Visiting Canberra for the Health and Healing Conference

Some thoughts from General Secretary Jane Bradshaw


I was so pleased to be able to visit Canberra (the capital of Australia) recently to participate in sections of the ‘Health and Healing’ Conference at Orana School, This two-day conference was organised by Hannah Semler and the local Canberra branch. The ASinA management committee took the opportunity of the gathering to also meet face to face for the first time in seven months.

Indeed, it was the first time I had met the other committee members face to face since taking up my General Secretary position. A very warm thanks to the members and friends of the local Anthroposophical Society (ASinA) for their generous welcome to myself and the members of our management committee.

As I prepared for my visit to Canberra, I recollected a dear friend, the late Karl Kaltenbach (the former Australian General Secretary, 1982 to 2000). It was Karl who once said to me, 20 years ago: ‘Don’t you hide your light under a bushel, Jane!’. It was many years later, when I was called to be a representative of the Australian Anthroposophical Society (ASinA), that I was to call on his words of courage to present myself as a candidate for the position of General Secretary of the ASinA. I am eternally grateful to Karl who continues to connect with me from the invisible world across the threshold.

I would now like to share with you some connecting thoughts linking the current themes of our work as Anthroposophists and as human beings. I see some guiding principles for our pathway to being truly human.

Theme of the year

Each year there is a new theme, a directive from the team at the Goetheanum, for members round the world to take into their hearts, and the theme for 2021 is three-fold:

Be self-responsible.

Say yes to the world.

Develop courage to know truth.

These words also align with our own Australian Vision/mission statement (see feature image above) and the nine actions for life’s journey (found also on the bookmarks distributed with the 2020 Journal. 

Let’s look a bit more closely at this year’s new three-fold theme:


Taking self-responsibility for our meditative work or study, for our actions, for our words and our relationships; knowing that we are a co-creative being of imaginative pictures of our world. That we are, at this moment, shaping the future reality. This knowing calls for higher, loftier thoughts than the ‘zeitgeist’.

‘Every human being (Anthropos) has the inherent wisdom (Sophia) to solve the riddles of existence and to transform both self and society.’
(Rudolf Steiner)

Saying yes to the world

Pencil portrait

Søren Kierkegaard (5 May 1813 – 11 November 1855)

Saying yes to the world, is saying yes to self and yes to the other. Søren Kierkegaard, the Danish Christian philosopher, once said that life is lived forward but understood backwards (Journals IV A 164, 1843). So I wonder, if we could see the whole totality of our biography across many lives today, would we say ‘yes!’ to our destiny, to our common task of love? Thanks to the knowledge of reincarnation, we know we are not meeting for the first time. Is this a strengthening concept?

What if we would see the capacity of the Other, recognise how they individually connect to their ‘divine path’ and express this in the world, would we then be free to act differently? No matter what the other’s relationship with divine, can we see each other’s virtues? Can we overcome the forces of separation, of sympathy and antipathy in our daily interactions, thought, feelings and deeds?

It is different, easier with friends, where we are more capable of seeing the positive and giving them the benefit of the doubt. But can we form loving relationships that cross over even unto strangers and to our enemies?

Self-knowledge leads us on the path to saying yes to existence, yes to our common destiny.Valid questions to ask oneself are: How did they come to be this way; how did I become this way? Let us not be in self judgement: it is difficult in the moment to know where one is. For the world changes quickly but the human soul develops slowly

Develop courage to know truth

The internalised struggle for truth is also a struggle for the right words to express that truth. Language imbued with love and warmth is the place to begin. Speaking what is good shapes biography and creates culture in community.

Steiner declared the members of the Anthroposophical society as ‘dear friends.’ According to Steiner, the motif of ‘friend’ is a future social motif. Being a friend acknowledges that we become companions on the journey with shared and with individual tasks. There is temptation to interfere; so it is better to be a companion. May your words, your thoughts enable, but not interfere, with the freedom of the Other. This is a future social motif and asks that we become a friend and companion on life’s journey. Steiner declared us/you be friends.

Bringing healing is the task of any spiritual community through connection. And Anthroposophy gives us a basis for building ‘light filled’ places – spaces where the Sun can enter the ‘dark caves’ of materialism so prevalent today.

These are some of the thoughts I wanted to share with you in our meeting this evening.


Jane Bradshaw shared these thoughts in conversation with the Canberra Branch members after a community dinner on March 27th, 2021.