ok, so it shouldn’t happen

Steve Sagarin:

The idea that karma could be used to justify nonintervention or passivity in the face of inappropriate behavior in a classroom or on a playground is nonsense. In particular, Steiner is clear that this earthly world is not a world in which any spiritual concept or understanding can be used to justify violence of any sort.

Yet, apparently, it seems to be happening, so one must conclude that the doctrine is ‘suitable’ for such ‘misunderstandings’. But then he modifies what he says:

Steiner is clear that a teacher’s job (not simply a “Waldorf” teacher’s job) is to intervene with whatever wisdom he or she can muster to assist the students in his or her care in overcoming their past karma and establishing “good” karma for the future. Intervening in another person’s karma is a tricky business, perhaps off-limits in adult relationships, or permissible only in rare circumstances, but it forms the basis for part of our work as teachers, whether or not we acknowledge it.

Is he really ‘clear’ about this? And although I agree that if teachers work with karma, they should openly acknowledge this, I do at the same time wonder whether a child’s karma (be that a useful idea or not) is at all the teacher’s business. It appears to me that intervening for ‘this-worldly’ and humane reasons should be much less tricky, and involve significantly fewer spiritual pitfalls.

Perhaps this would have been fit for posting in the recent karma-thread, but I have a vague memory that it derailed. Still worth reading some of the contributions in that comment thread though. Perhaps I’ll fish up a few of them for you later.


6 thoughts on “ok, so it shouldn’t happen

  1. Alicia, what´s the guy talking about? It is (at least to stupid old me) clear that the child in its school years is in circumstances of its own choice from the life on “the other side”. When coming down to us, it is totally at our mercy as parents and teachers. To speak of Karma, you have to involve other people, as the living and creating of Karma is something that belongs to the conscient man, not the child. As parents or teachers, we need to know that it is our responsibility to shield off anything that may be detrimental to the child´s mental and spiritual development. I have, in all my years, never e v e r heard of such an idiotism as letting an abusive situation go on, as it would be the child´s Karma. Being Christians at heart, we should remember Christ´s words: “Whatever you do unto any of these my minors, you have done unto me!” Failing to take action, as Alicia´s teacher did, is in my view equivalent to what in esoteric circles is generally called a “Sin against the Holy Spirit”, meaning there is no redemption other than hard karmic work in the future for the culprit (Purgatory! Ouch!).
    I many times feel despair, as the good old common sense seems to have given way to a totally theoretic, non-realistic approach to the pedagogical process. It is the old problem of map and terrain, when the terrain does not agree with the map, the map wins.

  2. I bet he regrets his timing, writing about karma right before the school shootings in Connecticut. Karma-babble is narcissistic drivel on a good day. On a bad day – like a day where 20 small children are shot at point blank range – well, that’s a good day for anthroposophists to be very, very, very still and quiet about their belief in “karma,” “relationships of destiny” in a classroom etc.

    And what is all that weird junk about monks and nuns in the Middle Ages, and military leaders? If I am reading it right, he’s trying to suggest that many Waldorf teachers were monks or nuns in the Middle Ages, or military leaders in some past life. Okaaaaaaaaay.

  3. As usual, I can decipher few of Steve’s posts however this one is gut wrenching. On-going Anthroposophical psycho-babble.

  4. Funny how a child, in Waldorf’s eyes, is unprepared for so many things in this world… and must “unfold” into its own individuality. A child must be shielded from so many things during this process… intellectualism, materialism, even questioning is not allowed. And yet, a child is apparently responsible for their karma from birth… In Anthroposophists’ eyes, a child is never too young to experience their karma – whether it be bully or bullied.

  5. Pete, I have never understood this either. I find it hard to reconcile the whole “preserve childhood,” an extreme (though idiosyncratic) version of sheltering children from all negative influences, with the notion that actually, this little person in front of you has lived many lifetimes already. Wouldn’t that seem to suggest LESS sheltering? Of course, they aren’t supposed to remember their past lives at that age, yet nevertheless, we’re all (children as well) supposed to be products of many previous incarnations that have a very determinative influence on our present incarnation. It’s hard to see how, say, a little television could wreak such havoc in the soul of a child who was, for instance, a military leader in a previous incarnation. That person’s been through some stuff. We’ve ALL been through some stuff, right? Why would it be necessary to only ever talk about butterflies and rainbows to someone who was, say, a military leader in the past life, or eaten by lions in ancient Rome, or (etc.) …

  6. Curt: ‘As parents or teachers, we need to know that it is our responsibility to shield off anything that may be detrimental to the child´s mental and spiritual development.’

    The problem is if you think that it is detrimental to the child’s development — especially in the longer run — not to sort these karmic conflicts out. Then, based upon karmic considerations, you’re doing what most benefits the child. Really — any time you use karma, you would have to weigh one thing against the other. And, for some, apparently, this comes down to letting the child be subjected to bullying, so that the problems that lie behind the bullying are karmically sorted out. So you don’t separate kids who should not be together.

    I guess most of the time, teachers are simpy unwilling or lazy, but waldorf seems to have a particular problem in this regard. What I went through is not at all extremely shocking — I’ve heard lots and lots and lots worse.

    As for all the weirdness in Steve’s post…. I don’t know.

    Diana: ‘Why would it be necessary to only ever talk about butterflies and rainbows to someone who was, say, a military leader in the past life, or eaten by lions in ancient Rome, or (etc.) …’

    I’m sure there’s a reason. For example: this person is not fully incarnated yet. The ‘parts’ of him that were around before are not fully developed/matured within this incarnation. They’re sort of floating above. The other ‘parts’ are unequipped to deal with these things.

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