An Interview with an Anonymous
By John Bloom, Rudolf Steiner Foundation
JB: In light of your meditative practice and path,
what is your relationship to money?
AD: I think it's an important question. My relationship
to money is not necessarily your average one. Nor is its relationship
to me. That's another story. I come from a business family and my
background is Jewish. Because of this particular background, money
is not in the shadow as much as it is in the broader society of
America. I've been involved with non-profits for many years, and
not in the business world. However, I have an unusual attitude about
money, more matter of fact.
JB: Can you go back into how that matter of factness
came about? Does it affect the way you do philanthropy?
AD: These views are imparted through an inception
process more than through what is said. Those of us who are parents
are horrified by what our kids have soaked up from us without our
intending it at all. Knowledge and values are transferred by osmosis
to the benefit or detriment of everyone. I could tell you I learned
about money through dinner table conversations, or going to the
office with my dad on Saturday, and overhearing him on the telephone,
or listening when his brothers would come over. The women would
be talking about hair salons and their nails, which I found boring
after 30 seconds. I tended to listen to the men talking about what
had been going on with the business. They would tell stories of
things they'd experienced. I just soaked up a certain point of view.
JB: Then you were following a natural interest.
AD: To tell you the truth, I was anything but interested
in doing philanthropy. I'm getting interested now, but it's not
something that I found instantly as my calling. I wanted to be a
psychotherapist. I wanted to do farming and mothering. I knew that
that was my piece to do in the world, and what I wanted to be involved
with. I didn't feel at all that way about philanthropy. I actually
didn't have the opportunity to be philanthropic until I was in my
thirties. Even now, I don't do philanthropy on a full-time basis.
I spend as little time as possible on it because it interferes with
my vocation and personal life.
On the other hand, the world is in desperate need.
For karmic reasons, I seem to be in a position to able to direct
significant resources toward helping things that need to happen
in order for us to gracefully move to the next stage of our evolution
on this earth with as little suffering as possible. I can't not
help with that, given the position I'm in. It's really out of a
sense of responsibility that I come to philanthropy.
JB: Would you link that sense of responsibility
with your spiritual practice?
AD: I link it to my spiritual self. Again I almost
hesitate to use the word spiritual. I would say that in the deepest
part of myself, capital S, or mind in the greater sense, that lives
on even past the body. That part of me has its roots in a common
source of all being. Bodhicitta is the word used to describe this.
In the language of my lineage it means enlightened mind. It's from
that that we can feel another's suffering and the urge alleviate
it. That is why I do philanthropy.
JB: That is a very beautiful and inspiring image.
Can you speak about your spiritual practice?
AD: Every day I start with a meditation. I use
this practice to get the bracken away, and to get as much to the
essence as I can. This essence is actually how the Tibetans describe
what we call enlightenment. There's a word for Buddha in Tibetan
that is not the same as it is in Sanskrit. In Sanskrit, Buddha means
awakened one. In my lineage it means cleansed one. We believe that
one cleanses away mistaken views. This makes it possible to experience
reality directly. I feel I'm in a process of doing that. I find
when I'm more conscious of this process, things go better, not only
in philanthropy but also in anything I do whether it's mothering
or driving down the street. I'm conducting my life more consciously.
I've learned this lesson the hard way. I have learned the value
and effectiveness of meditation, prayer and other practices. Without
it, I have suffered, gotten off track, and wasted a lot of time.
I started meditation as a daily practice when I
was about twenty. I didn't have instruction, so I wasn't very good
at it. I happen to have a naturally active mind, so I didn't have
a natural talent for quieting my mind. It was a struggle. Even though
I wasn't doing very well, when I stopped, things went badly. I could
feel that I wasn't pursuing my life as right on target as I had
been in the past.
I decided when I resumed meditation practices,
that I would need instruction. I came upon a Tibetan lama, at the
time. I didn't really care which flavor it was as long as the teacher
was somebody I could really connect well with and who really was
accomplished. I have been studying with him for about seven years.
