Redefining Accountability and Transparency: LeadTogether Highlight #15 3-15-15

Understanding and Redefining Transparency and Accountability

If I had a nickel for every time someone said the phrase, “We need more accountability and transparency in our school!” I could buy a lot of lattes for my wife! Instead I am launching a campaign to rid our organizations of both words. I can’t remember when either word was mentioned in a positive vein or without someone cringing. Besides being quite negative. These terms have become intelligent-sounding catch phrases for things that people little understand.

The demand for transparency usually means “ Quit being so sly and secretive and withholding information from others.” The real issue is .are we communicating in the right ways about the right things? How are we communicating overall? Can I trust that you will tell me what I need to know when something affects me?

We would do a lot better to explore the questions of communication and information sharing. “There is a lack of transparency” is already an accusation of villainous behavior. Wouldn’t it be better to agree on what kind of information should be shared in what situations? There is also the aspect of transparency relating to whether someone is being honest. In this case we should focus on honesty, rather than transparency

Transparency is not a virtue. It is not even a healthy organizational practice. Good communication is an admirable quality in an individual and an organization.

With accountability. the situation is similar. When someone mentions accountability, it usually comes with a hard edge and a cringe or shrug of the shoulder. It would better if we could speak honestly about issues of quality and commitment to core principles and how we hold one another other to those expectations in our organizations. Accountability is never listed as a desirable human attribute. On the other hand, a highly-principled person committed to quality is looked up to and is an asset to any organization

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Only in this case we have the wrong name for very important characteristics and principles that can guide, inspire and lift us up in our work. I cast my vote for referring to “good communication” and “a commitment to quality.” Let’s let the terms “transparency and accountability” wither and fade on the vine of vague negative concepts.

We are currently working on the theme of, yes, Accountability (how to maintain agreements and quality) for one of our next newsletters. If you have something to contribute let me know.

Stay tuned.

Michael Soule

LeadTogether

Faithfulness by Rudolf Steiner

Faithfulness

“Let your loyalty to another human being come about in this way:  there will be moments — quickly passing by — when he will seem to you filled and illumined by the true, primal image of his spirit.

Then can come, yes, will come, long stretches of time when your fellow-being seems clouded, even darkened.  But learn at these times to say to yourself:  The spirit will strengthen me; I will remember the true, unchanging image that I once saw.  Nothing at all — neither deception nor disguise — can take it away from me.

Struggle again and again for the true picture that you saw.  The struggle itself is your faithfulness.

And in those efforts to be faithful and to trust, a human being will come close to another as if with an angel’s power of protection.”

-Rudolf Steiner

The Art of Handling Complaints: LeadTogether Highlight #14 1-20-15

Dear Friends,

Last week our school completed work on a new grievance policy. In our discussions we explored what constitutes a grievance, what is the difference between a grievance and a complaint, and what principles should guide us in dealing with them.

We came to a simple definition that a grievance is a formal complaint usually lodged by an employee, related to an action that was taken (or not taken) that affects the rights of the employee. Something is perceived to have happened that violates the law or the policy of the organization. So a grievance is a specialized complaint. How one responds to a grievance is important because it generally has legal consequences for the organization.

Complaints, on the other hand, are types of feedback provided by anyone in the community who thinks or feels that something isn’t right. Complaints might include “too much homework,” “tuition is too high,” “meetings go too long,” “the place is messy,” “communication is sloppy,” etc. A complaint generally includes two wisdoms – it tells us something about the person complaining (what they are aware of and what they would like to see improved) and something about the organization. While sometimes a complaint is entirely the personal opinion of an individual (“I don’t like the color of the walls”), usually a complaint contains some bit of helpful reflection to be attended to. And it provides an opportunity to strengthen relationships by being responsive, timely and direct.

There are a few core principles for dealing with complaints in general and for dealing with complaints in a collaborative community.

