The whole civilisation of to-day, even into the sphere of the most spiritual life, is founded on the egoism of humanity

The whole civilisation of to-day, even into the sphere of the most spiritual life, is founded on the egoism of humanity. In the first place, consider with an open mind that domain of spiritual life which receives men’s reverence to-day — the domain of religion. Ask yourselves if our present civilisation, particularly in the religious sphere, is not so constituted, as to appeal to man’s egoism. It is typical of all sermons and preaching of our time that the preacher tries to reach men through their egoism. Take for example that question which should concern people most deeply — the question of immortality. You will see how almost everything to-day, even in sermons and exhortations, is directed by the preachers to appeal to man’s egoism in the super-sensible sphere. Egoism impels man to cling to his own being as he passes through the gate of death, to preserve his Ego. This is a form of egoism, however refined. And to-day every religious denomination appeals largely to this egoism when treating of immortality. Hence official religion mostly forgets one end of our earthly existence in addressing man, and takes account only of the other. It fixes its gaze on death and forgets birth. Though these things may not be openly acknowledged, they are nevertheless underlying tendencies. We live in a time when this appeal to human egoism must be combated in every domain, if the life of mankind is not to decline further and further on its present downward course.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 293 – The Study of Man: Lecture I – Stuttgart, 21st August 1919

Translated by Daphne Harwood & Helen Fox

Previously posted on July 31, 2015

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Enjoyment in school

From the change of teeth up to the time of adolescence the child really lives continually in the present, and is interested in what is going on in the world around him. When educating we must constantly keep in mind that children of primary school age want always to live in the present. How does one live in the present? One lives in the present when one enjoys the world around one, not in an animal way, but in a human way. And indeed the child of this age wants also to enjoy the world in the lessons he receives. Therefore from the outset we must make our teaching a thing of enjoyment for the children — not animal enjoyment, but enjoyment of a higher, human kind — not something that calls forth in them antipathy and repulsion.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 293 – The Study of Man: Lecture IX – Stuttgart, August 30, 1919

Translated by Daphne Harwood & Helen Fox

Previously posted on July 25, 2015

About interest, memory and willpower

Only by working through the force of habit and custom in man can you give order to his will and therewith also to his memory. In other words, you must understand how everything that awakens an intense interest in the child also contributes to a very great extent towards making his memory strong and efficient. For the power of the memory must be derived from the feeling and will and not from mere intellectual memory exercises.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 293 – The Study of Man: Lecture VIII – Stuttgart, 29 August 1919

Translated by Daphne Harwood & Helen Fox

Previously posted on July 24, 2015

About education, memory and health (2 – End)

For instance, we are told: “A child’s memory, his power of remembering, may be exerted too much or too little in his ninth or tenth year.” The clamor against over-exerting the memory can lead to the result of exerting it too little. We must always try to find the middle course. For instance, we may make too great demands on a nine or ten-year-old’s memory. The real consequences will not appear before the person in question has reached the age of thirty or forty, or perhaps still later. Then this person may develop rheumatism or diabetes. By overexerting a child’s memory at the wrong time — let us say between the ninth and tenth year — we cause during this youthful stage an exaggerated depositing of faulty metabolic products. These connections, lasting during a man’s entire earth-life, go generally unnoticed. On the other hand, by exercising the memory too little — that is, by letting a child’s memory remain idle — we bring forth a tendency to all kinds of inflammations appearing in later years. What is important to know is the following: that the bodily states of a certain life-period are the consequences of the soul and spirit states of another.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 226 – Man’s Being, His Destiny and World-Evolution: Lecture VI – Kristiana, 21st May 1923

Translated by Erna McArthur

Previously posted on September 11, 2015

About education, memory and health (1 of 2)

Because we are influenced by the materialistic spirit of the age, there is a tendency in our schools to educate children by pointing to their bodily nature. Nowadays people make experiments involving the memory, even the faculties of willing and thinking. I do not object to such things, which may be quite interesting, inasmuch as science is concerned. It is, nevertheless, terrible to apply such experiments in a pedagogical way. If we can approach the child only by means of external experiments, this proves how completely estranged we have become from man’s real being. Anyone inwardly connected with the child does not need external experiments. I wish, however, to emphasize once more that I am not opposed to experimental psychology. Yet we must acquire the faculty to enter man’s being by the inward means of spirit and soul.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 226 – Man’s Being, His Destiny and World-Evolution: Lecture VI – Kristiana, 21st May 1923

Translated by Erna McArthur

Previously posted on September 10, 2015