By Orna Ben Dor*
Transforming Anthroposophy into Biography
On the eleventh of February, 2020, Zvi (Henry) Briger passed away. Zvi was an unusual Biographical-Anthroposophical counsellor, a Junzi, a researcher of Spiritual Science in the realms of Karma and re-occurring lives, of evil and its mission for the development of the “I”, the question of liberty, the human connection to the Higher Hierarchies, the importance of conflict to human development and many other areas. Zvi has been my spiritual guide for 26 years.
How did I meet Zvi?
I came to Zvi when I was 33. I had absolutely no knowledge of Anthroposophy, not to mention Biographical-Anthroposophical Counselling and of course I did not know at the time that 33 was the age of “inversion” and that at that age the seed for the inversion of our future life is sown – from a person oriented towards earthly realization, to an individual facing his spiritual calling and future.
Zvi, then 60 years of age, was a beginning Biographical Counsellor but certainly not a beginner on his spiritual path. There was a previously unfound wisdom about him, and with his help I began to understand my life from a higher spiritual perspective. Working with him was unlike anything I had known before. After one year, having realized that my occupation in life up to that time was no longer satisfying or satisfactory for me, I told Zvi that I wanted to do what he was doing but, of course, it seemed impossible in terms of knowledge, wisdom and the intuition that he had.
I will never forget his response: “you must aspire to do the highest thing you can do in this life, regardless of alleged obstacles.” This sentence has been with me from that day onward, and I bequeath it to my students and counselees alike. Although I was a musician and a yoga instructor, I already knew – Biographical Counselling is the highest thing for me.
From that time onward, my soul and my path were bound with his as our relationship changed and evolved alongside each other’s personal development. He accompanied me through many situations, in both our lives, at first as a counsellor and therapist (he remained my counsellor/therapist throughout his life); later on he supervised me on my way as a Biographical-Anthroposophical Counsellor; and finally, when he turned to research and began creating and producing Biographical-Anthroposophical Counselling workshops. Our conversations were enriched by biographical-cosmic questions and answers. He was mainly interested in that “Eternal I” and its development in our time and what our responsibility is, as human beings, to the development of the “I”. After the passing of his wife, when Zvi had stopped personal counselling, I – who had felt a strong bond with him – did not “agree” to part with him and maintained weekly contact with him. That contact gradually transformed from a therapist-patient relationship to one of spiritual guide and pupil and finally to that of two co-creators in the great undertaking of life.
Just as the angel Michael had fought the dragon (Ahriman), Zvi battled the Ahrimanic influence and withstood it
The description of Zvi’s biography will include a part of the eulogy given at the funeral by his first born son, Boaz Briger, and is based on both my long acquaintance with Zvi and the biographical knowledge I have accumulated through the years.
Zvi Briger was born on Sept. 22,1933, in Brussels, Belgium, and was named Henry. His father Efraim was a cobbler and his mother Rivka a factory worker.
From my years of experience in Biographical-Anthroposophical counselling, I have come to realize that often people with a spiritual calling (meaning those that have a spiritual designation), are born to parents that are “simple” but honest and hardworking that love them and support them. It is possible that such children have more freedom than a child whose parents tower over and expect to choose a certain route. An archetype for this can be found in the biography of Yeshua-Christus, whose father was a carpenter.
At the onset of the Nazi occupation, his parents sent Zvi and his two sisters (one of whom was his twin) to hide in a convent, and thus they were saved from the horrible fate that in the end was the lot of his parents – the incinerators of Auschwitz. Zvi was then around 9 years old. In Biographical Counselling this age is dubbed “leaving the Garden of Eden” of early childhood and is accompanied by a biographical event that will introduce the child to an experience of deep solitude.
Later he would tell his son Boaz that the last time he saw his mother, he complained to her that she did not bring him sweets. This was engraved in his heart with great pain.
To me Zvi confided once, that during his stay in the convent, he experienced one of the most terrifying experiences of his life, one that later served him in his spiritual research – the experience of infinite eternity. One day he had a sort of vision, in which he was progressing towards infinity with an awful feeling of dread, a feeling that he would keep on going for eternity without reaching any place. Later on Zvi concluded from this that eternity does indeed exist and that Steiner’s description of Earth’s first planetary incarnation – Ancient Saturn – is a reality that can be experienced in the soul. 1
Zvi’s stay in the convent, which was of an unknown length of time, was probably the terrestrial origin of this spiritual experience.
