“The starting point for a new life of art can come only by direct stimulation from the spiritual world. We must become artists, not by developing symbolism or allegory, but by rising, through spiritual knowledge, more and more into the spiritual world.” Rudolf Steiner
If we think about the arts, what image or soul experience does it conjure? When we encounter something truly artistic something profoundly meaningful enters our soul. We feel inspired, nurtured and filled with the notion that we are part of something larger than life. Lets think about some of the great masters in human history for a moment. Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Rodin, Dante, Shakespeare, Yeats, Bach, Mozart, Handel, Beethoven to name but a few. When one reflects on their lives and work, one cannot help but to feel a sense of elevation and awe. One is overcome with an intuitive sense that here something has manifested on an earthly plane that is of profound significance for human development and evolution. Why is this? Why does the truly artistic have such a profound influence on our inner world?
Here follows an essay on Rudolf Steiner and his visionary view of the connection between the arts, cognition and spiritual life and the vital role of the arts in our human evolutionary journey. I have quoted Rudolf Steiner quite extensively in this blog. The reason being that he often used poetic language to convey a certain deeper spiritual meaning to the reader. I felt that this deeper meaning and also the beauty would be lost if it had been rewritten in another way. Continue reading Rudolf Steiner and the Arts
‘You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.‘ Rumi
The constitution of the human being is much like the ‘…the appearance of the seven colors of the rainbow when light passes through a prism. What a physicist contributes to our understanding of light by studying this process and the seven colors that result is analogous to what the spiritual scientist does for our understanding of the makeup of he human soul. The soul’s seven members are not abstract intellectual distinctions any more than the light’s seven colors. In both cases, the distinctions rest on the inner nature of the things themselves, the only difference being that the seven constituents of light become visible by means of an external device while the seven components of the soul become perceptible to a method of spiritual observation consistent with the nature of the human soul. The true nature of the soul cannot be grasped without knowing about this subdivision, because the soul belongs to the transitory world by virtue of three of our constitutional components – physical body, life body and soul body – and has its roots in eternity through the other four constituent parts. When the soul is seen as a unity, its transitory and eternal aspects are indistinguishably bound up with each other, but unless we are aware of the differentiations within it, we cannot understand its relationship to the world as a whole.’ Rudolf Steiner
Who am I? What is the human being? What is life? What is our purpose? What is the meaning of this every day existence that can appear so ordinary? Could it be that the very secret purpose of our existence is bound up with our being and the way we have been created? These are fundamental questions towards our understanding of the nature of our existence and the meaning of life and famous philosophers, scientists and spiritual leaders have searched for answers to these questions throughout the ages.
I do not promise that the following article will solve the riddle of life. However, Rudolf Steiner gave us a model of the nature of human existence and explained the make up of the human being in a way that in my opinion surpasses any other explanation I have come across. In all religions the attainment of eternal life filled with divine bliss, is held as the ultimate attainment of human endeavor. A wise old catholic priest once told me that my whole body is a prayer. I didn’t understand it then. However, after reading and researching Rudolf Steiner’s work it started to make sense. Rudolf Steiner explained how the very constituents of the human being, are the path we are walking towards our eternal destiny.
The knowledge of the nature of a human being forms the cornerstone of Waldorf education. It is essential in our spiritual and educational journey towards freedom.
