A reflection on the seminar held on 21st November 2020 at Hohenfels Castle
Professor Karl Dieter Bodack developed the so-called “social process” for architecture students at Coburg University.1) Books by Karl Dieter Bodack in the German language include „Ein Leben mit Spuren: Als Anthroposoph bei der Deutschen Bahn“, Verlag Info 3, 2019. It is similar to Martin Buber’s dialogical principle. 2) See the book “I and Thou” by Martin Buber. The architects’ experience showed that those architects who successfully applied this process had far fewer legal proceedings than other conventional building contractors. At the end both owner and architect were able to look with satisfaction upon their realised idea, that is upon the best idea that can be created in terms of beauty and function of a building, because through reciprocal perception and work, in a growing and complementary dialogue, they had managed to keep in sight a realised ideal.
In a practical sense, a social process takes place between two people or also between various interested parties. These can be a teacher and a student, a manager and an employee, the head of an adult education college and a freelance teacher, a mountain guide and a client, or a team of environmental consultants concerned with the needs of the people. In any case, to develop the social process two positions are needed, however these positions should not be not reduced to or even sworn to their current opinion, but using the concepts and capacities they have, they want to strive for a higher and greater idea. Reciprocal exchange, through questions, getting to know their own standpoint, considering constructive content3) What is content? A religion, which pronounces dogmatic rules, stipulations, moralising judgements, is bereft of the exploring of content. Equally, the current postulates about corona seem to be largely without content. Content on the other hand arises when there actually is concrete scientific exploration, or actual, existential descriptions from the spiritual world. Consumerist society is increasingly bereft of content and therefore such a society becomes devoid of meaning and spiritually impoverished. Content is actually comparable with a real truth, and this truth in turn is comparable with an actual spiritual substance., working potential ideas into ideals, comparisons, separating out and classifying different views, can dynamically strengthen an ideal that has not only partial but universal validity.
The social process develops through conversations rich in content, which present possibilities that respect individual standpoints while nonetheless constructing perspectives for a future ideal form. Constructive criticism, dialogue and strengthening ideas until they are realised in practice, are characteristic of the dialogue between people who pursue this process.4) For the social process, or for the dialogical principle, ideas are always built up logically into mental pictures and these are then worked on further to become a practical ideal. The art of this work is that all those involved are included equally.
The seminar venue at Hohenfels
In Hohenfels castle, as described by Michael Birnthaler, high-ranking personalities, monarchs from the whole of Europe, were once trained.5) Michael Birnthaler is the author of several books in the German language, including: “Weltenwandler. Rudolf Steiner: Dokumentarische Erzählung (Band 1: Das Goetheanum)”. Edition EOS, Freiburg 2018, ISBN 978-3-945132-04-3. The space of the castle on top of a hill gives a visual image of the order in which an impact was had from above to below, from an authority to a people. Although this monarchic principle does not necessarily have to be negative, but quite to the contrary could even be oriented towards the welfare of the people, today it no longer seems appropriate or feasible. Churches or religious communities cannot stipulate faith and under no circumstances can the state eliminate the personal rights of individuals. As soon as outdated systems are no longer appropriate, very unfavourable distributions of power usually develop and these have to be implemented with unilateral, dictatorial force. Precisely because the state and church systems no longer live up to the requirements needed for people’s development, they adopt the means of lies and manipulation in order to bind their citizens or faithful. The whole debate, which today is extremely polarised, lacks a real vision of the future. Neither church nor state system can answer any questions concerning the deeper development of human beings.
On the other hand however, hierarchical structures cannot be abandoned without compromise, as the world needs certain rules, regulations and leaders. The authoritative attitude therefore stands in an extreme, polar contrast to non-commitment and a completely arbitrary self-determination of individuals.
The social process is equivalent to the esoteric path and its social implementation
Karl Dieter Bodack spoke about the social process in Coburg University. After the pleasure of getting to know one another in joint seminars on architecture and spiritual-scientific research, we were very happy to find conformity in our previous experiences and the thoughts we had developed from these. While Karl Dieter Bodack spoke about the social process, I expressed the fact that esoterically valid and true thoughts had to continue to be worked at until they could be verified through examination, and ultimately were in a position to be communicated and integrated into society. Spiritual or religious content is commonly brought to others in a missionising way. However this content has not been worked through and understood maturely until those using it are able to integrate it into life in a way that is non-denominational and practical.