Everyone carries with them constitutive phrases said by significant people in their lives. Such a sentence was said to Zvi by his mother as she placed him and his sisters in the care of the convent: “Don’t forget you are Jewish.” Zvi never did and in his Biographical-Anthroposophical research, his affinity to Judaism and Jewish Esoteric Teachings (Kabala) are apparent. Contradictory to Steiner’s statement regarding the evolutionary role of the Jewish people as completed, Zvi attributed to individuals, coming from the Jewish people the importance of those who continue to lead humanity’s spiritual evolution.
After the war his uncle bestowed his patronage on Zvi and took him into his house, where he lived until the age of 16. When he became 16, he and his sisters immigrated to Israel with the youth movement “Youth Aliyah.” They arrived at a kibbutz called “Mishmar Ha’emek” and later on, within the framework of the “Nachal” Army Corps, to Kibbutz Nirim, where his twin sister Rachel lives to this day with her family. In Israel his name was changed from Henry to Zvi. Zvi attributed meaning to this. His nick-name was Harry which corresponded to the name Ahriman – one of the two opposing forces and the one that he had been more challenged by. Zvi was not a man of naïve belief. He had to chisel his own way of belief through consciousness, through knowing. Ahriman was forever there, on the threshold, providing cause for doubt. Just as the angel Michael had fought the dragon (Ahriman), Zvi battled the Ahrimanic influence and withstood it. At the end of his life, as we will later see, he was closer than ever to the spiritual realm.
Zvi’s acclimation process in Israel was not a simple one. After his military service, he returned to Belgium, where he was to marry for the first time.
His eldest son, Boaz, said:
Father did not have an easy time in this country and shortly after being released from the IDF he returned to Belgium, where he lived with his uncle, studied in a college to become a mechanical engineer, worked as a tutor for boarding school kids and later at a Belgian train company, and married. A few years later, when he was 28 years old, he revisited Israel to care for his older sister Sarah, who was wounded in an accident. Then, in his return visit, he understood that his heart is after all here in Israel, separated from his first wife, Ruth, who did not want to immigrate, and came to Israel – drove his car to Greece and from there took a boat to Haifa. In Haifa he met our mother, Hanita, R.I.P., and they were married two years after that, In 1963.
In Biographical-Counselling, 28 is the age of “Crossing of a Threshold”, connected to both aware and un-aware willingness to sacrifice the old. Not many cross this threshold. Most people, aware or subconsciously, are not willing to turn their backs on the old, the familiar and rewarding, and step towards the new. They may go forward in all that concerns the physical and earthly life, even the emotional soul life, but spiritually, they cease at the age of 28. Of course, this fact is connected to a person’s personal karma, to their life in between death and re-birth, and to the higher beings they do or do not meet on their journey after death.
In later days, Zvi would say that he had unconsciously sacrificed his relationship with his first wife, a deed that had caused her great pain, but was necessary for his future karma. In his last years, Zvi was tormented over this deed and attributed the chronic lesion in his kidneys to that act. In addition, he regarded that un-healing wound, that robbed him of energy and strength, as that wound of King Amfortas in the epic Perceval legend, the wound that never heals.
Father studied Electrical Engineering in the Technion Institute and we came into the world – Ariel and I. Father graduated with mediocre marks due to the difficulties involving simultaneously working and raising a baby, and he had just barely been accepted to work for “Institute 3” – as “RAPHAEL” was then called. But soon he excelled at his job so that one of the first high-tech companies in Israel – SDSI – “seduced” him to leave in the late 60’s. MATA”M (center for industries of science) did not exist yet, the company was located in Shemen Beach and in the other half of the building another small high-tech company, Elbit, was established. The huge computers you may remember from pictures and old movies from the 70’s were large closets with computer memory discs, swiftly spinning left and right. SDSI developed these discs and father proudly developed the controllers for these discs. Around 1975, SDSI was purchased by the young Elbit and father became an employee of Elbit in the process.
At the age of 42 (the age of the birth of the ‘Spirit-Self,’ often accompanied by an existential crisis), Zvi was affected by a herniated disc that caused him great suffering. As a result, Zvi concluded that what he was doing up until that time no longer suited him (the spine symbolizes the “I,” and the question of the “I” had engaged Zvi throughout his life) that was his “mid-life crisis.” At that point he began to take an active interest in the spiritual realms, studied psychology, alternative medicine, Naturopathy, Anthroposophy and Biography. And from then on – from the early eighties up to his last days – he never stopped studying and teaching.
Psychology, Bach Flowers, Feldenkrais, Bio-Feedback, Reflexology, Astrology, Naturopathy, Homeopathy, Anthroposophy, Biography… This is only the short list version of the fields he studied and researched. We grew up in a home where spirituality was very dominant, and book-cases were very heavily loaded with hundreds of books and tapes in these and many other subjects – in English, French, German and Hebrew.