I always felt that pursuing a spiritual path was an important part
of my life. When I found a teacher my practice became a more vital
part of my life. Enlightenment is a central goal. Actually, that's
what we're always pursuing, waking, sleeping, chewing on our problems,
all the time in life. The question is, how consciously are we going
directly toward that?
JB: Why did you want to be a psychotherapist?
AD: Oy, you vant the full analysis?
JB: No, just an answer.
AD: I don't know fully why. I've always been fascinated
by how the mind works. I've been a people watcher since I was little.
Another piece is that it feels good to alleviate suffering. And,
I think I'm a born teacher. When somebody comes to me with their
life in a knot, they need a fellow human being to help them look
at it, figure out which strings to pull, and how to loosen the knot
a little bit. I love to help with that process. I see myself as
an ally in their inquiry into their own mind. Another aspect is
that I enjoy just the experience of connecting with people on a
JB: You mentioned the notion that money is kind
of a shadow issue. What did you mean by that?
AD: One has to look to the roots of our culture.
The church people weren't supposed to handle money-a ridiculous
notion because the Roman Empire was being run through the church.
They had a lot of power, and yet the cardinals and bishops weren't
supposed to be handling money because it would dirty their hands.
This attitude was certainly deeply ingrained within the Christian
world. Until relatively recently from a historical perspective,
not very many people have or earned money. Those who weren't land
holders or rulers were either farmers or church people.
From the perspective of my culture, once the Jews
were forbidden to own land and were periodically being driven from
it, they were newcomers wherever they went. What could they do?
They had to be professionals. All through the countries of the Diaspora
they spoke a common language, which meant they could do commerce
in a way that others couldn't. They were both pushed into it and
drawn into it by the particular event of the Diaspora.
Doing business is something that my family has probably been engaging
in for a couple of millennia. We had to be really good at it or
we were not going to eat. My family usually lived in a town near
Kiev in Russia. They would also go back and forth between there
and Kiev, where they really had the opportunity to make more money.
There was a government quota for Jews allowed to come into Kiev
and live there on a temporary basis, even if it was for three years.
Some Jews were selected because they were needed for a particular
function. Once the function was somehow fulfilled, the Jews were
thrown out again until they were needed again. My family would go
home, then return to Kiev for a while. This is as I understand it.
Because we were better at grain trade, we were often the ones asked
to come and go into Kiev, which then allowed us more opportunity.
We've had an immigrant mentality for a couple thousand years. We'd
have to perform better than everybody else just in order to make
it. We feel our life depends on accomplishing whatever it is, and
doing it really well.
JB: In all that shift of commerce there is a trading
of money and goods. Though you may not own land, you could still
accumulate a surplus of money or wealth. Accumulation tends to bring
power and authority. Is this notion applicable?
AD: We couldn't own land. We could own things,
and consequently we exercised influence. The quality of commerce
was itself affected. I have thought about this in relation to current
non-profit and for-profit activities. If I really want to affect
change in society, it seems to me the for-profit sector is what
really is affecting people's lives on a more vast and basic scale
than non-profits. When something hits the for-profit world, societal
change happens. The non-profit world can plant seeds and hopefully
begin movement in a certain direction. At first it's probably not
very profitable. For the change to really happen, it's got to go
into the for-profit sector.
JB: But that change has not necessarily been for
AD: We see the power exercised by what they thought
was profitable. Commerce is driving things in our society. In past
societies, almost any of them, the religious institutions were also
promoting culture. Michelangelo was mostly supported by the church
and the Medicis as patrons. William Irwin Thompson, a historian,
in looking at the history of humanity and change, said that the
spiritual visionaries were the first ones to get the new pattern.
The artists were next. They had the ability then to communicate
it further, and, thus, have a very important function in society
as far as changing paradigms. Then came the business people. Of
course, bringing up the rear were the political leaders. We're in
a moment in history right now, when there's a paradigm shift that's
trying to happen.
