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How the Double and the Higher Self are influenced by education.

The quote below comes from a publication "Labour in History and in Modern Times" written by Dr Walter Stein. Written in German, it was first published in English in London in 1932. The article and its companion "Gold in History and in Modern Times" were written in the Depression Years and are attempts to set parameters for a new and better world. My copy comes via a reprint from 'Spring Valley', New York, 1986

Dr Stein is known as the inspiration behind Trevor Ravencroft's book "The Spear of Destiny" which focuses on Adolf Hitler's hidden esoteric background. Dr Stein was a friend and follower of Rudolf Steiner. He has a gift for explaining Steiner's sometimes turgid ideas.

The piece below uses the language of the Steiner Educational movement to explain how the Higher Self works with, and against, the Double to gain possession of human beings. In the Steiner Educational system attempts are made to give the incoming human spirit the best possible opportunity to gain a successful relationship with the body and its Double.

The description below is complex, fascinating and (I hope) reasonably clear!

...In the art of education inaugurated by Rudolf Steiner, a method of teaching is employed which takes this human ideal of to-day into practical consideration. The school are so arranged that every child, whether rich or poor, of middle class or working class origin, receives the same education up to the eighteenth year, no matter whether he is to become a hand worker or a university professor. The Free Waldorf School at Stuttgart was established on this basis...

...Conditions to-day are such that the greater number of those who are destined for a proletarian calling, receive education only up to about the fourteenth year.

This is quite insufficient. The purpose of the education given in school is not only to instil a certain amount of knowledge into the pupils. Schools have another and a nobler task!

The soul of the growing human being permeates the body only gradually and by degrees; this does not happen once and for all at birth. To begin with, the soul permeates the senses. The tiny child lives with its sympathies and antipathies chiefly in the senses. This is the reason why the imitative faculty is so strong in early childhood. The senses are imitators par excellence. and because the tiny child is practically one great sense-organ, it is pre-eminently an imitative being. This condition lasts until about the seventh year. From the time of the change of teeth which occurs at about this age, the soul of the child begins to permeate the ' middle,' or rhythmic system, i.e., the breathing.

The ensouling of the head (sense-organs) is completed by the time of the change of teeth. From now on, the breathing process too becomes permeated with soul. The child begins to control its breathing, for instance, in the act of listening attentively, for the soul is now working in the breathing process. From this age onwards the child re-acts much more strongly to the word, to what the teacher is saying, because the breathing that is now permeated with soul makes it aware of the qualities of soul in the words of another, for instance, in the words of the teacher. From the seventh to the fourteenth year the child is passing through the age when the principle of authority fulfils an, essential function.

In the fourteenth year the metabolic system of the child becomes ensouled. This process is known as the onset of puberty. Just as the ensouling of the breathing passes over into the ensouling of the blood-stream, so does the ensouling of the metabolic system become also that of the limbs. But this descent of the soul and Spirit from the head to the limbs does not take place without difficulties. In the fourteenth year of life the movements of the child become angular and clumsy.

We speak of this period as the 'awkward age.' The soul meets with resistance from the skeleton and considerable time and help are needed before the body and soul are effectively harmonised. The development of a certain capacity for the forming of ideas must be brought about if this condition of harmony is to ensue. All the spiritual powers of the human being work, to begin with, upon the body; they complete their work there and only then do they turn away from the body to manifest as purely spiritual forces. It also happens thus with the faculty of the free intellect.

To begin with, the force living in the intellect meets with resistance from the limb-system of the fourteen-year-old child, and only when it becomes free of the body is it capable of forming independent judgments. It is because of this clear connection between bodily and spiritual forces that it is necessary to base education upon clear insight into these things. And Rudolf Steiner's art of education has for the first time made this a practical possibility.

We see, then, that up to the fourteenth year, the soul-nature of the human being unites more and more intensely with the bodily nature. If, therefore, we allow a child to go out into the world at about the fourteenth year, as is done among the working class, we are sending out a fettered Prometheus. The soul remains fettered to the skeleton for the whole of life, and for such a human being the limbs become the sole arbiters of destiny. What ought to be fought out as an inner struggle for development in the individual, is outwardly expressed as the Class War.

And against whom is the battle waged ? Against those who have been able to pass through a second phase of education and of development to which all human beings have a natural right. But in what does this second phase consist ? In this second phase of development, by means of a true method of education, the human being is led out of the body, just as in the first phase he was led into the body.

After the fourteenth year, the powers of soul and spirit must be freed from the body, stage by stage. If release from the metabolic system is not properly effected, the erotic element will inevitably become too strong. If the human being were to remain a prisoner within his limb-system, brutality would be the result. Soul-forces that remain fettered within the blood-stream would mean that the human being cannot be master of his emotions, whereas if they are imprisoned within the breathing, his actions will be determined purely by his sympathies and antipathies.

Few indeed have passed beyond this stage. Nevertheless the ideal is that the human being shall become master of his nerves-and-senses system. Supersensible and intuitive thinking lead to real freedom and he alone is free who acts from knowledge. Education should lead to this freedom and only when this ideal can find acceptance in social life will it be possible to bring the world a stage forward.

In the Middle Ages some measure of this freedom was within the reach of artisans and craftsmen. In our age we shall have to make it a reality on a new and different basis. To the craftsman of the Middle Ages, towns and cities were sanctuaries of freedom. Handicraft owed its origin to a striving for freedom. The craftsman fled from the oppression of the landed aristocracy to the towns in order, by dint of his handiwork, to live in freedom and in accordance with a standard which he felt to be consistent with human dignity...

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original content and selection by Steven Guth,
page uploaded 14 September 2003