by Per Eisenman
What is the “Youth Section?” It is many things. It
is a worldwide network of active, questioning, young change agents.
It is a group with no members. It is a space for discussions about
the spiritual striving of youth—those questions that keep
you up at night and wake you up in the morning. The Youth Section
is one of eleven sections of the School for Spiritual Science. The
School for Spiritual Science is the esoteric heart of the worldwide
Anthroposophical Society. The School is dedicated to the support
and furtherance of spiritual scientific research as it is elaborated
in the work of its founder, Rudolf Steiner.
My first experience of the Youth Section was when I went to Europe
at eighteen and went to six huge international youth conferences in
less than a year. I met hundreds of amazing people from Romania, New
Zealand, South Africa, Germany, Brazil, Japan to name a few. I felt
a deep and growing inner wealth from the lectures, workshops, and,
above all, conversations. The theme of each conference was related
to the spirit within each of us and in the world. A few were sponsored
by the Christian Community, but most were planned by the Youth Section
of the School for Spiritual Science.
The Youth Section is special
in that, while the other sections require membership in the
School of Spiritual Science, the Youth Section has no membership
requirements and, in fact, no members. There are, however,
many people of varying ages active under its wings. In a certain
sense, any time young people are striving to find their own
inner meaning, to answer the burning questions of their time,
they are doing Youth Section work. Most people involved in
the Youth Section are inspired by Rudolf Steiner’s work,
or connected to others who are inspired by his work.
The work takes different forms: projects, study groups, conferences,
conversations. The home of the Youth Section is at the Goetheanum
in Dornach, Switzerland, the worldwide headquarters of the
Anthroposophical Society and the School for Spiritual Science.
Many activities are spearheaded from there, but the Youth
Section finds its life through local initiatives taken up
around the world. When young people ask their own questions
and take initiative rather than waiting for programs to be
created for them, Youth Section work is taking place.
Artwork by Miguel
When I returned to the U.S., I found a group of people in their late
twenties and early thirties active as the Youth Section. I arrived
at a small conference on spiritual psychology in Harlemville, NY,
excited to find activity closer to home. They were glad to meet someone
like me, young and inspired to become active in the Youth Section.
But they also told me that, now that I was there, they felt they could
retire from Youth Section work, confident that it would continue.
Although I was disappointed they were moving on, I felt honored by
their trust and excited about the work ahead. Over the next few years
I invited a group from around the U.S. and Canada to plan a large
international youth conference in collaboration with the Youth Section
at the Goetheanum. As a result of our meetings, one conference was
held in 1997 and another in 1999. These conferences were life-changing
events for many people, including the planners.
As the young people gathered together to plan the conferences, older
people involved in the anthroposophical movement stepped forward to
meet us, to mentor us, and to help us. After the conferences we continued
to meet for several years. Eventually I realized that we were in the
same place as those retiring Youth Section folks I’d met on
my return from Europe.
As with anything youthful, the Section has an ebb and flow, a constant
changing of the guard. It is like waves that gather on the beach and
then wash out into the ocean again. This has happened in the United
States at least five times that I know of since the 1960’s when
the Youth Section was revived at the Goetheanum after a long slumber.
During the last few years, a strong current of young people asking
deep questions about anthroposophy has found a place at Heartbeet
Lifesharing in Vermont. This large group has been meeting twice a
year to study anthroposophy and ask questions about its implication
for their lives. There are other inspiring initiatives as well, like
the gatherings of young people in the Montreal area in Canada.
The life of the Youth Section at the Goetheanum has an ebb and flow,
too. However, its structure, the presence of a full-time leader, and
an office space offer a certain continuity even though the young people
change. In this country I don’t imagine we need an office, or
that one office would suffice for this vast continent. I picture a
more esoteric, ongoing support. I hope a variety of people of different
ages can come together under the banner of the Youth Section to carry
this space in their hearts for the questions of youth, to support
the inner development of young people from an anthroposophical perspective.
The future needs young people who know themselves and are dedicated
to asking their questions and finding solutions to the puzzles of
our time. I hope that some of us can band together on the continent
of North America—in both small and large groups—and connect
to the global network of the Youth Section. I hope we can support,
pray for, meet, and encourage the young people who will be change-makers
of tomorrow, and who want to draw on anthroposophy as a wellspring
of renewal today.
Essays: Youth Section •
Trust • Adventure