We will not reach our goal with beautiful slogans

It is true that there are often wonderful ground principles mentioned regarding pedagogy. For example, it is rightly said: Yes, in education there are such principles as “one should not cram things into the children from outside; one should let that what one wants them to acquire come out of their own talents and capabilities.” Very true, an excellent basic rule – but abstract and theoretical. And thus we see that by far the majority of our practical life is based on abstractions, is born out of theoretical programs. Because what one really needs in order to be able to draw forth from the individuality that which the child needs to develop, is true knowledge of the human being. Human insight which enters into the depths of the being of man. However such knowledge the science available to modern civilization, despite her great triumphs, does not have.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 297a – Erziehung zum Leben – Amsterdam, 28 February 1921 (p. 51)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

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Previously posted on 30 september 2018

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Experiences are transformed and become capabilities, skills and talents

The way in which the experiences here on earth are processed, is such that only a very small portion of these experiences are retained; every ability one acquires needs much more than what is retained in the end. For example, one does not remember how one has learned to write. Acquiring the ability to write was accompanied by a variety of experiences. These experiences contract, as it were, into a single power, the skill of writing. What at first is outer experience turns into a skill. In all experiences there lies such a possibility, such an opportunity: the experiences one gains in life can later on transform into abilities, talents. The conversion takes place after death. When the person is born again they will appear as talents, as capabilities. This is the basic feeling in devachan: that all experiences are transformed to capabilities, life-skills. That results in a feeling of bliss…. a stream of happiness permeates the people. All creative activity evokes a feeling of bliss. The relationships that have been spun in the world are much more intense in devachan than here on Earth. The limitations of space and time fall away. One can in fact penetrate other people.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 96 – Ursprungsimpulse der Geisteswissenschaft – Berlin, 22nd October 1906 (page182-183)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

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Previously posted on June 28, 2018

Reincarnation/Karma/Talents (2 of 2)

If we go more deeply into this, the fact becomes apparent that the external career of a man in one incarnation, when it is not merely a career but also an inner vocation, passes over in his next incarnation into the inward shaping of his bodily organs. Thus, if a man has been an exceptionally good mathematician in one incarnation, the mastery he has obtained over numbers and figures remains with him and goes into a special development of his sense-organs, for instance, of the eyes. People with very good sight have it as a result of the fact that in their former incarnation they thought in forms; they took this thinking in forms with them and during the life between death and rebirth they worked specially on the shaping of their eyes. Here the mathematical talent has passed into the eyes and no longer exists as a gift for mathematics.

Another case known to occultists is where an individuality in one incarnation lived with intensity in architectural forms; these experiences lived as forces in his inner soul-life and worked strongly upon the instrument of hearing, so that in his next incarnation he became a great musician. He did not appear as a great architect, because the perception of form necessary for architecture was transformed into an organ-building force, so that there was nothing left but a supreme sensitiveness for music.

An external consideration of similarities is generally deceptive in reference to the characteristics of successive incarnations; and just as we must reflect upon whatever did not please us and conceive of ourselves as having had an intense desire for it, so we must also reflect upon those things for which we have the least talent, and about which we are stupid. If we discover the dullest sides of our nature, they may very probably point to those fields in which we were most brilliant in our previous incarnation. Thus we see how easy it is in these matters to begin at the wrong end. A little reflection will show us that it is the soul-kernel of our being which works over from one incarnation to another; this can be illustrated by the fact that it is no easier for a man to learn a language even if in his preceding incarnation he lived in the country associated with this particular language; otherwise our school-boys would not find it so difficult to learn Greek and Latin, for many of them in former incarnations will have lived in the regions where these were the languages of ordinary intercourse.

You see, the outer capacities we acquire are so closely connected with earthly circumstances that we cannot speak of them reappearing in the same form in the next incarnation; they are transformed into forces and in that way pass over to a subsequent incarnation. For instance, people who have a special faculty for learning languages in one incarnation will not have this in the next; instead, they will have the faculty which enables them to form more unbiassed judgments than those who had less talent for languages; these latter will tend to form one-sided judgments.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 135 – Reincarnation and Karma – I – Berlin, 23rd January 1912

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond & Charles Davy

Previously posted on June 28, 2016

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Reincarnation/Karma/Talents (1 of 2)

You have no doubt often heard anthroposophists say when they meet a good arithmetician: “In his previous incarnation this man was a good arithmetician!” Unfortunately, many undeveloped anthroposophists string together links of reincarnation in such a way that it is thought possible to find the earlier incarnation because the present gifts must have existed in the preceding incarnation or in many previous incarnations. This is the worst possible form of speculation and anything derived from it is usually false. 

True observation by means of Spiritual Science, discloses, as a rule, the exact opposite. For example, people who in a former incarnation were good arithmeticians, good mathematicians, often reappear with no gift for mathematics at all. If we wish to discover what gifts we may probably have possessed in a former incarnation (here I must remind you that we are speaking of probabilities!) — if we wish to know what intellectual or artistic faculties, say, we possessed in a former incarnation, it is well to reflect upon those things for which we have least talent in the present life.

These are true indications, but they are very often interwoven with other facts. It may happen that a man had a special talent for mathematics in a former incarnation but died young, so that this talent never came to full expression; then he will be born again in his next incarnation with a talent for mathematics and this will represent a continuation of the previous incarnation. Abel, the mathematician who died young, will certainly in his next incarnation be reborn with a strong mathematical talent.  But when a mathematician has lived to a great age, so that his talent has spent itself — then in his next incarnation he will be stupid as regards mathematics. I knew a man who had so little gift for mathematics that as a schoolboy he simply hated figures, and although in other subjects he did well, he generally managed to get through his classes only because he obtained exceptionally good marks in other subjects. This was because in his former incarnation he had been an exceedingly good mathematician.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 135 – Reincarnation and Karma – I – Berlin, 23rd January 1912

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond & Charles Davy

Previously posted on June 27, 2016

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Transformation / Talents / Forces

An external consideration of similarities is generally deceptive in reference to the characteristics of successive incarnations; and just as we must reflect upon whatever did not please us and conceive of ourselves as having had an intense desire for it, so we must also reflect upon those things for which we have the least talent, and about which we are stupid. If we discover the dullest sides of our nature, they may very probably point to those fields in which we were most brilliant in our previous incarnation. Thus we see how easy it is in these matters to begin at the wrong end. A little reflection will show us that it is the soul-kernel of our being which works over from one incarnation to another; this can be illustrated by the fact that it is no easier for a man to learn a language even if in his preceding incarnation he lived in the country associated with this particular language; otherwise our school-boys would not find it so difficult to learn Greek and Latin, for many of them in former incarnations will have lived in the regions where these were the languages of ordinary intercourse.

You see, the outer capacities we acquire are so closely connected with earthly circumstances that we cannot speak of them reappearing in the same form in the next incarnation; they are transformed into forces and in that way pass over to a subsequent incarnation. For instance, people who have a special faculty for learning languages in one incarnation will not have this in the next; instead, they will have the faculty which enables them to form more unbiassed judgments than those who had less talent for languages; these latter will tend to form one-sided judgments.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 135 – Reincarnation and Karma – Berlin, 23rd January 1912

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond & Charles Davy

Previously posted on June 28, 2016

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