  • Understand that all complaints contain some insight, either about the organization or about the person complaining or both.
  • Have clarity as to what types of complaints should be addressed to different leaders.
  • Provide every complainant with the opportunity to share what he or she wants to see done.
  • Create an environment that embraces and accepts complaints without resistance.
  • Assure there is a clear visible process for dealing with complaints that provides
    • immediate acknowledgement
    • quick response
    • timely follow-through
    • clear communications and
    • thorough documentation.
  • Develop a process so that everyone clearly knows what to do with complaints.
  • Analyze complaints to look for themes and bigger-picture problems.

Here is a checklist developed by One World Trust for NGO’s to assess the strength of your organization’s complaint process. (LINK)

Every complaint is both an opportunity for the organization to grow and for the relationship of the complainant to the organization to develop. This requires active, open and non-judgmental listening and honest reflecting. It is an area where we have a lot to learn in our communities.

Keep in touch,

Michael

 

 

 

 

 

The Art of Being A Mentor by M Soule

A good mentor is one who can help his/her advisee develop as a teacher and to find his/her way to manage and master the tasks of teaching, including working with the students, parents, curriculum and school. Because all development is self-development, a successful mentor also needs to help his/her advisee develop the capacity for self-reflection and self-discipline. To do this, a mentor must continually work on his/her own self-reflection and self-discipline, while continuing to practice the art of turning experience into wisdom. Finally, a mentor has the opportunity to learn and grow through the mentoring relationship.

The three essential tasks and tools of the mentor are observation, contemplation and conversation.

Being able to observe the dynamics, principles and wholeness of a situation while keeping the parts in focus is the first essential task of a good mentor. In the article by Craig Holdrege on “Seeing the World Whole”, we can gain keen insights into the mindfulness needed to find the principles and meaning in what we observe.

Being able to work with one’s observations with an open mind and to practice withholding judgment are two parts of the second essential task – contemplation. The excerpt from More Precious Than Light, a book on community building by Margreet Van Den Brink, provides a good description of the relationship between mindfulness and what Rudolf Steiner described as the three higher soul capacities. While things are not always what we think they are, when one thinks about one’s observations, what we have observed begins to show us more of its true nature. The article, “From Observation to Conversation,” shares insights gathered from the participants in the NW Mentoring Seminars held in Seattle by Sound Circle Center.

Being able to enter into conversation with one’s advisee in a creative way that meets his/her soul character is the third essential tool. Here there are many resources available, from Marjorie Spock’s essay on Goethean Conversation in Group Moral Artistry (in our resource library) to the suggestions in articles above. The article, “Conversational Wisdom,” explores five aspects of conversation applied to mentoring outlined in the book, Winning Wisdom, by Robert Aubrey.

 

 

 

Mentoring: From Observation to Conversation by Holly Koteen Soule from NW Mentorship Seminar

These notes are the result of discussions among colleagues in the mentoring seminar held by Sound Circle Center in 2011. We explored three steps in the mentoring process – the observation, the inner work of the mentor in processing the observation, and the conversation between the advisee and mentor.

OBSERVATION

  • Acknowledge the inevitable separation between the observer and observed.
  • Let go of personal agendas and fixed ideas, look with fresh eyes.
  • Be aware that you are seeing a specific moment in time.
  • Be open to observing a class in a particular context, as a single gesture in a larger picture.
  • Look for something the teacher does better than you.
  • Be flexible in your thinking. A good mentor practices and attempts to help the teacher practice the art of characterization. Through characterization, one can connect with and be aware of both the archetypes and the specific individualities in a situation.
  • Look for the gift of the teacher.
  • Try to imagine the genius, spirit or angel of class and teacher.
  • Remember that in all your observations, you are in the picture, too.
  • Take good notes.
  • Encourage the teacher to share his or her observations so that you have different points of view on the same situation.

