffer it. It happened. For real. Not potentially.

    I don’t think this child would have refrained from hurting others. She needed someone to harass. As long as she wasn’t guided towards more acceptable behaviours.

    Whether that particular attack would have happened, however, is an open question. If I hadn’t been there, the situation would have been rather different. Still, her general behaviour pattern gives clues as to how she was capable of acting. Hurting others apparently came naturally to her.

  122. ‘Effectively, your prescence there stopped another little kid being victimized.’

    Do you not realize how utterly disgusting this reply is?

    I’m not the means to an end. I didn’t exist — and didn’t come to that place — to ‘save’ some other kid from being victimized. I was three years old and had the same rights as any other three year old — to not be used like this. Because what you indicate is that I was used as a means to an end– that what I was subjected to was (unintentionall, but nevertheless) useful, it benefited someone else. Now that’s one appalling way to downplay the severity of unacceptable occurances.

    Besides, I cannot know if she did the same things to others. As far as I can tell, it’s not unlikely she did this to all children she considered inferior or unworthy. She could have been a true multi-tasker for all I know.

  123. The attitudes, the values and the ethics of spiritual people never cease to amaze me.

  124. alfa-omega · ·

    Before I read any further beyond http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/karmic-violence/#comment-5119 :

    Bullying among adults is quite common, everywhere, yes, bullying where the bully either has or believes to have some advantage over the one s/he is bullying (like being senior at a workplace, for example). That is what I called “to carry out h** personal bullying needs.”.

    This did get on at the Waldorf school I have been a part of for a while, it has been going on there for years before I have ever heard about “Waldorf” (I did not know that while signing the contract; later, when leaving the school, I got messages from separate sources about that).
    This kind of bullying goes on at many places. It is not particular about Waldorf.

    The other kind of bullying, which I called “institutional bullying”, means “governing by infringement”. Those are procedures which are PART OF THE SYSTEM ITSELF – a means of carrying out the power. Those procedures did I NOT encounter at other places I have worked at. I do not mean now cases where a boss will get rid of an employee by treating h** badly (common). I mean cases where infringement is an endemic part of managing a company/institution/country.
    Those kinds of procedures are en endemic part of governing a cult/sect, religious or political. The anthros are not much physical. They do not chop off the head, but psychological terror is an endemic part of maintaining the anthro-cult. In the case of the anthro-cult, I prefer calling this psychological terror “institutional bullying” – to mark that I DO see a difference between whether the head will be chopped off or not.

    IF the “institutional bullying” is present as an endemic part of a system, THEN the “personal bullying needs” (which exist everywhere) bloom up to extended proportions. Furthermore, whether there will be some willingness at all within the system to put a stop to somebody’s “personal bullying needs”, will be dependent on “who is who” within the hierarchy.

  125. alfa-omega · ·

    Everyone, read the http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/karmic-violence/#comment-5119 again, please, and recall that Zooey is 33 years now and talks – cries – about something that happened 30 years ago – cries as if it has been happening yesterday.
    The anthro/steiner/waldorf system haD infringed Zooey and her family, and it feels as if it “haS infringed”.
    (For those who understand Swedish: translating “kränkt” as “infringed”).

  126. Victor, you cannot be serious.
    You simply cannot be serious.

    If you think that is an appropriate reply, you are basically a brainwashing victim yourself.

  127. Make no mistake – Victor is affirming that this was your karma, Zooey. The point is that you stopped someone else from receiving this treatment – your role was to spare *that* person. That person being more important than you, of course.

    As I was saying before, they think that karma works in many, mysterious ways. They may feel bad you got mistreated, but they believe it was all for some larger purpose. You may simply have had to receive this treatment because it was *someone else’s karma* to be spared victimization. You may have been karmically *in the way*. You may not have been the important person in this situation, but only a bit player, karmically speaking.

    They know very well Waldorf has victims now and then, and they have lots of rationalizations of this sort.

  128. Yes, neutral ground might be a different story. You can sometimes change children’s behavior by changing their setting. By giving them new experiences together, outside the classroom, you might change old patterns.

    But what you would not do, if you had any compassion, would be invite the bully into the victim’s safe space, i.e., her home. If anything, the other way around might work, if the adults were willing to be very watchful and protective of the child who had been victimized.

  129. alfa-omega · ·

    Falk: “I have come across this happening in state schools without any notions of karma hanging around. In state schools the rational was/is that maybe the children involved will develop a better relationship in a different setting, maybe even become friends. And I have seen this view put forward by the parents of the bullied child as well as the teacher. Whether it ever works or not depends on the children. It may work or it may make things worse.”

    No.
    As far as I know, (in Sweden), a suggestion to meet is done for a “neutral” place, like the principal’s room.

  130. alfa-omega · ·

    Diana: “I don’t know any parents who would invite their child’s tormentor over for tea and cookies.”

    Neither do I.

  131. Victor Morrow · ·

    Sorry, but I’m simply trying to illustrate creative ways of thinking that might help Alicia leave this trauma behind.

  132. alfa-omega — ‘I mean cases where infringement is an endemic part of managing a company/institution/country.
    ‘Those kind of procedures are en endemic part of governing a cult/sect, religious or political.’

    Exactly. And what exacerbates the problem is that these systems have inbuilt mechanisms to justify and to rationalize; like finding (inventing) explanations based on shared beliefs. Of course, karma is quite a handy concept for such purposes.

    There’s also a shared acceptance for an ‘ends justify the means’ approach. Higher goals are nice, because they allow you to shrug off responsibility for ‘minor’ unpleasantries.

    ‘The anthros are not much physical. They do not chop off the head …’

    True. Physical aggression isn’t part of the culture. Doesn’t mean there isn’t psychological aggression, as you point out. And since it is accepted — or more likely, that people’s values change and they come to see these behaviours as normal — it leaves room for quite dysfunctional people to act out their personal needs. (Much like the kindergarten teachers, instead of guiding and helping this child I’ve been talking about to develop more sound patterns of interaction, chose to approve of her behaviour, in essence reinforcing an unacceptable behaviour. Those responsible and the general ambiance of permissiveness, if you will, left a space for this child to act out without any corrective mechanisms being activated. Not that grown-ups are kindergarten kids, but I see similarities in how bad stuff is (not) dealt with.)

  133. “Sorry, but I’m simply trying to illustrate creative ways of thinking that might help Alicia leave this trauma behind.”

