Schools are necessarily closed. Children and youths are home. Can this enforced “shelter-in-place” become an opportunity to invite your child(ren) and/or youth(s) to explore their own creativity either through existing forms—art, music, writing, programming, etc.—or by playing around with some new creative expression or form?
Imagine a world in which millions of youths in societies all across the Earth have accessed integral consciousness and are guided in their lives from this quality of being.
We were trying not to create forbidden fruits. We wanted her to learn to see through these kind of things—Barbie—not just to see it the way we do, but to make her own way through things, so she can see for herself how things are.
To work at giving your child freedom with safety, you will inevitably have to grow yourself—emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.
Since the soul in its fullness is present from before birth, your child’s soul is expressing its knowing through the vehicle of the physical body from the beginning of life.
Yes, the soul is constrained by the infant’s physical, emotional, and mental limitations—but the will of the infant is manifest from the first day of life outside the womb (and sometimes before). And the will of the child at every age and stage is the expression of the soul’s intent. The soul is “the inner teacher.” Give your child as much freedom as possible to live out her inner teacher’s guidance while providing your child with love, safety, and individually-appropriate boundaries.
Evolution is a complex process, and it is certainly not linear. We have begun to evolve from nation states to some more global, planetary structure. Unfortunately—but perhaps inevitably given the status of human consciousness—many of our first steps into the planetary have been captured by capitalists centered in modernist consciousness. Hence a regression into some elements of 19th century capitalism, billionaires, at the same time that hundreds of millions move up into modernist life.
While the movement into the planetary is initial, it is nonethless enough to engender a reactionary regression: reactionary Christianity in the United States, Hindu nationalism in India and Myanmar, Muslim reactionary movement in Turkey, the warrior state in Russia, and so on.
What was new and progressive as modernist consciousness first evolved several hundred years ago—democracy, science, technology, capitalism—is now tired and running out of capacity to hold its integrity. This is exactly why we need to evolve into a planetary civilization. But it will take time and courage and consciousness—and its success is not inevitable. It requires the conscious collaboration of millions.
The fires in Australia provide dramatic evidence that the climate emergency is happening, now. Our need as a species to evolve in consciousness is evident, and this kind of evolution is the only vehicle through which we may ameliorate the climate emergency. Evolutionary Parenting will not aid in this process today, but it certainly is a most profound vehicle for evolution in the coming decades.
Sunrise is a movement to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process.
We’re building an army of young people to make climate change an urgent priority across America, end the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics, and elect leaders who stand up for the health and wellbeing of all people.
We are ordinary young people who are scared about what the climate crisis means for the people and places we love. We are gathering in classrooms, living rooms, and worship halls across the country. Everyone has a role to play. Public opinion is already with us – if we unite by the millions we can turn this into political power and reclaim our democracy.
We are not looking to the right or left. We look forward. Together, we will change this country and this world, sure as the sun rises each morning.
For three men born into profoundly different cultures, Rudolf Steiner, Aurobindo Ghose, and Inayat Khan shared a strikingly related set of life circumstances and experiences.
- Rudolf Steiner was born in l861 on the border of Austria and Hungary. Aurobindo Ghose was born in 1872, and Inayat Khan in 1882, both in India. Despite the differences in their years of birth, each of these men taught and published his major work at essentially the same time: from l910 to 1924.
- Each of these men began his spiritual journey within a world religion, yet each rejected the exclusive claims to truth of that religious tradition. Instead each teacher synthesized the core truths of his religion of origin both with other spiritual traditions and with his own spiritual insight.
Steiner, born and raised within the nineteenth-century German culture, articulated teachings that related a Germanic Christianity, influenced by an explicit recognition of its roots in Teutonic paganism, to theosophy, a modern spiritual movement that found its primary sources in Hinduism. Steiner was also very familiar with the Western science of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and brought its influence into his work as well. Aurobindo’s teachings created a synthesis that drew on the Hinduism of his native India as well as an intimate understanding of European culture and its “religion” of science, which he had gained from the fourteen years he studied in England. Inayat Khan’s influences included his family religion of Islam, his knowledge of Hinduism, his spiritual training in Sufism, and his years of experience as a spiritual teacher in the United States and Europe.
- In an era when communication and transportation technologies had not yet brought the many lands of this planet into their present proximity, each of these three men had a profound understanding of the cultures of both the West and the East. Each of them carried elements of Western and Eastern traditions into his teachings and joined these elements with his own personal knowing to create a vision that was both a synthesis of East and West and the expression of his own spiritual intuition. In a profound way, each of these men brought together East and West in his life and in his teachings.
- Their public lives all ended at essentially the same time. Steiner died in 1924, Inayat Khan in 1926. While Aurobindo lived until 1950 and communicated with his disciples through letters and appeared before them four times each year, he withdrew from public teaching after his “day of Siddhi” in 1926.