Between OBSERVATION and CONVERSATION: Contemplation

  • Reciprocity is powerful, and has spiritual activity in it – try to see things forward and backwards
  • Try on the habits of the teacher (i.e. speaking and walking).
  • Naming can be limiting; staying in the unknown can be helpful.
  • Take impressions into sleep life along with a question to seek new inspiration and insight.
  • Let go of what you think you know – practice open-mindedness.
  • Be interested in the whole life of the teacher - their biography, their individuality, their teaching experience and their capacities – and how these all affect their teaching.
  • Commit to doing your own inner work with your advisee over time.
  • Be aware of and sensitive to the most effective communication style and be willing to work in that style (i.e. know the temperament of the teacher and what they are struggling with).
  • Do not be invested in an outcome – be willing to enter into an exploration together.
  • Know when more help is needed, or another perspective could be helpful.

CONVERSATION

  • Build a safe space and trust between mentor and advisee (withhold judgment, don’t be in a hurry, really make it a genuine conversation and partnership, not a view from outside).
  • Use questions. Listen attentively.
  • Begin positively and speak specifically about effects and results of teacher’s actions – practice good feedback (see feedback article).
  • Be willing to share your own struggles and how you were able to make changes.
  • Be flexible in your own thinking.
  • Pay attention to when the teacher is open and when he/she begins to move inwardly or change outwardly in a positive way.
  • Remember the process is not about “fixing” a problem but about gaining insight.
  • Create a sense of direction together rather than fixed expectations.
  • Consider bringing a question from the conversation with the teacher to the whole faculty to explore.
  • Document the conversation.
  • Anticipate – look into the future together.

 

 

Five Strategies for Mentors, from Working Wisdom by Robert Aubrey

 In the book, Working Wisdom, Robert Aubrey outlines five key aspects of the work of mentors. We have borrowed Aubrey’s strategies and annotated them for relevance in mentoring teachers. -ms-

Accompany

The basis of good mentoring is the commitment of the mentor to be aware of and support the teacher on their path of development. This goes beyond offering advice, suggestions or asking good questions. It requires the mentor to be willing to step inside the context and the story of the teacher and class, and be willing to become a co-journeyer. It also requires the teacher being mentored to be open to being a co-journeyer with his/her mentor. This commitment should be clear up front and the mentor and teacher should have a conversation together about what this means to each of them when they begin their process. This relationship will help the process maintain balance and strength over a longer time. The teacher, mentor, students, class, parents, school and world are all on an unfolding journey. The mentor and teacher can be mutually supportive on this journey so that at any given moment the teacher is growing in skill and confidence in his/her tasks.

Sowing

The mentor by nature of his/her experience, training and selection as a mentor will be aware of deeper aspects of the teaching situation than the teacher. It is important for the mentor to observe the teacher and the class in a way to see the archetypes of what is happening. While a young teacher may be interested in developing skills to improve certain challenging situations he/she currently faces, the mentor can also provide helpful seeds for the future by illuminating the principles and ideals that will eventually lead to better teaching. After these seeds are planted, especially when the teacher is new or untrained, they will bear fruit in the future. Nonetheless, it is important that the mentor provide insights and share principles with the teacher that he/she can realize as experience grows.

Catalyzing

While the use of questions is generally the best strategy for a mentor, there are important times when a more direct approach can be helpful. The direct approach is always a more risky path because the resulting reaction of the teacher cannot be programmed. The mentor should only use catalyzing when the situation in the classroom results in a high degree of chaos and when the mentor has not been able to help the teacher gain control. In chaotic situations one may catalyze action through passionate, angry or forcefully direct means, but rarely are these techniques helpful in mentoring. Before catalyzing, it is helpful for the mentor to be clear about his/her strategy and to have thought about how a stronger more direct action might affect the relationship with the teacher.

Showing

While the conversation between mentor and teacher is the heart of the mentoring relationship, there are times when it is advantageous for the mentor to demonstrate what they see as happening. It can be beneficial for a mentor to offer to teacher a short lesson in the class to show what he/she is experiencing and to let the teacher observe the class from a new perspective. Another form of showing is to allow the teacher to visit another classroom, especially of an experienced teacher. This is also an important part of the overall development of a teacher. It provides opportunities for the teacher to see in action what otherwise the mentor has described.