    You’re full of it. You’re doing no such thing, your replies are sadistic. You don’t understand that you’re *demonstrating* the behavior we’re talking about? To go on calling her a name she has asked you not to use, is itself bullying. It wears someone down psychologically. It’s meant to communicate, See I don’t care what you say, I have no respect for you, and your requests mean nothing to me. That is what your posts say, and that is what a bully does.

  134. alfa-omega · ·

    http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/karmic-violence/#comment-5123

    “They blamed me, and thought it appropriate to subject me even more to this child by having her come to my home.

    If they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, stop it, then they should have the guts to say so. But then, if they had, they would have interfered with karma.”

    Here it is: governing by infringement.

  135. Victor — ‘Sorry, but I’m simply trying to illustrate creative ways of thinking that might help Alicia leave this trauma behind.’

    But you… insert invective. It’s not about me leaving trauma behind. It’s not about me needing (or wanting) help. It’s about discussion actual examples of the not unusual dysfunctionality characterizing waldorf kindergartens. Even if I had left this behind — which I have, though these things make me angry, as they should make anybody of a sane mind angry! — I’d still discuss it. Because these things are not ok. Whether I’m over them or not. They aren’t ok regardless of my personal experiences.

    And your ‘creative illustration’ was as immoral as the justifications usually resorted to by some waldorf folks. It makes one realized why there’s an actual risk for harm to the children cared for by anthroposophists, I’m sad to say. You’re just off. What about getting a moral compass? What about being a little less ‘creative’ in regard to other people’s destinies, temperaments, karma, personalities, and so forth?

    What about being a little less ‘creative’ in finding up excuses or justifications for the errors committed by your movement, for the failures of your institutions, for the (rather systematic, it seems) wrongdoings of individuals associated with anthroposophy?

  136. Victor Morrow · ·

    Alicia, If I have something to say to you about important things, I’m going to address you by your name, that’s not going to change.

    So if you would rather I not contribute at all to your page, that is fine, I will not post again, I promise.

  137. alfa-omega — ‘a “neutral” place, like the principal’s room.’

    Yes, that would be a good place to start. Though, obviously, if the parents (both kids parents, and based upon the responses of the children, of course) feel a more extensive get-together would be productive, the world is full of places which are not the children’s private homes. Like the zoo, for dog’s sake. If meeting outside school is a good idea at all — I don’t exclude the possibility, in some cases — it’s not that difficult to find suitable, neutral places.

    (But then… waldorf schools don’t have a principal. Which probably accounts for some of the, uh, issues. Nobody is in charge. Everybody can evade responsibility.)

  138. Diana,

    Regarding “senior moments,” I just read in a recent AARP magazine that a combination of yoga, Pilates, Omega-3 oils and doing crossword puzzles daily will help minimize such lapses and even prevent dementia. (But if you do get demented, then our favorite anthroposophical Stigmata girl, Judith von Halle, will help your caretakers out.)

    But I bring up Judith von Halle here in order to offer yet another variation on the same central theme of Christianity as the foundation of anthroposophy. Judith’s booklet on dementia is not yet translated from the German, but this little book of her is in English, called Illness and Healing: And the Mystery Language of the Gospels

    http://books.google.com/books?id=bbVr-oInQfwC

    here I quote from the cover blurb to emphasize the centrality of Christ in this juggernaut:

    After she received the stigmata, Judith von Halle began vividly to perceive the events that occurred at the time of Christ. These continuing experiences are not visions, but rather actual participation, involving all human senses, in the events themselves. To complement this personal witnessing of Christ’s life, von Halle has researched the facts using spiritual-scientific methods, based on the human I crossing of the spiritual threshold while fully conscious. Here she explores, in her continuing series ‘Approaches to Understanding the Christ Events’, the nature of illnesses at the time of Christ, as described in the Gospels, and how he approached the process of healing them.

    Now even though karma is not mentioned above, nonetheless the book is all about the karma of illness and how Christ as new Lord of Karma comes to the rescue — but of course not all at once as Fundy Xians wish to believe. (It seems that half the references to karma are on the blocked out pages in the Google book), but if you go to page 54 you can read this sentence:

    The karmic illness that arises in a current life is often nowadays the last opportunity to compensate for imbalances created in a previous life.

    In her dementia book, she looks at the flip side, seeing dementia as a result of people being too intellectual and materialistic and rejecting the spirit, thus creating new bad karma resulting in dementia or idiocy, in line with what Steiner predicted for our times.

    So that’s the bleak future that you, Diana, and Zooey and indeed all Waldorf critics can look forward to, but have no fear! Your sacred drooling, idiotic selves will be well taken care of in Super-Camphill like facilities by dedicated Anthroposophists who will be dedicating their whole lives to make sure you finally get this karma stuff worked out.

    If not, then you will fall away into perdition with the Evil Race, but by that time, you will have been given so many chances to get it right, that if you fail at the end, then it truly will be your “own damned fault” and the pun is intended! (i.e., accent on the damned!)

  139. Diana — ‘But what you would not do, if you had any compassion, would be invite the bully into the victim’s safe space, i.e., her home. If anything, the other way around might work, if the adults were willing to be very watchful and protective of the child who had been victimized.’

    That would feel more appropriate. At least, it’s a reasonable gesture from the bully (the bully’s family). However, I suspect it’s not the best of options — an entirely neutral place would be better. I’m thinking there’s a risk the bully could also feel threatened or feel like his/her space has been ‘invaded’, and that this in turn would feed his/her hostility toward the other child. Or the bully might feel even more powerful on the home turf, and thus this may preclude that even trivial issues between the children are effectively challenged or overcome.

  140. Victor Morrow · ·

    Tom, correct me if I’m wrong, but the judging of these things is out of human hands.

  141. Victor Morrow · ·

    i.e., yours.

  142. Victor Morrow — I’m not giving you guidelines. Your behaviour at this point, on this blog, is your responsibility. You may consider what that means, generally speaking, not pertaining only to the issue of my name.

    It is my impression that you’re hellbent on being an arsehole. It’s not really a pleasure of mine to babysit arseholes or teach them how to behave. I don’t teach manners (I wouldn’t be the right person), but I reserve the right to delete comments at my discretion. As does any blog owner, obviously.

  143. Victor Morrow · ·

    Ok, well I’ve failed to communicate then, I won’t post again.