An esoteric or universally valid content is brought into the practical, socially-capable6) Social capability refers to an ability to interact socially on the basis of higher, spiritual principles. The German term “Soziafaehgkeit was introduced by Rudolf Steiner. ordering of life. Communication, explanation and encounter are necessary for this activity. The more people incorporate universally valid content into their life practice and integrate it into the social fabric, then the more they operate in a way that is non-violent, constructive, unifying and at the same time with a plausibility that others can perceive as being real. All those thoughts that they really work out from universality, and lead right into an accomplished ability to communicate, equip them with an actual giving force and elevate them to a partial teaching role. However, individuals literally have to learn this activity and they have to develop it in a mature way with pedagogical empathy.
Social capability as a concept should not be confused with provision of services and never with subservience. When an architect works with the owner on a developing idea, and how this idea can best be realised through the building, both parties must form adequate visualisations and match these with the various constraints such as the authorities, traditions and any feasible aesthetic visions. Therefore the architect does not serve the owner, or vice versa, but rather both work at a future, aesthetic vision rich in content. This connects people and, as experience shows, it prevents one party from being disappointed or disadvantaged.
Fundamentally, every social process has the potential to form order within human relationships and all encounters in general. When this social process is learnt, and universally valid content is communicated optimally, worked with and applied with versatility, then individuals are more able to take responsibility for themselves and govern themselves. Without content and without developing a mature consciousness, self-governance would be a chaotic challenge, which does nothing to convince those in authority. If esoteric content is solidly developed, right to the point of practice, or in other words, when a prospective spiritual idea is worked on collaboratively, human potential develops for self-reliance and a satisfactory quality of life.
Contrasts are the driving force for higher ideals
Life needs positions and counter-positions, experiences of different kinds, and above all it needs strong tensions for opinions to form. Many people therefore go down the route of passively enduring difficulties and fail to rise to greater life-ideals. They are quick to put their teacher in charge of their own destiny and forget the work of thinking for themselves. It might seem brave, despite utterly different positions, to strive for a discussion rich in content, and to make efforts for constructive criticism ignited by a possible ideal. If someone is very competent in a certain field, this competency increases in dialogue with another person, and if someone wavers between uncertain, half-formed opinions, the dialogue with another can help them acquire a better position. Someone who can make esoteric content so practical that it is useful for the world in every life situation, can reach all human beings without missionary encroachment, and above all can have a constructive and uniting effect. Social processes in which an ideal is implemented always lead to peaceful agreement among people. It is the spirit that harmonises and further develops the personal situation.
The social process is by no means a principle that immediately and fearlessly stands in opposition to authoritative circumstances, but rather it forms a mid-point and a practical possibility to connect together the extreme poles prevailing in the world, particularly between state or a belief system, and the individual person. Those who train themselves in this practice notice that because they focus on good content they can communicate better with others and the ideas that they introduce can more easily reach ideality. They will get the feeling that with the help of the social process they become accepted.
The connection of the social process with the heart
Good ideas, which have been considered and further developed mutually, have the fundamental effect of harmonising the heart and of strengthening the so-called “ether”. In the heart lives not only a physical movement, but a kind of cosmic movement, which has abundant ether-force. It is above all the subtle cosmic warmth that first manifests in the heart when social processes are attuned and further developed with empathy, constructive criticism and a strengthening of ideas rich in content.7) The heart organ is often equated with the emotional pole of life, while the thinking and the forming of ideas is attributed to the brain. Spiritual work with ideas and logical, well co-ordinated thought processes have an astonishing influence on a healthy heart rhythm and help generally to harmonise the circulation. The heart is in this sense not only a pure feeling organ, but it forms a centre between the emotional reactions from the organs and the ordering processes of the thoughts. Ultimately the ether forces in the heart never arise through emotion but through consciously working with content. Good content, worked through in a sequence, strengthens the ether forces. The opinion of the other person, like one’s own opinion, does not have to remain static at one point, but it can develop further constructively, acquire new scope for perfection and thus enliven the consciousness. Fundamentally not one single opinion need be excluded in the world, not even one that is foolish. The art of dialogue and of proceeding reciprocally, constructively and critically is that ideas can always be led to ideals and even a useless opinion can be developed further into a useful and constructive element.