JB: Can you name or articulate the paradigm shift?
AD: Look at this on a continuum of humanity's evolution
to make sense of this moment of paradigm shift. Humanity's evolution
parallels the maturation process of a human being. An individual
human being starts out being one with its mother in the womb. After
they're born, they're still attached to the mother through the breast.
First they take little steps away, start showing ego development,
and then they start saying 'no' which is establishing their own
will. They also develop the conscious mind more. These I think of
as more masculine qualities-the conscious will and the ego. Whereas,
the mother and unconscious are more feminine things. By teenagerhood,
they know much better than both parents. Significant individualizing
has taken place, and they tend to believe only in themselves. The
ego is really out there. That's what they're about. They've got
to be so full of themselves that they're willing to withstand the
rigors of the outside world and leaving home. At some point they
go through a prodigal son experience through which they realize,
"Gosh, maybe I don't know everything." Mark Twain said
something like: "When I was in my teens my father just didn't
know a thing. But by my early twenties it was amazing how much the
man had learned."
We went through a process in which the pendulum swung from matriarchy
to patriarchy, from the feminine to the masculine. In an individual
it then begins to move towards center again out of the natural seeking
for balance. Humanity is now at that point. We've developed the
conscious mind, the ego, scientific process, and know more than
father spirit and mother earth. Being quite full of ourselves, we've
come to the point where we are starting to realize that we need
to work on these greater things, to bring more balance. Hence, there
is the emerging importance of the feminine, and the receding of
the masculine. Intuition is valued in business more now than in
the past, as are relationships, process and group facilitation.
Corporations have a need for these values and qualities. This is
where we are in the paradigm shift.
Another aspect of the paradigm change is that the understanding
of power begins to shift so that it is no longer power-over. Currently
this is about the only form of power that is acknowledged. Power-with
and power-within are feminine forms of power. Power-within is something
that America hasn't acknowledged at all. However, going within is
something I've been doing a lot. I have found it a great source
of power because it connects with the enlightened mind.
JB: We may be driven to a paradigm shift simply
AD: Allow me a kind of image or metaphor. We've
been standing on this piece of ground, an island in the ocean, if
you will. Land masses come up and go down. This one has been here
for a long time. Now it is old and crumbling. People tend to be
conservative by nature. Consequently, they say, "Oh, it's crumbling.
We just have to use more and more resources to patch it together."
Well, of course it's all crumbing, because it's just finished. At
a certain point, it will be all patches and there will be no substance
of the original thing left. Meanwhile, there is another land mass
that's coming up, just naturally emerging.
In the spring, asparagus comes up anew. We cut
it and cut and it, yet it keeps coming in great big fat sprouts
that want to turn into these beautiful ferns that tower over our
heads. There is an extraordinary amount of upward growing energy
in those tips of asparagus. Like the asparagus, the tip of the rising
land mass has a lot of cohesiveness, strength, and upward energy
in it. The other land mass has crumbling downward energy. Those
of us who are able to see the rising land mass and know that that's
the place to go, need to build a bridge from the old crumbling one
to the new emerging one.
JB: How would you know a new paradigm institution
or organization? Is it intuition? Are there some criteria?
AD: You could say that the criteria support your
intuitive knowing. One characteristic is whether it practices power-with
or power-over? A second is, does it take the context of the global
picture into account? I also want to know the people, how they are
working together, their system. If it's not a healthy system, it
can be the greatest idea in the world, but nothing will come of
it. These are some ways that I can tell. Of course, one's sense
of intuition is critical. I identify myself as being part of that
growing network of people who have a sense of this emerging land
mass and who want to build a bridge to it. I consider RSF an important
part of that network.
If I'm going to put my own personal energy
and money towards something, one thing that will happen, first of
all, is that I experience an intuitive, energized 'yes'. The second
thing that I experience is that I cannot not do it. In reality,
we know right action in and through our hearts.
Printed with permission from the Rudolf
Steiner Foundation as printed in the RSF Quarterly.- June 30,
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