Zvi encountered Anthroposophy through a spiritually oriented psychologist he had been in contact with. Since he was interested in the therapeutic area, Rivka, the psychologist, referred him to a Biographical-Counselling Training that had just been opened, for the first time in Israel, by Dani Aman.
Zvi felt like he had arrived home. He viewed his life up to that point as a preparation for the encounter with Anthroposophical-Biographical Counselling. Upon completing the three-year course of study, the whole group moved on to supplementary studies with Michal Zur. Zvi did not join. His own unique approach begun to brew within him, one that would take years to become his profound research. In 2004, when Zvi was 67 years old, his beloved wife Hanita, who was a significant and supportive figure in his life, suddenly passed away from cardiac arrest. As of that day, his life was altered. Through her death he experienced a difficult crisis and decided to cease his tasks as counsellor and therapist. From then on, he dedicated all of his time to his life’s mission: the research of Anthroposophy and Biography, that he studied relentlessly up until his last breath. In those years Zvi diminished his contact with the outside world and focused on his work.
It would be a while before Zvi confided in me that he knew that Hanita had sacrificed herself for his spiritual development and for the fruit he would offer the world – the workshops. “I would never have started the workshops if Hanita were still alive,” he said. According to Steiner, between us and those near and dear to us – our parents, our children, our spouses and so on – Karmic relationships and agreements exist. Often, someone will offer themselves, even their life, in sacrifice for the spiritual evolution and mission of someone close.
Father began to research and translate the writings of Rudolph Steiner. The insights that came he began to teach in a course he created in the therapeutic method of “Biographical Counselling.” Since mother passed away, he turned to his life’s project – being a researcher and instructor of the subject. The course he had created and taught so industriously, completely engaged him in the last ten years. His faithful students followed him through all those years. It was his greatest mission – so he told us and the family in every get together, every conversation and so it was manifested in his deeds and in the choices that he made. He distanced himself from life’s pleasures, lived as a monk, didn’t travel or vacation, didn’t seek a new personal relationship, didn’t see friends and limited the time allotted for family gatherings. Preparing the next course meeting was always top priority and to it he dedicated every available hour. It was always inspiring to see how he collected all of himself towards the next meeting and how excited he was each time, as if it were the first. We, the children and the grandchildren, had a hard time accepting it at first but learned to accept it as the years went by.
We were a group of about ten people, and as the years and the workshops went by (a workshop course was one year), we grew fewer. The places that were freed up, were taken by my students from the “Hotam” school, who knew enough to appreciate the knowledge of this unique, once in a lifetime phenomenon – Zvi Briger and the scope of his thought and writings.
There were no mundane conversations with Zvi, no gossip, only straightforward words – scathing as they may be. Working alongside him demanded of whomever came in contact with him to look inward with complete honesty, with great courage, and to acknowledge their life events as the result of the karma brought forth from a previous life. Zvi was the bravest, most authentic man I have ever known. If he concluded that something was no longer of service to him and his evolution, he did not hesitate to abandon it. This world he also left behind when it was time for him to move forward. He left without warning; his mind lucid as ever despite the body’s collapse.
In the eulogy he gave at his father’s grave, Boaz said:
Father did limit the time he spent with his family but not the quality of it. The meetings with him were always very intense. For the most part he would focus on one of those present – a son, a daughter in law, a grandchild – and begin to take interest in their life. There was no “small talk” with father. He would immediately ask direct questions. The interest stemmed from infinite caring, and with lightning speed he would get to the heart of the matter – all the layering stories would disappear and right away he would point to the dilemma or mirror the choice made by that patient… sorry, that family member. It was not always easy or pleasant to face the onslaught of his questions and demands for answers but it was always evident that they came from love and caring and from such deep listening, far more profound than the speaker would listen to himself. Of-course I had dozens of these types of conversations. Dad – thank you for being there for me in the deepest sense possible.
Father – you lived out your last years in a brave, authentic manner and exactly, exactly the way you wanted to. You didn’t bother with “what would people say”. You were tasked by learning; you were lucid until your last moment. Dad, you were a terrific father. You had hardships in your life and growing up, you worked hard all your life. You always kept your sense of humor. You achieved vast accomplishments in many fields – spiritual and material – and I believe that you feel at peace with your life’s course, as an expert in the field of Biography should probably be. I thought it right to share with those here, paying their respects to you on your final journey, a fraction of your personality and your diversified life, and I haven’t even begun to talk about your gifts of writing, drawing, acting and the six or seven languages you knew.
