The Depth of Change with Lakshmi Prasanna

Laura Scappaticci spoke with Dr. Lakshmi Prasanna, about the ubiquitous experience of change these past three years, both in our work lives and spiritual understanding, and how it has prepared us for a new depth in our living connection with each other and anthroposophy.

Can you tell us about the nature of change as related to your work? Knowing that you have been a neonatologist, Waldorf School doctor, adult educator, and leader.

Yes, because it has changed quite radically in the last three years. I know this feeling of change is not just for me. It is changing for many of us who are connected to the future of humanity.
If you’re connected to that, there’s a lot of changes that are happening. So I acknowledge that change in me as personal, but there’s also a big leap happening overall.

So how do I understand this change? Does it belong to me? Which part of it belongs to my own individual biographical journey and what I need to do at this time?

I could just think only about me, as Lakshmi in her biographical journey, but if I relate it to the whole of humanity, more and more, I’m acknowledging that even when I think “I am”, and when I say “I am, This I am”, that has in itself the whole world.

What is happening to you, even if I don’t want to think about it – that is part of me. I’ve watched my own journey, and I’ve watched many of my adult student’s journeys, and I struggled to come to terms with it and to create a new form to it.

New leaders, new depth

Could you say more about new forms and what it is like to work with today’s leaders?

There is a place in time I might be leading something. And there are other times and spaces, where I am following someone else. So whom do I follow? And whom do I lead? Both are questions and push me into this need to know myself not at the superficial level, but a deeper level. Rudolf Steiner constantly reminds us that we can see deeper. With everything that we are looking at, we can go deeper.

I feel the gift I’ve received these past few years is to be able to go a little bit deeper into anything. Just when I know I reached the depths of it, there’s always something more I can see.

We need to go deeper into everything and that does not mean only philosophical thought.
For me going deeper is in how I prepared for this meeting with you.
Deeper into asking myself questions, which I might have asked very superficially before.
And the depth which I experienced three years ago, is very different compared to the last three years.

It’s the work of will. It’s not something which happens automatically. It is to build a capacity to do conscious work, to go to the depths. Understanding the world outside with the same mood inside me—that it is an ongoing process.
Now I never to come to a point where I say “this is it.”
That is new to me personally.
I also watched phenomenologically many people sharing this. Many people who felt they understood something before needed to revise their understanding. This could be either in terms of their relationship to life and death, to money, to matter, to what they do.

Painting source: Doclakshmi

What is my destiny?

And most importantly the question that lives is in relation to my own destiny, what I thought was my work.
And what is asked of me in the last three years? What is calling me is totally dissolving like a caterpillar to all that I have known in relation to the question “What is my destiny?”
I have to dissolve it completely.
And I won’t say I’m like a butterfly now on the other end. But I know in consciously watching this dissolving process, I have a choice to pick up what I want to carry forward from all that I know about me and the world. So this is really a wonderful initiation process.

It’s not easy. But I’m deeply grateful that we are at a time when we can talk like this and have something to talk about in a common language. If I did not have anthroposophy as a language or a common meeting ground, I would have missed many of my dear sisters and brothers.

There is a need to develop a new language, create a new “word”, in the present times .
And it even took three years for me before I could speak about this change. I understand what it means to strive and to experience joy.
It is a striving which I’m not going to step out of in this lifetime. But to experience it with joy, is really deeply touching.
And I attribute that to my meeting, my encounter with anthroposophy, in terms of knowing how to work with it. This constant reminder, “One can go deeper.” And one can create a new word.

Being seen and heard

What else are you experiencing that is new?

I remember that all our teachers on the other side are watching over us at this moment. And the whole of humanity is experiencing death so closely as a threshold experience. And I hear those that have crossed the threshold more clearly. Because there’s less noise from outside.

I wonder, “Why did I not hear them so clearly, before?” I’m not going to answer that question with logic. But I would like to say that I’m hearing it more clearly now. And that’s my personal experience. Through these last three years of experiences, many encounters happened where I felt that finally, I am seen for what I am seeing, and I am heard for what I am hearing!
Is it me who has changed? Is it humanity? Is it a gift from spiritual world that there could be a possibility that more people can be awake to the same truth?