Harvesting

As has been outlined in other posts and articles, an essential key to mentoring is the work that the mentor does to gain a deep insight into the style, nature and skills of the teacher. From the mentor’s observation of the teacher, he/she can develop appropriate questions and conversation that can help draw out the genius of the teacher – to help the teacher see his/her strengths and to follow his/her intuitions. Teaching is a continually unfolding and transforming practice and improvisation that over time becomes more and more aligned with higher principles and ideals. The mentor can help the teacher find a stronger connection to his/her own insights and learn how to act on them in relationship to basic principles and goals.

For a look at Aubrey’s book about mentoring for business, click here.

 

 

 

 

Goethean Observation: Two Articles by Craig Holdrege

Seeing Nature Whole — A Goethean Approach

An article and resources from Craig Holdrege and The Nature Institute

If we want to attain a living understanding of nature, we must become as flexible and mobile as nature herself. - Goethe

Many of us were introduced to biology — the science of life — by dissecting frogs, and we never learned anything about living frogs in nature. Modern biology has increasingly moved out of nature and into the laboratory, driven by a desire to find an underlying mechanistic basis of life. Despite all its success, this approach is one-sided and urgently calls for a counterbalancing movement toward nature. Only if we find ways of transforming our propensity to reduce the world to parts and mechanisms, will we be able to see, value, and protect the integrity of nature and the interconnectedness of all things. This demands a new way of seeing.

Our methodology is inspired by integrative thinkers and scientists, such as Johann Wolfgang von GoetheRudolf Steiner, and Kurt Goldstein.

We develop ways of thinking and perception that integrate self-reflective and critical thought, imagination, and careful, detailed observation of the phenomena. The Nature Institute promotes a truly ecological understanding of the living world:

We study the internal ecology of plants and animals, elucidating how structures and functions interrelate in forming the creature as a whole. Our interdisciplinary approach integrates anatomy, physiology, behavior, development, genetics, and evolution.

We investigate the whole organism as part of the larger web of life. By creating life history stories of plants and animals, we open up a new understanding of our fellow creatures as dynamic and integrated beings.

Through this approach, the organism teaches us about itself, revealing its characteristics and its interconnectedness with the world that sustains it. This way of doing science enhances our sense of responsibility for nature. No one who has read, for example, Craig Holdrege's paper on the sloth, thereby coming to appreciate this animal as a unique, focused expression of its entire forest habitat, will be able to tolerate the thought of losing either the sloth or its habitat.

As Goethe so beautifully expresses it, all of nature's individual aspects are interconnected and interdependent:

We conceive of the individual animal as a small world, existing for its own sake, by its own means. Every creature is its own reason to be. All its parts have a direct effect on one another, a relationship to one another, thereby constantly renewing the circle of life; thus we are justified in considering every animal physiologically perfect....

Our purpose is to carry out research, produce publications and offer education programs that foster this new, qualitative approach to nature. We also give off-site talks and workshops on this work.

Goethe's Delicate Empiricism

Curious about Goethean science, a special interest group of the New York Academy of Sciences invited Craig Holdrege to speak on the topic in October, 2013. Craig has expanded that talk into an essay, Goethe and the Evolution of Science. It is perhaps the best place to start for anyone curious about what we mean by “Goethean science”.

Also, a special issue of the interdisciplinary journal Janus Head focuses on Goethe's approach to science. Fourteen essays discuss Goethe's “delicate empiricism” from a variety of perspectives. This is the most thorough collection of papers on Goethe's way of science that has appeared in recent years. Nature Institute director Craig Holdrege was one of the volume's guest editors. The volume is available online athttp://www.janushead.org/8-1/index.cfm and the bound version may also be ordered through the website.

To read Goethe’s seminal essay on the nature of scientific knowing and experimentation, “The Experiment as Mediator of Object and Subject” click here.

The following publications, written by Institute Director Craig Holdrege, illustrate the Goethean approach within the life sciences:

The Giraffe's Long Neck: From Evolutionary Fable to Whole Organism
This 104 page booklet is part of our Nature Institute Perspectives series.