Despite his great wisdom, his talents in acting, literature and music and his grasp of languages, Zvi was a modest person. He was truly a slave of God, in the highest sense. Modestly, hardly recognized by any of the members Israeli Anthroposophy community – excluding those who studied with him and those who learned from him – he worked with exemplary diligence, severity and precision, just as his cobbler father had before him. His life was not an easy one, not in his childhood, shattered by the years of the Second World War, and after that Zvi never complained. He always carried the suffering as suitable payment for spiritual development. “For each elevation we pay with a lowering.” he said, “It is a cosmic law. It is so with the Higher Spiritual Hierarchies”.
The conflict does liquidate and perhaps even the other person – but along with them so does our opportunity to evolve through internalizing the conflict
Zvi’s research included 4 major themes he developed through the years in a ground-breaking fashion (as he did with many other themes): The Eternal ‘I’; Evil – it’s origin and its mission; Karma and recurring lives; our tight connection to the Spiritual Hierarchies in whose image we were created. Zvi’s breakthroughs in deeply understanding human life, compatible to our time of the Consciousness-Soul period, and in the generation of Biography Counselling into a deep spiritual tool, emanated from his ability to transfer Anthroposophy into Biography. To transform the immense man and world (microcosmos – macrocosmos) knowledge that Steiner brought the world into the profound biographical spiritual observation of people’s lives and the life of the individual.
In the first year, Zvi gave a workshop titled: “The Essential Fulfillment of the Karmic Imperative” 2. Despite the fact that R. Steiner had given knowledge on the subject and spoke of it explicitly in Karmic Relationships part II, Zvi connected the wound (our suffering in the current incarnation) to our immoral deeds in the previous incarnation, and transformed this into a deep practical therapeutic tool, by creating an orderly method with which one may work with themselves and with others. This was unprecedented.
Of course it is not possible to summarize Zvi’s extensive research in a short essay, but nevertheless I chose to bring some of the major points from his research and from the innovations he offered to Anthroposophy and Biography.
Conflict as an Entity
Zvi’s perspective on conflict was revolutionary. He would refer to conflict as an entity in itself and to “man” as an inherently conflictual entity (material and spirit). In his outlook, the Ahrimanic attempt to annihilate the conflict by doing away with the other person is the root of all wars. Zvi helped us treat conflict as an essence whose battle-field should be internalized, within us, and to regard the other person simply as a messenger coming from the spiritual world – the world to which we develop “antipathy” when we are born, in order to incarnate as human beings on this earth.
In essence, conflict is the instantaneous existence of two or more counter-entities. For one to prevail and rule, the other must die. We must agree to contain the conflict within ourselves and not “kill it”; not to cast it out onto the other person, via blame or actual killing.
The conflict we point out is a spiritual one, taking place in the human soul. In effect, when we are in conflict with another person, when we nullify and defame and degrade them – we “eliminate” them. The conflict does liquidate, but along with it so does our opportunity for development through the process of internalizing the conflict.
One of the focal innovations in Zvi’s work was finding the concrete connection between the evolution of the higher spiritual entities (hierarchies) and human life. For example, when a person reaches an “elevation” he will pay for it with a “lowering”. This lowering can take many forms – household appliances may break down; the person may suffer a blow to their status and may even experience pain or illness. The cosmic parallel to this Zvi found in planetary evolution. In the early form of the planet earth – dubbed Ancient-Sun – as a balance to the excessive stay of the Arch-angels in the light, the higher beings, the Thrones, were forced to create a lower realm, namely, the animal kingdom. To the best of my knowledge, no-one has made this Biographical connection to vast cosmic processes, that are the basis of the creation of our solar system.
Regarding the connection between “man” and the evolution of the Higher Spiritual Hierarchies, Zvi vitalized for us the grand cosmic occurrences, and following Steiner, turned them into emotional states. The mental state of horror and anxiety, depression and despair – yet also courage – was coined “Ancient-Saturn”. The state of “Ancient-Sun” became that of ease and harmony. And the state of “Ancient-Moon” stood for transient states, a disruption of the harmony of “Ancient-Sun” but oriented towards development.
“Bad” children become moral adults
Zvi had made the distinction between automatic morality (Luciferic) and a morality derived from the “I”. For example, he claimed that often times people with spiritual designations were “bad” kids, “immoral”, and not “good little kids”. In the years up to mid-life (35-42) people often perform immorally, usually without especially noticing it, in order to further themselves and construct the tools necessary for them. From that mid-life point and till death, those individuals with a spiritual purpose will cease acting immorally, will endure the pain caused by their past deeds and will pay for them with suffering. Nevertheless, said Zvi, these deeds were necessary.