As a little child, I went to the church. And then every time somebody asked, “Why do you go to church as a Hindu?” I said “This is where I believe I will find peace in my heart.”
And one of the nuns asked me when I was a teenager, “How will you know when you find peace?” I said, “I close my eyes. I imagine that I hear a sound of a coin dropped in the deepest chamber in my heart. I hear it as a sound in my ear.”
She said, “Who told you this?”
I told her “I don’t know.” This was my imagination as I was growing up.
And recently, in the last three years, I actually experienced it as a physical sensory experience.

A moving imprint

I go deeper into sensing my sensory experiences of these encounters. And the deeper I’ve taken the imprint of it into my heart into these past few years, it is like I have been experiencing the growth of another chamber in my heart. So I actually have a very special place there.

It’s a physical bodily experience of an organ of love. It’s something which we live.

As a child, I pressed all my favorite flowers in poetry books. I carried them everywhere. And every page had a flower pressed in it. And then the flower had a journey – a journey with me being pressed upon it. It was a living, growing image of that moment when I picked up that flower from the ground, when I read these lines of poetry, and when I put it in. And it grew with me. And I grew with it. Living, growing images of the world around us like a bridge between this sense filled world and the spiritual source. And I build it consciously .

This is an exercise of giving a form. Do I use color and a brush or do I draw do a sketch? Do I write or speak? Do I speak prose, poetry? When and with whom?

This practice is for giving form to what you sense, especially a sense of the future that is coming towards us.

The meaning of suffering

So many of our respected Anthroposophical workers at this moment are already sensing the future. Future communities, future structures, a future world where our youth can breathe again. The Earth can breathe again. And our youth don’t have to lose hope. And we can communicate again as humanity with no misunderstandings.

I needed to know the meaning of suffering growing up in India, working in public hospitals where we watched far too many children dying in one hour before we could even touch them.

And it’s a lot of suffering. A lot of pain. Even though it was not inflicted to me personally, individually, it is part of me.

Do I turn away from suffering? Do I say no to this sensory world like ancient Indian teachers tell us? Or do I walk into it like Rabindranath Tagore says, riding on the waves of pleasure and pain?
How do I bring a form, which can be recognized by my sisters and brothers in this world and put it there selflessly, so that we all can come together in serving the Being who holds the wisdom?

An Emerging Easter hope

Any words for moving forward in this challenging time?

I want to respond to your question with inspiration from Dr. Ita Wegman.
I want to have strength and courage to stand and look at both sides and create a third space. And in that third space, I can find a word. And that new word which we may create in the third space gives us a possibility to build a new world.

It is the new world which comes out of us in the third space. Which has a hope, which gives hope to the youth. Can I give them a word which gives them a vague form and then hope to walk towards it? Because I know it’s still very tender, very delicate.

This is how I felt when I worked with a 600 gram baby, one of the quadruple babies. And I knew that the other three of the quadruples died, and this is the only one I have to work for. That’s how I’m feeling with this Being I am experiencing now in anthroposophy. It is so tender. So delicate. On one hand, I want to share it, and on the other hand, I want to guard it. So I’m a bit confused. That’s my honest feeling.

Thou hast made me endless, such is thy pleasure. This frail vessel thou emptiest again and again, and fillest it ever with fresh life.

From Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore

This is one thing I really want to ask everyone. Are we closing in the wrong place where we need to be open? Are we missing a chance to open? Because we have so much to give. Are we closed enough where we have to guard it? How can I be open and closed at the same time?

The human being is closed and open at the same time. We have a closed circulatory system and an open circulatory system. Both can come together in a space. We can do it. We can do it when we invite anthroposophy to really work through each one of us. I’m excited and I’m looking forward for the coming years for our movement.
I feel the pain and the suffering and the grief and the loss of these past years has prepared us, now giving us the final step in preparation.

So society is ready now.
We need each other. We really need each other.
I see hope in all of you. And if there’s evil, there’s also good balancing it. If there is suffering, and there is, I can feel the Easter joy. Even if it is a good Friday for some people.

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