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Title: The Education of Children - From the standpoint of theosophy
Author: Steiner, Rudolf
Language: English
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                             THE EDUCATION
                              OF CHILDREN

                          FROM THE STANDPOINT
                             OF THEOSOPHY

                            RUDOLF STEINER
                            PH. D. (VIENNA)

                        AUTHORIZED TRANSLATION


                           AMERICAN EDITION

                          _THE RAJPUT PRESS._

                          [Further colophon]



                       UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


                           MAX GYSI, Editor,
                         “Adyar,” Park Drive,
                       Hampstead, London, N. W.

                       THE EDUCATION OF CHILDREN


                         (TRANSLATED BY W. B.)

Present day life calls into question many things which man has
inherited from his ancestors hence the numberless questions of the day,
as for example: the Social Problem, the Woman’s Movement, Education and
School Questions, Law Reform, Hygiene, Sanitation, and so forth. We try
to grapple with these questions in manifold ways. The number of those
who bring forward this or that remedy in order to solve this or that
question, or at least to contribute something towards its solution, is
immeasurably great, and every possible shade of opinion is manifested
in these endeavors; radicalism, carrying itself with a revolutionary
air; the moderate view, full of respect for existing things and
desirous of fashioning out of them something new; or conservatism, up
in arms, whenever old institutions and traditions are tampered with;
and besides these main attitudes, there are all sorts of intermediary
points of view.

He who is able to probe deeply into life cannot help feeling one thing
with regard to these phenomena—that the claims which are placed before
men in our time are met repeatedly by inadequate means. Many would like
to re-form life, without really knowing it from its foundations. He
who would put forth a proposition as to life in the future, must not
content himself with merely learning to know life superficially. He
must probe it to its depths.

Life is like a plant that contains not only that which is visible
to the eye, but also a future condition concealed within its secret
depths. He who has before him a plant that is just in leaf, is
well aware that later on blossoms and fruit will be added to the
leaf-bearing stem. The germs of these blossoms and fruit are already
concealed within the plant. But it is impossible for one who merely
regards it in its present condition to say how these organs will
ultimately appear. Only he who is acquainted with the nature of the
plant can do so.

Human life also contains within itself the germs for its future.
But to be able to say anything about this future one must penetrate
into the hidden nature of man, and this, the present age, has no real
inclination to do. It busies itself with the surface and thinks itself
treading on unsafe ground should it advance into that which is hidden
from external observation. With the plant it is true the matter is
considerably simpler. We know that its like has often and often brought
forth flowers and fruit. Human life exists but once and the flowers
which it is to bring forth in the future were not previously there.
None the less they exist in human life in embryo, just as much as the
flowers of the plant which at present is only just bearing leaves.

And it is possible to say something about this future, when one
penetrates beneath the surface, into the heart of human nature. The
different reformatory ideas of the present can only become really
fruitful and practical, when they are the result of this deep research
into human life.

Theosophy is suited by its very nature to present a practical
philosophy, comprehending the whole sphere of human life. Whether or
not Theosophy, or that which in our time so often passes for it, is
justified in putting forth such a claim, is not the point. The point
concerns rather the nature of Theosophy and what, by means of this
nature, it is able to accomplish. It ought not to be a colorless theory
to satisfy the mere curiosity of knowledge, nor yet a medium for those
men who, out of selfishness, would like to win for themselves a higher
grade of evolution. It can contribute something to the most important
problems of present day Humanity, in the development of its well-being.

Of course if it acknowledges a mission of this kind it must expect to
meet with all manner of opposition and doubt. Radicals, Moderates and
Conservatives of all departments in life will surely raise such doubts
against it. For at first it will be unable to please any one party,
because its doctrines reach far beyond all party motives.

And these doctrines have their roots wholly and solely in the true
understanding of life. Only he who understands life will be able to
take his lessons from life itself. He will draw up no capricious
schemes, for he knows that no other fundamental laws of life will
prevail in the future than such as prevail in the present. Theosophy
will therefore of necessity have respect for the existing state of
things. Even, should it still find in what is existent, very much that
might be improved, yet it will not fail to perceive in the present
the germs of the future. But it knows, too, that for all things
nascent there is a growth and a development. Therefore the germs for
a transformation and for a future growth will appear to Theosophy in
the existing state of things. It invents no schemes, it only calls
them forth from what already exists. But that which is so called forth
becomes in a certain sense itself a scheme, for it contains within
itself the nature of evolution.

For this very reason the theosophical way of delving into the nature of
man must yield the most fruitful and practical means for the solution
of the vitally important questions of the present time.

It is my purpose to apply this to one such question, namely that of
education. We do not intend to advance any claims or pronounce a
learned dissertation, but to portray simply the child nature. From a
study of the nature of the growing man, the educational standpoint here
suggested will develop quite naturally. But to proceed rightly with
such a study it is necessary to contemplate the hidden nature of man in

That which is cognised by the physical perception, that which the
materialistic view of life considers to be the only important element
in the nature of man, namely, his physical body, forms, according to
spiritual research, only a part, a principle of human nature. This
physical body is subject to the same laws of physical life, is composed
of the same matter and forces, as all the rest of the so-called
lifeless world. Theosophy, therefore, maintains that man possesses this
physical aspect in common with the whole of the mineral kingdom. And it
considers as physical body that part only in man which is able to mix,
unite, to build up and to dissolve the very same materials, and after
identical laws, as are also at work in the mineral world.

Now besides this physical body, Theosophy recognizes a second element
in the constitution of man—namely a vital or etheric body. And that
there may be no cause for the physicist to reject the term etheric body
we would point out that etheric is here used in a different sense from
the hypothetical ether of physics, and it must be taken to mean here
that which is about to be described.

It has been considered for some time past a most unscientific
proceeding to speak of an “etheric body” of this kind. At the end of
the eighteenth and in the first half of the nineteenth century, it
is true, it was not considered “unscientific.” It was then said that
matter and force operating in a mineral could not of their own power
form themselves into a living being. For this there must be an especial
indwelling “force,” which was termed “vital force.” It was represented
indeed that such a force operates in plants, in animals, and in human
bodies, and produces the phenomena of life just as magnetic force in
the magnet causes attraction. In the succeeding period of materialism
this theory had been abandoned. It was then said that a living being
builds itself up in the same way as a so-called lifeless being; no
other forces prevail in an organism than those which are in the
mineral—they only operate in a more complicated manner; they build up
a more complex structure. At the present time, only the most obstinate
materialists cling to this denial of the “vital force.” A number of
natural philosophers have taught that one must nevertheless admit some
such thing as a vital force of a life-principle.