This book provides a comprehensive picture of the giraffe’s biology and ecology and also discusses the complex and controversial issue of its evolution. It gives a unique portrayal of the giraffe while also exemplifying the Goethean approach to understanding animals and evolution. Click here for more information about this booklet

The Flexible Giant: Seeing the Elephant Whole
This 65 page booklet is part of our Nature Institute Perspectives series. Doug Groves, Chairman of Living with Elephants Foundation in Botswana, Africa wrote:

"Your marvelous mini-monograph on "the Flexible Giant" is momentous and inspirational! Please accept my wholehearted congratulations and thanks. For the past thirty plus years I've been sharing my daily life with elephants which I think puts me in a pretty good position to appreciate your fresh, succinct, thoughtful, holistic and principle-centered approach to seeing the elephant. By taking small groups of international visitors, local village children and school kids for interpretive walks in the bush with three habituated African Elephants we try to achieve what you have managed to do very nicely with words in your booklet."

Click here for details about this booklet

 

"Phenomenon Illuminate Phenomenon" by Craig Holdrege. In Context #26, Spring 2011

"The Story of an Organism: Common Milkweed" by Craig Holdrege. In Context#22-24, Fall 2009 - Fall 2010

"The Forming Tree" by Craig Holdrege. In Context #14, Fall 2005

"The Giraffe in Its World" by Craig Holdrege. In Context #12, Fall 2005

"The Giraffe's Short Neck." In Context #10, Fall 2003

"How Does a Mole View the World?" In Context #9, Spring 2003

"Portraying a Meadow." In Context #8, Fall 2002

"What Forms an Animal?" In Context #6, Fall 2001

"Skunk Cabbage." In Context #4, Fall 2000

"Where Do Organisms End?" In Context #3, Spring, 2000

"Genes and Life: The Need for Qualitative Understanding." In Context #1, Spring/Summer 1999

"Science as Process or Dogma? The Case of the Peppered Moth." Elemente der Naturwissenschaft, Vol. 70, 1999: pp. 39-51

"What Does it Mean to be a Sloth?"

"Seeing the Animal Whole: The Example of the Horse and Lion." In Goethe's Way of Science, edited by D. Seamon and A. Zajonc Albany: SUNY Press, 1998, pp. 213-232

"Pharming the Cow." NetFuture #43, March 20, 1997 (Also published in OrionWinter 1997)
For articles about the methodology of the goethean approach see:

"Learning to See Life: Developing the Goethean Approach to Science",Renewal, Fall 2005.

"Doing Goethean Science" Janus Head, Vol. 8.1, 2005

Learning to See Life - Developing the Goethean Approach to Science

Craig Holdrege

I have often thought that if a teacher wanted to have one succinct motto to hang above his or her bed, she’d have a hard time finding a better one than: _characterize, don’t define. _ In order to characterize, say, an animal, we have to carry within ourselves a vivid picture of its shape, how it moves, the sounds it makes, its habitat and the ways it relates to its environment. We bring alive through our imagination and speech something of the animal’s nature. We learn, for example, how the sloth spends its life hanging in and slowly moving through the boughs of rain forest trees. It recedes into its environment to the degree that it lets algae grow in its fur, which soaks up rain like a sponge, and the resulting greenish tinge makes the sloth nearly invisible in the tree crowns. It is so adapted to hanging that it is virtually helpless on the ground.  Everything about the sloth is slow it moves slowly, it digests slowly (only climbing down to the ground once a week to, as the students would say, pee and poop); it grows slowly, reacts slowly and seems largely impervious to pain (1). When we paint a picture of the animal in this way a process in which the students are involved the animal can begin to live in the soul of the child or adolescent.