  144. Tom — the problem with Judith von Halle is that her mental universe isn’t based upon facts.

    Anyway, we all know mr Dog is the reincarnated Rudi, and I’m the reincarnated Pschulek. It’s Higher Knowledge which anthroposophists are yet not mature enough to master.

  145. Z (about inviting the victim to the bully’s home):

    “That would feel more appropriate. At least, it’s a reasonable gesture from the bully (the bully’s family). However, I suspect it’s not the best of options”

    Probably not. I could see maybe if the bully was feeling remorseful and wanted to make amends. If the bully is unrepentant, however, this will likely just make it worse, and if I were the parent of the child being bulled, I would be very wary of this situation, fearing it might go badly wrong, even if well intended. Also, bullies often have parents who side with them in bullying, or don’t know how to handle the situation, so if invited to their house, I’d want to be damn sure in advance that they planned to supervise closely, and that we were all on the same page as to how conflicts would be handled. It would be very dicey; I’d have to be certain the bully’s parent and I completely agreed on how to handle it.

    The last thing the parent would want to do would be *participate* in victimizing the child, and to go along with a scheme in which the child is frightened or doesn’t feel safe could make the child feel now they can’t trust their parent, either.

    So this situation is not likely very helpful. It’s only in contrast with the situation we’re ACTUALLY talking about, where the adults have the appalling cruelty and bad judgment to actually invite the bully to the victim’s own home, that it even appears remotely worth considering. Anything’s better than THAT. That’s a double victimization.

  146. alfa-omega · ·

    Viktor Morrow,
    perhaps you should have been there (at Zooey’s kindy/school), offering yourself as the target for the dysfunctional girl’s need bullying somebody?

  147. Victor M — ‘Ok, well I’ve failed to communicate then …’

    Or you didn’t fail to communicate, but something much simpler: I didn’t like what you actually did communicate. I’m saying that’s a definte possibility.

  148. Communication 101 Victor Morrow: When someone says “Please don’t call me X,” and you feel you’re still entitled to call them X, it’s not going to work out.

  149. alfa-omega · ·

    BTW, here is the difference between with/without the karma concept present:
    it happens all the time at a school that one child’s behaviour negatively affects other children’s school day (I have PLENTY to say, to shout, about this, being a parent. My children have been 99 times out of 100 the ones who “were paying somebody’s bill”). At a community comprehensive or a secular free school, personnel does a better or worse job, for several reasons, mainly because there is too much to manage simultaneously. No one, never ever, claims there is a positive meaning with the job not being properly done.
    The karma business twists the rights and the wrongs. It corresponds to everything else within the anthro/steiner/waldorf: twisting the terms, hiding and lying about what is going on.
    Making the victim the one to be responsible.

  150. alfa-omega — ‘ Viktor Morrow,
    perhaps you should have been there (at Zooey’s kindy/school), offering yourself as the target for the dysfunctional girl’s need bullying somebody?’

    Now that’s a splendid idea! (And shouldn’t there be great karmic pay-offs for such a selfless act, if carried out in full consciousness and by choice? But then, it wouldn’t allow the bully to learn anything… in this life!)

  151. alfa-omega — http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/karmic-violence/#comment-5158

    Exactly. It’s not that these or similar (or worse even) things don’t happen elsewhere. It’s that karma either screws things up further or is of little help. Either it increases the risk of harm, or it’s basically of no use. (It doesn’t seem to provide that moral compass, that’s for sure.)

  152. Sums it right up, alfa.
    A nasty business.

    I got sidetracked from falk’s more theoretical post about karma. Not sure it is worth going back to now. This situation that developed seems to just scream what the problem is here. In real life, rather than theoretically.

    Give anthroposophists enough time, they’ll demonstrate online the same behavior we saw in the classroom, and the problems are self-evident.

    I think your posts about the institutionalization of bullying are very important, alfa. It’s a mistake to consider these situations isolated incidents; how they’re handled says a lot about the whole meaning and mission of the school. No decent school actually aids and abets cruelty. Bullying certainly happens everywhere and a school may or may not handle it properly all the time, but in this day and age no school calling itself progressive countenances and excuses the type of thing we’re talking about here. Perhaps a fundamentalist religious school; certainly not a progressive secular one.

  153. Diana — ‘So this situation is not likely very helpful. It’s only in contrast with the situation we’re ACTUALLY talking about, where the adults have the appalling cruelty and bad judgment to actually invite the bully to the victim’s own home, that it even appears remotely worth considering. Anything’s better than THAT. That’s a double victimization.’

    Indeed. It’s the worst of all options available. At least if you want to minimize the risks of further damage.

    Sidenote, slightly irrelevant: Another thing that could be worth considering is the parents’ behaviour in such a situation. It may very well be that the parents act less silly, for want of a better word, if meeting on entirely neutral grounds. And the parents’ behaviour would impact the children. Not just in (perhaps unwittingly) supporting the bully, but in general. Adults sometimes tend to act nervously in such situations — especially if they feel they are, or their home is, being judged by anotheradult/ parent. This may also get in the way of helping the children.

  154. Tom, correct me if I’m wrong, but the judging of these things is out of human hands. i.e., yours.

    Well, Victor, “Zat was Zen but zis is now!” You are advocating here the old “Pontius Pilate” attitude of washing your hands from the judgment of karma. But the whole point of Christ becoming Lord of Karma now is to put such judgment increasingly into our own human hands, so that we humans take over as the conscious instruments of karmic administration. Of course we got a long way to go, but it’s happening right here and now on this comment thread. A synonym for anthroposophy is the “science of karma” or the “science of destiny.”

    Now consider the motto of the Grail Knights : “Durch Mitleid, Wissen” = “Through compassion, wisdom.” or else “wisdom by means of empathy.” It is interesting to see how Steiner predicts this culmination of empathy for the 7th Post-Atlantean epoch which is called the American epoch.

    The 7th epoch recapitulates the 1st (as the 6th does the 2nd and the 5th does the 3rd.) It means the inversion or turning inside out of the earlier one. Now during the 1st PA epoch, called the Hindu age (7000-5000 BC) the caste system was in place. No one had any choice as to which caste they belonged to; it was proto-karmic, though, meaning it was setting an example for us now in the 5th PA epoch.