Thus the new science approaches in a certain sense the teaching
of Theosophy in regard to the vital body. Nevertheless there is a
considerable difference between the two. Science today, by means of
intellectual observations founded on the facts of ordinary perception,
has accepted the idea of a kind of vital force. But this is not the
method of a truly spiritual research, such as Theosophy aims at, and
from the results of which proceed the theosophical teachings. It cannot
be pointed out too often, how Theosophy on this point differs from the
current science of the day. The latter considers the experience of the
senses to be the basis of all knowledge, and whatever is not built upon
this basis it treats as unknowable. From the impressions of the senses
it draws deductions and conclusions. But anything that goes further it
puts aside, as being beyond the limits of human knowledge. To Theosophy
such a prospect resembles the view of a blind man who only takes into
consideration those things that he can touch, and what he may infer
from the touched object by reasoning, but who sets aside the statements
of those who can see as being beyond the faculty of human perception.
For Theosophy shows that man is capable of evolution, that through
the developing of new organs he may conquer for himself new worlds.
Around the blind man there is color and light, but he cannot perceive
them, because he does not possess the requisite organs. Around man, so
Theosophy teaches, there are many worlds, and he can observe them, if
only he develops the organs necessary for the purpose.

Even as the blind man looks upon a new world as soon as he has
undergone a successful operation, so can man, through the developing
of higher organs, perceive worlds quite different from those which
he observed at first with his ordinary senses. Now whether or not
it is possible to operate on one who is bodily blind depends on the
conditions of the organs; but those higher organs by which one may
penetrate into the upper worlds, exist in embryo in every human being.
Anyone can develop them, who has the patience, endurance and energy to
make use of those methods which are described in my two books entitled
“The Way of Initiation” and “Initiation and Its Results.”[1]

Theosophy does not speak of limitations to man’s knowledge through
his organism; but says, on the contrary, that he is surrounded by
worlds for which he has the organs of perception. It indicates the
means by which to extend the temporary limits. It also occupies itself
with the investigation of the vital, or etheric body, and to what
in the following may be called the yet higher principles of human
nature. It admits that only the physical body can be accessible to the
investigation of the bodily senses, and that from this standpoint one
can at most only chance on something higher by a train of reasoning.
But it gives information as to how one can open up for oneself a world
in which these higher principles of human nature appear before the
observer, just as the colors and light of objects appear before the
blind-born person after his operation. For those who have developed the
higher organs of perception, the etheric or vital body is an object
of actual observation, and not a theory resulting from intellectual
activity or a train of reasoning.

Man has this etheric, or vital body, in common with the plants and
animals. It causes the matter and forces of the physical body to
form themselves into the manifestations of growth, of reproduction,
of the internal motions of the fluids, etc. It is also the builder
and sculptor of the physical body, its inhabitant and its architect.
The physical body can therefore also be called an image or expression
of this vital body. Both are approximately the same in man as regards
form and size, yet they are by no means quite alike. But the etheric
body in animals and still more in plants, differs considerably from the
physical body with regard to its shape and dimension.

The third principle of the human being is the so-called body of
feeling, or astral body. It is the vehicle of pain and pleasure, of
impulse, desire, passion, and so forth. An entity composed merely of
a physical and an etheric body has nothing of all this, to which may
be ascribed the term—sensation. The plant has no sensation. If many a
learned man of our time concludes that plants have a certain power of
sensation, from the fact that many of them respond to a stimulus, by
movement, or in other ways, he merely shows that he does not know the
essence of sensation. The point is, not whether the being in question
responds to an outward stimulus, but rather whether the stimulus
reflects itself through an inner experience, such as pleasure or pain,
impulse, desire, etc. If this be not the standard of sensation, one
would be justified in asserting that blue litmus paper has a sense of
feeling for certain substances, because on coming into contact with
them, it turns red.[2]

Man has the astral body in common with the animal world only. It is
thus the medium for the life of sensation and feeling.

One must not fall into the error of certain theosophical circles and
think that the etheric body and astral body consist merely of finer
matter than that which exists in the physical body. For this would
mean simply the materialisation of these higher principles of human
nature. The etheric body is a form of living forces; it is composed of
active forces, but not of matter—and the astral body or body of feeling
is a form consisting of colored luminous pictures revolving within

The astral body differs in form and size from the physical body. It
appears in man in the form of an oblong egg, in which the physical and
the etheric bodies are embedded. It projects on all sides beyond these
two like a luminous cloud.

Now in the nature of man there is a fourth principle which he does
not share with other earthly creatures. This is the vehicle of the
human “I”. The little word “I” as we call it in English is a word that
separates itself from all other words. He who duly reflects on the
nature of this word, gains access at the same time to an understanding
of human nature. Every other word may be used by all men in the same
way to suit some corresponding object. Anyone can call a table “table,”
any one can call a chair “chair,” but with the word “I” it is not so.
No one can use it as an indication of some one else, for each person
can only speak of himself as “I”. Never can the word “I” sound in my
ears as a reference to myself. For a man in designating himself “I”,
must name himself within himself. A being that can say to himself “I”
is a world in himself. Those religions which are built up on the basis
of Theosophy have always felt this. They have therefore said that with
the “ego” the God begins to speak within—the God who, among lower
beings, is manifested only from without in the surrounding phenomena.

The vehicle of this lastly developed capacity is now “the body of the
ego,” the fourth principle of the human being.[4] This body of the
ego is the vehicle of the higher human soul, and through it man is
the crown of all earthly creation. But the ego in present humanity
is by no means a simple entity. Its nature can be recognized when a
comparison is made between men of different stages of evolution. Take
for instance the uneducated savage and the average European, and
compare these again with a lofty idealist. Each one of them has the
faculty of saying to himself “I” for the “body of the ego” is existent
in each of them. But the uncivilized savage gives way with this “I” to
his passions, his impulses and appetites, almost like an animal. The
more highly developed man allows himself to follow certain inclinations
and desires, others he checks or suppresses. The idealist has formed,
in addition to the original inclinations and passions, others that are
higher. This is all due to the fact that the “ego” has been at work
on the other principles of the human being. And it is precisely the
mission of the “ego” to ennoble and purify the other principles by its
own power.

So the lower principles, under the influence of the “ego,” have become
more or less changed within a man who has surmounted the conditions
in which the outer world has placed him. Take the case of the man who
is just raising himself above the level of the animal—when his “ego”
flashes out he still resembles the animal with regard to his lower
principles. His etheric or vital body is solely the medium of the
living constructive forces of growth and propagation. His astral body
only gives expression to such impulses, desires and passions as are
stimulated by his outer nature. All the time that the man is struggling
on through successive lives, or incarnations, from this degree of
culture to an ever higher evolution, his ego is remodelling the other
principles. In this way the astral body becomes the medium of purified
pleasurable and unpleasurable sensations, refined desires and longings.
And the etheric, or vital body, also transforms itself. It becomes the
vehicle of habits, of permanent inclinations of temperament and of
memory. A man whose ego has not yet influenced his vital body has no
remembrance of the experiences he undergoes. He lives just as he has
been brought up by Nature.

The whole development of civilisation expresses itself for man in
this working of the ego upon the subordinate principles. This working
penetrates even to the physical body. Under the influence of the ego,
the physiognomy, the gestures and movements, the whole appearance of
the physical body, change.

One can also discern how differently the various mediums of
civilisation affect the individual principles of the human being. The
common factors of civilisation influence the astral body. They bring
to it other kinds of pleasure, displeasure, impulse, etc., than it
originally had. Absorption in a work of art influences the etheric
body, for a man obtains through a work of art, the presentiment
of something higher and nobler than that which is offered by the
environment of the senses, and thus transforms his vital body. A
powerful means for the purification and ennoblement of the etheric
body is religion. Religious impulses have, in this way, their sublime
mission in the evolution of humanity.

