What should be required above all in examinations for teachers

Those who wish to become teachers today are examined as to what they know, but what does this prove? As a rule only that the candidate has for the time of the examination, hammered into his head something which — if he is at all suited for that particular subject — he has been able to gather from many books, day after day acquiring what it is not in the least necessary to acquire in that way.

What should be required above all in such examinations is to ascertain whether the candidate has the heart, mind and temperament for gradually establishing a relationship between himself and the children. Examination should not test the candidate’s knowledge, but ascertain his power, and whether he is sufficiently a ‘man.’

To make such demands to-day would, I know, simply mean for the present time one of two things. Either it would be said that anyone who demands such tests is quite crazy, such a man does not live in the world of reality; or if reluctant to give such an answer, they would say: ‘Something of the kind does take place, we all want that.’ People suppose that results come about from this training, because they only understand the subject in so far as they bring their consideration to bear upon it.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 181 – Earthly Death and Cosmic Life: Lecture 7: Confidence in Life and Rejuvenation of the Soul: A Bridge to the Dead – Berlin, 26th March, 1918

Translated by Harry Collison

Previously posted on September 29, 2016

Man’s head is an image of the whole cosmos

It would not occur to anyone who takes a compass, a magnetic needle in hand, to seek in the needle itself the cause of its pointing with one end to the North and with the other to the South; the physicist feels himself compelled to regard the magnetic force proceeding from the needle, and the directing magnetic force coming from the North Pole of the earth, as a whole. The cause of what takes place in the small space of the needle is sought in the great universe.

Yet this is not done in other cases where it should be done, and where it is of importance. If anyone — especially a scientist — observes that one living being is formed within another living being, as, for instance, the egg is formed in the body of the hen, he sees there how something forms in the smallest space; but what does not usually strike him is to apply what he knows of the magnetic needle and say, that the reason why the germ of the egg develops in the body of the hen lies in the entire cosmos, not in the hen. Exactly as the great universe has a part in the magnetic needle, so too the whole cosmos has a share in the hen’s body, — no matter what other processes also take part in it — the whole cosmos in its spherical form co-operate. […]

That of course is heresy in the eyes of official science, but it is a truth. The forces of the cosmos co-operate in the most varied ways. Just as it is true that in the case of man (empirical embryology proves this) the head, in its germinal rudiments is formed from the whole universe, — the human head forms first in the maternal organism — so too is it true that, on the other hand, the original causative forces for this formation work from the whole cosmos, and man’s head is an image of it.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 181 – Earthly Death and Cosmic Life: Lecture 2: A Contribution to our Knowledge of the Human Being – Berlin, 29th January, 1918

Translated by Harry Collison

Previously posted on September 9, 2016


When we do not have enough interest in the world around us, then we are thrown back into ourselves. Taken all in all, we have to say that if we look at the chief damages created by modern civilization, they arise primarily because people are far too concerned with themselves and do not usually spend the larger part of their leisure time in concern for the world but busy themselves with how they feel and what gives them pain … And the least favorable time of life to be self-occupied in this way is during the ages between 14, 15 and 21 years old.

The capacity for forming judgments is blossoming at this time and should be directed toward world-interrelationships in every field. The world must become so all-engrossing to young people that they simply do not turn their attention away from it long enough to be constantly occupied with themselves. For, as everyone knows, as far as subjective feelings are concerned, pain only becomes greater the more we think about it. It is not the objective damage but the pain of it that increases as we think more about it. In certain respects, the very best remedy for the overcoming of pain is to bring yourself, if you can, not to think about it.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 302a – Education and Instruction: Education for Adolescents – Stuttgart, June 21, 1922

Translated by Clifford Bax

Previously posted on 19th January 2018

What the eye sees is of far greater influence than materialistic writings (2 – End)

At a given time an architectural style is created, born out of the great ideas of initiates. Human souls take up the force of these forms. Centuries go by. What the soul has absorbed through its contemplation of building forms appears in the mood of his soul. Ardent souls will then come into existence, souls who look up to the heights. Even when the course was not always quite as I have described it, still like effects showed themselves often in human development.

Now let us follow these people some millennia further. Those who absorbed the forces of the forms of these buildings into their souls show the expression of their inner soul configurations in their countenances. The entire human shape forms itself through such impressions. What was built thousands of years ago, appears to us in human countenances thousands of years later. Thus, one recognizes why such arts were practiced. Initiates look out into the far future and see how human beings are meant to become. Hence it is that at a definite time, they form external building styles, outer art forms, on a large scale. So it is that the germ of future human epochs is laid.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 101 – Occult Signs and Symbols: Lecture II – Stuttgart, 14th September 1907

Translated by Sarah Kurland

Previously posted on September 25, 2015

What the eye sees is of far greater influence than materialistic writings (1 of 2)

Many people believe that the materialism of our modern time arises because so many materialistic writings are read. The occultist, however, knows that this is only one of the lesser influences. What the eye sees is of far greater importance, for it has an influence on soul processes that more or less run their course in the unconscious. This is of eminently practical importance, and when spiritual science will one day really take hold of the soul, then will the practical effect become noticeable in public life. 

I have often called attention to the fact that it was something different from what it is today when one in the Middle Ages walked through the streets. Right and left there were house façades that were built up out of what the soul felt and thought. Every key, every lock, carried the imprint of him who had made it. Try to realize how the individual craftsman felt joy in each piece, how he worked his own soul into it. In every object there was a piece of soul, and when a person moved among such things, soul forces streamed over to him. Now compare this with a city today. Here is a shoe store, a hardware store, a butcher shop, then a tavern, etc. All this is alien to the inner soul processes; it is related only to the outer man. Thus, it generates those soul forces that tend towards materialism. 

These influences work much more strongly than do the dogmas of materialism. Add to these our horrible art of advertising. Old and young wander through a sea of such abominable products that wake the most evil forces of the soul. So likewise do our modern comic journals. This is not meant to be a fanatical agitation against these things, but only indications about facts. All this pours a stream of forces into the human soul, determining the epoch that leads the person in a certain direction. The spiritual scientist knows how much depends upon the world of forms in which a man lives.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 101 – Occult Signs and Symbols: Lecture II – Stuttgart, 14th September 1907

Translated by Sarah Kurland

Previously posted on September 24, 2015