Being young and encountering Anthrosophy today: what are young people striving for?

Being young and encountering Anthrosophy today: what are young people striving for?

05 July 2024 64 views

by Anna Savytska

In May 2024 I had the good fortune to be a part of two events of the world anthroposophical youth community: the Youth Education Days and the Co-Workers' Gathering.
The week stood as a present moment in balance between reflections on the work we do and contemplation on how to embody our actions into the future.

During the Gathering we concentrated on a selection of Maria Röschl-Lehrs' articles from “The Second Man in Us", where she speaks about pictorial thinking, and a new relationship to nature. Even though they were written a century ago, the thoughts put in there are still relevant today.

As is common in Steiner’s education, nothing should remain only in theory but should be proven empirically (practically). So we read the articles out of our own experience and shared them with each other, searching for how we can relate to the texts written by her.

I would like to share a very personal story about me and Anthroposophy. A story of struggling, searching, love, and fair. One case that might be a key for many others.

I came to Anthroposophy through Waldorf school and the Christian Community, as many of us did.
As a teenager I had a very critical mind and a strong will for truth, I was interested in philosophy and history, and I always asked the adults “how” and “why” and was never satisfied with the answers.
Those who didn’t know Anthroposophy just didn’t know the answers, but the teachers told me something about human bodies, Ahriman and Lucifer, soul and spirit, that seemed totally out of reality.
I didn’t want to hear anything about soul and spirit, I wanted the proofs and research. Otherwise, I would stop and say “No. I don’t believe you”.
Basically I wanted to have a person able to talk about difficult things with simple words and examples, someone able to embrace my criticism.

Looking back, now I realize that I did need the Youth Section to explore the world and find the truth and the ways of action in the world together with other seekers like me.
But nobody could really explain to me - at 16 years old - what exactly is the Spiritual Science.

The Youth Section in Ukraine already existed but was small and strongly influenced by adult anthroposophists who had different needs and views of spiritual science.
They were okay in their bubble. We wanted to conquer the world and Anthroposophy seemed too niche or too esoteric. Or both.

And that’s what I see in almost all the young people that I know.
If I ever told them about Anthroposophy, they would be whether too skeptical (the atheists or agnostics) or would understand my words too far from reality (those neo-hippies who travel to the astral worlds with substances or do rituals without taking care of care for their physical body and critical thinking).

The quest for spiritual science is growing as we, individual human beings, meet and receive the unknown possibilities of this world. How to understand who you are? How to decide what is you, your own strategy of action in this turbulent world? How can I build a harmonious relationship with myself and the people around me?
We have different kinds of psychology and spiritual practices, and the boom of yoga and art therapy clearly shows us that the interest in knowing oneself in the contemporary world is very high.
So why don’t young people turn to Anthroposophy, which offers a way of seeing all those aspects in an entire system? This was a question asked many times during the gathering.

To communicate with young people we must truly know what it means to be a spiritual scientist today, and what meanings are coded in Steinerian and anthroposophical terminology.

And during the Co-Workers Gathering, I finally got some answers.
The “School of Spiritual Science” — might be “College of contemplative Knowing”, as proposed by Nathaniel Williams during one Future Session.
That resonates with me a lot, because it is what we actually do, we use not an abstract idea, but a concrete definition of what we actually do. And the vocabulary we use is contemporary, so that anyone can grasp it.

We arrive in a state of knowing through the practice, we ask and search for the ways and methods for answering, we contemplate and then come to the essence. That’s what young people are striving for.

My first teacher that I can call my master gave experience and then we talked about it. He was a good eurythmist.
Then I went to another school of eurythmy and was deluded because it was about taking knowledge that someone has already produced, not generating our own truth. The forms were carved a century ago and I literally felt that the form (not the essence, that attracted me so much!) didn’t suit me anymore. The vocabulary for simple things was too complicated.

And that’s what the colleges do — like teachers, doctors, eurythmists. They use specific language to understand each other better. And it is okay, they have a time limit and need a guaranteed result for their profession.
But many people without a specific background do need it just for themselves — for the harmonic being in the world, never mind what profession they choose.

And that’s why we (especially in the Youth Section) should try new forms and methods, firstly giving the experience and then — not telling the definition, but asking: what did you experience? What had happened to you?
Where would we find magic in the making of art or social work, in touching the earth, or in reading Philosophy of Freedom as just another philosophical book? If there was no application of embodied presence or questioning all these moments would lose their meaning.
To be a young person in Anthroposophy is to not to be afraid of your truth, knowing that the elephant is seen from 12 different sides, and be ready to explore the others’ sides through the eyes of the Other.

Who knows where it all might bring you— you might become a scientist or an artist, a programmer, a Waldorf teacher, or a doctor in neurobiology, but the approach of vivid thinking and contemplative knowledge would be the base to stand on.

You would ask me:

Will the content remain if the form changes?

Who knows. But for sure it changes in the petrified form when the body becomes too heavy and bulky for the spirit to penetrate it.

We, or at least those who feel the same as me, should be brave enough to leave the comfy cocoon and explore the flowers that are waiting for us outside.
Let yourself find, what “Anthroposophy” is for you.