That which is called conscience is nothing but the result of the work
of the ego on the vital body, through a succession of incarnations.
When a man perceives that he must not do certain things, and when
through this perception, an impression is made on him, deep enough to
communicate itself to his etheric body, the conscience begins to be

Now this work of the ego on the subordinate principles can either be
one that belongs rather to the whole human race, or it can be quite
individually a work of the single ego upon itself. In the first change
of man, to a certain extent, the whole human race takes part; the
latter must depend on the inner activity of the ego. When the ego grows
strong enough entirely to remodel the astral body through its own
strength, then that which the ego makes of this astral body or body
of feeling is called the “Spirit-Self” (Geistesselbst)[5] or as they
say in the East, Manas. This transformation consists essentially in
an imbuing, in an enriching of the inner being with higher ideas and
perceptions. But the ego can arrive at yet higher and more intimate
work with regard to the special entity of man. This occurs when not
merely the astral body is enriched, but when the etheric or vital
body becomes transformed. Man learns a certain amount in the course of
life, and when he looks back on his life from any point, he is able to
say to himself: “I have learnt much,” but how much less is he able to
speak of a change of temperament and character, of an improvement or
deterioration of the memory, during life. Learning affects the astral
body, whilst the latter transformations affect the ethic or vital body.
It would therefore be no inapt simile to compare the change of the
astral body in life to the movement of the minute-hand of the clock,
the change of the vital body to that of the hour-hand.

When a man enters upon the higher, or so-called occult training, the
chief thing to bear in mind is that he at once begins this latter
transformation by the innermost might of the ego. He must work quite
consciously and individually at the changing of habits, temperament,
character, memory, etc. As much of this vital body as he works upon in
this way becomes transformed into the “Life-Spirit” (Lebensgeist), or
as the Eastern expression has it, into Buddhi.

On a yet higher stage of evolution man attains to powers by which he
can effect a transformation of his physical body (as for example,
changing the pulse and the circulation of the blood). As much of the
physical body as is transformed in this way, is called “Spirit-Man”

The changes which are effected in the lower principles by man, not as
an individual, but rather as a whole group of the human race, or a
part of it, such as a nation, a tribe, or a family—have in Theosophy,
the following names. The astral body, or body of feeling, when
transformed by the ego is called the emotional soul; the transformed
etheric body becomes the rational soul, and the transformed physical
body, the self-conscious soul. But it is not to be supposed that the
transformation of these three principles takes place successively.
It takes place in all three bodies simultaneously, from the moment
when the ego flashes out. Indeed the work of the ego is not generally
speaking perceptible until a part of the self-conscious soul is formed.

It is seen from the foregoing paragraph that there are four principles
in the Being of Man: the physical body, the etheric or vital body,
the astral or body of feeling and the ego-body;—the emotional soul,
the rational soul, the self-conscious soul—and indeed the yet higher
principles of human nature also,—the Spirit-Self (Manas), the
Life-Spirit (Buddhi), the Spirit-Man (Atma) appear as the products of
the transformation of these four principles. In speaking about the
sources of our human capacities, only these four principles can be
taken into account.

As a teacher works upon these four principles of the human
constitution, one must, in order to work in the right way, penetrate
into the nature of these divisions of man. Now it must by no means
be imagined that these parts develop themselves in man in such a way
that at any one moment of his life—say at his birth—they are all
equally advanced. On the contrary their development takes place at the
various life-periods in a different way. And the right foundations for
education and instruction depend on the knowledge of this law of the
evolution of human nature.

Before physical birth the nascent human being is enclosed on all sides
by an alien physical body. It does not come into contact independently
with the outward physical world. The physical body of the mother forms
its environment. This body alone can influence the maturing fœtus.
Physical birth consists precisely in the fact that the physical body
of the mother releases the child, thereby causing the surroundings
of the physical world to influence him immediately. The senses open
themselves to the outward world, and this latter is thereby able
to exercise those influences over the child which were previously
exercised by the physical body of the mother.

For a spiritual comprehension of the world such as is represented by
Theosophy, the physical body is then actually born, but not yet the
etheric or vital body. As the child until the moment of its birth is
surrounded by the physical body of the mother, so too until the time
of his second teeth, about the age of seven, is he surrounded by an
etheric and an astral covering. Not until the time of the change of
teeth does the etheric covering release the etheric body. Then until
the time of puberty there still remains an astral covering.[6] At this
period the astral or desire body also becomes free on all sides, as did
the physical body at the time of the physical birth and the etheric
body at the time of the second teeth.

Thus then, Theosophy must speak of three births of man. Certain
impressions, which are intended to reach the etheric body can reach it
as little, up to the time of the second teeth, as the light and air of
the physical world can reach the physical body while it remains in the
womb of the mother.

Before the coming of the second teeth the free vital body is not at
work. As the physical body, whilst in the womb of the mother, receives
powers which are not its own, and within that protective covering
gradually develops its own, so is this also the case with these later
powers of growth, until the time of the second teeth. Only at this
period does the etheric body perfect its own powers in conjunction with
the inherited and alien ones. During this time, while the etheric
body is freeing itself, the physical body is already independent. The
etheric body which is gradually freeing itself, perfects that which
it has to give to the physical body. And the final point of this work
is the child’s own teeth, which come in the place of those he has
inherited. They are the densest things embedded in the physical body
and therefore at this period appear last.

After this period, the child’s own etheric body takes care of its
growth alone. Only the latter still remains under the influence of
an enveloped astral body. As soon as the astral body becomes free as
well, a period is terminated for the etheric body. This termination
takes place at the time of puberty. The reproductive organs become
independent, because from henceforth the free astral body does not
work inwardly, but openly encounters the external world.

As one is not able to let the influences of the outward world affect
the child physically before it is born, so those powers (which are the
same to him as the impressions of the physical surroundings to the
physical body) should not be allowed to affect the etheric body before
the time of the second teeth. And the corresponding influences upon the
astral body ought only to be brought into play at the time of puberty.

Common phrases, such as, “the harmonious training of all the powers and
talents,” and the like cannot form the foundation for a true system of
education, for this can only be built upon a genuine knowledge of the
human being. We do not mean to affirm that the above-mentioned phrases
are incorrect, but only that they are as valueless as if one were to
say with regard to a machine, that all its parts must be brought into
harmonious working order. Only he who approaches it, not with mere
phrases, but with a real knowledge of the particular kind of machine,
can handle it. This applies also to the art of education, to the
knowledge of the principles in a human being and of their individual
developments; one must know which part of the human being should be
influenced at a certain time of life, and how to bring such influences
to bear upon him in a suitable manner. There is indeed no doubt that
a really intelligent system of education, such as is outlined in
these pages, can make its way but slowly. This is due to the manner of
viewing things in our day, wherein the facts of the spiritual world
will still be considered for a long time as merely the overflow of a
mad fantasy, while common-place and entirely superficial phrases will
be regarded as the result of a really practical way of thinking. We
shall here proceed to give a free outline of what will be considered by
many at the present time a mere mirage of the fancy, but which will in
time come to be an accepted fact.