This sort of knowledge is crucial to the Biographical Counsellor who is working with people that have a yearning of a spiritual nature, who especially because of their deep morality of the “I”, are tormented over their past immoral actions towards the world and towards others.
It is important to note that immoral actions do not go by without retribution. Karmatically for every action there is recompense, just as Zvi attributed to his kidney disease, for example. Yet we must remember that when someone carries out “bad” actions, they acquire skills that will, later on in life, serve them in their development and in what they will present the world with. Is this a call for lawlessness? Of course not! Of course, morality is essential to society. As the “I” develops, morality comes up and evolves in a free and natural fashion. That is the morality of the future, executed not out of duty but out of love.
Workshops in and outside of Israel
Make sure to get to know yourself through Biography and through the micro cosmos – macro cosmos knowledge in connection with it and the world will come forth to collect the fruit of your labor. The world will take care of itself.
Several years ago, with the encouragement of Tali Sela, a seasoned Biographical Counsellor, I presented before an international forum of Biography Counsellors the “Hotam” school syllabus, and the school was officially certified. Gradually I began to relay, in conventions for counsellors and for training principals abroad, workshops based on Zvi’s materials. The first workshop was “Essential Fulfillment of the Karmic Imperative”, followed by the workshops: “Man and Earth as Entities of Conflict” (The Karma of the Conflict), “Karma and Morality”, “The Evolution From the Point of View of the Higher Spiritual Hierarchies and it’s Reflection in the Human Biography” (The Karma of the Higher Hierarchies) and others.
At the same time, in Israel, I began relaying more advanced workshops, such as: “The Yearning and the Self-Sacrifice”, “Biography as Reflected in the Philosophy of Freedom”, “Maya (Illusion) and Reality” and more. The workshops stirred interest and much excitement and before long, invitations came from different places worldwide to hear this living knowledge, so that they may implement it in their work. In the Talmud (Brachot) it says: “The labor of the righteous is carried out by others.” Zvi did not actively seek to spread his knowledge outside of the studio walls where he taught us, the students close to him. Zvi knew of-course that I was taking the content of his lectures, transcribing, expanding and distributing it inside the country and out in the world, but he was never bothered by what would happen to this knowledge or how it would reach the outside world. His labor was complete. He sensed it as an internal divine imperative. He always directed me to look inwards, to my inner divine imperative, and to act accordingly without making any earthly considerations. “Make sure you get to know yourself through Biography and through the microcosmos – macrocosmos knowledge in connection with it and the world will come forth to collect the fruit of your labor; The world will take care of itself,” that was always his reply to questions I asked him through the years. He never tried to direct me to circulate his research.
The last Concession
“Are you afraid to die?”
“No, I am not afraid, I am already there, detached from my body, like the angels.”
Zvi was 86 years old when he died. Despite his poor physical state, he was crystal clear in his mind, and from one year to the other his spiritual research became deeper and deeper and more difficult to grasp. We, his students, did not anticipate his sudden death. As usual he was in the midst of constructing the next workshop for us and for the world. In our last conversation, several days before the destined workshop, I asked him, as was my custom, what is the subject matter this time. He replied that he understood something important about the “I” and the angels, and in regards to how, unlike humans, the bodies of the angels are not on the same plane as their “I”. I knew what he was referring to; I too had read the materials many times, but my understanding was not his understanding. When a certain question regarding something Steiner wrote got a hold of Zvi, he was relentless until he reached the deepest understanding and retrieved from it new insights into the understanding of the universe and man.
No issue stood a chance facing the tenacity, diligence and resolve with which he approached it. Zvi never regarded Steiner’s words simplistically. Much like “CHAZAL”, the Hebrew sages, who inquired into and researched the Tora, he continuously researched and inquired and constantly found in the words novelty and inspiration. (When I began writing books based on his workshops, each of those concentrated two hours turned into a chapter in a book. Ten years of research turned into ten books, some of which we study in the framework of our training at the ‘Hotam’ School.)
In that conversation I asked him directly, as was our manner, “Are you afraid to die?” and he answered – “No, I am not afraid, I am already there, detached from my body, like the angels.” Zvi always knew how to transform Anthroposophy into Biography. And still, the realization hadn’t come to me.