Characterization imbues a subject with life. To define may make something clear, but it is the kind of clarity that is all too often void of life. When Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education, urged teachers to characterize and not define, he did so because he knew that through characterization we form living concepts that can grow and transform (2). A definition, by contrast, is fixed. Unfortunately, it is often within biology classes, with all the rote learning and memorization of definitions for multiple-choice exams, where traditional outcome-based education reaches its unhappy epitome. And biology is supposed to be the science of life.  Charles Dickens gives a lovely caricature of this way of teaching in his novel Hard Times:

_In this life, we want nothing but Facts, sir; nothing but Facts! __.
Blitzer, said Thomas Gradgrind, your definition of a horse.
Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth, namely twenty-four grinders, four eyeteeth, and twelve incisive. Sheds coat in the spring; in marshy countries, sheds hoofs too. Hoofs hard, but requiring to be shod with iron. Age known by marks in mouth. Thus (and much more) Bitzer.
_Now girl number twenty, _ said Mr. Gradgrind, _you know what a horse is. _

Of course we all need to learn facts, but isolated facts are soon forgotten and are like stones instead of nourishment for the human soul. What the students need is to see how the facts relate to each other, how the parts of an organism interact in service to the life of the whole creature. You could say that all real knowing is ecological knowing - knowing how something is part of a larger, dynamic context. If we can bring students into this way of knowing, we are preparing them for a life in a world that will not offer them pat solutions, but demand from them the ability to grow and form new ideas in relation to new and unforeseen demands.

The problem is that modern habits of thought and academic training, which encourage, above all, analysis and abstract theorizing, do not give teachers the tools they need to bring this kind of understanding to students. In fact, they tend to deaden both the propensity toward quiet and open-ended observation and the concrete, imaginative capacities a teacher needs most in order to build up exact, yet living pictures of the world.

Already over 80 years ago, Steiner saw that teachers came out of the _system_ with rigid, one-sided habits of thought. He saw the Goethean approach to nature and science as a key enabling teachers to transform their own thinking and bring a more vital reality to their students:

Our way of thinking is inclined to place things side by side. This shows us how little our concepts are geared to outer reality. In outer reality things flow together_. We need to think things together, and not as separate from each other. A person who wishes only to think things separated resembles a man who wishes only to inhale, never to exhale_. Here you have something that teachers in the future will have to do; they must above all acquire for themselves this inwardly mobile thinking, this unschematic thinking.
Science will have to wake up in a Goethean sense and move from the dead to the living. This is what I mean when I say again and again that we need to learn to get beyond our dead abstract concepts and move into living, concrete concepts. (3)

In our work at The Nature Institute we are committed to helping teachers and people who want to become teachers work on this transformation. One of the challenges of this task is that learning an approach that aims to reveal life in nature entails both ridding ourselves of ingrained habits of thought and mobilizing new.

 

 

More Mentoring Resources 2

There are a lot of resources in the business and education world relating to mentoring. We have tried to capture most of the core principles in the articles in this and the last newsletter. Along with the three pieces below, check out the 26 resources in our resource library.

“Light in the Soul”

from More Precious Than Light by Margreet Van Den Brink

In this chapter of her book on social encounter and conversation, Margreet explores the relationship between conscious conversation and the development of the three aspects of the soul outlined by Rudolf Steiner. For anyone interested in the more esoteric nature of conversation and the soul, this short piece is illuminating. Read more...

“The Art of Fruitful Conversation”

from Mentoring in Early Childhood Education by Carol Nasr Griset and Kim Raymond

Creating a space for honest listening, speaking and building relationship in a mentoring situation are at the heart of this chapter from WECAN's book Mentoring in Early Childhood Education. It also explores practical aspects of the mentoring relationship and the essential work of the mentor. Read more...

“Mentoring vs. Coaching”

from Management Mentoring Inc.

This article explores 25 ways that coaching and mentoring are different. It helps clarify the distinction that one can coach another to help them achieve a goal while a mentor works to help the person grow and develop in their life. Read more...

“Light in the Soul“ from More Precious Than Light by Margreet Van Den Brink

What actually happens to us when we hold conversations and relate to each other in this way? In order to understand this, it is necessary to know a little more how the soul works and how the spirit self develops in this.