At physical birth, the physical human body is exposed to the physical
environment of the external world, whilst previously it was encircled
by the protective body of the mother. That which the forces and fluids
of the mother’s body did to it previously must now be done by the
forces and elements of the outer physical world. Up to the time of the
second teething, at the age of seven, the human body has a mission to
perform for itself, which is essentially different from the missions
of all the other life-epochs. The physical organs must form themselves
into certain shapes during this time; then structural proportions must
take definite directions and tendencies. Later on growth takes place,
but this growth in all future time proceeds on the bases of the shapes
which were in process of formation until the time mentioned. If normal
shapes have been forming themselves, normal shapes will afterwards
grow, and conversely from abnormal bases will proceed abnormal results.
One cannot make amends in all the succeeding years for that which, as
guardian, one has neglected during the first seven years. As the right
environment for the physical human body is provided by Nature, before
birth, so after birth it is the duty of the guardian to provide it.
Only this correct physical environment influences the child in such a
way that his physical organs mould themselves into the normal forms.

There are two magic words which epitomise the relation which is
formed between the child and its environment. These are: Imitation
and Example. Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, called man the most
imitative of animals, and for no other period of life is this more
applicable than for the age of childhood up to the time of the second
teething. The child imitates whatever takes place in its physical
environment, and in the imitation his physical organs mould themselves
into the forms which then remain to them. The term physical environment
is to be taken in the widest sense imaginable. To it belongs not only
that which takes place materially round the child, but everything that
is enacted in his surroundings, everything that may be observed by his
senses, everything that from all points of physical space can influence
his spiritual forces. To it also belong all actions, moral or immoral,
sensible or foolish, that the child may see.

It is not by moral texts, nor by rational precepts, but by what is
done visibly before the child by the grown-up people around him, that
he is influenced in the manner indicated. Instruction produces effects
only upon the etheric body, not upon the physical, and up to the
age of seven the etheric body is surrounded by a protective etheric
shell, just as the physical body until physical birth is surrounded
by the body of the mother. That which ought to be developed in this
etheric body in the way of ideas, habits, memory, etc., before the
age of seven, must develop itself “spontaneously,” in the same way
as the eyes and ears develop themselves in the womb of the mother
without the influence of the external light. It is written in an
excellent educational book, Jean Paul’s _Levana_ or _Pedagogics_, that
a world-traveller learns more from his nurse in his early years than
in all of his travels put together. This is undoubtedly true, but
the child does not learn by instruction, but by imitation. And his
physical organs form themselves through the influence of his physical
surroundings. A healthy vision is formed when the right colors and
conditions of light are brought into the child’s environment, and the
physical foundations for a healthy moral nature are formed in the brain
and in the circulation of the blood, when the child sees moral things
in his environment. When the child, up to the age of seven, sees only
foolish actions taking place around him, his brain assumes such forms
as to make him also, in later life, capable only of foolishness.

As the muscles of the hand grow strong and powerful when they do work
suitable for them, so the brain and the other organs of the physical
human body will be directed towards the right path, if they receive
the right impressions from their environment. An example will best
illustrate the point in question. A doll can be made out of an old
piece of cloth, by making two corners serve for arms, two for legs and
a knot for the head, with the eyes, nose and mouth painted in ink—or
a so-called “beautiful” doll can be bought with real hair and painted
cheeks, and given to the child. The latter, it is hardly necessary to
say, is really horrible, and is calculated to ruin the child’s sound
aesthetic taste for life. Here the question of education is quite a
different one. If the child has the rag-doll to look at, it has to
complete out of its own imagination the impression of a human being
which the doll is intended to convey. This work of the imagination
helps to build up the forms of the brain, so that it opens up as the
muscles of the hand expand by doing their natural work. When the child
possesses the so-called “beautiful doll,” there is nothing further for
the brain to do. It becomes, as it were, stunted and dried up, instead
of expanding itself. If people could look into the brain after the
manner of the occultist and see it building itself up into forms, they
would certainly only give their children that kind of plaything which
is really able to stimulate the creative powers of the brain. All toys
that are only composed of dead mathematical forms have a desolating
and deadening effect on the child’s formative powers, whilst on the
other hand everything that stimulates the perception of something
living tends to influence in the right direction. Our materialistic
age produces but few good toys—such for instance as that in which two
movable pieces of wood are made to represent two smiths facing one
another and hammering at some object. Such things may still be bought
in the country. Very good also are those picture books in which the
figures are made to be pulled by strings, thus enabling the child to
transform the dead picture into a representation of action. All this
produces an inner activity of the organs, and out of this activity the
right form of the organs builds itself up.

Of course these things can only just be indicated here, but in the
future occult science will be called upon to point out that which in
each particular case is necessary, and this it is able to do. For it
is not an empty abstraction, but a body of vital facts quite able to
furnish the guiding-lines for practical matters.

One or two further examples will serve as illustrations. According
to occult science a so-called nervous excitable child should be
treated differently from a lethargic and inactive one, with regard to
its surroundings. Everything must be taken into consideration, from
the color of the room and the various objects by which the child
is generally surrounded, to the color of the clothes in which it is
dressed. One may often do the wrong thing, unless willing to be guided
by occult science, for a materialistic tendency will in many cases hit
on just the opposite of what is right. An excitable child should be
clothed and surrounded with red or reddish-yellow colors, whilst for
the opposite type of child, blue or bluish-green should be selected.
For, in accordance with the color used outwardly is the complementary
color produced inwardly. Thus, for instance, green is produced by red;
orange-yellow by blue, and of this one may easily be convinced by
looking for a time on a spot of a particular color and then quickly
directing the eyes to a white surface. This complementary color is
produced by the physical organs of the child, and in turn reacts upon
the corresponding organic structures necessary to the child. Red in
the environment of an excitable child produces inwardly the green
complementary picture. The activity thus produced by the sensation of
green has a calming effect and the organs take upon themselves the
tendency to composure.

One rule must invariably be taken into consideration at this period
of life—that the physical body has to create for itself the standard
of what is suitable to it. It does this through the corresponding
development of desire. Generally speaking it may be said that the
healthy physical body desires only what is good for it. And as long
as it is a question only of the physical body of the growing child,
one ought to notice carefully what it is that is sought by the healthy
desires, cravings and pleasures. Joy and pleasure are the powers which
draw out the physical forms of the organs, in the best way.

A very great error may be committed in this direction by not placing
the child in the suitable physical conditions with regard to its
environment. This can especially be the case with regard to the
instinct of nourishment. The child can be overfed with things that
make him completely lose healthy instincts of nourishment, whilst
through correct feeding they can be preserved for him so fully, that
he will ask (even to a glass of water) for that which under given
circumstances is good for him, and will refuse anything that may be
harmful. When occult science is called upon to construct a system of
education, it will be able to specify, even to the particular articles
of nourishment and table luxuries, all that has here to be considered.
For it is a practical teaching, applicable to life, and no mere
colorless theory—as indeed one might suppose, from the mistakes of many
Theosophists of today.