I really waited for Thursday, our regular workshop day for about ten years. I wanted to hear the crowning of his research of the “I”. Zvi was accustomed to writing his lessons out by hand, in a Hebrew peppered with his mother tongue, French, and English, and German – which he chose in high-school with no apparent reason, while all of his friends chose other subjects. Zvi saw the guiding hand of fate in this, so that he would be able to, when the time comes, read Steiner’s writings in the original language. Zvi wrote the material for his workshops on a common pad of paper, symbolic of his modesty, his typical lack of self-importance and the simplicity with which he lived his life.
That week I had a dream: in my dream Zvi came to my house to convey an important lesson, a summary of sorts. The house was a mess, mostly strewn with art supplies. Quietly, without saying anything to me, Zvi began to tidy up so that we could work without distractions. At a certain point he took out a small bun, brown, whole wheat. Very basic food, that serves also as offering. I ran to the kitchen to find some spread, to add flavor to his bun, but the kitchen too was in disarray and I couldn’t find any appropriate spread. Meanwhile, precious time had gone to waste. Only several days later did I understand that Zvi came to summarize the knowledge he had given me throughout the years and that I must not waste time on distractions. And still I repressed the message.
Prior to our last conversation I called him several times. This time not for support – but to offer support. Zvi did not answer. I called Aviv, his grandson, to ask him if Zvi was in proper condition, he said he was and offered me the family trick; let it ring twice then hang up, then call again. I used it and then he answered and said, ” I knew it was you ringing all these past two weeks, but I had no strength, and I had nothing to give you.” I wanted to tell him that this time I called to offer support. And I did support him. And I was glad that I did. That conversation was our last one.
And now he is gone. The last workshop that was supposed to take place on Thursday was “given” at the cemetery, at his funeral. A simple, modest funeral but there was a sense of uplifting – just as the man had lived his life. With Zvi’s passing, I was burdened by the question: why did he pass away two days before the workshop he had labored on so for two whole months? Why didn’t he pass on that workshop and then pass away? Within a few days at least part of the answer became clear to me. Zvi never preferred the esthetic over the ethic, the pretty over the truth. And so in his death he didn’t bother with seamlessly, aesthetically, closing his life’s circle. This is but a partial answer and it was followed by deeper insight. Through all the years I knew him, and especially in the last ten years, Zvi tried to release his grip on physical and emotional things, in preparation for the spiritual world. He did so with great success. The last grip he had on this world, the things he had been living for in the past ten years as his health deteriorated, were these workshops he taught. His departure two days before the workshop was scheduled was the final release. Zvi let go of all that he could still realize in this world, including his life’s work, the spiritual workshops. And so he went, whole-hearted, before his lord. *
* And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him: ‘I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be thou wholehearted. (Genesis XVII, 1)
Noah was in his generations a man righteous and whole-hearted; Noah walked with God. (Genesis VI, 9)
Students talk about Zvi
I met Zvi – a Spiritual Science researcher – seven years ago, and was fortunate to be his student since. In his classes there were matrices, vectors, angles, functions and flowcharts of data conveyance and more. Each character and event received an English letter and the Hierarchies, as the members of matrices, appropriately received in addition two indexes as well. Apparently, it was all clear, my Karma had made sure I would understand the language, having studied mathematics and physics. But there was a very deceiving cloak. These were not purely scientific studies and they were not in continuation to the preparation I had had. As if in a sanctification process, the studies descended into the depth of my soul more and more. The exercises Zvi gave in his workshops (that is what he called them) were “problems” with infinite solutions. Every time I do the exercise, another new “solution” that was never consciously present in me before, reveals itself. Zvi shared the most intimate details of his life, as if they were study materials, and there, in those spaces did I find out how alike we were, practically siblings, despite our very different biographies.
In the first lesson of this year, that was also the one before last, Zvi gave me a key to the perpetuity sensation of the “I”. It is a sensation found deep in the heart and isn’t something abstract, like the word “eternity”. Here is the key: when do we feel eternity? For example, when we face an unresolved existential problem and feel it will never be resolved or when we understand and experience a sin we committed against another person and feel we shall never be forgiven (Kamaloka state in life). There, in these most difficult places do we experience eternity. I know I will meet my teacher again, in the spiritual worlds and in future incarnations, with love. And still I miss him and mourn his departure.