    Steiner tells us that in the 7th PA epoch, the American, that the caste system of ancient India will return, but by then we will have developed our science of karma or science of destiny so well that people will actually consciously take on the karmic debts of others, something that you were hinting at with Alicia taking the karmic “hit” from the bully to spare another kid in the KG. Obviously we ain’t there yet, but we will be in a few thousand years and figure 5-6 more lifetimes.

    That is to say, in that future American epoch, people will actually consciously choose their caste in order to help others work out their karma. It will not just be “Me, Myself and I” which is the motto of this phase of the Consciousness Soul Age which is the 5th PA epoch, also called the “Anglo-Germanic.”

    You see, Victor, you can’t get there from here (from our present 5th PA to the 7th) unless we go through the long phase of first tuning into the pain and suffering of others. That’s the Mitleid or empathy part, so get your mojo working, which means now get your “mirror neurons” working and trust that Wissen or wisdom may develop millennia down the road.

  155. alfa-omega · ·

    Diana: “I think your posts about the institutionalization of bullying are very important, alfa. ”

    Thank you.

    BTW: everybody, it you read Zooey’s posts again, it’s gradually less crying – insn’t it?

    Feeling compassion does help.

  156. Diana — ‘This situation that developed seems to just scream what the problem is here.’

    Interestingly it did, yes. In so many ways.

    Another interesting thing is that when some people fail to impress others, they say they either failed to convey the message or that there’s something wrong with the recipient for not understanding it. It’s never that there’s something wrong or unacceptable with the message itself.

    I have to say that Victor’s ‘help’ (http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/karmic-violence/#comment-5128) was rather revealing. Not just for how anthroposophists sometimes think re karma, but for what they conceive is ‘helpful’ or even nice… No wonder my anthroposophist teachers weren’t able to help me, if their reasoning went along these lines. When ‘help’ is about making the victim believe he or she is fulfilling a service to someone else through being abused. Yikes.

    ‘I think your posts about the institutionalization of bullying are very important, alfa.’

    I completely agree!

  157. alfa-omega · ·

    Zooey & Diana, do you know “Never Let Me Go” (2005) by Japanese-born British author Kazuo Ishiguro?

  158. Yes, I do, that was a fascinating book, and I totally saw the parallels. When I read it I had to restrain myself from posting on the critics list, “This book is about Waldorf.” (‘Cus, you know, Waldorf schools don’t actually remove students’ internal organs …)

  159. alfa-omega · ·

    (And they don’t chop off the head.)

  160. Regarding inviting bullies/violent children home, I was not recommending it in any way. I was just noting that I had come across it happening, particularily at the nursery(kindergarten) stage.
    My last sentence read, “It may work or it may make things worse.”

    Clearly in Zooey’s case it only added to the trauma.

    And to emphasise, what I posted is against non-intervention in any case where any child is suffering. Children need the protection of adults.

  161. falk — I agree, especially about the last passage.

    Although I haven’t heard of this method (inviting the transgressor home) being used in other settings than waldorf, a bad idea is a bad idea no matter what the underlying rationale is. (It seems to me that some beliefs help people come up with and justify bad ideas though.) This particular idea seems misconceived in general, and I hope it isn’t commonly used. It would be awful, and people would be right to object. If I knew any people with children, I’d ask them if they’d come across it. But I suspect that if this happened regularly in state schools, we’d see articles in the papers prompted by angry parents accusing the schools of aiding and abetting aggression towards their children. I think it would make people upset.

    I sort of want to clarify another thing. It may be that this was traumatic. It seems reasonable. I know I tried my best to avoid her from the very beginning. But I actually remember neither this particular incident (which my mum discovered because of the scars) nor the visit. It was when I told my mum, much later, that I’d been subjected to similar things with this child (i e, violence) that she told me this happened in the first weeks. And that, had she not persuaded herself to let her worries rest temporarily (after being fed excuses and justifications by the teachers), she’d have removed me from the school immediately; seemingly, convincing onself to get rid of such early inklings of suspicion, of something being not quite, right can be quite powerful (as in pushing you over a threshold, making you more prone to accept things you wouldn’t have accepted before entering into this setting, i e, it influences how you react to subsequent occurances, because you’ve already rationalized past events and pushed away negative feelings about them). But I was too young to remember this, the concrete event. I remember I was deadly afraid of the kindergarten, though.

  162. alfa-omega & Diana — I haven’t read it, but it seems very interesting. (There is a movie coming out soon as well.)

    all — Davy posted a link on critics earlier today. He wrote:

    ‘Ever since my earliest involvement with Anthroposophy I have been stuck with the line “Oh, it’s the resolution of unresolved difficulties from a previous incarnation”, which struck me as a very typical Anthro effort at saying both something and nothing. […] http://www.kellyconnor.com/kamaloca/f/kamaloca-consultations.pdf It strikes me as a succint explanation of why we really ought to just stand and watch as people get thumped.’

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/15433

  163. alfa-omega · ·

    Well, Zooey, if you are interested, let me know/email, I will lend it to you.

  164. Northernrefugee · ·

    I have a lot going on at the moment, so sorry this is a short reply and I can’t contribute to all the posts, but I feel I just have to post something about this.

    The very idea that karma is a tool used to help in the classroom is anathema to me. In the wrong hands, of which there are obviously many pairs in Steiner Waldorf, the effects could be, and probably are, and have been, devastating. I’ve heard of someone who I know was bullied at steiner waldorf, who later attempted suicide; it might not have been a direct result, but the very fact that there are continual and similar tales on discussion boards about the ignoring of bullying at steiner, one has to wonder.

    At the school where our children were, bullying was endemic. My husband was told , about a boy who was often very bullied, emotionally and physically, that he “attracted it”.

    My kids and others were bullied, with kicking, scratches, bruises etc etc. The children said that when the teacher couldn’t control some particular boys, or had reached the last straw with them, they were dragged out (the children said by the neck) or maneuvered physically. There were periods throughout the history of the school it emerged, when bad bullying was rife, but if anyone dared mention it, they were met with a horrified reception, as if it wasn’t true. In these instances, it almost seemed that if people denied and ignored it enough, and spoke sweetly and beautifully, it would go away. They very very rarely dealt with it consistently. As far as I could make out, they rarely if ever, listened to the children. This of course fits in with Steiner’s law belief that the teacher has a kind of god like superiority and his/her word is final, and that the teacher’s word is in reality, Steiner’s.