Among the forces therefore which affect the physical organs by
moulding them, must be included an element of joy with and amid
the surroundings. Let the guardian be cheerful of countenance, and
above all things let there be true and not artificial love—a love
that flowing warmly through the physical environment, as it were,
incubates, in the true sense of the word, the forms of the physical

When within such an atmosphere of love, the imitation of healthy models
is possible, the child is in his right element. Special attention
should therefore be given that nothing may happen in the child’s
environment that he should not imitate. Nothing should be done that
would necessitate saying to the child “You must not do that.” Of the
way in which the child tries to imitate, one may be convinced by
observing how it can copy written letters long before it can understand
them. It is indeed an advisable thing for the child to copy the written
characters first, and then later to learn their meaning. For imitation
belongs to the developing stage of the physical body, whilst the
mind responds to the etheric body, and this latter ought only to be
influenced after the time of the second teeth, when its outer etheric
covering is gone. Especially should the learning of speech by means of
imitation take place in these years. For _by hearing_ the child best
learns to speak. All rules and artificial teaching can do no good at

In the early years of childhood it is especially important that such
means of education as, for instance, songs for children should make
as beautiful a rhythmic impression on the senses as possible. The
importance lies in the beautiful sound rather than in the sense. The
more invigorating the effect which anything can have upon the eye and
ear, the better it is. The power of building up the organs which lies
in dancing movements when put to a musical rhythm, for example, must
not be under-estimated.

With the change of teeth the etheric body throws off its outer
covering, and then the time begins in which the training of the etheric
body may be carried on from without. One must be clear as to what it is
that can influence the etheric body in this way. The transformation and
growth of the etheric body signify, respectively, the transformation
and development of the affections, the habits, conscience, character,
memory and temperament. One is able to influence the etheric body by
pictures, by example, by regulated guidance of the imagination. Just
as the child, until it has reached the age of seven, ought to be given
a physical model which it can imitate, so too, in the environment of
the developing child, between the period of the second teeth and that
of puberty, everything should be brought into play that possesses an
inner sense and value upon which the child may direct his attention.
All that conduces to thought, all that works through image and parable,
has now its rightful place.

The etheric body develops its power when a well regulated imagination
is directed upon that which it can unravel or extract for its guidance
from living images and parables, or from such as are addressed to the
spirit. It is _concrete_ and not _abstract_ ideas that can rightly
influence the growing body—ideas that are spiritually rather than
materially concrete. A spiritual standpoint is the right means of
education during these years. It is therefore of paramount importance
that the youth at this period has around him in his guardians
themselves personalities through whose points of view the desirable
intellectual and moral powers may be awakened in him.

As “imitation” and “example” are the magic words for the training of
children in their early years, so for the years now in question the
corresponding words are “hero-worship” and “authority.” Natural and
not forced authority must supply the immediate spiritual standpoint,
with the help of which the youth forms for himself conscience, habits
and inclinations, brings his temperament into regulated paths, and
wins his own outlook on this world. The beautiful words of the poet:
“Everyone must choose his own hero, in whose steps he may find the way
to Olympus,” are of special value with regard to this epoch of life.

Veneration and reverence are powers that assist the etheric body to
grow in the right way. And he to whom it is impossible, during this
period, to look up to anyone with unlimited reverence, will have to
suffer on that account for the rest of his life. When this veneration
is missing, the vital forces of the etheric body are checked. Picture
to yourself the following in its effect on the youthful disposition:
a boy of eight years of age is told of a person highly esteemed. All
that he hears about him fills him with holy awe. The day draws near on
which he is to see this honored person for the first time. A profound
reverence overcomes him when he hears the bell-ring at the door, behind
which the object of his veneration is to become visible. The beautiful
feelings which are produced by such an experience, belong to the
lasting acquisitions of life. And _that_ man is fortunate, who not only
during the happy moments of life, but continuously, is able to look up
to his teachers and instructors as to his natural authorities.

To these living authorities, to these embodiments of moral and
intellectual power, must be added the authorities perceived of the
spirit. The grand examples of history, the tales of model men and
women, must fix the conscience and the intellectual tendency—and not
abstract moral truths, which can only do their right work, when, at the
age of puberty, the astral body is freed from its astral covering.

One ought especially to guide the teaching of history into courses
determined by such points of view. Before the time of the second teeth,
the stories, fairy tales, etc., which are told to the child, can only
have for their aim, joy, recreation, and pleasure.

After this time it will be necessary to use forethought concerning
the matter that is to be related, so that pictures of life, such as
he can beneficially emulate, may be set before the soul of the young
person. It must not be overlooked that bad habits can be ousted by
pictures correspondingly repulsive. Warnings against such bad habits
and tendencies are at best of little avail, but if one were to let the
living picture of a bad man affect the youthful imagination, explaining
the result to which the tendency in question leads, one would do much
toward its extermination.

One thing to bear always in mind is, that it is not abstract
representations that influence the developing etheric body, but living
pictures in their spiritual clearness, and, of course, these latter
must be applied with the utmost tact, for otherwise the opposite to
what is desired will be the result. In the matter of stories it is
always a question of the way in which they are told. The verbal
narration of a tale can therefore not be successfully replaced by a
reading of it.

During the time between the second teeth and puberty, the
spiritually pictorial, or, as one might also call it, the symbolical
representation, ought to be considered in yet another way. It is
necessary that the young person should learn to know the secrets of
nature, the laws of life, as far as possible through symbols and not by
the means of dry and intellectual ideas. Allegories about the spiritual
relation of things ought so to reach the soul that the law and order of
existence underlying the allegories is rather perceived and divined,
than grasped by the means of intellectual ideas. The saying that “all
things transient are only symbols” ought to form an all-important
motto for the education during this period. It is very important for
a person to receive the secrets of nature in allegories before they
appear to his soul in the form of natural laws, etc. An example will
make this clear. Supposing one wished to speak to a young person of the
immortality of the soul, of its going forth from the body, one might
as an instance make the comparison of the butterfly emerging from the
chrysalis. As the butterfly comes forth from the chrysalis, so the soul
comes forth from the shell of the body after death. No one who has not
previously received them by means of some such image, will adequately
grasp the right facts in the abstract ideas. For by such a simile one
speaks not only to the intellect, but also to the sensations and
feelings, to the whole soul. The youth having gone through all this,
approaches the matter in quite a different attitude of mind when it
is given to him later in intellectual conceptions. Indeed the man who
cannot first approach the riddle of existence with this feeling is much
to be pitied. It is necessary that the teacher should have similes at
his disposal for all natural laws and secrets of the world.

