Essay by Frank Carl Maier
Frank came from Germany to Motueka to volunteer his services to the new farm school project. He studied Anthroposophy in Dornach. Frank stayed for a month, did many things, including writing this essay. Several people helped him translate the original German text to English.
“What do we need in life to attain lasting contentment?
I believe that in a natural authentic environment, one without artificial or synthetic conditions, there exists everything that a human needs to attain his or her happiness; an anthropomorphic environment in which we can unfold, experience and express our senses freely.
We humans, in our current civilization, think too much, and in doing so make our life processes much too complicated, often extremely so. In addition, I think everyone, to varying degrees, is infected with narcissistic behaviours and tendencies.
My experience in recent years has led me to the realization that humanity is already ‘given’ by the cosmos to live simply and naturally. I call it “j-kiss,” that is, just keep it short and simple.
We have incarnated on this planet to unfold and develop our divine and infinite potentials, from which we constitute our experiences and have the chance to awaken and become fully conscious.
Steiner taught that in addition to our physical, etheric and astral bodies, we are born with twelve senses: ego, thought, word, hearing, warmth, sight, taste, smell, touch, balance, movement, and life sense, which are spread over the physical, social and knowledge senses.
As Karl König said, ‘Every one of our senses is deeply rooted in the physical and emotional life of man, and as a person we are largely determined by our sensory experiences. The more natural our experiences are, the more harmonious the overall picture of our self-experience and social experience will be.’
In the 1940s König founded many Camphill establishments , hence his ideas spread from Aberdeen around the world. Konig’s concept has always been to combine pedagogy with anthroposophical healing practices in a natural environment such as a biodynamic farm.
Such an environment is right now being developed in the scenic and fertile Tasman Bay on the north-west coast of New Zealand. The location is close to the place where Abel Tasman became the first European to discover New Zealand in the seventeenth century. This special farm was purchased by the Motueka Rudolf Steiner School, funded by donations. The 13.6 ha farm is visited by students who have various gardening and building projects. However the school community have a bigger vision of fully integrating the school onto the farmland so students have a daily connection to nature.
In 2011 this community initiated their journey to build a new school by first developing a shared vision. I see this as a great example of what the ancients called Logos; the beginning, the principle of divine reason and creative order. Their vision was one of inwardly-composed thought, expressed next in words, drawings and plans, which is now becoming a reality through actions.
I love this idea of a natural “farm school”, because children who spend their time outdoors in nature tend to be happier, more content, have better health, learning and social skills, as well as more mature emotional expression. In addition, children who play outdoors develop a love for the natural world, as well as the will to protect what they love. I am pleased that their vision for the school includes an integrated biodynamic agriculture operation as part of the school. The plan is to develop Community Supported Agriculture where the wider community can be involved and benefit from the quality organic food that is produced.
The farm is on a multi-faceted terrain, consisting first of a flat area, then a gently rising hill with level pastures, vegetable gardens, orchards, shelter-belt trees, hedgerows, a lake, and a wetland. The school’s landscape plan also includes areas for biodynamic agriculture, land conservation, a multifunctional sports fields, classrooms (some outdoor), communal areas, and areas set aside for woodlands.
On a fabulously sunny Thursday morning, teachers Lindsey and Margot invited me to observe their outdoor classes on the farm. It was a most memorable experience for me as we first travelled as a group by bicycle from the “town” school to the site of the new school. Arriving at the farm we set up under a newly-built shelter and uncovered the outdoor wood-fired pizza oven that the children had built. Yes that is right, the students had build the oven as a project the year before. The sun can be very strong in New Zealand and we all made use of sunhats and the shade.
With only a few flocks of clouds in the sky, we felt in the mood to light the fire in the oven, cut firewood into oven-sized logs, harvest vegetables and herbs from the garden on top of the hill, bring them to the “nature kitchen” – where busy hands were already preparing the dough and cooking the tomatoes and herbs into a delightful tomato sauce – then grated a large piece of cheese. It was nice to see how Margot and Lindsay animated the boys and girls in a playful way to work together. I could see the enthusiasm in the children’s faces.
Who among parents does not wish they could go back to their childhood and be better encouraged to recognise their own vital senses, such as the sense of touch, the sense of life or self-esteem, the sense of balance, and motor skills? For many moments during my visit I felt myself back in my own childhood. “Become like children,” it says in the Gospels of Thomas, Mary and Paul.
I believe we all have a few gaps in the expression of our twelve senses, and in the way the seven chakras are handled and understood in our bodies (physical, etheric, and astral bodies). In my view, healing such gaps is a prerequisite to our expressing our divine capabilities and helping our infinite possibilities unfold, so we can better make our own adventures and experiences.
By way of the year-round cycles of gardening, growing, harvesting, then collecting seeds in autumn, our living in a natural and authentic environment, our walks and experiences in nature, all help us discover and develop our senses again. And let’s face it, is this not what we all want, for ourselves and for our children?
From my experiences and observations I believe a healthy expression of our twelve senses, the awareness and conscious handling of our seven chakras, the deeply-lived knowledge of what I am incarnated on this earth for, the determination I have, and what I understand the meaning of life is, leads me to move from my rational, intellectual mind-thinking to the next higher sphere; heart-thinking. A life lived by love, beauty, wisdom, truth, strength, and a thousand virtues.