    The effect of this, is that the children have no faith or trust in the adults who are meant to be their protectors; their world can be shattered, because so convincing are the gentle sounding teachers in explaining things away to the parents, that most parents also don’t take the children seriously. It is a huge betrayal.

    Within the staff room there was also what I would consider bullying, and a kind of ostracising, to
    the extent one teacher, in my opinion , was near or was having a breakdown (and still in charge of a class). I would add, that I later learnt much of the lack of support and stirring up came from an anthroposophical teacher, who no doubt knew his/her Steiner. The children also knew about the dysfunction among the teachers and often spoke about it.

    Falk, it was suggested to me at a parent’s evening I think, that we should invite the main bully to play at our house. These are in my view and from my experience, not one off events at bad apple Steiner schools.

    Victor Morrow, the notion that Zooey receiving the treatment she did actually saved someone else from it is really so repellant I am speechless.

    Zooey- I agree also that the methods used by Sune Nordwall are vile and desperate. It’s a common tactic, to make out the fault is with the other party, (scientologists use it, they also use the celebrity angle too) but he is shooting himself in the foot regularly now; the more he posts on the net, the more people see through him. Several people have commented that his and other teachers or anthro’s behaviour made them sit up and see the Steiner movement is not as benign as many think.

  165. Northernrefugee · ·

    I have also heard an ex waldorf teacher answering the question about why a child would choose a parent who then goes on to abuse them, answering that the child was probably a torturer or murderer in their previous life. Is this the way Steiner waldorf teachers approach karmic laws? (which after all, are one of the essentials to learn during teacher training)
    There is so much vague, non committal surrounding which fantasy of Steiner’s these teachers are meant to follow, perpetuated by the movement themselves. They should open and clear about their training and anthroposophical belief, and forced to state clearly what they use and comply with.

    Personally, capricious illusions such as karma should play no part in a child’s education even if a parent “believes” them. It is dangerous, and within Steiner Waldorf, dishonest, because parents, children and new teachers (who didn’t fully take on board their teacher training reading list) alike seem to be meant to absorb these notions through osmosis and use them at whim.

  166. alfa-omega · ·

    Northern,

    glad to see you around!

    Northern: “were met with a horrified reception, as if it wasn’t true” in http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/karmic-violence/#comment-5176 (4th par)

    “met as if wasn’t true” belongs to what I call “institutional bullying”, part of the system itself, the function being sustaining the system.

  167. alfa-omega · ·

    Sune Nordwall’s activity is an example of a combination of “personal bullying needs” and “institutional bullying – an endemic part of the anthro/steiner/waldorf system”

  168. “Regarding inviting bullies/violent children home, I was not recommending it in any way. I was just noting that I had come across it happening, particularily at the nursery(kindergarten) stage.
    My last sentence read, ‘It may work or it may make things worse.'”

    Falk, I don’t know how to stress this enough. ‘It may work or it may make things worse’ – are you serious? No, it will not work. But you continue to miss the point. It is a cruel thing to do.

  169. ThetisMercurio · ·

    ‘capricious illusions’ is an inspired term. It suggests the confusion that exists in Steiner schools, as rightly described by northern.

    I remember comforting a (male) Steiner teacher who was weeping in the playground over some bewildering, unkind behaviour aimed at him by the college of teachers. By then I was used to the ever-present unease in the school, the low, disorientating murmur of odd stuff you weren’t meant to ‘understand’. There were ‘breakdowns’. There were swift disappearances. You could cut the tension with a subtle knife.

    These esoteric ideas are adult fantasies, they have no place in schools. Those who suggest they do should be ashamed. This may not be sophisticated – it’s too bad: asking for special treatment when we’re really discussing abuse will only make more likely the Movement’s final act in the British courts.

  170. Northern, I’d think we must have been at the same school if they weren’t on different continents.
    One of our teachers was famous for lifting children by the neck.

    I once saw one of her own adult children do it to his own child, so I have to assume he experienced it as a child himself.

  171. Well, your school too, thetis. Odd murmurings, thick inexplicable tension, nervous breakdowns, yep. One of our teachers cried all the time, cried if someone looked at her wrong. Faculty meetings were comically neurotic.

  172. Northernrefugee · ·

    alfa- agree, ignoring concerns is a passive form of bullying; I also see the Steiner waldorf methods as what is known as “visioning”? say something or deny something often enough and it becomes reality.

    Diana, it’s strange isn’t it? I remember someone else saying that there was vicious hand scratching at their steiner school too. One of the tormentors at our children’s school actually clipped and filed his nails into claws so as to cause maximum scratching injuries! How weird and bizarre is that? And that his parents didn’t “notice”.

  173. ThetisMercurio · ·

    alfa – great observations. It really helps.

    Diana – you’d agree that state schools simply don’t get involved in the relationships between children in the way that Steiner schools do. Children can experience the misery of being bullied in any setting, any schools can fail to address the problem adequately in spite of an enlightened bullying policy (Steiner schools have these too, on their websites). Sometimes the only answer is to remove a child.

    But all this reminds me of being given this advice when my children were in kindergarten: it sounds like good advice – get the children together and they may well resolve a difficulty. It can work when the problem is small, but not when one of the children is at risk. If anyone had told me there was a ‘karmic’ dimension to their advice I would have been horrified, I assume that’s why they didn’t tell me. In this way even the nice teachers I liked lied to us – or withheld information. Even good people lie: or put vital information to one side, perhaps not wanting to look at it themselves. That this sort of negotiation with the truth happens in other settings than Steiner schools, for quite other reasons, does not excuse Waldorf.

  174. alfa-omega · ·

    http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/karmic-violence/#comment-5183

    or the school I was part of for a while, in Sweden.

  175. alfa-omega · ·

    ” It really helps.”
    Thank you, Thetis

  176. “get the children together and they may well resolve a difficulty. It can work when the problem is small, but not when one of the children is at risk.”

    Exactly. I’m trying to give falk the benefit of the doubt that the situations he is describing aren’t actual bullying. It is probably good advice, sometimes, if there is aggression going both ways, or there is some obvious conflict to work out that *can* be worked out mutually.

    A bullying situation is a quite different situation and I do not believe there are teachers in other settings giving advice like that. It’s akin to giving a wife beater the location of a safe house where his wife is staying. Wait – didn’t someone say that happened at their Steiner school, too?

    “If anyone had told me there was a ‘karmic’ dimension to their advice I would have been horrified, I assume that’s why they didn’t tell me.”

