An undeveloped brain may at times conceal great spiritual faculties

We may meet a person who seems to be very stupid, but who has brought with himself a concealed higher life that needs only to be brought out. Most human beings these days are much further than it seems, and more people would know about this if the materialism of our conditions and of our time would not drive them back into the inner life of the soul. A large percentage of today’s human beings was previously much further advanced. Whether that which is within them will come forth depends on many factors. But it is possible to give some help. Suppose you have before you a person who was highly developed in his earlier incarnation, but now has an undeveloped brain. An undeveloped brain may at times conceal great spiritual faculties. But if he can be taught the usual everyday abilities, it may happen that the inner spirituality also comes forth.

Another important factor is the environment in which a person lives. The human being is a mirror-image of his surroundings in a most significant way. Suppose that a person is a highly developed personality, but lives in surroundings that awaken and develop certain prejudices with such a strong effect that the higher talents cannot come forth. Unless such a person finds someone who can draw out these abilities, they will remain hidden.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 54 – Esoteric Development: Lecture I: Inner Development – Berlin, 7th December 1905

Translated by Gertrude Teutsch

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Painting by Lutz Baar

Previously posted  on July 4, 2018

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The first seven years of life / Pleasure and delight

There is one thing that must be thoroughly and fully recognized for this age of the child’s life (Steiner talks here about the first seven years). It is that the physical body creates its own scale of measurement for what is beneficial to it. This it does by the proper development of craving and desire. Generally speaking, we may say that the healthy physical body desires what is good for it. In the growing human being, so long as it is the physical body that is important, we should pay the closest attention to what the healthy craving, desire and delight require. Pleasure and delight are the forces which most rightly quicken and call forth the physical forms of the organs.

In this matter it is all too easy to do harm by failing to bring the child into a right relationship, physically, with his environment. Especially may this happen in regard to his instincts for food. The child may be overfed with things that completely make him lose his healthy instinct for food, whereas by giving him the right nourishment the instinct can be so preserved that he always wants what is wholesome for him under the circumstances, even to a glass of water, and turns just as surely from what would do him harm. Anthroposophical Science, when called upon to build up an art of education, will be able to indicate all these things in detail, even specifying particular forms of food and nourishment. For Anthroposophy is realism, it is no grey theory; it is a thing for life itself.

Thus the joy of the child, in and with his environment, must be reckoned among the forces that build and mould the physical organs. Teachers he needs with happy look and manner, and above all with an honest unaffected love. A love which as it were streams through the physical environment of the child with warmth may literally be said to ‘hatch out’ the forms of the physical organs.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 34 – The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy

Translated by George and Mary Adams

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See also:

https://rudolfsteinerquotes.wordpress.com/2018/04/09/fragments-from-the-education-of-the-child-in-the-light-of-anthroposophy-1-of-3/

https://rudolfsteinerquotes.wordpress.com/2018/04/10/fragments-from-the-education-of-the-child-in-the-light-of-anthroposophy-2-of-3/

https://rudolfsteinerquotes.wordpress.com/2018/04/11/fragments-from-the-education-of-the-child-in-the-light-of-anthroposophy-3-end/

Previously posted on October 4, 2020

Practical thinking

There are three things to take into consideration if one truly wants to school practical training of thinking in itself: firstly, a person must develop interest in outer reality, interest in the facts and objects in his surroundings. Interest in the world around us, that is the magic word for training thinking. Passion and love for what we do, that is the second. And gratification for the topic that we are contemplating, that is the third. He who understands these three things: interest in the environment, passion and love for what we do and pleasure in thinking, will soon find that these are the most important requirements for developing practical thinking.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 057 – Wo und wie findet man den Geist? – Berlin, 11 February 1909 (page 252)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger 

The whole lecture in another translation can be found here.

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Previously posted on May 16, 2018

See also June 20, 2014

Fragments from The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy (2 of 3)

There are two magic words which indicate how the child enters into relation with his environment. They are: Imitation, and Example. The Greek philosopher Aristotle called man the most imitative of creatures. For no age in life is this more true than for the first stage of childhood, before the change of teeth. What goes on in his physical environment, this the child imitates, and in the process of imitation his physical organs are cast into the forms which then become permanent. ‘Physical environment’ must, however, be taken in the widest imaginable sense. It includes not only what goes on around the child in the material sense, but everything that takes place in the child’s environment — everything that can be perceived by his senses, that can work from the surrounding physical space upon the inner powers of the child. This includes all the moral or immoral actions, all the wise or foolish actions, that the child sees.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 34 – The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy

Translated by George and Mary Adams

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Previously posted on April 10, 2018

Fragments from The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy (1 of 3)

With physical birth the physical human body is exposed to the physical environment of the external world. Before birth it was surrounded by the protecting envelope of the mother’s body. What the forces and fluids of the enveloping mother-body have done for it hitherto, must from now onward be done for it by the forces and elements of the external physical world. Now before the change of teeth in the seventh year, the human body has a task to perform upon itself which is essentially different from the tasks of all the other periods of life. In this period the physical organs must mould themselves into definite shapes. Their whole structural nature must receive certain tendencies and directions. In the later periods also, growth takes place; but throughout the whole succeeding life, growth is based on the forms which were developed in this first life-period. If true forms were developed, true forms will grow; if misshapen forms were developed, misshapen forms will grow. We can never repair what we have neglected as educators in the first seven years. Just as Nature brings about the right environment for the physical human body before birth, so after birth the educator must provide for the right physical environment. It is the right physical environment alone, which works upon the child in such a way that the physical organs shape themselves aright.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 34 – The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy

Translated by George and Mary Adams

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Previously posted on April 9, 2018