In this matter it is quite clear what an enriching effect occult
science must have upon practical life. Any one constructing from a
materialistic and intellectual mode of representation, similes for
himself and then propounding them to young people, will usually make
but little impression upon them. For such a person ought first to
puzzle out the similes himself with all his mental capacities. Those
similes which one has not first applied for oneself, do not have a
convincing effect on those to whom they are imparted. When one talks to
somebody in parables, then he is not only influenced by what one says
or shows, but there passes a fine spiritual stream from the speaker to
the hearer. Unless the speaker himself has an ardent feeling of belief
in his similes, he will make no impression on the one to whom he gives
them. In order to create a right influence, one must believe in one’s
similes oneself as if in realities; and that can only be done when one
possesses the mystical tendency, and when the similes themselves are
born of occult science. The real occultist does not need to worry
about the above-mentioned simile of the soul going forth from the
body, because for him it is a truth. To him the butterfly evolving
from the chrysalis represents the same experience on a lower stage of
nature’s existence as the going forth of the soul from the body at a
higher stage development. He believes in it with all his might, and
this belief flows forth as if in invisible streams from the speaker
to the listener, and inspires conviction. Direct life-streams then
flow forth from teacher to pupil. But for this end it is necessary
for the teacher to draw from the full source of occult science; it is
necessary that his word and all that goes forth from him, should be
clothed with feeling, warmth and glowing emotion from the true occult
view of life. For this reveals a magnificent perspective of the whole
subject of education. Once the latter allows itself to be enriched from
the life source of occult science, it will itself become permeated
with a profound vitality. It will give up groping in the dark, so
common in this particular domain of thought. All educational methods,
all educational sciences, that do not continually receive a supply of
fresh sap from such roots, are dried up and dead. For all world-secrets
occult science has fitting similes, similes not rising from the mind of
man but drawn from the essence of things, having been laid down as a
basis by the forces of the world at their creation. Occult science must
therefore be the basis for any system of education.

       *       *       *       *       *

A power of the soul to which particular attention ought to be given at
this period of development is that of memory. For the cultivation of
the memory is connected with the transformation of the etheric body.
This has its effect in the fact that precisely during the time between
the coming of the second teeth and that of puberty it becomes free,
so that this is also the period in which the further development of
the memory should be looked after from outside. The memory will be
permanently of less value to the person in question than it might have
been, if at this period what is necessary to it is neglected. That
which has thus been neglected cannot afterwards be retrieved.

An intellectual and materialistic way of thinking is liable to bring
about many mistakes in this direction. A system of education arising
from this way of thinking is easily prejudiced against that which is
acquired merely by the memory. It will not tire at times of directing
itself with the greatest ardor against the mere training of the memory,
and rather makes use of the most ingenious methods that the young
person may not mechanically absorb what he does not really understand.
An opinion merely intellectual and materialistic is so easily persuaded
that there is no means of penetrating into things except by abstract
ideas; it is only with difficulty that thinkers of this kind come to
the conclusion that the other subjective powers are at least just as
necessary to the comprehension of things, as the intellect itself. It
is not merely a figure of speech to say that one can understand just as
well with the feelings, the emotions, the mind, as with the intellect.
Ideas are only one of the means by which to understand the things of
this world, and only to materialists do they appear the only means.
There are, of course, many people who do not imagine that they are
materialists, but who nevertheless consider an intellectual conception
to be the only means of comprehension. Such men profess perhaps to hold
an idealistic, perhaps even a spiritual conception of the world and
life. But the attitude of their souls toward both is materialistic.
For the intellect is, as a matter of fact, the soul’s instrument for
the comprehension of material things.

And here, concerning the deeper foundations of the understanding, let
us quote from that excellent educational book, by Jean Paul already
mentioned—a work containing generally golden ideas concerning education
and deserving of much more consideration than at present it receives.
It is of much more value to the guardian than many of the writings
on these lines that enjoy the highest repute. The passage under
consideration runs thus:

“Do not be afraid of unintelligibility, even if it be of whole
sentences; your look and the manner of your expression, added to the
eager desire to understand, elucidates the one half, and with this,
and in due time, the other half also. For with children, as with the
Chinese and with men of the world, the manner of pronunciation is half
the language. Bear in mind, that they understand their language as well
as we understand Greek or any other foreign tongue before learning to
speak it. Trust to the deciphering of time and to association. A child
of five years of age understands indeed the words “yet,” “truly,” “on
the contrary,” “of course”; but for a definition of them one must go
not to the child, but to the father! The little word “but” reveals a
small philosopher. If the eight-year-old child with his growing power
of speech is understood by a child of three, why should you then
confine your language to his babbling? Always speak several years in
advance (for in books genius speaks to us centuries in advance); with
the child of a year, speak as if it were two, with the child of two as
if it were six, for the difference of growth may diminish in inverse
proportion to the years. Generally speaking, all learning is apt to be
too much ascribed to the credit of the teacher—therefore the teacher
ought to bear in mind that the child possesses half his world, namely,
the spiritual (such as his moral and metaphysical ideas), already
complete and taught within himself, and that therefore a language
composed only of concrete images can never impart spiritual ideas,
but can only light them up. The joy and assurance used in speaking
to children ought to be given as if the assurance and joy came from
themselves. We can learn speech from them, just as we teach them by
means of speech; by means of bold and yet correct word-painting, such
as for instance I have heard spoken by children of three and four years
of age: ‘leg-fish’ for otter; ‘pig-iron’ for the fork used in eating
bacon; ‘the air-mouse’ (unquestionably superior to our word ‘bat’) and
so on.”

It is true that this passage refers to the understanding (before the
intellectual comprehension) as exercised in another sphere than that of
which we are now speaking, but for this also, the words of Jean Paul
have an important meaning. Just as the child receives into his soul’s
organism the construction of speech, without making use of the laws
of grammatical structure with intellectual comprehension, so too,
for the cultivation of his memory, the youth ought to learn things
of which he will not until later acquire an actual understanding.
That which has been acquired in this period of life, at first in a
purely mechanical way, is best put into ideas, afterwards, just as
one learns more easily the rules of a language when one can already
speak it. All the talk of work learned by rote and not understood is
nothing more than a materialistic prejudice. For instance, the youth
needs only to acquire by a few examples the most necessary rules of
multiplication, for which the fingers are far better suited than an
abacus, and then to learn fully, by rote, the multiplication table.
If one so proceeds, one takes into account the nature of the growing
child. But a mistake may be made with regard to this, if, during the
time that the memory is forming itself, too much is demanded of the
intellect. The intellect being a power of the soul, and only born at
the time of puberty, ought not to receive an outward influence before
this period. Until the time of puberty, the youth should assimilate
into the memory treasures over which mankind has meditated; later on
it is time to permeate with ideas that which has been impressed upon
his memory. A man ought therefore not to retain merely what he has
understood, but he ought now to understand the things that he knows;
that is to say, the things of which he has already taken possession by
means of the memory, just as the child does, when learning to speak.
This applies to a wider sphere. At first, assimilation of historical
events by mere rote, then comprehension of the same by means of ideas.
At first, a good impression upon the memory of geographical data, then
an understanding of the relationship of each thing with the rest, etc.
In certain respects all comprehension through ideas should be done by
means of the stored treasures of the memory. The more the youth already
knows through the memory before he comes to comprehension, the better
it is. It is hardly necessary to explain that all this applies only to
the period, of which we are speaking, and not to any later period. If
one learns a subject in later life, either by going over it again, or
in any other way, the opposite process to that here described might be
correct and desirable, although even then a great deal depends upon the
particular spiritual nature of the student. But at the time of life of
which we have already spoken the spirit must not be parched by being
overcrowded with intellectual ideas.