In my book „Wesensgeheimnis der Seele“ (The Hidden Nature of the Soul) I have described in detail, in the chapter on the heart, this process of the I coming into being, and of the social process.8) „Das Wesensgeheimnis der Seele“ pages 170 ff. Those who read this chapter and keep in mind daily just one paragraph, will notice that a thought is not just touched upon, but is constantly developed further and completed in a kind of circulus mensurat omnia. It is advantageous when those practising the social process discipline themselves to develop thoughts in a logical sequence and to bring them to a clear, central expression that is as understandable as possible. Practising in this way causes warmth and light ether to develop. I find the interview on Youtube with the title „Ich hab’s am Mensch“ by the anthropologist and educational philosopher Dr Matthias Burchardt interesting.9) Oval Media, Narrative#24: „Homo Hygienicus als Krankheitsbild“ see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwLZBX6c7_M&t=1335s The discourses of this excellent observer of the times reveal precise, thoughtful exploration, which is not limited to catchwords or hasty judgements, but works through the process of an idea until a picture can actually be experienced. Merely suggesting solutions for the current crisis seems insufficient to me as it is certainly not possible to return to the forms of relationship known up until now, but rather relationships between people must be developed which really are newer and richer in content. The ideas that have been developed and tested through phenomenology ought to work together with the ingenuity of the spirit so that the extreme poles unite with each other on a higher level, not only returning back, but going out into the future and, if they are shaped in social processes, will appear neither violent nor divisive.
In this sense the development of the social process forms a practical approach to the personalised strengthening of individual people, while at the same time developing higher universal content. It paves the way for non-violent co-existence.
|⇑1||Books by Karl Dieter Bodack in the German language include „Ein Leben mit Spuren: Als Anthroposoph bei der Deutschen Bahn“, Verlag Info 3, 2019.|
|⇑2||See the book “I and Thou” by Martin Buber.|
|⇑3||What is content? A religion, which pronounces dogmatic rules, stipulations, moralising judgements, is bereft of the exploring of content. Equally, the current postulates about corona seem to be largely without content. Content on the other hand arises when there actually is concrete scientific exploration, or actual, existential descriptions from the spiritual world. Consumerist society is increasingly bereft of content and therefore such a society becomes devoid of meaning and spiritually impoverished. Content is actually comparable with a real truth, and this truth in turn is comparable with an actual spiritual substance.|
|⇑4||For the social process, or for the dialogical principle, ideas are always built up logically into mental pictures and these are then worked on further to become a practical ideal. The art of this work is that all those involved are included equally.|
|⇑5||Michael Birnthaler is the author of several books in the German language, including: “Weltenwandler. Rudolf Steiner: Dokumentarische Erzählung (Band 1: Das Goetheanum)”. Edition EOS, Freiburg 2018, ISBN 978-3-945132-04-3.|
|⇑6||Social capability refers to an ability to interact socially on the basis of higher, spiritual principles. The German term “Soziafaehgkeit was introduced by Rudolf Steiner.|
|⇑7||The heart organ is often equated with the emotional pole of life, while the thinking and the forming of ideas is attributed to the brain. Spiritual work with ideas and logical, well co-ordinated thought processes have an astonishing influence on a healthy heart rhythm and help generally to harmonise the circulation. The heart is in this sense not only a pure feeling organ, but it forms a centre between the emotional reactions from the organs and the ordering processes of the thoughts. Ultimately the ether forces in the heart never arise through emotion but through consciously working with content. Good content, worked through in a sequence, strengthens the ether forces.|
|⇑8||„Das Wesensgeheimnis der Seele“ pages 170 ff.|
|⇑9||Oval Media, Narrative#24: „Homo Hygienicus als Krankheitsbild“ see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwLZBX6c7_M&t=1335s|