Representative of Humanity

During my visit to Dornach, I had the good fortune to spend one of my workshops contemplating the statue of the Representative of Humanity. We were tasked with allowing the statue to tell us something that we could take back to our communities. After some initial skepticism as to whether this was possible, I found myself dialoguing with a statue (something I had never done before). I would like to briefly share some of the observations I gleaned from this conversation, which hopefully are applicable to our various situations and dilemmas in community life.

Seeing the statue in person allowed for an experience of movement within the figures, which previously had appeared static, whenever I had seen a picture of them. I was struck primarily by three elements. First, there is a figure in the top left corner, who seems to hover above with a wry half-smile, looking as though she has always been there watching over the events below. Next, there are the four figures traditionally described as Lucifer and Ahriman. For the first time, I perceived them as revolving in a vortex of sorts, as though they were one being moving through four different states, up and down, around and around. Finally, the central figure; so often I have looked at this figure and wondered why the hands are shaped the peculiar way that they are. Why partially clenched? Why two fingers separated out? In person, I had a strong experience that the figure was emerging from the background of the statue, possibly preparing to scale a steep hill, a look of severe determination on his face.

Where does this leave us as social therapists and community members? The first figure became an image for me of our struggle with tradition (“that’s the way we’ve always done it”), always hovering above our work, hopefully like a guarding angel. The cycle of Lucifer/Ahriman shows our struggle with the day to day concerns, the shifting sand which swamps us so easily and distracts us from our true task. Lucifer and Ahriman are stuck going up and down and left and right, from control to failure to accusation, over and over again. The central figure shows the emergence of the new. His expression is so complex; he looks as though he is ready to change it to meet any situation. He is certainly determined, and the only figure moving beyond the paradigm, moving forward.


I was reminded of something Bodo von Plato talked about in his lecture that week. He mentioned that the soul mediates between what is eternal and what is changing. The statue made me realize that he had either missed or implied a third element, possibly the element that only the human soul can bring about: that which has never been, that which is new. I think this is the image we could always draw strength from as social therapists. What we are looking for as solutions to our problems do not yet exist; that which has always been (tradition) and that which is always changing will not supply us with what the future is asking for. The more we are ready at each moment to meet what is coming toward us as something emerging, something always new, the more effective we will be in the work we are taking on.

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