It is also true that teaching by mere sense-objects, if carried too
far, is the result of a materialistic view of life. At this age
every idea must be spiritualised. One ought not, for instance, to be
satisfied with merely producing a sense-impression of a plant, a grain
of seed, or a blossom. Everything should seem as an allegory of the
spiritual. A grain of seed is, in truth, not merely what it appears
to the eye. Invisibly the whole new plant inhabits it, and that such
a thing is more than what the sense perceives, must be absolutely
realised with the perception, the imagination, and the feelings. The
mysterious presence of latent existence must really be felt. Nor can it
be objected that such a proceeding would weaken the perception of pure
sense; on the contrary, by a persistent adherence to sense perceptions
alone, Truth itself would be the loser. For the complete reality of a
thing exists in Spirit and in Matter, and accurate observations can
be no less carefully carried out if one brings to the study not only
the physical senses, but also the spiritual faculties. If people could
only perceive, as the Occultist is able to, how both body and soul
are spoiled by mere object-teaching, they would not then lay so much
stress upon it. Of what value is it from the highest point of view,
if young people are shown all kinds of physical experiments in the
mineral, vegetable and animal worlds, if with such a study one does
not suggest the application of the sense allegory to the feeling of
spiritual mystery? Certainly a materialistic mind will not be able to
make anything of what has here been said, and of that the Occultist is
only too conscious. Yet it is also clear to him that a really practical
method of education can never proceed from the materialistic mind. So
practical does such a mind imagine itself, and yet so unpractical is it
in reality, when it is a matter of considering life vitally. Opposed to
the true reality, materialistic opinions seem only fantastic, while
to the materialist, the interpretations of occult science must, of
necessity, appear equally fantastic. Doubtless, too, there will remain
many obstacles which must be overcome before the fundamental teachings
of occult science, arising from life itself, will permeate the art of
education. But that is to be expected, for at present these truths are
strange to many; nevertheless, if they be really the truth, they will
incorporate themselves into all culture.

Only through the sure conviction that they are the only educational
means by which to work upon young people, can the teacher always find
the right way to deal correctly with each individual case. Thus, he
must know how the individual powers of the soul —such as thinking,
feeling and willing—ought to be treated, and how their development may
react upon the etheric body; while this itself, between the period when
the second teeth appear and that of puberty, can be perfectly moulded
by outside influences.

The foundations for the development of a healthy and powerful will can
be laid by the right management, during the first seven years, of those
fundamental principles of education which have already been considered.
For such a will must have for its support the fully developed form of
the physical body. From the period of the second teething it begins
to be a matter of making the etheric body, which is now developing,
supply those powers to the physical body by which it can solidify its
form and make itself firm. That which makes the most vivid impression
upon the etheric body also reacts most forcibly upon the strengthening
of the physical. And the strongest impulses are evoked in the etheric
body through those perceptions and ideas by which a person feels and
experiences his own relation to the everlasting Universe, that is
to say, through religious experiences. The will, and along with it,
the character, of a person will never develop healthily if he cannot
experience at this epoch of life, profound religious impulses. The
result of the uniform organisation of the will is that the person feels
himself to be an organic fragment of the whole world. If the person
does not feel himself to be indissolubly connected with a Supreme
Spirit, then must the will and character remain unstable, discordant
and unhealthy.

The emotional nature is developed in the right direction by means of
the allegories and sense-pictures already described, and especially by
all which, whether from history or from other sources, presents to us
the figures of persons with character. An absorption in the mysteries
and beauties of Nature is also of importance in the upbuilding of the
emotional world. And here it is particularly well to consider the
culture of the sense of beauty, and the awakening of the feeling for
what is artistic. Music should supply that rhythm to the etheric body
which then enables it to perceive in everything the rhythm otherwise
concealed. A young person will be deprived of much in all his after
life, who does not receive at this period the benefit of cultivating
the musical sense. To him in whom this sense is altogether lacking,
a certain aspect of the Universe must remain hidden. Nor should,
however, the other arts be, by any means neglected. The awakening of
the sense for architectural form, as also for plastic shape, for line,
design and harmony of color—not one of these ought to be omitted in
the plan of education. So simply, perhaps, might all this be done,
under special circumstances, that the objection that circumstances
allow of no development at all in this direction can never be valid.
One can do much with the simplest means, if the right sense in this
direction prevails in the teacher himself. The joy of life, the love
for existence, the strength to work—all these arise for the whole
being, out of the cultivation of the sense of beauty and art. And the
relations of man to man—how ennobled and how beautiful will they become
through this sense! The moral sense, which will, at this period, be
developed by pictures of life and by standard authorities, will also
gain a certain stability if, through the sense of beauty, the good is
recognized as beautiful and the bad as ugly.

Thought in its own shape, as an inner life of distilled ideas, must,
at the period in question, be kept in the background. It must develop
spontaneously, as it were, uninfluenced from without, while the soul
is nourished by means of similes and pictures representing life and
the mysteries of nature. Thus, in the midst of the other experiences
of the soul between the seventh year and the time of puberty, thought
must grow and the faculty for judgment be matured, so that after a
successful puberty the person becomes capable of forming his own
opinions concerning the matters of life and knowledge, with complete
independence. Indeed, the less one works directly upon the critical
faculty, and the more one works indirectly through the development
of the other spiritual powers, the better will it be for the whole
after-life of the person concerned.

Occult science lays down the principles, not only for the spiritual
side of education, but also for the purely physical. Thus, to give
a characteristic example, let us consider gymnastics and children’s
games. Just as love and joy must permeate the environment during the
first years of childhood, so too the growing etheric body must be
taught really to experience from bodily exercise a feeling of its own
expansion, of its ever increasing strength. For instance gymnastic
exercises ought to be so carried out that with every movement, with
every step, the feeling rises in the inner self of the boy or girl:
“I feel increasing power within me.” And this feeling should manifest
itself within as a healthy delight, as a sensation of pleasure. For
the devising of gymnastic exercises, in this sense, it is of course
necessary to possess more than a merely intellectual knowledge of
the human body, anatomically and physiologically. It is necessary to
possess a close intuitive and sympathetic knowledge of the relation
of joy and comfort to the postures and movements of the human body.
The formulator of such exercises ought himself to experience how
one movement or posture of the limbs will produce a pleasant and
comfortable sensation, but another a loss of strength, and so forth. A
belief that gymnastics and bodily exercises can be cultivated in this
direction is one that can only be supplied to the educator by occult
science, or, above all, by a mind sympathetic to such thought. One
does not even require the power of vision in the spiritual worlds,
but only the inclination to apply to life what has been given out by
occultism. If, especially in such practical departments as this of
education, occult knowledge were applied, then all the useless talk of
how this knowledge has yet to be proved would straightway cease. For
to him who should rightly apply it, this knowledge would itself be a
proof through the whole of life by making him healthy and strong. By
such means he would perceive, through and through, that it is true in
actual practice, and this he would find a better proof than any manner
of “logical” and so-called “scientific” reasons. One can best know
spiritual truths by their fruits, and not through a pretended proof,
however scientific, for such could hardly be anything more than a
logical skirmishing.