    Yes, I believe that’s why they didn’t tell you.

  177. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Yes – after we left I went back to pick up a friend’s child, was a little early, sat in my car in the Steiner school’s entrance & watched a teacher physically assault a small boy who looked as if he was in the process of running away. It shows how things were by then that I was completely unsurprised, it didn’t occur to me to intervene.

    If I’m honest I was just thinking ‘It’s a cult, it’s a cult,’ and the glass between this school and the outside world was so thick I knew there was no point in telling anyone. I knew it was a cult because it was hard to leave, but when we did the sky cleared, the world was a kinder and a better place, a whole mess of confusion and misery (not even ours) evaporated.

    I’ve had a lot more experience of schools since: these are not primarily schools at all. Steiner Waldorf isn’t about education, it’s about Anthroposophy.

  178. well put, thetis.

    It isn’t until after you leave that you can truly see how nutty some of it was.

  179. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Thanks Diana –

    I’m not really answering other comments because this thread is moving too fast! As I’m reading some things are making sense – and I stress that our own experience was not particularly negative. I even liked and still like some of the personalities involved.

    What worries me is that in Steiner Free Schools in the UK there will not be accountability; there will be exemptions, special privileges, cover-ups.

  180. alfa-omega · ·

    Ref to Thetis in http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/karmic-violence/#comment-5185

    I remember this “let the children themselves sort it out”, which some years ago was “very politically correct” in Sweden.
    I have never agreed to that.

    The difference between that (by then the Swedish politically correct version) and “the Waldorf way” lies in the karma concept.

    When the children are “sorting out”, the judgement what and when is beyond an acceptable border CAN be shared. The children see from their perspective the “here and now” or “here and yesterday”. The adults involved may have a broader perspective, and they may not agree, but they have a real chance to recognise what they are talking about, what they are dealing with.

    Look further up in this thread, to the discussions of what Rudolf Steiner may have meant by “karma”, and how the anthros may interpret that.
    What are the ones involved dealing with? It’s “out in the blue”, “in the higher worlds”, making it possible just to put in a meaning at wish in a real situation to be dealt with here and now.

  181. ThetisMercurio · ·

    yes – who can agree what they’re talking about?

  182. alfa-omega · ·

    http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/karmic-violence/#comment-5188

    Diana: “It’s akin to giving a wife beater the location of a safe house where his wife is staying. Wait – didn’t someone say that happened at their Steiner school, too?”
    Yes, I have seen it in some thread recently, don’t remember where.

  183. ThetisMercurio · ·

    alfa – I wrote about a similar situation way back up this thread.

  184. alfa-omega · ·

    Yes, Thetis, thank you. Here it is, for everyone to reread.

    http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/karmic-violence/#comment-5043

  185. StMichelletheshocked! · ·

    “Steiner says quite clearly, for example, that if you help someone in this life, in another life you will have the impulse to help them again.” http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/karmic-violence/#comment-5087

    Have I understood it correctly?

    Our family’s karma was that;

    A.The parents plea for help to stop their child being viciously attacked and to then find themselves stonewalled by the teacher, school and college – the parents karma.

    B.The teacher, college and school’s lack of care to help the child – their karma.

    and then most importantly;

    C.The child’s karma was to be ignored by the teacher, school and college?

    Is that it in a nutshell?

  186. I hope this hasn’t been posted previously on this thread – I don’t think so … here’s a Steiner snippet that explains quite a bit about karma in the classroom. The link is to the lecture as posted on Frank Smith’s web site but I guess it’s on the steiner archive as well:

    http://southerncrossreview.org/72/steiner-karma1-4.html

    “… stupidity in any one life is always the outcome of hatred in this or that preceding life. Yet, my dear friends, the true concept of karma must not only be based on this; it is not only to enable us to
    understand life. No, we must also conceive it as an impulse in life. We must be conscious that there is not only an a b c d, but an e f g h.

    That is to say, there are the coming earthly lives and what we develop as the content of our soul in this life will have its outcome and effect in the next life. If anyone wants to be extra stupid in his next earthly
    life but one, he need only hate very much in this life …

    … And, if we now speak of a Waldorf School educational method, naturally for the present we must take account of the prevailing earthly civilisation. We cannot yet educate frankly towards a consciousness of
    life in terms of reincarnation. For the people of today have not yet a feeling — not even a dim feeling — of their repeated earthly lives. Nevertheless, the beginnings that have been made with the Waldorf
    School method will go on developing, if they are truly received. They will develop in the coming centuries, in this direction. This principle will be consciously applied in moral education. If a child has little
    talent, if a child is dull, It is somehow due to former lives in which he developed much hatred. With the help of spiritual science, you will try to find against whom the hatred may have been directed. For the men
    and women who were hated then, against whom the deeds inspired by hatred were done, must be there again somewhere or other in the child’s environment.

    Education in coming centuries will have to be placed far
    more definitely into life. When you see what is coming to expression in such a child, in the metamorphosis of lacking intelligence in this life, you will then have to recognise from what quarters it is mirrored or
    rather was mirrored in the life between death and new birth. Then you will do something as educator so that this child will develop a special love towards those for whom he felt specific hatred in former lives on
    earth.”

    Note also just what this specific advice is for helping the bullied child: teach him to “love” those who are abusing him.

    This explains, I think, not only what was done to Zooey, and why the bully needed to be invited to her home, but also why teachers, such as Falk, have to pretend not to really quite get what we’re talking about here.

  187. Did you just send me flowers, alfa? Thank you!! :)

  188. And very beautiful flowers! (Oh my… spring was a long time ago!)

    alfa-omega — I inserted the flower pic into your comment. Had to shrink it, so I recommend people to click the link as well, to view it in higher resolution!

    Now I have to go to bed, unfortunately. I think there’s a gnome stuck in my eye, or something. Will return to the thread tomorrow.

  189. I didn’t realize those roses were also taken by you, alfa. I downloaded them to my computer awhile back :)

  190. alfa-omega · ·

    Sometimes, flowers are better than words, Diana.

  191. alfa-omega · ·

    Thank you, Zooey, for making it more apparent: Flowers to Diana!

  192. ThetisMercurio · ·

    lovely gesture – well deserved.