Thursday. Descending the steps on Moria st. one step, and another, till the entrance to the house that to me, feels each and every time, like the basement of consciousness, a temple where the knowledge of man is stored and given to whomever is brave enough to come, to hear, to quest and to know. The group members enter one by one, settle into their practically fixed places, once on the green chairs, and lately in the affable sitting room that Zvi’s grandson, who is hosting us, had organized. Sitting and waiting. Sitting and waiting in reverence for our teacher. Sitting and waiting for his influencing us to pure thought, to higher consciousness, up-up to the sublime. In between lessons, Zvi dedicated all of his time, his days and his nights, to the preparation for his upcoming workshop. Often, on the day of the workshop, an important detail became apparent to him and turned all of his work and preparation on it’s head, and he – in endless diligence and fearless fidelity to the research into the spiritual world – constructed the workshop over from the start, in accordance to the truth that has been discovered. Zvi shared with us the fruit of his research, asked us biographical questions so that we would bring the insights to precision together, he spoke of himself openly, with honesty, he offered us the events of his life, his feelings, his deliberations, his doubts, he sacrificed his personality on the altar of the evolution of human spirituality, and not for a moment did he fear for his status in our eyes, or in the eyes of the world. He knew who he was and nothing and no one could dispute that in any shape or fashion. A person with bright self-knowledge, lit by spiritual light. A man who’s self and higher “I” are one, and who generously beams himself onto his surroundings, way beyond the room, beyond us, beyond countries, seas and continents, into the universe. In class I felt how consciousness rose to heights. I have not known anywhere else. The joint devotion of the group members, their commitment to silence as much as is humanely possible, all astral distractions, to carry the high of consciousness without escaping into the etheric, to overcome the difficulty when the human physical brain cannot understand sometimes, simply cannot. To put our trust in the spirit and know that what is unclear now will become clear in another time, and that we are probably not in the sufficient spiritual grade, not yet, for certain materials.
No excess words were spoken in the room. Even if a futile word was thrown into the air, Zvi always saw in the situation its deepest essence. Nothing was in vain. The terrestrial always mirroring the spiritual, and for him it wasn’t just his outlook, it was a way of life, it was the prism through which he contemplated the world and lived his life. Many things I learned from him, but today, more than anything else, present is the understanding that to me he is the inspiration to treat my life’s events as study lab materials, there for research and for relentless spiritual evolvement. From him to me flows abundant the longing to develop un-identification with all that forms my personality, and to come closer, in still silence, to the temple of my being. I was fortunate to be in the presence of a man so very beautiful in the equality between his words and his deeds, was fortunate to look up to the Spirit-Man. For this I am grateful to the spirit world and to my teacher, Orna, that led me to this unique man.
“Now we are going on our several ways, one here, one there, but the light of the spirit for which we are striving and seeking in our darkness, will enable us to be together no matter where we are nor how far we may be separated in space. May the souls present here feel this communion when afterwards they meditate upon what they have heard or when they live over again the mutual love that has been shown. We have been together physically, but this will not always be so. We are together super-sensibly. Let us learn so to be together super-sensibly, that we may bear forcible witness to the existence of the super-sensible, of the super-physical world! 3
Shmuel Ben Ish:
I heard of Zvi some time before meeting him, as Orna used to bring to Biography lessons exercises Zvi had taught her and she would say “this is from the session with Zvi”. The exercises were simple and yet so deep that I understood that I want to meet and study with this man called Zvi. Arriving at the first lesson I did not know what to expect – Anthroposophy I loved, Anthroposophysts I had met along the way, a little bit less… they always seemed too distant to me, these temples of wisdom that are touched by nothing. Zvi introduced me to another world, loaded with infinite knowledge and wisdom on one hand, and on the other hand working with emotions as the major research tool.
Zvi Was not lenient and demanded vigorous internal work, sometimes to the point of embarrassment, when our answers would lack sincerity. I tried to figure out what was it that so enticed me to arrive to class (“workshop” he used to call it) once every three weeks. Beyond the knowledge and beyond the internal understanding, it was Zvi’s ability to make us, his students, “scrape the insides of the brain with a spoon”, work the brain and stretch it like an infinite muscle. Over the years Zvi asked to broaden the gap between the sessions, because he will not be able to prepare the next workshop, which he would read out of his green notebook, scribbled out by his hand, going through the pages back and forth. The physical effort appeared to have become difficult for him, but the sharpness and the keenness accompanied him to his last day. I knew I had the fortune to meet a spiritual teacher for whom truth and Anthroposophy were a guiding light. When I heard of his passing, I laughed in my heart that of all the people that passed the threshold, he will be the least surprised. Thank you, Zvi, for the knowledge, thank you for the experience.