At puberty the astral body is first born. With the free outward
development which follows, all that which is unfolded by the world
of externalised perceptions, by one’s judgment and the unfettered
understanding, will first rush inward upon the soul. It has already
been mentioned that these faculties of the soul, hitherto uninfluenced
from within, ought to be developed by the right management of
educational means, just as unconsciously as the eyes and ears evolve
themselves in the womb. But with puberty the time has arrived when the
person is ready to form his own judgment concerning the things which
he has hitherto learned. No greater injury can be inflicted on any one
than by too soon awakening within him his own judgment. One should
only judge when one has already stored up the necessary qualifications
for judging and comparing. If, before this, one creates one’s own
independent opinions, then these will have no sure foundations. All
one-sidedness in life, all dreary “confessions of faith” which are
based upon a few mere scraps of knowledge, and the desire to judge from
these human conceptions that have been approved through long ages of
time, rest upon just such mistakes in education. Before qualified to
think, one must place before oneself, as a warning, what others have
thought. There is no sound thinking which has not been preceded by a
sound perception of the truth supported by obvious authority. If one
wishes to follow out these principles of education, one must not allow
people, at too early an age, to fancy themselves able to judge, for in
avoiding this, one will leave them the possibility of allowing life
to work upon them from every side, and without prejudice. For by one
such judgment, which is not founded on the precious basis of spiritual
treasures, he who makes it will have placed a stumbling-block in the
path of his life. For if one has pronounced a judgment on any subject,
one will always be influenced by having done so; one will no longer
regard an experience as one might have regarded it, if one had not
erected an opinion which is henceforth intertwined with the subject
in question. In young people the disposition to learn first and then
to judge, should be present. That which the intellect has to say of
a certain subject ought only to be said when all the other powers of
soul have spoken; before that the intellect ought only to play the
part of mediator. It should only serve to lay hold of what is seen and
felt, to apprehend it as it there exists, without allowing the unripe
judgment to take possession of the matter. Therefore the youth ought
to be shielded from all the theories concerning a thing, before the
above-mentioned age, and it should be especially emphasized that he
should face the experiences of life in order to admit them into his
soul. A growing individual can certainly be made acquainted with what
people have thought concerning this or that, but one should avoid
letting him form opinions which arise from a premature judgment. He
should receive opinions with the feelings, without deciding at once for
one view or the other, not attaching himself to a party, but thinking,
as he listens: “One has said this, and the other that.” Before all
things a large measure of tact is necessary in the cultivation of
this sense by teachers and guardians, but occult knowledge is exactly
calculated to supply such tact.

It has only been possible to develop here a few aspects of education
in the light of Occultism, but it has only been intended to give a
hint as to what problems of civilisation this philosophy will have to
solve. Whether it can do so depends on whether the inclination for such
a way of thinking henceforth broadens out in ever widening circles.
In order that this may take place, two things are necessary: first,
that people should abandon their prejudice against Occultism. He who
will truly associate himself with it, will soon see that it is not
the fantastical trash which so many today imagine it to be. This is
not intended as a reproach to such people, for everything which our
time offers as a means of education must, at first, engender the view
that occultists are fantastics and dreamers. On the surface any other
view is hardly possible, for there appears to be the most complete
diversity between what is known as Occult Science or Theosophy, and all
that the culture of the present day suggests as the principles for a
healthy view of life. Only a deeper consideration reveals to us how
entirely in opposition the views of the present must remain without
these principles of occult science—how, indeed, they themselves call
out these very principles and in the long run cannot remain without
them. The second thing that is necessary is connected with the sound
development of Theosophy itself. Life will only welcome Theosophy, if
in theosophical circles the knowledge is made to permeate everywhere
that it is important to make these teachings bear fruit in the widest
manner for all conditions of life, and not merely to theorize about
them. Otherwise people will continue to look upon Theosophy as a kind
of religious sectarianism, only fit for some fanatical enthusiasts. But
if it performs positive useful spiritual work, then the theosophical
movement cannot, in the long run, be refused an intelligent hearing.


[1] “_The Way of Initiation_,” or How to Attain Knowledge of the Higher
Worlds,“ by Rudolph Steiner, Ph.D., with a Foreword by Annie Besant,
and some biographical Notes of the author by Edouard Schuré. Second
edition, 237 pages, cloth, crown 8vo, 3/10 post free.

“_Initiation and its Results._” A sequel to “The Way of Initiation.”
Second edition. 3/9 post free. To be obtained from the Theosophical
Publishing Society, 161 New Bond Street, London, W.

[2] This distinction is important, for the ideas of the present time
with regard to this subject are rather inaccurate. The difference
between the vegetable and the creature gifted with the power of
sensation is completely lost sight of, because the essential
characteristic of sensibility is not clearly defined. When a being (or
an object) responds to an exterior impression by showing any effect
whatever, it is inaccurate to conclude that this impression has been
felt. To bear out this conclusion the impression must be experienced
inwardly, that is to say, the outside stimulus must produce a kind
of interior reflection. The great progress of natural science, which
a true Theosophist must sincerely admire, has thrown our abstract
vocabulary into confusion. Some of our biologists are ignorant of the
characteristics of sensibility, and thus accredit it to beings who are
devoid of it. Sensibility such as is comprehended by those biologists,
can, it is true, be attributed to organisms deprived of it. But what is
understood by Theosophy as sensibility is a totally different quality.

[3] A distinction must be made between the conscious inner life of the
astral body and the perception of this life by outward clairvoyant
observation. Here this latter perception by a trained clairvoyant is

[4] The reader need not object to the technical term “Body of the
ego,” because there is nothing of gross physical matter meant by it,
but occult science being forced to employ the vocabulary of ordinary
language, the words applied to Theosophy ought from the outset to be
taken in a spiritual sense.

[5] The terms “Spirit-Self”, “Life-Spirit” and “Spirit-Man” need not
mystify the reader; they stand for those transmutations of our grosser
bodies which are the results of conscious effort and pure aspirations;
they form, in other words, the Higher Trinity, called in Eastern
terminology: Manas, Buddhi and Atma, respectively. (Trans.)

[6] Were these affirmations to be wrongly interpreted, the objection
might be raised that a child before cutting his second teeth is not
deprived of memory, and that before reaching the age of puberty, he
possesses the inherent faculties of the astral body. It must not be
forgotten that the etheric and astral bodies are in existence from the
moment of physical birth, although surrounded by the protecting shell
described. It is precisely this envelope, protecting the etheric body,
which permits of a remarkably good memory before the cutting of the
second teeth. The existence of physical eyes in the embryonic being,
concealed in the womb of the mother, is analogous. And in the same way
that the physical eyes sheltered from all external influence do not
owe their development to the physical sunlight, so also education from
without should not intervene before the cutting of the second teeth in
the training of the memory. Very much to the contrary, the spontaneous
growth of the memory will be noticeable, provided there is food for it
within reach, and no attempt be made to train it by means of exterior

This observation applies equally to the qualities belonging to the
astral body before puberty. Provision should be made for their
training, but bearing in mind that this body is still encompassed by a
protecting shell. It is something wholly different to take care of the
germs which are in process of development within the astral body before
puberty and to expose the freed astral body _after_ puberty to what
it can assimilate in the outer world, _without_ the protecting shell.
This distinction is certainly very subtle, but without its careful
consideration the whole significance of education cannot be understood.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes

Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected. All other
spelling and punctuation remains unchanged.

The half title immediately before the title page has been removed.

Italics are represented thus _italic_.

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