    I notice Roger Rawlings thinks you may be writing in Swedish or Elvish here, zooey. There’s no google trans for Elvish btw.

    https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/news

  193. Thetis — ha! Did Roger’s waldorf school teach him nothing — or is he just pretending he doesn’t know Elvish? I can’t imagine any waldorf school not teaching the children how to communicate with elves and gnomes. I mean, that’s the whole point of waldorf education, isn’t it? Oh, and to revere the archangel Michael, of course.

    Diana — ‘Note also just what this specific advice is for helping the bullied child: teach him to “love” those who are abusing him.’

    Indeed. As I wrote on critics yesterday, it’s the buillied child’s responsibility to change his or her attitude toward the bully. To change the course of what happens, into subsequent lifetimes even. Because, really, it’s the bullied child who is at fault. The bully would not have this bad ‘attitude’ towards the bullied child if the bullied child hadn’t done something in a past life.

    As for the Steiner quotes from Frank’s website, I think they’re from Karmic Relationships too, so they should be on rsarchive as well. Diana started a discussion about them on critics two months ago: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/14208

    StM http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/karmic-violence/#comment-5197 — the child’s karma isn’t ignored, but the child’s suffering is ignored, so that karma can run its course. At least, that’s the crass version of it.

    alfa-omega — ‘When the children are “sorting out”, the judgement what and when is beyond an acceptable border CAN be shared.’

    Well, yes. Again, the problem with karma is that even if it’s there (i e, used by waldorf teachers in their reasoning re children’s difficulties in all kinds of ways), it’s mainly hidden. Most parents have no clue when karmic reasoning comes into play. They don’t really know when and why waldorf teachers resort to thinking about the child’s past lives rather than the actual problem at hand. Still, even if waldorf teacher were totally transparent, karma wouldn’t help solve the problems, it wouldn’t help the children and improve their interaction or anything else.

    Thetis — ‘I’ve had a lot more experience of schools since: these are not primarily schools at all. Steiner Waldorf isn’t about education, it’s about Anthroposophy.’

    And the teachers’ supposedly spiritual (anthroposophical) self-gratification. It’s about what they need, not about what the children need; and if it’s about what the children need at all, it has to do with spiritual matters, not educational ones. As for the teachers, the benefit is in being immersed in their spiritual movement while getting paid.

  194. Thetis wrote — ‘any schools can fail to address the problem adequately in spite of an enlightened bullying policy (Steiner schools have these too, on their websites).’

    Strangely yes, but not surprisingly. Appearances are always something else than reality, in steiner schools. (In Sweden, I think all schools are required by law to have a bullying policy. And in the case of waldorf schools, they’ve occasionally been criticized by the school board or inspection service, because their bullying policies aren’t adequate. And if the policy is inadequate, just imagine what reality is in waldorf…)

    ‘Sometimes the only answer is to remove a child.’

    True. It would have been a blessing for me. Still, I’ve only heard proponents of waldorf education say that ‘the school didn’t fit this child’ (what they want to say is ‘this child was unfit for our paradise’) when the entire situation has gone obviously wrong. I’ve been told many times: ‘but the school just didn’t fit you’ — why the hell was all we heard during all those years that these schools are so damn good no child can ever be better anywhere else? Nobody would ever want to leave such a fantastic school. Nobody ever complained about anything, oh no.

    And now I regularly read stuff like: these schools benefit the development of all children, regardless of needs: they are, after all, adapted to individual needs and let the child develop at his or her own pace! They are holistic, for the whole child, blah blah blah. Developing all kinds of talents, all sides of the child, blah blah.

    ‘It can work when the problem is small, but not when one of the children is at risk. If anyone had told me there was a ‘karmic’ dimension to their advice I would have been horrified, I assume that’s why they didn’t tell me.’

    I think that’s why they don’t usually tell parents that. Most parents would be horrified to find out the teachers think a child (even more so if it’s their own child) deserved what they got because of previous life conflicts. It’s difficult enough to accept that the child ‘deserved’ it (if ‘it’ is aggression at least) because of something they might have done a couple of minutes earlier. Much less if it’s hundreds of years ago. In another physical body. That’s pretty bizarre for a parent who doesn’t even believe in reincarnation.

    Northern — ‘say something or deny something often enough and it becomes reality.’

    Ah, yes.

    ‘I remember someone else saying that there was vicious hand scratching at their steiner school too.’

    That happened to me. In the class room, during lesson. Pinching that caused bruising and even bled.

    (I remember that the kid who bit and scratched me early in kindergarten, was kind of into this.)

    alfa-omega — ‘Sune Nordwall’s activity is an example of a combination of “personal bullying needs” and “institutional bullying – an endemic part of the anthro/steiner/waldorf system”’

    Ah, yes. And, over all, everything bad and harmful about anthroposophy tends to converge in him, for some reason.

    Northern — ‘I have also heard an ex waldorf teacher answering the question about why a child would choose a parent who then goes on to abuse them, answering that the child was probably a torturer or murderer in their previous life.’

    Oh, nice…

    ‘At the school where our children were, bullying was endemic. My husband was told , about a boy who was often very bullied, emotionally and physically, that he “attracted it”.’

    That’s similar to the explanation I think my mum got. I deserved the treatment, and that, through not responding ‘appropriately’ to the bully (cry? beg for mercy?), I attraced more viciousness. The bully was justified in both the actions themselves and in increasing the severity of them as a way of demanding a reaction. I owed her, somehow. Which, again, goes back on previous lives.

    ‘In these instances, it almost seemed that if people denied and ignored it enough, and spoke sweetly and beautifully, it would go away. They very very rarely dealt with it consistently.’

    In my school, they didn’t deal with it at all. This was quite a long time ago, obviously, and I think schools in general have become more aware of the problem and of the consequences children have to suffer because of it. Still, I think in waldorf schools denial is rife. How often don’t you read people who claim bullying would never happen in their waldorf school? All the time. That’s only because they ignore the bullying that does happen. Saying it doesn’t exist is unrealistic (especially in a waldorf school). Lots of people claim nothing bad could ever happen to any of the children in the waldorf school I was in. Yet, lots of bad things did happen. Not just to me. I’ve read that the school is known for being rife with bullying. Yet, it claims to be paradise for children. Other people associated with the school seem to think bullying could never happen in that school. Those who admit it could happen (or could have happened in the past) generally don’t want to blame the teachers’ following of anthroposophic doctrines.

