Why on Earth?

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Why on Earth? Biography and the Practice of Human Becoming

“What liberates is the knowledge of who we were, what we became; where we were, where into we have been thrown; where to we speed, wherefore we are redeemed; what birth is, and what rebirth.” — VALENTIUS, 2nd-century Gnostic

Life today poses many questions, both in our personal lives and in our participation in nature and the broader culture. We often focus on the outer needs for social, political, technological, or environmental change. However, can we really meet the challenges around us without also attending to our inner life and to our own evolving biography as it reflects and informs the outer world?

This book starts from the premise that each of our lives expresses uniqueness of spiritual intention within the unfolding of universal rhythms and possibilities.

Can we wake up to the developmental opportunities offered to us through different life phases?

Are we able to step out of the narrowness of the dualistic nature–nurture argument and experience that we are both more than our genetic composition and more than a product of the social and educational influences that have shaped us?

Can we come to appreciate the learning that our “I” has received through heredity, ethnicity, schooling, and gender without losing a sense of our true individuality?

Waking up to our unique self as it grows through interaction with the world and other human beings helps us recognize the significance, we all play in one another’s biographies and in the unfolding of our larger human story.

“We should actually retain the possibility, all through life, of rejoicing in the coming year, because each year charms forth the divine-spiritual content of our own being in ever new forms. I want to emphasize this point. We should really and truly learn to experience our life as capable of development not only in youth, but through its whole span between birth and death.” — RUDOLF STEINER (Sept. 1919)

Why on Earth? invites us to explore our own meaning-filled life journey, to bring conscious attention to how we go our path, so that we may more freely perceive our possibilities and our responsibilities along the way of our personal and shared becoming.

C O N T E N T S:


1. Lifetimes of Intention
2. Feminine and Masculine and the Question of Gender
3. Understanding Temperament: Appreciating our Differences
4. Seasons of Life: Phases of Development
5. The Long Spring: Birth to Twenty-One
6. Summer Fullness: Twenty-One to Forty-Two
7. Autumn Light and Shadow: Forty-Two to Sixty-Three
8. Winter Winds: Sixty-Three and Beyond
9. Taking One’s Self Seriously: Going an Inner Path
10. Lifting the Veil

Appendix: Biography Work with Others

About the Author

SIGNE EKLUND SCHAEFER was the founding director of a professional development program in Biography and Social Art, one of several activities of the Center for Biography and Social Art. A teacher of adults for many decades, she has been a student of life for as long as she can remember. Never having heeded what was told her as a child—not to ask so many questions—she continues to love learning. Her desire to know more about the multiple dimensions of human development led her as a young person to the work of Rudolf Steiner and to Waldorf education. She directed Foundation Studies at Sunbridge College for more than twenty years and was on the faculty of Emerson College in Sussex England before that. She continues to teach both nationally and internationally, including at several recent workshops in China. She coauthored Ariadne’s Awakening, a book on gender questions and coedited the parenting book More Lifeways. A mother and grandmother, she now lives in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, with her husband Christopher Schaefer.

Additional information

Weight 19 oz
Dimensions 6 × 0.6 × 9 in




December 2015






Steiner Books


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