Education / Morality / Authority

In this period of his life (between the change of teeth and puberty) one must work upon the child through speech. But whatever is to work upon him in this way must do so by means of an unquestioned authority. When I want to convey to the child some picture expressed through speech, I must do so with the assurance of authority. I must be the unquestioned authority for the child when through speech I want to conjure up before him some picture. 

Just as we must actually show the little child what we want him to do, so we must be the human pattern for the child between the change of teeth and puberty. In other words, there is no point whatever in giving reasons to a child of this age, in trying to make him see why we should do something or not do it, just because there are well-founded reasons for or against it. This passes over the child’s head. It is important to understand this. 

In exactly the same way as in the earliest years of life the child only observes the gesture, so between the change of teeth and puberty he only observes what I, as a human being, am in relation to himself. At this age the child must, for instance, learn about what is moral in such a way that he regards as good what the naturally accepted authority of the teacher, by means of speech, designates as good; he must regard as bad what this authority designates as bad. The child must learn: What my teacher, as my authority, does is good, what he does not do is bad. Relatively speaking then, the child feels: When my teacher says something is good, then it is good; and if he says something is bad, then it is bad.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 310 – Human Values in Education: Lecture III – Arnheim, 19th July, 1924


Today we refer to the physical body as our own — with no notion of how unjustified this is 

While a man is going about on Earth, he regards his physical body and his etheric body — of which he knows little, but at least he feels it in his powers of growth, and so on — as his own body, but he has no right to do so. Only his Ego and his astral body are his. Everything present in his physical body and etheric body — even while he is on Earth — is the property of the divine-spiritual Beings who live and weave within them, and continue their work while the man is absent in sleep. 

It would go badly with anyone if he had to care for his own etheric and physical bodies in continual wakefulness between birth and death. Time and time again he is obliged to hand over his physical and etheric bodies to the Gods — especially during childhood, for then sleep is the most important thing of all. Later in life sleep works only as a corrective; the really fructifying sleep is the sleep that comes to a child in the first years of its life. Thus the human being has continually to be yielding up both physical and etheric bodies to the care of the Gods.

In past ages of human evolution this was so clearly perceived that the body was called the temple of the Gods, for so was its wonderful structure experienced. And in all architectural work — this can best be seen in oriental buildings, but also in those of Egypt and of Greece — the laws of the physical body and the etheric body were followed. In the very way the Cherubim are set on the temples of the East, in the attitude of a sphinx, or in the placing of pillars — in all this the work of divine-spiritual Beings in the human physical and etheric bodies has been made to live again. In the course of evolution, consciousness of this has been lost; and to-day we refer to the physical body as our own — with no notion of how unjustified this is — whereas as an earthly creation it belongs in reality to the Gods. 

Hence, when anyone to-day talks of “my body”, when he speaks of the healthy functioning of his body as due to himself, it is just an instance of the prodigious arrogance of modern man — a subconscious pride, certainly, expressed with no awareness of it, but none the less deplorable. It shows how in speaking of their bodies as their own, people are really laying claim to the property of the Gods, and this pride is embodied in their very speech.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 227 – The Evolution of Consciousness: Lecture X: Man’s Life after Death in the Spiritual Cosmos – Penmaenmawr, 28th August 1923


Translated by Violet E. Watkin & Charles Davy

Previously posted on March 18, 2018

Preparation / Knowledge / Exercise / Powers of the soul

Let it be remembered, that in the physical world whatever we do in thinking, feeling and willing in order to have some knowledge of that world or to do something for it — all this serves only as preparation for knowledge of the higher worlds. 

Whatever we may think about something belonging to the physical world, no matter how astutely, gives us no knowledge of the higher worlds. Through thinking our soul is merely prepared, merely trained in such a way that it gradually becomes capable of penetrating into the spiritual worlds. 

And the same applies to willing and feeling in connection with things of the physical world. In order to be doubly clear, let me say this. A learned researcher, through his scientific methods, gets to know something belonging to the external world. When he has investigated it he is wont to say: I know this and that belonging to the external world. This kind of investigation, this kind of thinking, does not help him in the very least to penetrate into the spiritual world. 

His thinking and investigation are of significance only because they exercise the powers of his soul. The effect, as far as penetration into the spiritual worlds is concerned, is that through this thinking and investigation the soul becomes more capable of living its own life, of activating its own forces. The activities that are normally carried out in the physical world are of use for spiritual-scientific investigation only as an education of a man’s own soul.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 156 – Occult Reading and Occult Hearing –  LECTURE I: The Human Being and his Relationship to the World – Dornach, 3rd October 1914

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond



Of course, a materialistic view of the world and of the human being, which recognizes only what can be touched and seen, naturally sees in man and woman only the big physiological differences; and anyone who remains with this materialistic view will simply miss, will overlook, something that is far greater and more decisive than sexual differences — he will overlook the individuality which goes beyond gender and is independent of it.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 54 – Woman and Society – Hamburg, 17th November 1906


Previously posted on March 1, 2018

Whoever still heeds his own opinion, cannot come to truth

Whoever will experience the true character of cosmic mysteries must stand entirely on the standpoint from which he says: Whoever still heeds his own opinion, cannot come to Truth. That is indeed the peculiar [eigenartige] nature of anthroposophical truth that the observer may have no opinion of his own, no preference for this or the other theory, that he may not love this or the other view more than any other because of his own especial individual qualities. 

As long as he stands on this standpoint, it is impossible for the true secrets of the world to reveal themselves to him. He must pursue knowledge quite individually, but his individuality must develop so far, that it no longer has anything personal, i.e., anything of his own peculiar sympathies and antipathies. This must be taken strictly and earnestly. Whoever still has any preference for these or the other ideas and views, whoever can incline to this or the other because of his education or temperament, will never recognise objective truth.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 117 – The Ego: Lecture One – Munich, December 4, 1909

Translated by Gilbert Church