online Biography Course
The Sophia Institute online Biography Course leads the student through sequentially structured lessons that will help to process, help to heal and help to clarify the student's life story and at the same time introduce and deepen the understanding of Anthroposophical biography work. As part of the studies the student creates a beautiful booklet that includes all the assignments and visual artwork to form a sort of chronicle of the student's life story and the deeper meaning of the biography. The booklet will be made available as a free download or it can be ordered via Sophia Institute Publishing as a (private edition) full color paperback or hardcover printed book (private edition/accessible only to the student).
This courses is of interest to anyone who seeks an introduction to Anthroposophical biography work, wants to understand the basic ideas and concepts of Anthroposophical biography work, wants to work on self-development through bringing consciousness to the riddles of our biography, work on healing, or to students who long to understand Anthroposophy and the significance of Rudolf Steiner for our time.
The course also prepares the student to engage in biography group work or counseling.
The courses consist of two parts. Firstly, several lessons reflect on and gather information concerning the student's biography in phases, and process and work on the biographical reality that emerges. Secondly, lessons and feedback, counseling and further study lead the student to a deepening and into a trans-formative phase ideally touching on the guiding principles and tasks of the individual and his/her biography.
Each lesson includes presentations and study material from several sources including lectures by Rudolf Steiner, assignments, artistic work and tasks.
Lesson 1: 0 - 7 Childhood/physical body/willing - Moon
Lesson 2: 7 - 14 Grades school/childhood/etheric body/feeling - Mercury
Lesson 3: 14 - 21 High school/college/etc./adolescence/astral body/thinking - Venus
Lesson 4: 21 - 28 Sentient soul age - Sun
Lesson 5: 28 - 35 Intellectual soul age - Sun
Lesson 6: 35 - 42 Consciousness soul age - Sun
Lesson 7: 42 - 49 Spirit self age/transformed astral body - Mars
Lesson 8: 49 - 56 Life spirit age/transformed etheric body - Jupiter
Lesson 9: 56 - 63 Spirit man age/transformed physical body - Saturn
Lesson 10: 63 - old age/wisdom
Lesson 11: Lunar Nodes
Lesson 12: Summary and Conclusions
D'où Venons Nous / Que Sommes Nous / Où Allons Nous
Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? is a painting by French artist Paul Gauguin. Gauguin inscribed the original French title in the upper left corner: D'où Venons Nous / Que Sommes Nous / Où Allons Nous. The inscription the artist wrote on his canvas has no question mark, no dash, and all words are capitalized. In the upper right corner he signed and dated the painting: P. Gauguin / 1897. The painting was created in Tahiti, and is in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. These three questions, ”Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?" are perhaps of the most deepest nature possible and touch upon all the questions there are in the world of philosophy and psychology. Getting closer to answers to these questions is the purpose of the Sophia Institute Biography Course.
"The Veiled Pulse of Time" by William Bryant
"Phases" by Bernard Lievegoed
"Theosophy" by Rudolf Steiner
"Facing Karma" by Rudolf Steiner
"Biographical Work: The Anthroposophical Basis" by Gudrun Burkhard
"The First Three Years of The Child: Walking, Speaking, Thinking" by Karl König
"Our biography is our most precious, intimate possession, yet how much do we really know about ourselves?" - William Bryant
All study materials will be made available online and via email.
Sophia Institute online Biography Course
"How much do we really know about ourselves?" as William Bryant puts it in his groundbreaking work "The Veiled Pulse of Time" is one of the main questions that we will encounter when turning to biography work.
This Biography course will help to get somewhat closer to this subject by lifting into our consciousness patterns and significant threads that can be revealed from the treasure chest that holds our biography as if someone (we ourselves?) has discarded a bunch of memories and thrown them into this chest and time has added some dust and made some of the pictures fade.
One of the mysteries that we all encounter in our lives, even though we might not always be aware of it, is indeed our own biography. In our day to day life, we might pay little attention to this mystery, and only if dramatic events enter our life and cause us to stop and reflect, we may become aware of underlying currents or tendencies that reveal themselves to us upon examining our life.
Using a diary or journal, or at least to reflect from time to time on our life, is an important practice in becoming more conscious of our biography.
In this course, we try to turn to our life’s story in a particular way, trying to detect patterns and gain insights into our biography by looking at it through the lens of the seven year periods. While during the first three seven year periods obvious and significant changes occur at the transition from one into the next, as the change of teeth around age seven, and the entry into grade school at that time, or the onset of puberty around age fourteen, later in life we might not be so aware of these transitions, and we might need to make extra efforts in order to become conscious of these changes in ourselves and in our biography.
