Our trip to Santa Cruz started with a visit with Daniel Bittleston in his home in the hills overlooking the Monterey Bay. Over the course of our time with him, we enjoyed elevenses, delved into conversation, threw a Frisbee, walked on the beach, rested, and ate a “bachelor’s lunch.” It was a full and rich day!
Right off the bat, Daniel shared a work that he has been considering called Blessed Unrest, How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming by Paul Hawken. Daniel generously gifted us this book, which he said is really a description of the Michaelic movement without being named in that way. Daniel knows the writer from their time together at the Marin Waldorf School, where Hawken’s children were students.
Daniel made us feel incredibly welcomed in his home. He has a beautiful enthusiasm for his family, for his community, and for the world. The father of six children (three boys and three girls), he said, “My family just keeps growing!” Daniel seems to find inspiration everywhere he looks and was full of ideas for us to consider:
The local Camphill Community can serve as a nationwide example of healthy community and practices. Blossom’s Farm, which we have already featured, hosts seasonal biodynamic gatherings. Café Gratitude is a local organic vegan restaurant practicing “Sacred Commerce” and celebrating aliveness. The Santa Cruz Waldorf School is just down the road. Really, how much more excellence could you pack into this town of 60,000?
The California Institute of Integral Studies in nearby San Francisco bridges East and West, crossing many traditions and aiming to “synthesize the fragmentary aspects of contemporary thought and culture into a meaningful whole.” CIIS professor Robert McDermott has also been involved with Sunbridge College, the Rudolf Steiner Institute, and the Sophia Project, Oakland homes for mother’s and children at risk for homelessness. We plan on checking out McDermott’s essay on the Spiritual Mission of America, a question that is coming to us more and more on our journey.
In San Francisco, there is also a restaurant called the Grand Piano, which Daniel referred to as a forerunner of Elderberries as an archetype of interacting with your community. He said that anthroposophy is slowly infiltrating the whole of our civilization. These are only a few of the examples of fabulous initiatives Daniel shared!
The local anthroposophical community in Santa Cruz is thriving. We were interested in hearing about the life of the branch and groups. There are around 40 members of the First Class of the School of Spiritual Science in Santa Cruz! In their meetings, they have embraced new ways of coming together that strengthen the class readings. There is time for sharing reflections, individual experiences and strivings, and to break bread together. Since reviving the format of the meetings, the Santa Cruz group is experiencing a vibrant new enthusiasm from its members.
Daniel is filled with gems of wisdom! As he offered us elevenses, he shared with us that Rudolf Steiner once said, “Life is the land of milk and honey: milk when you are young, honey when you get older.” How could we not accept the honey he had on hand for our coffee?! (even if only one of us ladies is getting older… 😉 )
Referring to William Blake’s insight that “Life is the marriage of heaven and hell,” Daniel suggested that we should choose our own hell. We cannot change the reality that we will experience some hell, but we can take ourselves in hand by meeting our own challenges. We should transform ugliness into beauty. Daniel is inspired by Steiner’s call for anthroposophists to be people of initiative. It is clear that he has taken this guidance to heart with all that he creates in the world! He is a truly an Imagination Troubador!
Daniel has a great love for social initiatives that bring people together. Anthroposophy, he said, is the heart of the Michaelic movement, and the heart of anthroposophy is in the relationships between people. Both subtle and beautiful, anthroposophy is absolutely unstoppable. It is destined for the future of humanity, though many of its ways are invisible.
Daniel is a member of the Western Regional Council of the Anthroposophical Society. He can certainly relate to our want to travel the country for anthroposophy: In 2011, he took a seven-week road trip around America on behalf of the Anthroposophical Society. With the support of Margaret Shipman, he traveled with the colorful exhibition of banners commemorating 150 years from the birth of Rudolf Steiner, getting to know communities around the country. If you know Daniel, you know that he would love to meet every human being on the planet!
Daniel serves on the board for the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education and has also worked for many years in independent/private Waldorf schools. We asked him for his thoughts on the concern that some teachers share that charter schools will water down Waldorf Education. To that, he responds: “How watered down are you? How watered down are your relationships with your colleagues?” Wow! “If there is an essence of anthroposophy anywhere, isn’t that valuable?”
The task of anthroposophy, he says, is to bring balance into the world. “Show me an imbalance in the world, and I’ll show you how anthroposophy can bring a balance.” We live in the tension between quantity and quality and, while so much of our time tends towards quantity, the rise of the Feminine insists on quality. A deeply hidden and wonderful ideal of anthroposophy is to bring the balance. Christ is the archetype of balance.
As to why we should stand for anthroposophy, Daniel shared that there is a quality of life in anthroposophy that is going to enrich the whole of humanity. Anthroposophy has a depth and a balance that you don’t find anywhere else in bringing about an understanding of human evolution.
What is anthroposophy to Daniel? It is his lifeblood, and the Foundation Stone Meditation is his life raft. In fact, when he is feeling sick, he turns to the Foundation Stone Meditation, and he finds that it gives him new life. He made the discovery years ago when he was suffering from a migraine headache, and nothing would help. He began slowly reciting the Foundation Stone Meditation, adding eurythmy gestures to accompany the sounds he spoke. “Soooooul of Maaaaaan!…” Bit by bit, the migraine retreated, unable to withstand the healing force of the meditation!
Describing his life’s work, Daniel said, “I like to be a bridge.” He came to the realization that everyone speaks his or her own language. He says he is able to understand and build a rapport with others quickly. This ability to speak another’s language and come to true understanding is so important in the collaboration called for in our time. Generalizations, he warns, are deadening.
Considering how we relate to the world around us, Daniel said folks should be saying, “These anthroposophists are such fun! They have such a sense of humor; it’s amazing!” Well, if everyone met Daniel, that might be just what they’d say. Our time with him would not have been complete without a walk on the beach and a game of Frisbee, which he sees as a manifestation of communication. It turns out one of us needs some practice! (and it’s not the same one who needs honey in her coffee 😉 )What a beautiful balance of depth and levity Daniel brings!
We asked Daniel what question we could carry forward for him. The true question, he said, is “What do you love?”
Daniel shared with us the story of the Giant and the Three Golden Hairs. In this story, there is a well that once brought forth wine and now does not even flow with a drop of water. As it happened, there was a toad blocking the flow of the liquid. Where might we have a toad blocking our source of new life? Are we ready to remove the barriers that hold us back, that prevent us from bringing about the complete Michaelic renewal of civilization? Will you join us?