On play during childhood and its effects in later life

When one understands how the child plays in the first years of its life, approximately up to the age of five and wants to develop the child’s individuality and character, one will provide the opportunity to enjoy play. Play prepares something that will find expression much later in the child’s life, for one must learn to understand human life in its totality. The botanist studies the plant in its entirety. What passes for ‘psychology’ nowadays only looks at the moment. 

At the age of twenty-five, twenty-seven, or a little earlier, a human being has to deal with life’s experiences, must be able to handle life and become a purposeful individual. Thus, observing a person in their twenties, one can recognise how a child’s ability to play approximately between birth and the fifth year culminates in becoming a practical person in his twenties who can handle life purposefully. 

We develop the root of what will later emerge as a flower at an early age. This understanding comes from the inner knowledge provided by Anthroposophy that penetrates authentic human nature. Therefore, we need to learn to observe the whole human being. In a sense, if we want to be teachers or educators, we must feel that we have to carry responsibility for the entire human being.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 297 – ANTHROPOSOPHIE UND PÄDAGOGISCHE KUNST – Ölten, December 29, 1920 (page 261-262)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger


Something of outstanding significance and importance

You will see that a man does not take with him into the world after death anything that lives in his physical and etheric bodies. That is thrown off and sinks away into the Cosmos. He takes with him only what as Ego and astral body he has experienced within his physical and etheric bodies.

Something of outstanding significance and importance follows from this. 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. 

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

 Translated by Violet E. Watkin and Charles Davy


Opposing forces (2 – End)

These forces are so powerful that our organism would waste away beneath their holiness if they continued to work on us. However, for the activity that brings us into conscious contact with the supersensible world, we have to call upon these forces again.

This leads us to a realization that is very significant if we understand it rightly. In the New Testament it is put thus: “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3) What then seems to be the highest ideal for a human being if the above statement is correctly understood? Surely that our ideal must be to approach ever closer a conscious relationship with the forces that worked on us, without our awareness, in the first years of childhood. At the same time, we must realize that we would collapse under the power of these forces if they were immediately and too easily to affect our conscious life. That is why a careful preparation is necessary to achieve the capacities that lead to a perception of supersensible worlds. The goal of this preparation is to enable us to bear what we simply cannot bear in ordinary life.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 15 – The Spiritual Guidance of the Individual and Humanity: Lecture One – Copenhagen, June 6, 1911

Previously posted on May 9, 2019


Opposing forces (1 of 2)

We have evolved to our present condition because beings we call luciferic and ahrimanic have affected us. Through their forces, our essential being became worse than it would have been if only the forces of the spiritual guides of the world, those who want to advance our development in a straight line, had worked on us. Indeed, suffering, disease, and death can be traced to the fact that, in addition to the beings who advance our development in a straight line, luciferic and ahrimanic beings are also at work and continuously thwart our progress.

What we bring with us at birth contains something that is better than anything we can make of it in later life. In early childhood, the luciferic and ahrimanic forces have only a limited influence on our being. Essentially, they are active only in what we make of ourselves through our conscious life. If we retained the best part of ourselves in its full force beyond the first phase of childhood, its influence would be too much for us because the luciferic and ahrimanic forces opposing the part of ourselves that is better than the rest would weaken our whole being. Our constitution as human beings in the physical world is such that, once we are no longer soft and malleable as children, we can no longer stand to have the forces of the spiritual world continue to affect us directly. The forces that underlie our orientation in space and the formation of the larynx and the brain would shatter us if they continued to influence us directly in later life. 

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 15 – The Spiritual Guidance of the Individual and Humanity: Lecture One – Copenhagen, June 6, 1911

Previously posted on May 8, 2019


Human beings will be immunised against any predisposition for spiritual ideas

The age of materialism is striving, through the work of certain circles, to paralyse, to eliminate all spiritual development in mankind, to bring human beings to a point where simply by temperament and character they reject everything that is spiritual and regard it as folly.

This trend — and it is already perceptible in some individuals today — will intensify. People will actually long for the time when the Spiritual is universally deemed to be insanity, craziness! Attempts will be made to achieve this end by inoculations; just as viruses have been discovered as means of protection against illnesses, so certain inoculations will be used to influence the human body in such a way that it provides no place for the spiritual proclivities of the soul. Human beings will be immunised against any predisposition for spiritual ideas … such, at least, will be the endeavour. They will try by inoculation to bring it about that even in childhood, human beings lose the urge towards the spiritual life. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 178 – Behind the scenes: Lecture 1 – Zurich, November 6, 1917