Saturday Steiner

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.

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Filed under Anthroposophy, art, Books, Deep Thoughts, friends, Religion, waldorf education

12 responses to “Saturday Steiner

  1. I’m thinking I should read some of Steiner’s work; I believe I’d find it very interesting.

  2. Oh aren’t Steiner friends fabulous … its so lovely to be with like minds!

  3. Sounds like a great day. I need a day with friends just engrossed in creating. I started thinking about life experiences before birth when Lou was in the hospital–in fact that entire continuum was something I contemplated as, from what she spoke about after a surgery, it’s pretty clear she entered the spirit world for a time….

  4. I am missing a group of people to study anthroposophy with and my painting therapy class…There are these newer books that are introductory readers and they have titles like: Easter, Atlantis, Arts, Agriculture or Education (much more). They are also known as the “Pocket Library of Spiritual Wisdom”, they are compilations of Steiner’s lectures and writings on each of these subjects with a more modern translation, I have read a couple titles and found them much more accessible than most of the anthroposophic books I have read before. You may already know about them, but I have been so pleased with them and I find I can read these without a group of people helping me stumble my way through the lectures. In reality it is better to get together and read his work but at this time I am not able too, so these have been great for me. I am so happy you have found a group of people you can get together with, I am sure you can bring a lot to this group. (I suppose you were able to meet Tammy, that is so exciting…when blogs collide).

  5. David: I believe you might. A lot of translations stick to rather old school Germanic wording, which makes for dense reading, but some of the recent editions are better. And there are others who have written from his inspiration that can be more accessible, depending on the topic.

    Gypsy: Yes, I was feeling a bit alone in the desert, so to speak.

    Sarah: Children do access the spiritual more easily, don’t they?

    Lisa Anne: Are those the ones from the UK Rudolf Steiner Press? I haven’t looked through them but it looks like a great idea to have some introductory lectures together by topic. A lot of Steiner is so hard going, especially because many of his lectures were given with the assumption that the listeners were quite familiar with anthroposophy.

    Yes, Tammy was there…it was a mini blogger meetup!

  6. Hmm….I’ve a lot of time for the ideas I see in practice in Steiner schools but I’m not so sure about reincarnation personally.

  7. URD: The thing is, Steiner’s beliefs are part and parcel of Waldorf/Steiner schools, but they don’t (or shouldn’t) come directly into the curriculum. So teachers are taught that the children are coming from the spiritual world when they’re born, that we have karma from past lives, etc., but they don’t teach reincarnation to the children (unless in reference to a study of Hindu or Buddhist religions, for example). And certainly there should be no compulsion for the parents to believe it either, though obviously if they are repelled or offended, then these schools are not suitable for their families.

    I find that what people see in practice, as you put it, the practical applications of anthroposophy, is quite compelling. Biodynamic gardens are prolific and the food tastes wonderful. Steiner/Waldorf students are well rounded and achieve highly. These things are observable fact, regardless of the woo-woo stuff at the foundation.

  8. I love Steiner’s teachings even though I find them hard to understand at times. You are so great at explaining Waldorf in a way I get. Study of Man is a book I need and want to read. I might be contacting you with questions though if that’s alright.

  9. Dawn: Sure! I’ll do my best. It’s been a long time so I’ll have to brush up 🙂

  10. Wow…weird things happen when you finally remember to update your WordPress time stamp for daylight savings. I became clairvoyant and answered Dawn before she even commented!

  11. I have been re-reading the Steiner I do have and adding some books to my must get list.

    That sounds lovely to be in a group of like minded moms. I realize I always type long responses and then delete them…rambling on in the comments section and asking questions – when it is just a tough format for that, so I delete. I know I need a group of other moms like that … to be able to discuss it all! 🙂

  12. This little set of comments is making me want to start a study group this winter.

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