During the past two centuries, many spiritual teachers have talked and written about the nature of human beings. Yet only Inayat Khan, Steiner, and Aurobindo have informed this discussion with detailed descriptions of both the process of human becoming in childhood and youth and the desired functions of child raising and education. And these three men have given us essentially the same vision of human unfoldment within the same coevolutionary context, at the very same historical moment. (One other person, a doctor and educator, not a spiritual teacher, has offered a strikingly related vision: Maria Montessori.1)
There are so many striking similarities between the common vision of Steiner, Aurobindo, and Inayat Khan and the teachings of Maria Montessori that I can only conclude that all four of these teachers were drawing on the same apprehension of reality and truth. Indeed Montessori even publicized her vision at the very same time as her three “colleagues.” Her first training course for teachers in Italy began in 1909, to be followed by publication of her various books and articles during the next decade. Her first international training course began in 1913. Yet by the late 1920s Montessori was no longer engaged in the research of new perspectives and methods. Rather she devoted her efforts to the preservation of the existing Montessori movement. So, as with her “colleagues,” Montessori’s period of discovery came to a close before the end of the 1920s.
Some of the most important ways in which Montessori’s vision is identical with or similar to Steiner’s, Aurobindo’s, and Inayat Khan’s common vision follow:
- Montessori described the newborn child as a “spiritual embryo” and understood the child’s nature as a whole system, including the sub-systems of vital energy (what she called horme), physical body, and mind. She described these sub-systems as interrelated and interpenetrated.
- Montessori taught that each child contains vital energy or horme that directs her growth by motivating her to meet her growth needs during each period of development. This vital energy serves as an inner guide for the child. Parents and teachers must give the child freedom to follow her inner guide. When the child can do so, she develops both her will and her concentration.
• Montessori defined three periods of development in the life of the child and youth: from birth through age 6; from 6 to 12 years; and from 12 to 18 years. (She also defined a fourth period at the end of adolescence, from 18 to 24 years.) Each period contains sensitive periods: times at which the child is developmentally ready for a particular kind of growth and must accomplish this growth if she is to develop to her potential.
- Montessori maintained that the will of the child must be nurtured, and never broken.
- Montessori described the child’s primary means of learning during the first period of growth as her “absorbent mind.” Absorption and imitation are two ways to describe the same process of learning.
- Montessori taught that the function of education is to give the child opportunities to express her inner guide within an appropriately prepared and safe learning environment. An education based on this principle will help the child to develop independence, self-discipline, concentration, motivation, and sensitivity.
- Finally, Montessori taught that the role of the teacher is not to control or direct the child but rather to prepare the learning environment and then nurture and support the child. For this work, the teacher must focus on the development of her own spirit, character, and imagination. She must understand that her work is to be of service to the child’s spirit and that the child will reveal who she is becoming over time.
All of these significant understandings of Maria Montessori are identical with or similar to those of the common vision of Steiner, Aurobindo, and Inayat Khan. And, of course, I would be the first to agree that there is much more in common between Montessori and her three “colleagues” than between Montessori and more traditional educational models. Why then have I not included her as an author of what I call the common vision? I have made this judgment for the following reasons:
- Although she calls the child a “spiritual embryo” and employs some of the language of the spirit, Montessori’s vision does not describe or detail the spiritual elements of human beings. Thus, it omits significant aspects both of the description of human beings as whole systems that include spiritual energies and of the spiritual context in which we live.
- Although Montessori’s vision does deal with some issues of the emotions, it does not provide a systemic exploration of the sub-system of the vital being. Thus, her vision does not deal in a comprehensive way with the whole realm of the emotions, desires, and feelings, an important set of elements in describing human unfoldment and in articulating principles and practices for child raising and education.
- Montessori’s vision does explore the relationship between the physical body and the mind as the child grows. However, it does not contain the richness of description of the interrelationships among the physical, vital, mental, and spiritual sub-systems of the child and youth that is offered in the common vision of Inayat Khan, Steiner, and Aurobindo.
- Finally, Montessori urges that the child be encouraged to develop her cognition during the second half of the first era of unfoldment. She argues that these years are a sensitive period for the development of writing skills and for the learning of vocabulary, grammar, and numbers. While, of course, she would not teach any of this directly, she prepares the learning environment in such a way that the materials there encourage the child to embark on this kind of learning. Steiner, Aurobindo, and Inayat Khan strongly disagree with this approach. While they note that the child can learn all of this effectively during these years, they maintain that it is profoundly undesirable for such topics and skills to become the focus of learning. Rather, these years should be a time of imaginative, self-directed, noncompetitive play. Such play helps the child to develop her spiritual nature in its fullness and to prepare for her transition from the first era into the second.
Maria Montessori’s teachings are clearly a visionary work of genius. So I mean no disrespect for Montessori by omitting her from authorship of what I call the common vision. Obviously she articulates significant sections of this common vision in her work. Yet I have chosen not to include her (1) because she does not provide significant sections of this vision, none of which are left out by Steiner, Aurobindo, or Inayat Khan, and (2) because she characterizes the needs of the second part of the first era of childhood in a profoundly divergent way from her colleagues.
So far Montessori’s work has had a much greater impact on the world of schools than that of all three of her colleagues together. Perhaps her teachings will help to bring parents and educators to those of Steiner, Aurobindo, and Inayat Khan, so they can learn from the visionary teachings of all four of these teachers.