Our soul consists of three separate layers of consciousness that developed one after the other during the course of human evolution. The oldest part of the soul, the part that is still strongly connected to the life processes of the physical body, is known as the sentient soul or the soul of experience. Our deep subjective needs, emotions, impulses of the will and so on live in this part of the soul. These form the subjective basis for our perceptions of the outside world. Through the sentient soul we do not experience the world passively but approach it with our personally tinged responses, moods and emotions. This enables us to connect with the events, things and people around us. But also with ourselves because it is as a result of the emotions longings and impulses of the will that are evoked in us by the world around us that we experience ourselves in the first place. This is how we become aware of ourselves inwardly.

All the impressions and experiences, which we assimilate in the course of our lives, take place in the first instance in the sentient soul. Parts of these experiences are retained there. However the largest part disappear deep down into the lower regions of our etheric and physical body and thus into the unconscious regions of our soul.

The second part of the soul, the intellectual soul, enables us through logical thinking to express our experiences in words and arrange them according to their importance. This makes it possible to distinguish what is important from what is unimportant and so we are able to make choices. Through thinking the emotions can become true feelings. The intellectual soul stores these experiences of which we have become conscious intellectually and emotionally.

The third part of the soul is the soul of consciousness or the consciousness soul. It is the forces of this part of the soul that enable us to become conscious of the truth and the essence of things and understand the relationships between them. However, this works only if we come to permeate our experiences and feelings with thoughts and when we experience or feel what we think. Only then can the truth of things become apparent and the essence become manifest. The consciousness soul contains all the truths we have taken into ourselves and of which we have become conscious.

In the previous chapter I said that our spiritual being, the spirit self, for its greatest part still lives concealed within us. Most of it lies dormant in the unconscious regions of our soul: the depths of the etheric and physical body. When however we become inwardly active, that is turn inward into our soul with the consciousness that comes into our higher being, it can step by step be lifted up through the different parts of the soul and be gradually awakened in the I.

First in a more dreamy feeling way in the sentient soul then more clearly in concepts in the intellectual soul until it finally becomes conscious of itself in the consciousness soul and so becomes liberated and free.

When we apply this to the true conversation in which both per partners show interest in each other, ask questions and listen with an active open attitude of mind to what is to be being told we get the following process.

When we ask each other to speak out we recall in our sentient soul that which lives in us as feelings, questions, needs, ideas, impulses, in relation to the subject we are dealing with. That activates the soul. The experiences start to live in us and we become more inwardly lively. It shows that the spirit self begins to awaken in this part of the soul. That is why so much happens already when one person gets the chance to speak with someone else who is interested, listens carefully and goes into the subject with open questions, someone who is inwardly active. When we then name the experiences that are heard, order them with thinking and form tentative conclusions that bring us to the first insights, we lift these up to the level of the intellectual soul.

A further step to an even higher level takes place in this process of awakening when we let that which we have found intellectually connect with the deeper layers of our being in the consciousness soul and let the experience to speak out their essence, their meeting.

Hans Schauder, who in his book Conversations on Counseling also mentions these different stages, speaks in an impressive way about the inner attitude and the quality of mind that is needed to reach this level of consciousness. He says that we should let them let that which we have found so far - the images of the experiences and that which we have thought about it - sink into the depths of our being and let them ripen there. Then after some time, answers and solutions will rise out of the depths of our soul that fill us with feelings of certainty and truth.

That is how we can in true conversations help each other to awaken the higher being living in us. The insights that we receive on the level of the consciousness soul then touch us again because of their truth. We feel liberated and happy that we have found something essentially true. This emotion and happiness brings us back to our sentient soul and from there the acquired insights and truths enrich and enhance our whole soul.

This is the process Rudolf Steiner refers to in his book occult science when he says that we have to raise the spirits self up from the depths of the soul through self reflection, Through our own inner activity it results in self-knowledge which is at the same time spiritual knowledge.

This reveals clearly what the process of spiritual growth entails: every time we first have to experience afresh all our experiences in the sentient soul, then we have to think about them and finally distill or peel the essence out of these experiences. By repeatedly passing through the process of active self-reflection and judgment building the spirit being within us is gradually awakened step by step. At the same time, this process allows us to digest the things we have experienced. Yes there is even a close connection between the extent to which we digest our experiences and the extent to which our spiritual being is released.