Consider your biography and the 7 year rhythm drawing on your own experience and study. In the book “Phases” by Bernard Lievegoed, Lievegoed states: “The human biography is a symphony which each individual personally composes."
While each person's path in life is a unique and individual 'work of art', the human being meets certain milestones - from the period of adolescence to old age - which are universal in nature. Regardless of background, critical outer and inner stages must be passed through. "Phases" describes each period of life - adolescence, the twenties, thirties, forties, etc. - and looks at the inner qualities and challenges that arise at each stage. The author argues that the various biological and psychological explanations of the human being are incomplete. If the inner self, the ego, of each individual is recognized and acknowledged, then the peculiarities of one's particular life-path and its challenges take on new meaning.
Bernard Lievegoed - psychiatrist, educator and anthroposophist - brought half a century of clinical practice, studious observation and personal insight into the writing of the book "Phases." His overview of the course of human life and professional career, of male-female relationships, and the sometimes misleading picture of the human being presented by the various psychological schools of thought, has made this book essential reading for all those interested in attaining an insight into the mysteries of life.
The 7 Year Phases
In Anthroposophical parlance we find the life phases structured and depicted in the following way. For those already familiar with some of the concepts and ideas of Anthroposophy, this division and description of the life phases will be easily recognized, for those less familiar with these concepts, it may serve as a guide that can be referred back to.
0 - 7 Childhood/physical body/willing
7 - 14 Grades school/childhood/etheric body/feeling
14 - 21 High school/college/etc./adolescence/astral body/thinking
21 - 28 Sentient soul age
28 - 35 Intellectual soul age
35 - 42 Consciousness soul age
42 - 49 Spirit self age/transformed astral body
49 - 56 Life spirit age/transformed etheric body
56 - 63 Spirit man age/transformed physical body
63 - Old age/wisdom
Sophia Institute online Biography Course
Phase: 56 - 63 Years
Spirit Man Age/Transformed Physical Body
Entering this period of time we need to realize that unfulfilled ambitions and unrealized hopes should now be discarded. We can and should now enter a more contemplative phase of life. Our experience helps us to realize that within every problem something is working itself out, not only on a personal level, but also on the global level. We might now realize that it is the process that is of importance and not so much the solution or the temporary fix.
Aging helps us to realize that our biography is as much an inner journey as an occurrence in the outer world. We sense the real movements in life more clearly when we come to old age, this sanctuary where our center of gravity shifts from body to soul and our attachment to the mortal world lessens.
We might find ourselves more often contemplating when performing a task what will happen to it once we are gone, have moved on. Will it simply sit around and gather dust, be forgotten, or will it be of use beyond our narrow confines?
All our experience, the reactions and conflicts which come to us by way of the outer, the external world, now sinks into our interior cauldron of synthesis. It is there that experience is distilled and assimilated into the self, the ego, into our inner reality.
Tasks and Assignments for this Lesson
Reflect deeply on this 7 year period of your life. What were some of the significant events during this time? What were some of the significant experiences? Where were you? Where did you travel? Who were the important people that you encountered and were influenced by? What was your education like? Jobs and career? Important books or other artwork that left a lasting impression? Were there accidents or trials that changed the course of events? What ideas and ideals inspired you?
Attempt to do this reflection in a somewhat detached manner but with compassion and love - as if examining the life and biography of someone else.
Once you have arrived at an overview and awareness of significant aspects of this life phase, use the the Form/Template found below to record, and send in your completed assignment for this lesson. Please complete tasks 1 through 4 as described below.
1. Create descriptions as follows. Please structure your descriptions in a threefold approach using the three categories below. The categories may be regarded as pertaining to the physical world, the soul world and the spirit world. The three categories are: Events, People and Ideas. In the Events section, please enter descriptions of the facts, events, occurrences, places, etc. The People section should include descriptions of people that were of importance or were influential during the period in question. Lastly the Ideas section is there to record important ideas and ideals that were of significance at different times in your life. Ideas and ideals that might have an influence on our development include those ideas and ideals that live in our environment. For instance, our childhood experiences might include living in a household where strong religious beliefs are present, or growing up in a society that is free and liberal. Other examples include ideas and ideals that we have discovered in ourselves or found through other people, books, the media, etc. and that we might have made our own, like social justice, or “the survival of the fittest”, charity and empathy, freedom of the individual, moral convictions, equality, Anthroposophy, spontaneity, artistic expression, sports, etc. Please enter the descriptions in the form below.
2. In addition to the descriptions pertaining to this phase, create a short summary that best describes the essential aspects of this life phase.
3. Create a motto or sentence that best describes this life phase.
4. Create artwork that relates to this period/phase in your life.
Please send your completed assignment via the online form or via email.