    ‘The effect of this, is that the children have no faith or trust in the adults who are meant to be their protectors; their world can be shattered, because so convincing are the gentle sounding teachers in explaining things away to the parents, that most parents also don’t take the children seriously.’

    This is so true in my case.

    (As for Sune Nordwall — oh, yes. He may need a prostetic foot soon.)

    alfa-omega — ‘Well, Zooey, if you are interested, let me know/email, I will lend it to you.’

    Thanks. I’ll probably buy it, though, because I’m quite destructive with books. (I’ve become too used to reading with a pen in my hand. That’s not always a good idea…) And lately I’ve been reading very little due to my damn eyes. (That will hopefully be sorted out in time. I hope I hope I hope.)

  195. (As for Sune Nordwall — oh, yes. He may need a prosthetic foot soon.)

    Zooey, is that because he is Rumpelstiltskin and you have named him?

  196. Yes, not quite, but there are parallels. I’ve named him Rumpelstiltskin (well, Sune) when he wanted to deny being Rumpelstiltskin (Sune), all the while he hummed a little song* (wrote in his inimitable style) which contained the name Rumpelstiltskin (or simply Sune’s signature), thus allowing me to call it out. Also, I happened to overhear (overread) the Swedish waldorf federation naming Rumpelstiltskin (Sune) in another little song (or perhaps a pdf). It may all have contributed to his violently angry foot stomping.

    * ‘Ach, wie gut, dass niemand weiß, / dass ich Sune Nordwall heiß’

  197. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Rumpled-Suneskin ;)

  198. wow…. seems a lot of you people read steiner as is his words were of the ‘dead letter’ kind. he himself would be horrified that people are reading him in such a prescribed way nearly 100 years later. he himself said he leaves his work and words to the newer generations to work and build upon and he himself admitted he was not always right. no doubt there are anthroposophists who cannot think for themselves and read steiner as if he was some sort of religious guru. same as how some people read the bible – literally! this is NOT how he saw his own words and work. if alfa-omega had a bad experience cant you just look at it from the point of view that many of us have bad experiences at all sorts of alternative or government and/or private schools. some teachers are just shite at what they do! plus some of you above write with a very aggressive tone which belies your own inability to take control of your emotions and mould your own karma. maybe steiner didnt say it but his precursor theosophists did and that was that our natal charts represent the karmic wheel each individuality is born into. the rising of our own ‘consciousness’ can CHANGE that karmic predisposition… so if we are able to take control of what has happened to us (its not what happens to you its how you deal with it) then we ourselves have an ability to change our lives and the karma we were born into. our lives are not cemented in concrete, neither are our neural pathways, but if we stay in our animal (reptilian) brains then yes, we will remain victims of our predetermined karma. i do think steiner was alluding to the fact (I think in his book true and false spiritual paths) that basically people who are not spiritually ‘connected’ (and that takes real hard work! im still working on it!) and who are not in tune with their own higher selves and higher consciousness then yes, they will/might be stuck in a position of being prisoners of the karma they were born into. i agree with falk ie that showing ‘compassion’ and kindness not only to others but fore mostly to ourselves is a step in the right direction. blaming a school system for your woes…sorry…. that aint going to save you from your karma – it might merely bring it on even moreso…anger/blame towards anyone or anything is NOT the path to enlightenment

  199. I’m sure my shitty karma will end me up in an even more horrible waldorf school next time around. But thanks for the warning!

    That bit about compassion for self rings true — it’s not uncommon for waldorf proponents to feel strongly about themselves and their movement and to completely ignore the pain they inflict on others on their path towards ‘enlightenment’.

    I don’t doubt there are things about the anthro movement today that would horrify Steiner. But it’s not the task of waldorf critics to change these things. We can’t change how anthros implement anthroposophy in their institutions. Or how they interpret it.

  200. you cant change what’s happened to you (karma), but you can change your (mind’s) perception of your experience (higher/self consciousness). if you (can) change your perception of your past experience you can not only change your PRESENT and your future, you then also change your past! loving kindness is the key. loving kindness to you all! :)

  201. Of course, karma is slightly more complicated than that, in anthroposophy.

    Now, here’s the problem I see: people can talk and talk and talk about loving kindness and whatnot. What matters in reality is if they actually do something to help a child who needs help — or if they justify their passivity with karma while they go on and pretend they’re loving and kind and spiritually enlightened.

    You see, there’s a risk that certain words do nothing but cover up an emotional and moral emptiness.

  202. alicia – I’m sure my shitty karma will end me up in an even more horrible waldorf school next time around. But thanks for the warning!
    hahaha…hmm… yes, some of us have had a tough ride…i call it ‘burning karma’. i didnt go to a steiner school but im part of the anthrop society and know lots of them. yes, many of them id say are stuck in some weird (almost fascistic) way of thinking. v old school religious reminds me of my catholic upbringing, so i keep a distance. also, hence why i feel the movement has reached a kind of impasse. i dont think we can change anyone incl partners, kids, family, but we can change ourselves through how we think. and we can express and communicate what we feel, think, will… to quote steiner. i agree with mother teresa, she didnt get involved in anti or negative movements, rather those that offered positive alternatives – like peace rallies. i think negative feeling/thinking attracts more negativity our way.

  203. i hear you. i worked for a charity for a number of years and there were sooooo many do gooders pretending to be nice and charitable and loving and kind but hiding control freak domineering mother natures that were at times frightening to watch. then a restructure came through and the cruelty towards a lot of staff that the new ‘do gooder’ ceo enacted was frightening. it made me lose faith in charitable organisations for a time but i still continue to support many of them and we work with several still now…. i guess for me it was better to let go of my bad experience and i still have friends in that place, so it was not all bad

  204. ‘i didnt go to a steiner school but im part of the anthrop society and know lots of them. yes, many of them id say are stuck in some weird (almost fascistic) way of thinking.’

    Yeah, that is one problem. And that is also why some people (also in this comment thread, although I haven’t re-read it now) feel and write so strongly about this — because they have, in these schools, been subjected to these types.

    Re mother Teresa: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/fighting_words/2003/10/mommie_dearest.html

    http://www.facebook.com/missionariesofcharity

    I think she deserves to attract lot of negative feeling/thinking… not to say attention. There’s no way to stop abuse and wrongs if all you do is smile and think positive thoughts. There isn’t. You’ve got to say: this is wrong, this should not be allowed to happen.

    Reading your second comment, I kind of think you understand that too.

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