In Waldorf Education grade one children are introduced to the quality of numbers in their very first arithmetic block. What does the ‘quality of numbers’ mean and why is it the first thing Waldorf Education teaches children on the outset of their mathematical journey? There is a profound significance and brilliance to this method and to understand it we need to have knowledge of the following:
First we need to look at the historic development of numbers and counting from the earliest times. Secondly we will look briefly at the development of the philosophy of numbers and how symbolic meanings of numbers came about – especially from the point of view of the early Greek mathematicians and philosophers. Thirdly we will reflect on how Rudolf Steiner viewed mathematics and his instructions on the correct way of teaching numbers to children. Once you have read it you will see how it all forms a beautiful unity and why it is simply a brilliant way of introducing numbers to children for the first time. It is organic, beautiful and in harmony with human development. Continue reading The Quality of Numbers
This article starts with a brief description of the Three Day Rhythm in Waldorf education followed by some thoughts of Rudolf Steiner on the three stages of sleep, remembering, forgetting and how to strengthen memory. There after I have shared some practical suggestions on how to manage the Three Day Rhythm based on my experience in the classroom. Continue reading Rudolf Steiner: The Three Day Rhythm in Waldorf Education
Rudolf Steiner based the Waldorf educational model on what he defined as the three soul forces, activities or qualities namely thinking, feeling and willing. These faculties are also referred to as head, heart and hands in Waldorf. The sole aim of teaching is to develop these three faculties equipping the child with the necessary capacity and ability to receive, process and interact with an uncertain, changing world in a resilient, meaningful and healthy way. Although factual knowledge does play an important role in the classroom, it needs to be held according to its true nature which is changing and subject to evolution and development. There are things that are held as the truth today which in future will cease to be the truth. It might even be scorned. The changing nature of information, definitions and insights needs to be considered. It is important to realize that memorizing facts and acquiring information is not what will guarantee success in life but rather the relationship towards knowledge and its real life application in the world. Continue reading Rudolf Steiner and The Threefold Approach to Teaching in Waldorf Education (Thinking, feeling and willing)
The sadness of our present day intellectual culture is that it has totally estranged adults from the soul of a child. A fully intellectualized adult has no idea or connection to a child’s soul’s experience or thinking. In order to educate a child, adults need to find the way back to a child’s world and the way to do this is to study the developmental phases of childhood thoroughly.
We looked previously at the first two developmental phases of childhood as defined by Rudolf Steiner. The first developmental phase is from birth to the first dentition and the second phase is from the first dentition up to puberty. There is much more to say on both these topics and I will deal with them in more depth when I am explaining the practical application of Steiner’s insights in the classroom. As I said before, my area of focus will be particularly on the period from the first dentition until puberty and how arithmetic should be introduced and presented to children in order to create a solid basis and a love for numbers in primary school. Continue reading Rudolf Steiner and the Developmental Phases of Childhood: Puberty to Twenty One.
In order to move on to the second developmental phase of the child lets just recap what happens during the early years. So we see that there are some important aspects to consider when one looks at the development of the young child. The most important activities that the young child has to come to terms with in the early years are walking, speaking and thinking. When one closely observes these actions one realizes that there is much more going on than what is outwardly visible. We see that there are inner processes working inside the child’s body, soul and spirit that in turns connect with the physical and spiritual forces of the outside world. Continue reading Rudolf Steiner and the Developmental Phases of Childhood: The first dentition to puberty
A little more on real-life observation and perception
Rudolf Steiner said: “Because of their very nature, science and logical thinking can never decide what is possible or impossible. Their only function is to explain what has been ascertained by experience and observation.” The biggest tragedy of our time is that human beings’ spiritual and a big part of their emotional bodies are completely abandoned in scientific research. It is absent in most of our educational institutions and their curricula. It is as if humans and the natural world are suppose to function in this sterile, intellectual environment devoid of feeling, intuition and spiritual experience. Humans have to conform their lives according to lifeless statistical data and formulas derived from sterile, controlled environments. No wonder we all feel there is something profoundly missing in our everyday lives. Continue reading Rudolf Steiner and the Developmental Phases of Childhood: Early Childhood
If one stops for a moment and reflect on the state of affairs in the world today, who of us wouldn’t feel anxious and some amount of despair. One is constantly being traumatized by news of violence, destruction of our natural resources and a sense of helplessness in a scenario where one is being propelled along in an unstoppable spiral of self-destruction. Why is this happening? Why are people so obsessed with greed and violence? How did they become so estranged from their natural environment that they are completely unable to fathom the damage they are inflicting on their surroundings? How is it possible that they cannot see that contaminating the fresh water sources and destroying eco-systems will lead to their own demise? What is this seemingly mysterious force that sends people blindly towards their own self-destruction?Continue reading Rudolf Steiner and the Developmental Phases of Childhood: Introduction: Acquiring knowledge – real life observation versus orthodox science.