Micah Edelstein, it was a pleasure to meet you in the taxi on Sunday on the way to the airport after the “Encountering Our Humanity” conference in August. You told me that you are living in Halifax and that you are a member of an Anthroposophical study group which you call “Small is All.” Could tell me a little bit more about your group and its initiatives? Why did you give it this special name?
Yes, I live in Halifax and we have a reading group here which meets the first Saturday of every month at the Osmond’s house. We are a core of 5 people age 34 to 90 and have an occasional 6th or 7th member joining us. We have been meeting on a regular bases for 2 years. The form of the reading group is the same every month: dinner at 5:30 with open conversation about life experiences, travel and current affairs followed by one and a half hours of reflections on the reading.
We are careful to mark when the study group portion begins and ends; it’s a gesture that flows from our intention to work consciously together in the spirit of Anthroposophical knowledge and to recognize the being of Anthroposophia in the world. The study group will always begin with an introductory summary prepared by one of the members. This is like a free rendering of the reading.
The term “small is all” I believe was a phrase Arthur and Margaret Osmond first used to emphasize the quality of our group over its quantity. Five people is not a big group but when 5 people work significantly towards the spiritual it becomes a significant number. I should point out that the Osmonds moved to Halifax from the U.K. where they had been living and working at Michael Hall. They arrived in Halifax in 2011, the same year I moved from Ontario.
Halifax did not have an Anthroposophical reading group that we were aware of at the time. Now we can say there is a small group that has recognized quantity is less important then quality. Great work can be done that has purpose for the world within small circles of spiritually conscious people. In this sense “small is all”.
You were able to attend the conference meetings with the youth in the residence of La Cite Collegiale. Could you tell me about what you, as one of the younger members of the conference, gained from these meetings?
It was a real pleasure to be part of the youth circle during the conference. We were very fortunate to have youth members from Germany, The Netherlands, America, France and French and English Canada.
I grew up in Thornhill, Ontario For those who haven’t visited Thornhill it’s a multi cultural centre with spiritual diversity.
I graduated from the Toronto Waldorf School in 2000, which had at the time a cornfield between it and a Jewish Yeshiva centre. Across the ravine is now the Christian Community church, and between the Yeshiva and TWS is an Islamic centre with the prayer tower and Islamic insignia.
The neighbourhoods all around are filled with people speaking different languages. It’s a mini-Jerusalem on many levels — maybe even a new Jerusalem without the historical component.
What inspired me about the youth circle at the conference was the cosmopolitan aspect that continued from the surface to core. Hearing about the various initiatives in different parts of the world affirmed a central theme of spiritual scientific knowledge — the Michaelic epoch transcends restricting concepts of nationhood and and ideas and impulses are working across boarders and between peoples regardless of where they live or what language they speak. For me this is an affirmation of our modern spiritual reality.
What do you think that young people of today are searching for when they encounter Anthroposophy?
I believe when a young person decides they are going to come to a Anthroposophical conference or read a book written by Steiner, they are seeking a deeper experience of our humanity then normal everyday experiences provide. There is something inside us that is drawn to spiritual life. In a sense, a young person or someone new to Anthroposophy is already an “Anthroposophist” before they encounter it.
They come to Anthroposophy through an inner recognition or striving to be more humane, to experience truth and love.
In Anthroposophy we have the path to discover our core out in the objective world. This is not possible without spiritual science. I actually have a project related to this theme where I’m researching the butterfly from a spiritual scientific perspective.
One of the ideas I’m working with is that the butterfly is an outer objective image of our “I” consciousness. This is a simple idea but what it means is that our humane “I” and a butterfly together are a light that has become conscious of its own being. This happens both inside the humane organism but also in the outer world of nature. We see two different expressions of the same phenomena. The butterfly principle is an aspect of our micro and macrocosm.
In a way every Anthroposophist begins their Anthroposophical journey by discovering something new or unfamiliar about themselves. It’s an initiation into a deeper consciousness of self, which we discover through forming intimate connections with each other and also through struggling with our subjective experiences of an objective world.
Anyone travelling this path learns it’s neither easy, nor completely enjoyable. It all depends how we orient ourselves in relation to truth.
If truth is uncomfortable then Anthroposophy will be a painful path and people will dismiss its content and intentions. But if truth is revered above everything else then Anthroposophy can give us strength and an awareness to realize our humanity to its full potential.
What I recognized in the young members at the conference was a yearning to be in and work out of the warmth of Anthroposophical truth. There is a karmic destiny component at work when the microcosm that is individual humane experience finds itself mirrored in the macrocosm of a group of souls. This can create feelings of love and joy and peace because the individual “I” is essentially fulfilling its task to unite the spiritual in the individual with the spiritual in the other.
Interestingly, only half of the youth at the conference in Ottawa had experienced Anthroposophical environments growing up through Waldorf schools and Camphills. Other members of the group had been introduced to Anthroposophy through encountering Waldorf graduates or Steiner’s work.
I think it’s important for youth to meet Anthroposophy and Anthroposophists without them necessarily adopting a particular set identity. If someone is striving towards spiritual consciousness, Anthroposophy is speaking to him or her even on a basic level.
Personally I’m excited to see how we can open the doors to the spiritual “Goetheanum” and invite the world in. An Anthroposophist can continually incarnate spiritual realities through the work they do and these realities speak to the humane “I” in everyone even during first encounters. This has a lasting impact on the world.
Combining personal experience with Anthroposophical knowledge is very important. Also having steadfast trust in the spiritual content allows the content to really work in the world.
Thank- you, Micah!