So, I spent the morning doing wet-on-wet painting with a roomful of other Waldorf mamas at Melisa‘s house. It was so great to meet people on this path, learning as we go. We nibbled yummy snacks, did some beautiful paintings (Sorry, I left my camera at home and left the wet paintings there! Photos next time, or check the link above.), and talked about Waldorfy stuff.
This inspired me to make good on my idea to post about one or another of the Steiner books I recently unpacked. I couldn’t find the one I really wanted, but I did find Study of Man, a series of lectures also known as the “General Education Course” that is a fundamental book for Waldorf teacher trainees.
Oh man — how can I do this? In the first five pages of the first lecture, Steiner mentions the epochs of human development, reincarnation, egoism in modern religion, and the various bodies of the human being in the transition from the spiritual world to incarnation!
Uh, yeah, let me just summarize that for ya.
Nope . . . can’t. So I’ll just revert to something we used to do during Foundation Year: find the gems. The sentences or paragraphs that just speak loud and clear, that take you by the scruff, that glimmer and sparkle with new meaning.
[A]lthough from his birth onwards we may only look upon the child with physical eyes, we will all the time be conscious of the fact–“this too is a continuation.” And we will not only look to what human existence experiences after death, i.e., to the spiritual continuation of the physical; but we will be conscious that physical existence here is a continuation of the spiritual, and that we, through education, have to carry on what has hitherto been done by higher beings without our participation.
[In reference to “pre-natal education”] If until birth the mother behaves in such a way that she brings to expression in herself what is morally and intellectually right, in the true sense of the word, then of its own accord what the mother achieves in this continuous self-education will pass over to the child. The less we think of beginning to educate the child before it sees the light of the world and the more we think of leading a right and proper life ourselves, the better will it be for the child.
So: Steiner taught that we reincarnate. We live multiple lives on earth, with (typically) long periods of time in the spiritual world in between. During the time before birth, we are in the company of higher spiritual beings (angels, archangels, etc.) as well as other human spirits, and there we learn and grow and plan for the next life.
He talked in this beginning to Study of Man about how materialism and the egoism that goes along with it have even penetrated religion in modern life. This egoism causes us to focus our attention regarding immortality only on life after death, but the life before birth deserves just as much of our attention. And if we combat this materialism and egoism, we cannot help but relate to and teach children in a new way.