There is deep need today to find a new, experienced connection to the spirit. As a global community, we are facing challenges that require of us practiced responses born of a sense of living connectedness to the world, to one another and to ourselves. Only a consciousness that can embrace the other as oneself, that knows the world from within and that can illuminate actions born of empathetic participation and engagement can begin to fathom the enormity of what faces us as human beings. The Center for Contextual Studies initiates and supports collaborative action-based research that can lead beyond the current boundaries of conventional knowledge to a quality of understanding that enables human consciousness to participate fully in the spiritual reality of our world and the forces shaping it.
The research can be described as Goethean, in the striving to let the phenomena speak for itself, meditative, in gently allowing the phenomenon or question to bring itself to life within the reaches of the soul, and Gandhian, in the willingness to live with the truth of insight even when it means we must question our assumptions. The way of working cultivated in the Center’s endeavors can be described as a focused dialogical approach with dynamically evolving content and structure. Individuals need to be able to engage one another in dialogues, which challenge each to reach from the known through reflected experience into the unknown. This is a method of discourse that lies at the core of Rudolf Steiner’s work on the creative social encounter. It rests upon the three archetypal gestures of the engaged self: attentiveness, receptivity, and initiative and challenges participants to speak out of rather than talk about the topic at hand. In general, the dialogues serve to lead all the participants to a deeper understanding of the question or topic being addressed, although not necessarily to immediate answers to the questions or explanations of the topics. The latter tend to move one to a cognitively safe distance from the unknown, whereas the goal of this approach is to engage more closely with the world and its mysteries. This shared striving to move towards rather than away from a question or riddle can lead to those rare moments of grace in which one has a deep consciously moral experience of the inner nature of what one has striven to understand.