Dear Zvi, I would like to write you words of fare well, though personally I only met you twice, your presence in the world and that of your spiritual research had decisive effect on my life and on my opportunities to meet and fulfill my spiritual vocation. 10 years ago, I began Biographical Counselling studies with my teacher Orna, your pupil and successor. Your name was mentioned right at the first lesson, and from then until now, practically in every lesson. I portrayed your image as a prophet or an ancient day Initiate, living modestly, devoting all of his days and nights to God’s work, offering his prophetic words with devoutness and dedication, to the few believers willing to listen. I remember my first encounter, in the first year, with the subject of “The Karmic Imperative and it’s Fulfillment” – one of the major and important subjects you developed in your spiritual research, based on Steiner’s materials. It was a stirring encounter for me. I was a young woman then, 35 years of age, coming from a completely different world view, and the encounter with “The Karmic Imperative” demanded an incisive encounter with the question of “evil”, my evil, with the question of recurring life and Karma, with the spiritual world. I felt like my world was being rocked, there was a part of me that wanted to get up and run away, and another part of me, not entirely aware, my higher “I”, knew that this was an encounter with life changing knowledge, that this is essential nutrition for me. I stayed. Since then many years have passed, I got to study your materials over again, in Orna’s classes, through our school’s workbooks, through listening to the audio of all of your classes. Today, as a teacher at the ‘Hotam’ School, I have the privilege to be included in developing this knowledge and even passing it on and teaching others.
When I received the news of your death, the first emotion that arose in me was dread. What will happen now? The next day I went to the funeral, and the angst made way for new emotions, the atmosphere and the words said by Orna and your two sons, filled me with the feeling of festivity and awe. I remembered the saying that when we cry in the terrestrial world for someone that dies and leaves this earth, in the spiritual world, his birth is celebrated. I understood that you are not dead, you crossed a threshold, ascended a stage, and along with you all of us, everyone that belongs to this impulse is called on to progress to the next phase.
I was moved and filled with a sense of responsibility. Dear Zvi, I would like to thank you for your devotion, for the very original very living thought, through which you brought to life Steiner’s material for us, for the inspiration you gave and for your great sacrifice. You planted seeds in the world and through Orna, that for years has made sure to spread them, nurture and grow them, they sprout and grow here and in many other places, worldwide. Now, as you continue your journey beyond the threshold, in the spiritual world, I want to promise you that here, in the terrestrial one, myself and many more like me are committed to keep walking the path.
Last words (on the terrestrial plane) from me to Zvi:
Dear Zvi, the spiritual world and we, here on the earthly one, know how indebted we are to you for this spiritual path and for your immense research into Biography. To transform Anthroposophy into practical, methodical, Biography, that one can work with and advance with it in spiritual evolution – this and much more you gave us. The fearlessness, tremendous inspiration and might to engage in the most important issue of our time – the question of Evil, not in the outside world but within us, gave our school this very important impulse which I now teach worldwide.
There is no Biographical Counselling like yours. And people have sensed this. In Hungary, Spain, The Netherlands, The United States and Canada, in Switzerland, all probability in more places in the future – your message is coming through. People thirst for live knowledge, for the knowledge of truth. You would always modestly reply “it isn’t mine” when people told you your workshop was eye and heart opening, “it’s all Steiner.” That is not accurate, Zvi, it was not all Steiner. You too were breaking new ground, compatible to the time and place in which we live. And small me, was fortunate. Fortunate to be your right hand. To be the one that took what you gave, made it accessible and passed it on. And there are already many teachers, counsellors and students that are really your sons and daughters, your successors. Your life was not in vain. You are a shining star in the heavens and on earth. Your work thrills universes. The importance of what you brought to the evolution of man and earth is priceless. There are no words to describe the gratitude we feel to you for all you leave behind. More than anything – you were a man, a representative of the human. The Diligence, persistence and stubbornness, the wisdom and spirituality – the ability to withstand great suffering, physical and mental, and not complain and not to think – why me? Never blaming others. Being prepared to pay for elevation with lowering, for the inspiration in suffering. That is you – the symbol of superior sacrifice.
And personally, my Zvi – an eternal covenant, a pact in spirit was formed between us forever. You always presented me a mirror of my higher self and higher purpose, even in the darkest moments. I know you didn’t truly leave. You are living in spirit. You live in us. You are our teacher. Rest in peace, and after a journey and rest in the spirit world, come back here. Earth will need you more than ever. Love, Orna.
*Translation: Anna Feldman
*proofreading: Sarah Patnum
*Orna Ben Dor, founder of “Hotam” school for Biographical-Anthroposophical counselling and working with karma
1 Rudolf Steiner, Inner Realities of Evolution, GA 132.
2 I would like to mention that all of the names of Zvi’s workshops were given by me and always at the end of each year.
3 Steiner, Initiation, Eternity and the Passing Moment, lecture 12